Saturday, 21 April 2018

Beyond The Frame | Mr. Wu of Shi Hu Dang | Fuji X-Pro 2

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
On an overcast day during my two weeks stay in Shanghai, I traveled to the ancient water town of Jinxi with a Chinese photographer, his wife and a translator. The town is about an hour's drive, and is known for being -as yet- untarnished by commercialism.

Jinxi is also known as Chenmu, or the tomb of Chen. She was a beautiful royal concubine of Emperor Xiaozong(1127-1194)of the Song Dynasty. The legend is that during their stay in Jinxi, she decided to stay a little longer, and died there because of a sudden illness.


However, this is not about Jinxi, but about a small nondescript small town a few miles away called Shi Hu Dang, where I was introduced to a delightful octogenarian by Mei Qi; a businesswoman and his student at the school where he had worked for decades. 

I was welcomed by Mr. Wu into his small house; neat but cluttered at the same time. Unfortunately, his wife was absent doing errands so I could not meet her, although Mr Wu was very proud to share their wedding photograph in which she was wearing a qi pao.

Mei Qi explained Mr. Wu's kinetic and exuberant welcome by saying that this was the first time he had met and shaken hands with a laowai (foreigner) in all his long years. She also told me that Mr. Wu had been a long-standing chairman of the Communist Party in his small town (which was probably a village earlier). He had lost one of his sons last year....but hoped for a few pictures to send to his other son and daughter.

He was very agreeable in showing me the 2-3 rooms of his house; one of which was the kitchen...also very neat. His living room-bedroom had an old radio (visible in the above photograph) sitting side by side a small television.

It was getting late, and we had to return to Shanghai by subway; a trip that would take more than an hour...so I skipped interviewing Mr Wu and taping it. Had I had more time, I would've gladly spent a couple of hours in his company, and wait for Mrs. Wu to return from her errands. It would've been another Cafe Dao audio slideshow....however I promised him that I would return.

The technical details for the photograph are: Fuji X-Pro2 + Zeiss Touit 12mm. 1/15th Hand Held. f4.0. iso 800. Aperture Priority. Date: 2018.04.4 at 17:42:40 (Shanghai time). Post Processed Using Silver Efex and Iridient Developer 3.