Walking around in West Bay in Doha, Qatar with my Xperia Z in hand. Images are shot and edited on the phone.
“For tens of thousands of people looking to escape the vicious war in Central African Republic, crossing the Oubangi has become the difference between life and death.”
click on the image to read their stories
25th Dec, 2013. Christmas morning, when people all over the world celebrate and enjoy, Pungesti community was questioning the democracy in Romania (EU member and Schengen Area aspiring country) and wondered when they will be listened to by the politicians they previously trusted and voted for (that so aggressively campaigned against such destructive projects before the elections) hoping they will start defending their rights and care for the country’s future rather than for their own pockets.
As soon as I entered the village I understood what was the general feeling during the communist era in Romania. I was greeted by a police road block that checked every person’s id. I felt privileged my driver and I didn’t have to put on the effort of pulling out our id’s from our back pockets. Sure it had something to do with the fact that I have announce my presence a week in advance , and to add to the communist era feeling ,authorities weren’t keen on making a bad impression. Driving around the only paved road of this village where most of the people have long crossed their 60Th birthday, I was impressed with the police forces deployed there to defend the “mighty and generous” Chevron from the fury of a handful of angry senior citizens.
I was touched by the reaction of my driver as we were cruising along. He was a bit surprised by all the commotion around saying that ” he hasn’t seen such a high number of riot police gathered in one place since the 1989 Romanian revolution against the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu”. Trying to have short conversations with the villagers , I was shocked at the fear installed in them by the intimidation techniques employed by the authorities. An old man, fetching water from a well down the road, was clearly scared to talk out loud. ” We were beaten and unlawfully fined by the police, we can not walk on the road in groups of more than 2-3 people, they even searched our houses in the middle of the night and threatened us” he whispered leaning in. A shop keeper, recognizing I am not a local and before I could say good morning, was quick on letting me know, upon me entering to buy a coffee, that he has no clue of what is happening in the village, he knows nothing of whom the protesters are or anything else I might be interested to know about the protests.
The people of Pungesti took matters into their own hands and started protesting against the oil giant Chevron and the shale gas fracking project so vehemently promoted by Romanian government. On 2nd Dec , 2013 and after months of protests, the first scuffle took place between protesters and riot police. The Vaslui district prefect ordered a road to be cleared after being blocked by peasants worried about their treasured land and water sources being polluted by the controversial fracking procedure that Chevron will use in their quest for profits from shale gass. On Dec 17th after the bruises (obtained during the previous encounter mainly from pushing and being dragged on the ground by police) healed , people took stand again against the police forces defending the corporation that was allowed to poison their future. This time the scuffle turned into a brawl with grandparents and environmental activists fighting riot police and managing to destroy the fence that surrounded Chevron’s installation. This opened the road for the head of Vaslui District Police (Pungesti village belongs to Vaslui District) to declare Pungesti a zone of “special security for public safety” (it is worth mentioning that the law states that such measure should be taken when on a relatively small area are concentrated illegal elements like extreme violence, drug trafficking, prostitution etc) . Ironically, the inhabitants of the village seemed to be under threat from the huge number of police forces deployed in the area that used threats and fines, arrests and all sort of wired accusations as intimidation methods to deter land owners, farmers and simple peasants from protesting.
Hunger strike is now considered the last resort as people are decided to continue the fight for their rights and freedom, for their land and precious water sources (which they harvest through old fashioned wells scattered around the village) not be polluted by the greed of a handful of corupted politicians (starting with the the district council president Dumitru Buzatu and ending with the Romanian prime minister Victor Ponta). People like Alexandru Popescu ( who took his protest to the capital city of Bucharest and now he is in his 22nd day of hunger strike) and few Pungesti residents have decided to continue their huger strike till their demands for a democratic, free and just Romania are met, Chevron stops their activities and corrupted politicians and policemen guilty of abuses against protesters are brought to justice. They hope that people will once again come together and fight for what they believe in, for a free and democratic Romania and for a healthy future for their children.
“At any moment in time, we are faced with two, and only two, choices. Although circumstances may appear to present a myriad of choices, or even no choice at all, if you look deeply enough you will realize that the basic choice is always there. We may choose the path of Love or the path of Fear.
So why do we often opt for fear? Because from the Fear’s standpoint, love can be terrifying. Love requires that we give up control. Fear allows us to seemingly maintain a certain degree of control. Love can make us vulnerable, or so we think. Fear allows us to keep the illusion that, by maintaining vigilance, we can logically determine the best course of action, and protect ourselves, if necessary.
