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Friday, April 6, 2012

30 Days of Photographs II: Tragedy




It's early January and the air at Helsinki airport is clean and cold. It smells of water and pine trees and snow.

It's dark. It'll be late before we're home again.

We've spent New Year's Eve in Prague, standing on the Charles Bridge while fireworks set the sky on fire. We rode trains through Germany, explored Berlin. And now we're back in Finland. The bus driver's laconic voice wishes us welcome home. Everything is okay, he says, we'll be in Turku before midnight.

There's a woman sitting a few rows behind us on the bus. She's crying. Loudly and inconsolably, as if her world has been torn apart and she has nothing left. She's in Finland, but she's not speaking Finnish. She's on the phone with someone, speaking in an exotic language, her voice thick with tears. In moments like this, I wish I wasn't so Finnish.

Finland is full of people minding their own business, observing, quietly ignoring. She sounds like she's all alone in the world and she's lost everything she ever cared about. I wish I could go to her, sit down next to her and ask her if there is anything I can do to help. But while the air is clean and smells of water and pines trees and snow, she's riding a bus in a country of a solitary people. A people who carries their burden alone. They will listen to you cry, they will feel your pain, but only from a distance.

For her, the bus is empty.


This post is a part of the 30 Days of Photographs II challenge. Please visit the rest of the participants for more fantastic photos: MikeWJ, Nicky and Mike, Mo, Meleah, John, aka nonamedufus, Bryan, aka Unfinished Person, Mariann, Malisa, Nora, LaughingMom, Tanya, Elizabeth A., 00dozo, Cheryl, Kristen, Pam and Katherine. *
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50 comments:

  1. That's a compelling story, Ziva. And a compelling photo. I wish I was able to adjust exposure and take night photos. I haven't had the proper camera since I took 35 mm photography class back in the 70s. I just never developed, I guess, as a photographer.

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  2. Beautiful photo. Such a tragic story. Heart wrenching. Beautiful.

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  3. Wow.  That was really moving.  I wanted to sit next to that lady.  Is it a true story?

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  4. What makes it worse is if you don't speak the language she's speaking. What can you say? :( This is indeed tragic.

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  5. Love the photo. Going to try not to think too much about the story. Today's theme is like a rollercoaster.

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  6. This is probably my favourite of yours this series. The glowing lights and the road are captured perfectly. Regarding bus etiquette, I wouldn't be surprised if the English are much worse than the Finnish.

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  7. "For her, the bus is empty."    Such a moving piece and the power of your words with this photo hit me like a kick to the chest.  Wow.  You are really amazing, Ziva.  

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  8.  Ah, so very sad.  The photo really sets the scene.

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  9. Wonderful photo and such an elegantly told tale.  Mexicans such as myself are not like Finnish people.  We go and hug the person.  We offer to help if we can, even if the language is not understood, the intentions are.  Such a wonderful combo of image and language here that I'm overwhelmed.

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  10. Such a beautiful image to go with your story. If you come to the northeastern-most part of New England in the New Country, you'll find we're as stoic as all of you western Europeans. Remember, most of us descended from you and not much has changed.

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  11. Ok, because you made me cry at work, I'm going to fixate on the first line of this story which says it is January and in the rules it said pictures from March 1st only so you are in big trouble missy because you broke the rules AND you made me cry and it's gonna take a lot of awkward banana to get over this.

    Sniff.

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  12. The photograph is stunning, and the post is beautifully expressed and incredibly moving, if sad. As an American, I understand individuality and emotional self-containment, but it's more common for strangers here to express themselves and to reach out to one another as if they're familiar. That has its disadvantages -- people sometimes thoughtlessly invade your personal space -- but also allows for interpersonal connections that can be helpful.

    I'm awed by your creativity, sensitivity and artistic talent, Ziva.

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  13. Thank you, dufus. Adjusting exposure really does help when doing night shots, in that photo I had an exposure time of 28 seconds. ;)

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  14. Yes, it's a true story, M and I went to Prague over the New Year's, and this happened on the bus home from the airport.. It really was heart-wrenching to listen to her cry.. I might have actually gotten up and sat next to her, but she was on the phone the entire time, so like everyone else on that bus, I just listened.. 

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  15.  It was.. Things like this have a tendency to suddenly make you feel very small, in a very big and scary world.

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  16. Det där var jag då mamma ringde och berättade om olyckan. Jag tog bussen hem mitt i natten och satt och grät hela vägen. Ingen sa någonting, inte ens busschauffören låtsades om att jag var ledsen då jag betalade min bussbiljett.

