Posts Tagged ‘arabia’

bury me here


Day of the Dead, Codogno, Italy © Jim Korpi

A king of one of the last monarchies died last week. The unmarked grave was a simple pile of stones. No name for a dead king, no tomb.
A few years back I searched a small fishing village in Maine for the grave of a painter I admire. It was supposed to be in a field near the home of a family he had painted often. I arrived at the house just before sunrise. The old wooden siding of the house was peeling and most likely still is. Through the age-distorted glass of the house I could see the simple museum dedicated to the family who were subjects in well known water colors.
For over an hour I searched through the over-grown fields around the house for signs of a grave site. I wanted to see where a man like this would want to lie indefinitely. The subjects he painted in this house he had grown close to. You could see this in the work. But to ask to be buried near a subject said something deeper about the artist.
The sun came up and I was about to give up. Fisherman were driving past on the way to the docks and sending the looks only strangers send other strangers. I crossed the road from the house and saw another five acre field open from the trees lining the road. At the far end of the field I could see what looked like a small country cemetery.
Walking through the field toward the dozen subtle stones poking from the ground, one stone stood slightly higher and darker. On the grave was simply Andrew Wyeth 1917-2009.

fear and loathing

Shotgun Shells, Found in Desert, Saudi Arabia © Jim Korpi

Me: The guy said you couldn’t come to the event.
Saudi Friend: Why?
Me: No Saudis are allowed.
Saudi Friend: Why? Are they afraid of me getting drunk and making a fool of myself?
Me: No. They are afraid of you being a terrorist and blowing the place up.
Saudi Friend: (laughs hysterically) Are you serious? They must not sleep very well with such fears.

More “still lives” from Saudi Arabia

clash of cultures

Cell Phone Market, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © Jim Korpi

“I was at my grandfather’s funeral when my boss called,” Mohammed recollected of a moment when his employer phoned him in Riyadh from London. “He knew I was at a funeral but proceeded to ask me where my timesheets were.”

“After the funeral I took the week off to be with my family. By the end of the week my wife was delivering our baby. I took the next week off from work to help with my new child. When I returned to work my boss called from the main office in London and said, ‘You’re not focusing on your work. You should be answering your phone and checking your email!'”

trash talk

Mall Dumpster, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © Jim Korpi

“With age comes wisdom.” This was the thought a friend and I were recently contemplating around a camp fire in the desert. We no longer communicate with our elders, and our elders are not as wise as their age might let on. These were scenarios swirling around the glow and warmth of the fire and burning at our beliefs like the wind-blown smoke stinging our eyes.

With my own witnessing of the world, I’ve drawn up a rough draft of criteria for a “civilized” society I hope to one day pass on to my children’s children.

My first look is at how a culture views and treats creatures other than itself, or whether it considers its own part of the animal kingdom. If their zoos resemble display prisons, or if their wild populations have been depleted down to stray cats and pigeons; if they talk of “thinning the herds” but refuse to whisper the words of human population problems, there are deep issues.

Next, I observe space dedicated to public use and access. If private property and the automobile rule, city parks are nonexistant, and nature preserves are for show only, then it explains much about priorities.

Lastly, but of just as much importance, I ponder what a society wastes. If it is a country without forests and I see a dumpster filled with lumber; if it is a country with little space for landfills and I see the aftermath of a festival looking like a landfill scattered in the streets; if it is a country with malnutrition and there is an abundance of vegetables being discarded, well, then… I see serious room for reflection.