Pictures speak louder than words so I will just leave you with some portaits of the people I saw across town. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it captures some of the city’s many faces.
I met Paetai Paeira in the distant mountain village of Pukaram, Thailand. As part of the indigenous Karen community he is a bearer of century old traditions. Although the destiny of his people has not been the brightest, he hopes for a better future – for the other Karen and for his family.
The beautiful song he performs on a traditional string instrument goes along the line of “The wind can bend a single bamboo stick, but it cannot them if they are many and they stick together”.
The tradition to weave bracelets and charms from white and red yarn (Martenitsa, Mărțișor, Martinka, Martos) has been around for centuries. The Bulgarian legend goes back to 7th century A.D and the wife of the first khan, while the story of the Romanian Mărțișor is usually traced as far back as the Roman empire. According to the early Roman calendar, before switching to January (in honour of Janus), New Year’s Eve was celebrated on March 1 – called ‘Martius’ (after Mars) just before the equinox in Mid-March.
Last year around this time I spent some time in South-Western Thailand, where I met these adorable little kids from the indigenous Karen community. I had brought some martenitsi for presents and my luck did not fail me: I had just a few bracelets left and they were exactly as many as the children : )
Ah, those adorable youngsters: gleaming even though they have nothing. Meetings like this one really make you re-evaluate your situation in life and appreciate what you’ve got.