Posts Tagged ‘saudi’

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.

hung over

World Luxury Expo, Furniture, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © Jim Korpi

Two identically dressed blonde college students stroll down Main Street in black leggings, tan sheep skin moon boots and sweatshirts with their school logo wrapped tightly across their chests.

They pass by a young maple tree whose bright leaves recently came to rest on the ground. The woman closest to the leaves looks down as they pass. “I love Fall,” she declares. “It’s so beautiful.”

The other woman, without looking in the direction of the leaves, shrugs off her companion’s comment. “I wish I wasn’t so fuckin’ hung over. Then I’d be able to appreciate it.”

Creating Need

Car & Home Shop, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia © Jim Korpi

“You know what your country has done so well?” my friend Abdullah asked. I was not sure where he was heading with this questioning. “For so long your country has been good at creating needs.”
As a salesman, Abdullah envied this cultural trait, the ability to create needs.
As countries move towards emulating the United States, I wonder what a world filled with created needs will look like.

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.