Tonight’s class was good, and even if I’m not a huge fan of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, small and dimly lit yoga rooms, I still enjoyed pushing my stiff body’s physical limits. Unsurprisingly, the instructor guided us in Spanish, which I understand marginally better than Vietnamese. I can count well enough, so that made it a little easier to follow. And even if some might feel a little uncomfortable when I sneak peek around to see what needs to be adjusted, tweaked or stretched, it’s absolutely “necesario”.
I was the only dude at tonight’s class. Somehow I doubt that yoga attracts Spanish men. It’s probably not macho enough. They don’t know what they’re missing. Walking home from the gym today I realized how warm it felt. These past sunny days have given us comfortable evening temperatures. It’s still jacket ‘n sweater season for sure. But that could be over real soon. Maybe even by next week.
So happy for Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell for sweeping up so many Grammy’s last night. What a talented team. Sad to hear of the helicopter crash and tragic death of former NBA giant Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianni. Don’t understand why the pilot was granted special permission to fly during such extremely poor visibility.
Saw this fluffy mutt during yesterday’s visit to the always enjoyable village Pedregalejo on the north end of Málaga. Only after a while did I realize that the poor pouch might well have been locked in between the iron bars and the window by his owners. I really hope not.
After a few days of intense rain and relatively cold weather, the sun rose over Málaga this morning. Here’s what it looked like from the rooftop of our apartment building, where, as soon as it gets a little warmer, I plan on practicing Yoga and Qigong.
In a few hours, after four months in Asia, daughter Elle will arrive in Göteborg, Sweden. She sent me a safety-masked selfie from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport just before boarding. The scare of the Coronavirus is apparently widespread and growing rapidly.
I wonder what it’s going to take, epidemiologically speaking, before Chinese officials responsible for providing informed guidelines and implementing/enforcing regulations on hygiene and animal welfare, start taking their jobs seriously. Doesn’t the government in Beijing understand the potential risks, even after Sars and other related viral epidemics that stem from unhealthy food production practices? And while they’re at it, maybe it’s also time to start promoting a plant-based diet to its 1.5 billion population.
I’ve been to so many food markets in China and other parts of Asia. They’re often fascinating, exotic places filled with vibrant colors and a wealth of rich, often pungent smells. But after each visit, I am convinced that excluding meat and poultry from my diet is so right.
The lack of empathy for animals in general and the brutal enslavement these creatures must endure in factory farms before reaching the dinner table is symptomatic of a mindless society that has lost touch with the planet and where common sense is long, long gone.
The sheep above are from an island in Sweden called Orust. As soon as they saw us, the fled. Rightly so.
This piece is aptly called “Which Switch?”. It’s based on a photo shot somewhere within an old industrial workshop in Malmö, Sweden. I’ve sold it in varying sizes and on different materials, but I wonder if the visual appeal of those that have bought it is at least partially aligned with my initial concept of what it means to have too many choices and the mental stress from chronic ambiguity.
I was recently once again invited to the juried exhibition arranged by the cultural association MKK during Malmö Gallery Night 2020. Last year’s show went really well with a steady stream of visitors and four works sold. Looking forward to participating again with new pieces. Now all I have to do is create them…
These words are written from a hotel room in Malmö, not that far from where I shot the above scene of Möllevångstorget – one of Malmö’s most popular and culturally eclectic, open-air markets. I’m currently watching a live broadcast from the US Senate’s impeachment hearing in D.C. with a stream of German instrumental electronica from the Internet station Groove Salad of San Francisco as backdrop music to the unusually syrupy proceedings. I just got back from the hotel’s lobby bar where I ate two tasty Mexican tacos (veg) provided by a kind woman from Columbia (Bogota) who also supplied me with a cold draft beer named Eriksberg, a neighborhod on the outskirts of Göteborg.
Back in Malmö for the first time since the beginning of last October. First visit of 2020, even. Enjoyed a spectacularly glitch-free trip up from southern Spain. Connected to every means of communication beautifully; taxi, plane, train. Yes, it’s grey and cold. Yet somehow hopeful. Here for a few days to work for Mr. Stordalen again.
The fact that the trashcan above had the text “USAME” on it vertically was so poetically apt, that not getting a shot of it would have been malpractice.