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  17. Glad you liked it, and it's probably best not to think about the story. ;)

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  18. Oj nej, nu sitter jag här och gråter. :( Det får aldrig hända någo åt dig eller honom igen, systramin, jag sku nog inte överleva då.

    *kram*

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  19. Thank you, Mo, I'm really glad you liked it. :) And I'll make sure never to start crying on a bus in England..

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  20. Oh my word. Thanks for making me cry!

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  21. Thank you, this means a lot to me, coming from such a talented writer as yourself, Jayne. :)

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  22. Yes, it was very sad indeed..

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  23. Oh Linda, had you only been there, you would have made everything all better.

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  24. Thanks, Cheryl. I think I might feel right at home over there. ;)

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  25. Don't worry, honey, I'm here and I'm ready with the awkward banana. Although, I have to say that I'm no cheater like Michael, and while the bus ride happened in January, I took the actual photo in March. You'll still get lots of awkward banana, though. ;)

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  26. That is really beautiful and sad at the same time. You are too talented!

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  27. Are you feeling well? You're saying such nice things to me.. ;)

    The incident really stayed with me, I haven't been able to get it out of my mind, and it's been months now..

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  28. I'm sorry, Meleah, I didn't mean to make you cry! Do you want a hug?

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  29. Yes please. A hug would be lovely.

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  30.  Either "all better" or had her screaming for a policeman to save her from the goofy Mexican woman!

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  31. And you'd be entirely and open-heartedly welcomed. My mother's family are Swedes who lived in Vaasa, Finland. We're practically related!

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  32. M is originally from a place not too far from Vaasa, and we're actually going there tomorrow! :)

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  33. Well, at least she wouldn't be crying anymore. ;)

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  34. I can only reiterate what BonyMike said.  What a stunning photo and so incredibly enhanced with your words. 

    ;-)

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  35. My Mormor used to tell us that her father wanted to take her home to see Vaasa before he died. 'Course they never made it but it made him happy to dream.

    Have a grand day.

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  36. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Kära Gud, du är två gör mig ledsen längre tro. Remembering olyckan, visst, men också att jag inte kan förstå ett ord av din konstiga och magiska tungan utan hjälp av Google Translate. Jag är så okunnig.

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  37. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Yeah, I feel okay. A little sad, maybe. You did a wonderful job with today's theme. And I'm jealous of your photography skills. That's what's making me so sad. I hate being number two.

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  38. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:35 AM

    Please, won't one of you tell me about the awkward banana? I really want to know, even if it's dirty. ESPECIALLY if it's dirty.

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  39. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    This is a very moving exchange. I feel like I've brought two long-lost friends together, even though I had nothing to do with. *tears welling*

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  40. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:37 AM

    See, it isn't only me who feels this way about this post. For her, the bus is empty is a very powerful line. Sort of brilliant, really.

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  41. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 3:38 AM

    If you take one of the double-decker buses that's got no top, you can cry all you want because it's always raining in England and nobody will notice.

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  42. mikewjattoomanymorningsApril 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    Linda and Malin, my earlier comment was insensitive -- my poor attempt at humor, perhaps because unconsciously I was so moved by the emotion of this post and your comments that I couldn't handle it and decided to make light of it instead. If I can be serious for a moment, and by way of heartfelt apology, I'd like to add that when I heard about Anton's accident, I was quite worried for him and for your family. I still worry about his ongoing recovery, which I'm sure is challenging given the seriousness of his injuries. I know it's been very difficult for your family. Malin, I'm deeply sorry that you had to be that girl on the bus. It must be hard to have so much emotion and to feel so alone, even if it was only for a few hours one night, and I'm sure the feelings have lasted longer than that. And Linda, it's clear from what you wrote that it still affects you strongly, and I hope your memory of the trauma of that day fades away in time. I also hope Anton is doing well, and I pray no further tragedy befalls him or any member of your family. Life is hard enough without this sort of thing happening.   

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  43. Yeah. The photo is amazing. You are extremely talented. And I felt so.. sad - and all this stuff at the same time. Perfect. 

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  44. Thank you, Double-O, I'm very glad you found my version of tragedy compelling. :)

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  45. Thank you, I'm glad I was able to move you with the story and the photo, even if it made you sad... :)

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  46. You know perfectly well you're not number two. ;)

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  47. Michael, Michael, I never kiss and tell.

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