Daily Photo – I Want To Go Left!

‘I want to go left!’, is what I imagine the lady in today’s photo is trying to communicate. Meanwhile, her husband lounges at the helm of the boat looking on, thankful he’s not facing his wife.

Of course, that’s a story I just made up. I’ve no idea what was really going on. I can’t even figure out if the tugboat has just arrived to perform the tow or if its just completed and they are recovering the rope. Still, it’s clearly the woman who’s in charge here.

This image gives a different view of the engines on these twin engined boats. Clearly it was a successful design as it was nearly ubiquitous in this class of vessel.

The cargo on this boat is covered with a tarp – so probably not coal or concrete blocks.

I find it somewhat amusing that even the tugboat is using old tires as fenders.

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Daily Photo – Wash Rinse Repeat

‘Wash rinse repeat’ is the age old maxim of shampoo sellers trying to get you to use more shampoo than you need.

I don’t recall where I was in proximity to the lady in today’s photo. I know I was using a telephoto lens but don’t recall the building I was in or why I was there when I captured this photo. I do know it was taken in Suzhou in 1991.

I often wish we’d had a chance to see how people actually lived in the older housing. All we got to see was newer housing with most of the mod cons (window air conditioners, running water and electricity).

I suspected in yesterday’s post that some of the older houses would have been quite dark inside. My guess is that is one reason the lady is washing her hair in the alleyway.

There are so many things to look at here. The wooden doors behind her, for example, and the well worn stone thresholds. The extension to the roof to provide additional shelter from the rain. The wooden desk, set out in the alley with the scattered utensils including chop sticks, a spoon and an enameled mug. Then there’s the hat hung on the wall, the cleaning items and, of course, the green plastic bowl.

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Daily Photo – Washing Up

It looks to me as though this lady is doing her washing up in the river flowing past her door – Suzhou, China, 1991. Behind the tree with the flame-orange leaves, a neighbor looks on.

Back in the mid-1980′s I worked in South Africa and got to visit the ‘Big Hole’ – the old diamond mine in Kimberley. When diamonds were discovered, different miners staked their claims and each dug their own claim at their own rate. The result was this weird landscape of column like structures until eventually they amalgamated their operations into one big company.

When you look at the houses by the river in this photo and in yesterday’s you see the same effect in play. Each landowner has built to their own needs and resources on their parcel of land resulting in a wide variety of structures and shapes.

I’m left wondering what used to stand in the space behind the lady washing the red bowl. I suspect at one time or another this was also a house – the end of the wall near the center of the image looks as though it could be a door frame.

I’m also left thinking that the interiors of these house would be pretty dark, particularly on the lower floors, given the relatively small windows.

As with the houses in yesterday’s photo, I’m guessing that flood insurance here is impossible to come by.

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Daily Photo – A River Runs Through It

‘A river runs through it’ is what you can imagine happening to these houses if the river rises another six inches or so.

I captured this image back in 1991 in Suzhou, China but I don’t recall if I was on a boat or on the other bank of the river. You can imagine the wake of a boat sloshing the water over the banks so I don’t know if boat traffic was regulated here or not.

On the left hand side of the frame, a woman appears to be washing something in the river. Was this river the ‘running water’ for these houses then? I hope not but I suspect the river water (and everything else dissolved or suspended int it) was (and maybe still is) used extensively in these houses.

I love this collection of roofs. While the tiles are all the same, there’s such a variety in the pitches, pitch lengths and apex directions. Clearly this little section of the community grew organically and not from some master plan. I’m also intrigued by the two windows with bars on them. If the bars are needed, why are they not on the adjacent windows also?

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Daily Photo – Full Steam Ahead!

I love the energy of today’s photo, ‘Full Steam Ahead’. It points to the vibrancy of the Chinese economy back in 1991 and underscores China’s economic ascendency since then.

It also points to one reason why the west could not then and can not now compete. The playing field remains very uneven.

There’s absolutely no way a health and safety organization in the west, even in 1991, would have permitted this work environment. From the twin engines with their exposed belts to the open alternator with it’s wires draped across the deck to the batteries just sitting there, the helmsman’s flip-flops, the tired oil drum, the blocks on the deck, etc.

At the same time, I marvel at the simplicity – the rough linkage tying the two tillers together, the simple gear lever for each engine, the captain’s chair that’s seen better days. There’s not much here to go wrong and, if it does, its all open and accessible for repair.

The engines themselves share a lot of similarities with the one in this photo – a slight difference in the orientation of the components but the same basic principles in action despite the different setting.

But what I like most about this photo is the expression of the helmsman. His eyes are resolutely fixed on what’s ahead of him. He’s single-mindedly driving into the future. He might have to navigate around some obstacles, but you can just sense he knows where he’s going and he’s in a hurry to get there.

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  • […] and early nineties was the model in use on this tractor, and on this tractor in Beijing and on this boat near Suzhou. I’ve also seen this engine powering a cultivator in a field. One size fits […]ReplyCancel

  • […] image gives a different view of the engines on these twin engined boats. Clearly it was a successful design as it was nearly ubiquitous in this class of […]ReplyCancel

  • Kenneth DavisNovember 3, 2013 - 9:27 pm

    Things hadn’t changed much by 2009, I watched a carpet sculpting demonstration using shears that were operated by a coil with a make & break mechanism. No attempt had been made to protect either the mechanisam or the electrical connections. Simple efficient bodge up operated by a high skilled (and lucky so far) youn lady.ReplyCancel

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