I seem to be following in love with Spain again. It’s been an on and off relationship since we lived in Mallorca many moons ago and I’m now back at the point where I find there’s more to appreciate then to dislike. I still easily overdose on tapas, though. And in the long run, the omnipresent, life-embracing, late-night culture, is way too alluringly insalubrious for me. Last night was spent with friends at a couple of real gems, a tiny bar run by a couple from Belgium called Fonzo and a wonderfully outlandish “speakeasy” called The Pharmacy where they have a wide selection of both tasty and colorful concoctions of 100% liquid prescriptions.
Visually, Málaga’s Centro Historico and the downtown area is nothing short of fantastic. So much wonderful patina, artful decay, and brutal contrasts between the obsessively well-kept, endlessly neglected and stuff that is just downright butt-ugly. Best of all, Málaga feels so manageable and accessible. At least when compared with Madrid or Barcelona – and though there are quite a few Swedes here, it’s not nearly as incestuous as Palma de Mallorca can be. Málaga is kinda the perfect sized city. Now, if we could only find somewhere to live…
Shot this gang of four-legged buddies just outside of the prestigious store, El Corte Ingles earlier today. Come to think of it, I don’t really know if El Corte Ingles actually is all that fancy. But since the brand translates to “The English Court”, I’m just assuming that at least at some point in time, it aimed to be high street. Today, I doubt if most Spaniards even think about what the place is called. And those pugs could obviously care even less.
After discovering a water leakage from the ceiling of our old apartment here on Calle Los Negros (yeah, I hate the name too, apparently, the street we live on right now is where the first emancipated African slaves were allowed to settle, which doesn’t explain why it’s still called “The Blacks”) we were offered a new place further down the hallway. While it won’t ever win a prize for its interior decorating, it’s undeniably bigger, brighter and has two bathrooms. Not sure if we’ll be allowed to make the switch permanently or, if not, how long we’ll be able to stay in this new place. We are, after all, in Spain where Captain Whimsical and General Mañana still rule the land. But for now, we’ve never been more comfortable in Malaga.
Update: we have to move out tomorrow…but as compensation, we’ve been offered a smaller and darker apartment with only one bathroom. And if we’re really lucky, the new flat will be even closer to where the building’s ongoing construction is best heard and felt. So there you go.
We live right just a few hundred meters from Plaza de la Merced, arguably most famous for being the square on which artist Pablo Picasso was born. So, as one can imagine, there is no shortage of physical and lyrical references of the neighborhood’s favorite son there. Like this cutout at one of the half dozen taverns and taperias on the sunny side of the square. Oh, and if you were wondering, Paco is still missing. Just heard a dozen or so shoutouts.
Paaaco! Paaaaco! Paaaaco! As I’m typing these words, there’s an old lady across the street yelling incisively down from her kitchen window. She’s trying to get in touch with someone or something called Paco. Her voice is cranky and nagging and if I were Paco, I’d definitely stay the fuck away.
As tiring as it is to hear, I can’t help but wonder if Paco is her dog, her husband or a son. Maybe it’s her lover and he’s just got so insanely sick of looking at her and listening to that demanding, scratchy voice, that he just picked up and left, sneaking out while she was taking her morning dump. He might even have thrown himself out the window and is now slowly and painfully crawling his way to his newfound, albeit crippled freedom. If it’s her dog, I pray the tortured creature is long and forever gone.
Today I bought something I never conceived I would own, namely, a shopping trolley. Not that I had any prejudices about them per ce. Sure, they’ve been around forever, I just never envisioned that I’d have the need to use one. At least not at 56.
Here in Málaga, the only way to really enjoy a shopping experience, at least when buying groceries, is at the formidable Mercado Central de Atarazanas. It’s a classic indoor market hall filled with rich colors, intense smells and buzzing with activity. Gothenburg has a similarly lively indoor market, much smaller though. I love these places. There are plenty of smaller Mercados around town. But they’re grimy and shabby and reliably uninspiring.
Since we’re currently living aways from the Mercado Central, we were advised by Swedish American friends to immediately invest in a shopping trolley. So before today’s market visit began, I bought one at a hardware store near the market. As convenient as it was to just relinquish everything I purchased straight into the trolley’s belly, it felt a little awkward walking home with it wobbling unsteadily behind me. Not that I haven’t rolled camera bags and cases hundreds if not thousands of miles over the years. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if a new era hadn’t just begun. That once you start using one of these trolleys, you just never stop.
I could never have carried all of today’s stuff home in my arms. The weight from the large watermelon, giant beef tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, roasted almonds, carrots, oranges, and raisins was just wonderfully offloaded by the little trolley. And the only reason I broke into a slight sweat on my way home was because of the relatively hot midday January sun. Shot the trolley just down the street from our temporary flat where there’s a ton of most beautiful murals and graffiti.
