Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pineapple fields forever...

I will show great restraint and not use any more Beatles allusions. (You're welcome to hum along in your own head, though.)

This is a view of the pineapples, taken from our roof eight floors up. Not a great shot, but I did say I'd post one, so here it is. I'd like to get some close-ups of the women who work in the fields, but I'm too shy. It would require me to go walking through the rows, uninvited, and then stand there with camera in hand, butchering the little Mandarin I know as I try to explain my intentions – either that, or just boldly start taking pictures. Neither option appeals. I need to get over myself or get a better camera.

I did try to photograph the women last fall. They were working near our school and would take their midday break in the shade of the trees near our gate. Nora and I would deliver lunch to Tim and Cole, and the ladies, crouched over their noodles and tea, would smile and pat Nora's arm as we went by. After lunch, though, on our return home, we'd find the whole group of them sacked out on the sidewalk (never the grass, perhaps because of the spiders, whose little wispy webs dot the lawn in the mornings). Lying on their sides, the women would pull their coats over their heads and just check out for an hour or so. Shou syi, I think it's called – like siesta. A few times I had my camera ready, so I could snap a shot as we passed, but someone would always raise her head as I came near, and I would chicken out. Maybe that's for the best. It doesn't seem right to treat your neighbors as anthropological subjects, even though on one level that is what they are. It's the other, deeper level of our shared humanity that stops me. I wouldn't want someone to be so brazen in their curiosity of how I live. Well, come to think of it, people here are brazen in their curiosity of how I live. But I don't particularly like it, so I try not to do the same to them.


Lowa said...

Great picture. I understand your hesitation as well as your desire to photograph the women. Maybe one day soon it can happen!

Sister said...

Brings back memories of our time on Oahu!
Amazing folks, those who work the pineapple fields. The sheer enormity of the task seems so overwhelming, yet they're out there, stooped, hands never idle, making their way through thousands of acres of monotony.
I have much more respect for any pineapple product I see in the stores now. All that work, and yet so relatively inexpensive.

Traci Sheffield said...

I remember being in Guatemala and wanting to get pictures of the colorful women at the market but we were counseled to either not do it or offer money. I guess that's fair considering I had no intentions of purchasing their wares at the moment. You're right though - it does seem kind of rude. Americans can be so obtuse about other cultures. I appreciate your sensitivity towards them. We just had some fresh pineapple last night for dinner - how much more I appreciate it now!