Protection Of Mother

“What did you just say to my mom?” The wide eyed, startled and angry kid seemed to be asking me.

Me: “Told her she’s really beautiful and have very nice features like that of a Bollywood star”.

I wished I could tell her that but I don’t think she’ll understand me.

I must brush up on my geography, too. When I asked her which town she comes from in Myanmar, I couldn’t figure out what she said and spelt. Not her fault. I’ll carry a paper map of Myanmar next time.

She nodded her head and smiled when I asked if she is Muslim. There are 136 ethnic groups in Myanmar. 135 now according to The Lady..

Photography Notes: This shot works because I got down to their eye level by squatting too. That probably startled the kid. Lol.

I would have allowed more headroom for the mother but didn’t think the kid will repeat the reaction. So I reacted and clicked before I could properly compose.

Also, the scene will look bad if it was taken from a standing position, looking down.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, especially to the many SINGLE MOTHERS, who raised her children single-handedly under very hard circumstances. It is hard for a nomadic refugee.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 2500, f11, 1/200 sec.

#documentaryphotography #streetphotography #migrants #myanmar #burma #mother #child #mother #refugee #sonyalpha #a7r #zeiss

Mee Hoon Kueh

Behrang is essentially a Hokkien town. Where Hokkiens ( 福建话 – Fujian people) live, you will find authentic Mee Hoon Kueh in eating places. By chance, I discovered one of the best here. Mee Hoon Kueh is similar to the Hakka hand-pulled “pan mee” or flat flour noodles.

Instead of noodle strips, the flour dough is delicately hand-kneaded with egg and oil into bite-size pieces. It is then brought to a simmer in a broth of ikan bilis (anchovies), pork balls, pork belly slices and sawi (mustard greens). It takes time to cook the dish as you can’t hurry love.

Good thing the boss of Vivian, the Indonesian cook, is always busy with mahjong. She learned the craft, refined it and now makes one of the most awesome mee hoon kueh I ever tasted. She said she might set up a stall back in Surabaya when she retires.

‘Mee Hoon Kueh’ is usually pronounced as ‘Mee Hoon Ker’ outside Penang and the north.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 500, f4, 1/80 sec.

The Rohingyas On Land – Street Portrait Of A Lady

Women in the community are enterprising and contribute income to the family where they can. Many can be seen selling food, betel quids and other stuff.

Besides revenue, the corridor kiosks play an important social role. On any Sunday, it is Ladies Day. Girlfriends and female relatives socialise or connect. The street meetings are part of an informal bonding and support system.

This lady was selling the Rohingya version of ‘nasi campur’ (mixed rice). She’s holding a fly swatter. I was photographing an adjacent subject from a distance, when she covered her face with one hand and waved her swatter with the other.

I approached her and she told me she didn’t want to be photographed. Told her I wasn’t even taking her picture and I understand her concerns.

Ended up chatting with her as a result. Her name is Mariam and she is in her 40s. At the end of our conversation, I asked her if I can photograph her. She consented without hesitation, to my surprise.

Moral of the story: You can’t just waltz in and out with a camera, especially in an area where people are wary of outsiders. Spend time getting acquainted with your potential subjects, first.

When you are already acquainted and have explained your intentions, people will share their stories by themselves. Plus; when they are at ease, they look more natural and beautiful in pictures.

PS: The white dot on her eyebrow is remnant of traditional thanaka paste (bedak sejuk). It is a cultural tradition practised by both Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1000, f4, 1/200 sec.

The Rohingyas On Land – Man Out Of Water

In an unofficial mini-township where almost everyone is a Muslim from Myanmar, Man (pronounced Marn) used to feel like a fish out of water. He is Indonesian.

A survivor and ‘greener pasture migrant’ himself, Man’s story is remarkable. Living in Acheh in 2004, he narrowly escaped the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami. The disaster killed more than 130,000 people in his province alone.

Settling down here, he built a successful grocery business that now serves the Burmese migrant community. He said his escape and survival taught him humility and greater respect for hard work .

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 1600, f4, 1/200 sec.

The Rohingyas On Land – Backstreet Boys

Walked into a back lane to see if there were any Myanmar folk playing takraw (foot volleyball). I saw people playing on some previous Sundays but there were no games this time.

Met the hood and chatted with them. Very jovial bunch of teens and one guy stood out. He looked like a boy band or Bollywood star.

Here’s a dreamy, burned pic in the style of a CD-cover or music video for him.

Sony Alpha a7R, ISO 200, f4, 1/200 sec.