As an awkward English travel photographer (stereotypically speaking, self deprecation in action.) I find it a highly traumatic experience ordering a coffee especially in service stations and airports, makes me wonder why I queue up in the first place. I carefully consider my options on type,size, and the style I want my hot drink but its no use, panic leaves me with uh uh… the first clearly labled coffee on the menu I lay my eyes on, in this case a flat white. A very nice drink indeed but I feel that maybe it was invented for those moments of panic buying when under the unenviable pressures of the drinks queue, maybe its just me then. So I am waffling again, why? I was passing the time in heathrow, waiting to catch my flight to Nairobi, and it is a drawn out thing, so I felt venting my thoughts through my blog is always good fun.
I am reminded of when I was in New York a few months back. Catching a yellow cab only to discover our cabby was a cricket fan, and it was the cricket world cup. I found myself in conversation, but with absolutely no knowledge of the sport it was very one sided. Who was winning the world cup? who knows but we did win the ashes this year right? This being the only solitary piece of cricket information I keep just in case of emergancies. It occurred to me though that although I have no real interest in sport, it could be considered a universal language, and when traveling a rather useful ‘in’ when approaching people to photograph. Building a rapport with a subject, a total stranger at that, can be difficult and at times extremely daunting, relating is the key here. A similar situation happened in Africa, as soon as anybody found out I was English, football became a main source of conversation. A sport I am sorry to say, completely indifferent to. Who wants to watch members of the Bentley owners club kick a ball about anyway? The answer to that question however is its the entire continents religion almost along with the rest of the world, the premier league here is followed more avidly than a Man U season ticket holder.
It would probably be hypocritical of me to become some sort of born again football fan overnight, evangelical cries of “I believe in Wayne Rooney” as I slip on my England shirt, not a road I want to go down. When traveling though, I want to see and experience the culture as much as the environment. Empathy to towards any culture is important, just as important as who won the ashes to the people who care to know. And I care to know those people.