Boy in a Bowl

Sometimes during my travels I’ve seen or experienced something that leaves me shocked, awestruck or somehow overly impressed to the point that it’s hard for me to believe what I’m seeing or experiencing.

One such hard-to-fathom moment happened when I was in Cambodia last year, during a boat ride on the Tonle Sap lake, not too far from the city of Siem Reap and the great ruins at Angkor.

For one thing, the Tonle Sap lake is a pretty amazing thing in itself. During the summer, its size increases to 13,000 square kilometers from the 2,500 that it is in the winter. I was there in the winter, and at that time it’s still very large, but in the summer, the rivers that the lake feeds into (the Mekong and the Tonle Sap) get backed up by heavy rains and that extra water goes into the lake, making it bigger and bigger. On the way out to the lake last winter, I saw houses on stilts that must have been at least 15 or 20 feet off the ground. I just imagine that those houses may be at lake level during the summer.

Anyway, during the boat ride, we stopped off at a large, floating souvenir stand, with shops selling touristy things, plus a restaurant, etc. After we left, a boy of perhaps ten years old floated up toward us. He had only one arm, but that’s not what was so unusual.

What was strange was that he was not in a rowboat or some such thing. He was actually floating on the water in a large metallic bowl! I don’t remember if he was begging for money or just wanted to say hi, but I couldn’t believe it. Here’s this kid with only one arm, holding a paddle (just a stick, really) with that arm, floating in a bowl on a very deep lake. I don’t know how long he’d been floating in that thing, but I couldn’t help thinking what would happen if that bowl somehow got flooded and sank. Would he be able to swim to safety with just one arm? Would that stick be able to support his weight? I hope he never has to find out.

Somehow, as the boat was pulling away, I managed to get a couple of photos. The one at the top here is the second one. The first one (second down) is on the soft side, as I was hurrying so much that I didn’t take the time to focus properly. The third photo shows some boats on the lake, backlit by the sun.

Another special moment happened Thursday night when I went to see Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine at the Metropolitan Opera. Puccini is very well known for such operas as La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Tosca and Turandot, but for some reason La Rondine is not performed that much (perhaps because nobody dies in this one…LOL). The last time the Met staged it before this season was way back in 1936.

Well, that much of a hiatus is certainly not justified, based on the music, much of which is just gorgeous. The opera as a whole may not be too famous, but its first act soprano aria, “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta,” is – and it was wonderfully performed by the Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu (who happens to be my favorite singer).

Still, as beautiful and lovely as that was, it was not the special moment. That came toward the end of Act II, when the quartet of lead singers was singing along with the chorus. It wasn’t as memorable a tune as the one in the first act, but it was very beautiful and everything just came together perfectly and magnificently. I just sat there enthralled and entranced, wishing that it could go on all night. Of course, it didn’t, but for one brief shining moment, all was right with the world.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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1 Response to Boy in a Bowl

  1. Lin says:

    Thank you for sharing such a very powerful shot. What moved me was the expression on his face – he looked so happy. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

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