Archive for September, 2015

6928 Vita in St Peters

St Peter’s, Vatican, October 3, 2013

By way of a very loose narrative thread, Number 47 finds us still in Rome, albeit, Vatican City. On the subject of narrative, I recently found myself teaching the “Kuleshov Effect”, more broadly known as montage, wherein narrative is constructed by the viewers themselves as suggested by the sequence of shots. I have never set out to construct any story through the sequence of my Favourite Shots, yet it used to be a favourite pastime of mine to watch random slideshows of photos from throughout my life and find threads in them. Often a story would present itself in a run of places, characters and moods that reordered history into new possibilities.

This shot was taken inside St Peter’s early on a weekday morning. It was the most enjoyable visit to St Peters I’ve ever had – the building had not impressed me in the past, largely because of its rather dull grey and gold interior. Obviously St Peter’s is opulent and elaborately decadent, yet it is also vast and cavernous and the abiding atmosphere has a greyness about it that seems to mute the place and make the frills seem out of proportion. On this visit, however, sun was streaming through a floating interior haze and the towering ceiling had an epic refinement, the beauty of something natural. At ground level it felt intimidating in places, yet looking up, it’s grandeur became apparent.

This shot was taken as we slowly drifted to the exit, feeling more content than expected. Perhaps it was the pleasant surprise of the place, or its soaring elevation, but V carries herself with a light floatiness, like the dust-motes in the warm air.

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Taking the TARDIS to Asia

Having an almost ten-month old baby means we don’t get out very much. Sure, there are plenty of outings, visits and excursions, mostly revolving around family, but not many evenings on which it’s possible to go out to dinner, to the cinema, or anything for that matter. We could certainly be more proactive in this regard, organizing Nana, Granny-ma or some equally benign soul to take care of Magnus, yet much of the time we’re both too exhausted to do anything anyway. The one regular exception, however, is taking the Tardis to Asia.

2120 Tardis doors

The Tardis…

Every Saturday night, unless some other occasion gets in the way, we drive to Chinatown and head upstairs at the Sussex Centre for what is universally accepted as the best laksa in Sydney – at the Happy Chef. This hole-in-the-wall in a food court seems an unlikely place to find something so magnificent, yet the Happy Chef has long been favoured by laksa aficionados and ranks in the top ten Asian eateries in Sydney on Urban Spoon (now languishing under the appalling name of Zomato) – and that’s saying something, considering how much incredible Asian food one can find in Sydney – alongside, it must be said, a lot of mediocrity. I recommend the vegetable and bean curd laksa, with small egg noodles and extra spicy beef and barbecued pork – but you can customise to your fancy.

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Happy Chef Laksa – the finest

The great thing about Happy Chef being in a food court is that we can take Magnus along and not feel too conspicuous should he cry or moan, on account of the place being full of people and, indeed, other children. Magnus, being the good sport that he is, rarely cries or moans on these occasions and, with the handy high-chairs, we can feed him while we eat. As it is difficult to find a park in the city on Saturday evening, though by no means impossible, and surprisingly cheap, we always park downstairs in the car-park and take the elevator up to the food court on level 1. It is at this point that we “take the Tardis to Asia.”

2126 Closing doors

Goodbye carpark

Consider this from a baby’s perspective. One minute we are in an underground car-park, dimly fluorescent, with low concrete ceilings, cars and stanchions all round. We approach a pair of sliding doors and press a button. The doors open, allowing us into a small, enclosed space with mirrored walls. Another button press and a faint, almost indistinct sense of motion occurs. A moment later, the doors slide open and – amazing! – the outside world has changed utterly. From a car park in Sydney, we are in an Asian food court full of exotic smells and mostly local Chinese people. It must be baffling, to say the least.

2137 Arrival in Asia

Hello Asia!

Of course, Magnus is far too young to make much of this at all. Without even words to put names to things, or grammar and syntax to string narratives together, he’s not in much of a position to explore this phenomenon with any real sophistication. I wonder whether he can even deduce that we have travelled upwards – he may have a better grasp of motion than I give him credit for, yet it’s a pretty smooth ride in the Tardis. So, really, his fascination is, as much as anything else, an imaginary affectation of his father. Yet I do like to think that he does at least find it curious – he certainly looks curious on emerging from the lift. Again, as with so many things that Magnus experiences and I experience vicariously through him, I long for that moment when he begins to ask me questions; when his clear fascination and curiosity are framed in that most human of cultural phenomena – words.

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