world press photo 2011, barcelona

Yesterday, the World Press Photo opened in Barcelona. I went with a friend, of course filled with expectations to see something amazing, but my expectations were surpassed and I was moved beyond words. 
The space they are using for the exhibition is a bit cave-like; the air is a bit humid and not overly fresh, it is dark, with just lights on the actual pictures. 
Complete focus on the stories that the photos convery; no distractions, no cold airconditioning to make you freeze, no bright lights, nothing. Just you and the faces of people from around the world- people like you and me, who have been through all of these events, which moct of us only read about in the news or talked about before moving our conversations to more pleasant events. 
Below are some of the pictures which moved me the most. For personal reasons obviosuly- as we are all subjected by our own personal conditionings and the types of feelings and compassion we react with. 

This photo stunned me. 
It is a picture of a man throwing a corpse onto a pile of other corpses, in Haiti, Port-au-Prince, after the devastating earthquake which killed hundreds of thousands of people in at the beginning of 2010. 
This man is throwing, THROWING, a dead young boy's corpse, onto this pile of other, already dead, people... 
I had a million thoughts running through my head. What does this guy in white feel right now? Has he shut off all feelings to be able to do this horrid work- because it is necessary- and then thoughts continued about the whole cycle of life and death, and how a corpse is treated, in most cultures, with a lot of ritual and respect, but how when in a mega-format-disaster like this one, we just have to dig through the piles of death and get them out of the way, to not spread disease to the living. 

The face of this woman. 
The picture is quite blurry, even the "real" one in the exhibition, but what really comes through here with full feeling and intensity, is the expression of this woman. 
She was found after days buried under a building. 
The pictures from Haiti moved me the most. To tears. 
And it was the same during the time of the actual event- I had the "luck" of having a TV with CNN in my New Delhi "hotel". Cold water, 2-3 degrees celsius at night, 8 blankets, and the news from Haiti, obviously created for me a very strong experience, as I was stuck in Delhi due to the fog, for two weeks, and couldn't go anywhere. I watched the news and lived the news. 
But as the face of this woman tells above, and the story the first picture tells, what amazes me the most, is survival, and strength, of the human heart, when tested to the extreme.

Street scene, Calcutta, India. 
Pictures of India often move me a lot. 
I have a very strong love-hate-relationship with India (sort of like with Barcelona?!)- I'm unfortunately not at all like the people who LOVE India and go year after year, feeling so at home and at ease when they are there. I feel a LOT when I am there and I am very very dedicated to hating everything when there. In short- it makes me FEEL and I guess that is what i love about it. I FEEL hate, disgust, pity, anger, all of it together...and then suddenly, as a waft of thick smoke from an incense-cone rinses over my being, I feel love. As I inhale the fragrance, all the chaos washes away, and I deeply love the mess called India. 

This picture is taken in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at the train station. It too moves me, (Bangladesh), like India does. It's got the same quality of absolute chaos and colourful devastation. The photo was taken during one of the big Muslim holidays in 2010, when the people residing in Dhaka were trying to get home to their villages for the holiday. Dhaka is becoming one of the world's most polulated city, but most of its latest inhabitants are from villages, having come to the city in search of work. 
I spent two (looong) weeks in Bangladesh in 2005. During these two weeks I saw ONE other foreigner. A Japanese guy. The rest of the time it was me, surrounded my millions and trillions and billions of Bangaldeshi people, who most of the time just stared at me. When I tried to talk to them, they looked away and giggled. 
I, too, tried to travel from Dhaka during one of the biggest Muslim holidays- Eid al-Fitr. I was on this station, waiting for the train with a zillion other people, and when the train arrived, everyone threw themselves at the train. Including me- as I did not really have a choice. I was pushed and squeezed with the force of the masses of the people onto the train. 
I did get to my destination after 22 hours of sqeezing, barely breathing, definitely not peeing, torn clothes, and a lot of feelings of THANK YOU LORD for allowing me to experience such a crazy thing- which to the 200 millions or so people of Bangladesh, is just everyday life. 
The strength of the human. Remarkable! 


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