It was certainly a long-haul, but a surprisingly smooth ride traveling to Málaga from Bangkok via Copenhagen. Not a single hitch or glitch along the way. We even managed to sleep 9 hours straight our first night as residence here in Andalusia.
There doesn’t seem to be much tourism in Málaga this time of year. Which is just fine for us as it’ll provide an opportunity to get to know the city before the inexorable tourist season kicks in.
The above piece was created from a dozen or so images I shot during last year’s visit to Málaga. In the middle of the collage is a young Chinese tween I saw outside of a hotel, possibly waiting for a taxi or an Uber.
Her head was slightly bent downwards, as if she was in deep prayer. Her eyes entranced on whatever was happening on the giant screen she held in her tiny, bleak hand.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a solo Chinese tourist before.
This is by far my favorite photo from our three months in Asia. It’s just a few days old and one of a handful of selfies I’ve ever taken. I shot it at the BTS Skytrain station Ari after a wonderful family weekend in Bangkok, only a few hours before Elle flew south, back to her dogs at Soi Dog – the shelter she’s been volunteering at in Phuket.
I’m writing this from Turkish Airways’ lounge at Souvannaphoum Airport where low and behold, they serve homemade (lounge made?) Turkish pizza, hummus, and other Mediterranean treats that aren’t available at a typical Priority Pass lounge. And to boot, they even offer 15 minutes of complimentary neck and shoulder massage. Only downside here: Chivas is the house (and only) whiskey.
We have about 4 hours until our 11.5-hour flight to Copenhagen. And once there, it’s another three hours until we board the next plane headed to southern Spain. Gonna feel weird with Elle being so far away from us…at least for a few weeks… when she too returns to Europe.
I can’t make up my mind whether or not whoever came up with the concept of the breakfast buffet should be punished or praised. What I mean is, while I really appreciate having a wide selection of breakfast treats to choose from, I don’t like having to share the experience with others.
There’s a hint of cumin in one of the loaves at the bread counter. I love cumin in bread. Especially when you toast it. It makes every other kind of bread taste meh.
I get a little paranoid just before picking up the serving spoon so I can get me some of them tasty baked beans in tomato sauce. No breakfast buffet is worth a mention without this tremendously underrated dish. But thinking of all the unwashed, nose and ass-picking fingers of people that have handled the spoon before me, certainly takes away some of the culinary excitement.
A sunny side up fried egg placed on cumin flavored toast and topped with baked beans in tomato sauce, will probably always be a favorite breakfast.
The hotel we’re staying at has a decent breakfast buffet, but between 8:30 and 9:30, it’s nerve-wracking chaotic in the dining hall. Hundreds of guests, dozens of servers, a chef or two and usually overdressed managers are scrambling about with focus and purpose gleaming from their serious faces. It’s improvisational theatre without a script or an audience and a diminishing collection of props.
At best, it takes me three round trips before I’ve got everything I want from the buffet here. Depending on how I’ve managed to amass my various dishes, either the toast and/or the eggs and/or coffee might be cold by the time I can sit down and start eating.
Sometimes I yearn for a properly made Bloody Mary with breakfast. Or, a Salty Dog. Just one.
This “window” belongs to the by far neatest and most organized used auto parts supply shop I’ve ever seen. Easily the tidiest in Talad Noi. I managed to get in a few shots before the lady that runs it had a complete meltdown and whisked me away like some stray cat with a camera around its neck.
I wonder if folks looking for specific parts or tools pass by and actually window-shop, similarly to what others do when they’re eyeing clothes, jewelry and handbags at Siam Paragon, Icon Siam, MBK or Gayson shopping centers here in Bangkok.
I wrote to a friend the other day how fascinating my fascination with this place still is – even after a decade. That I find it so thrilling to at least temporarily get to grab a glimpse of the often intense action and heavy metal atmosphere of Talad Noi. That said, the men that work there, the forklift drivers, welders, painters and varieties of overall-clad men doing all kinds of metalsmithing, are anything but machismo, physically or in attitude. Aside from the aforementioned lady that had the shit-fit, I can’t remember ever experiencing anyone ever getting irritated with either my curiosity or photography.
I’m heading out there again tomorrow afternoon to capture a few more portraits for a forthcoming exhibit that I’m planning to have in Malaga in a month or two.