Choosing Love means that we have to “expose” ourselves, including what we perceive as our weaknesses and, therefore, open ourselves up to possible manipulation and pain. Most of us have painful memories of, after opening ourselves up to Love, being hurt and/or disappointed by those we trusted most. When we are hurt and manipulated by those we love, our trust is shattered. We feel violated. The fear then leads to anger. We swear we will never allow ourselves to be so vulnerable again. We chastise ourselves for being so “stupid” as to trust in the first place. And so the Fear has the ammunition it needs to get us to begin building “walls” which we think will protect us from future pain. What the Fear doesn’t tell us is that, by building these walls, we prevent ourselves from receiving the love we truly want and deserve. That’s why, after a time of recovery, we usually decide to again “take a chance” on love. However, the Fear is not about to give up without a fight. Therefore, although we think we are opening up to Love again, we withhold a little of the trust that we had given so freely before. Then, if we get hurt again, we retreat even more firmly into the Ego’s world of fear and control. And so a vicious cycle is set into motion.
Because the force of Love is so powerful, after a time, we again realize that we cannot live without it and decide (again) to “take a chance”. The Fear, remembering the hurt from before, wages an all out war against Love. It will do everything in its power to keep the “protective walls” in place. In fact, it will do everything possible to fortify them. That includes “sabotaging” the new relationship by bringing up fears from the past in order to poison the new relationship and show you that it knows what is best for you. Protection at all costs. What the Fear won’t tell you, of course, is that this is the way it maintains its control over you. In fact, this is the way it maintains its existence. The Fear realizes that without its control there is no reason for you to need it. Love can supply all your needs. Hence, if you allow LOVE to guide you totally, there is no need for Fear. So, in truth, the Fear is fighting for its very life. And it can be utterly ruthless in its battle to survive. But do not think that, upon realizing this, you must now wage an all-out war against the Fear. First of all, it is a war you cannot win because you would be fighting it on the Fear’s turf, and on the Fear’s terms, so to speak.The Fear wants you to stay away from LOVE. It actually is trying to help you by protecting you from additional pain and suffering. However, it is also protecting itself, protecting its own existence, and it will fight for its survival in any way it can – even if that means hurting you in the process. So please don’t hate the Fear. Just realize that this is why we build and fortify the “walls” that are meant to keep us safe. And realize that, only by letting down the walls, can LOVE fully enter our consciousness.“
I captured this image during a photo project I was working on in a cement factory. I was blown away by the beauty of the light coming trough those dirty and dusty ceiling windows . Just imagine I was up to my knees in dust and I was doing my best to keep it away from my equipment when I got stunned by this view. I tried to capture an image that can describe what I felt. Hope you enjoy it.
As I have mentioned before, I was really decided to give it another try at these series of photos using engine oil. I brought in my home makeshift “studio” some oil borrowed from my cousin’s trunk and started setting up the shoot. While in my previous 2 experiences with oil I had no problem using cold water, I knew that with engine oil that situation would change. The water temperature will influence how this oil will react. So , first, on the cold water…took couple of shots and then observed that the oil has thickened and started to look very murky, like some dirty water. It was very disappointing to see that I just couldn’t take any decent shot and it was nothing I can do to change that.
So had to wait around for a bit , just enough for the water to get to room temperature. Now , the warmer it gets, the thinner my oil would get and I was excited that I might just have found the best oil to give me this Multiverse , even better than the first one. I really thought that because of the color of this oil, it’s viscosity, I would get the best shots in this series. So I got everything set again, played around with a colors a bit more and started shooting. After maybe around 50 shots and half an hour of trying to make it work , It just didn’t work. There was nothing I could do to make it work. It was just not cooperating with me at all.
So it was time for my final weapon in the arsenal….warm water. Now I knew that will thin out the oil even more and I could hit the jackpot. So I replaced everything once again, got my oil in and….yet more disappointment. I am still a bit pissed as I was expecting to have maybe the best results using engine oil. But it seems that the oil that is usually less dense seems to give the best results. (engine oil has a density of aprox. 899kg/m3, sunflower oil aprox 920 kg/m3 and olive oil aprox 800 kg/m3) . The last remaining on my list is hydraulic oil. As its density of aprox 870kg/m3 is higher than that of olive oil, and considering the results I got till now, I do not expect much at all from it, but I will still try.
Somebody has suggested I should use massage oil or baby oil, but from the research I’ve done, they have a density of aprox 800 kg/m3 so I might just get very similar results like my first try. So I will leave these two for now.
So next to come – HYDRAULIC OIL. Till then just have a look bellow at few of the engine oil tries. I don’t really like them…(not for this theme anyway…) but still wanted to share them with you.
The density values above are approximated and depend on the brand of oil used as well. So some of them might work better for you than for me.
I’ve been taking shots for a while now of these intricate and beautiful nature’s patterns…and just now decided to make it a challenge, a small project .