Life Rambles Travel Rambles

Captured Moments: Your Hands, My Stories

“Some people read palms to tell your future, but I read hands to tell your past. Each scar makes a story worth telling. Each callused palm, each cracked knuckle is a missed punch or years in a factory.” ― Sarah Kay

I wondered if my fascination with hands is an indication of being fixated with the past. Perhaps it is a simple case of curiosity. Like Sarah Kay, I do not want to read palms to predict the future. My interest lies in uncovering stories. These wonderful pairs of human tool belie great stories. Each pair of hands tells uncountable stories, many hidden and unexplored.

The following pictures are some hands stories that I had encountered during my travel. Each of these has struck a certain chord and once carried me away into a land of fantasy mixed with realities.

A food peddler cooks at the curbside in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

This pair of hands reminds me of my father, who has worked hard throughout his life. Good, honest hard work. I was in Mui Ne when I came across the scene in the picture. I have to admit that it was the delicious scent that first caught my attention. I was sitting astride the motorcycle of the ever-reliable Mr. Binh, my easy rider for my first solo trip in 2012. Upon seeing the old lady selling her wares by the road, I was drawn to her nimble hands. She worked fast and her hands danced gracefully to an invisible tune. The faint lines appeared when she flexed her hands to work magic on the food. I’ve always told anyone who would listen to me that ‘wrinkles are beautiful; they are lines of experiences’.

Reaching Out. Yokohama, Japan
Give and Take. Yokohama, Japan

It was a fine evening to be sitting by the bay. After an arduous afternoon that included a heavy lunch and non-stop walking, it was a relief to sit down and enjoy the incoming breeze. On my right, an old man who looked to be in his fifties exuded calmness. He sat very still, and waited with an outstretched arm. I wondered if the waves of loneliness came from him, me, or the both of us.

Before long, birds flocked towards him; pecking at his feet and onto his arm. His other arm was in a heavy white cast, tempting one to draw something cheerful or motivating. The mood has changed. A smile broke out on my face, as I took endless shots of the old man and his feathered friends. Indeed, friends come in all forms.

Belief. Ganges River, India.

In 2011, I visited India with my friends and one of the most memorable destinations is Varanasi. It is the Holy city, whereby the Mother river or Holy river flows through. In fact, this is such a sacred place that most Hindus will try to migrate and live by the river during their final days. We bobbed down the river in a tiny boat, trying to catch the sunrise, to no avail. Nature can be elusive. Along our way, we saw funeral processions whereby the cremated bodies were dispersed near the ghats. We were secretly envious of those who dared to take a dip by the riverbanks.

Midway, our guide leaned over the side of the boat and scooped the water that was deemed holy. He drank it. Boldened by his actions, my friends and I followed suit to dip our hands in the murky, brown river for some quick blessings (PS: no, we did not drink it but we sprinkled the water upon our selves). Never doubt the power of beliefs.

Contemplation. Shanghai, China.

One of them was jolly and casual, the other was frowning in concentration. The two men amused me. The loosely clenched fist gave a non-verbal hint. He was deep in contemplation, trying to make a winning move. I have no idea how to play a chess game, and I am not sure if I would ever learn. Nevertheless, I love chess games because each session tells alot. It is common for quarrels to break out during these sessions; something that I am still trying to fathom. I guess grown men can become kids where games are concerned. This chess game almost ended badly, when one accused the other of playing too casually. The accused gave a cheeky grin. I stood by the side, amused. If life is like a game of chess, how would you play it?

Lust, Caution. Shanghai, China.

This is an epic one, which shocked and amused me to no end. Two months ago, I was in Shanghai visiting a dear friend. She brought me to an ancient town, and one of the teahouses happened to be the film location for the movie, “Lust, Caution“. This picture was taken when I was returning to our table from the ladies. Just as I passed by the courtyard, a lady spoke. She said, “let’s go get a room”. My eyes widened like a pair of saucers, and all I could see beyond the window was a pair of slim hands. Ahh, “Lust, Caution“… How fitting! The image before me was so simple but there’re so much more beyond. 😛

Buddha’s Hand in Lingshan. Wuxi, China.

Last but not least, here’s a giant hand that commands respect. This shot was taken by my friend (because i’m in the picture) when we were having a short holiday in Wuxi. Lingshan is most famous for its giant Buddha, and this place of worship resembles a sacred theme park. There are museum, palace, places of worships, vegetarian hall and grand sculptures much like the ‘hand’ that you see in the picture. There are countless legends and myths about the Buddha’s hand. One of the most common ones is depicted in “Journey to the West” whereby Buddha trapped the mischievous Monkey God under his palm. I stood before this giant hand and prayed for the good health of family and friends.

(PS: Lingshan is an interesting place and I will try to write more about it in a later post.)

This post differs slightly form my previous ones, but it reflects sightings and thoughts that are very much a part of me. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Do you have a fascination with hands too? Do feel free to share your thoughts (and pictures).

While looking at other people’s hands has become a habit for me, I do not look at mine too closely.

The above information has been compiled based on my own experience and should only be used as a reference.

2 comments on “Captured Moments: Your Hands, My Stories

  1. This is beautifully written and very creative. Could be the start of a new path for you? A way in to let your writing blossom?

    • Thank you very much! Your words are really encouraging. I’m still trying to balance between writing what I want to, and what others may want to read or find useful. These days, the words don’t seem to flow as smoothly. Perhaps travel beckons. 😉

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