On the face of it, very little seems to be in common between Karachi and Rio de Janeiro. But after having visited Rio and Karachi, I realised that the two cities have commonalities. Both the metropolises are coastal cities and invite everyone to visit their beaches and contemplate life.
It's the contemplating gaze at the ocean, its waves, the endless strip of sand, and the sky that's common between Karachi and Rio, between Sea View and Ipanema. This is where they meet, engage and have a conversation.
I have spent a lot of time in Karachi and the beaches here. When I went to Rio and walked by its waters, there were many instances – some fleeting, others a little more lasting – that reminded me of Karachi.
As waves hit the shore and went back into the ocean, there were these flashback moments that hit me as well. I tried to capture them before they also went away.
Sometimes it was a gesture, positioning, pose or just an expression. It's these moments, as well as this poem by Paul Valéry, that inspired me to do this project:
La mer, la mer, toujours recommencée!
O récompense après une pensée qu'un long regard sur le calme des dieux!
Sea, the sea beginning each occasion
to bring such riches in from contemplation:
great settlements of calm the gods inspire.
The blue of the chairs, the blue of her clothes / The orange of the flowers on the umbrella, the orange of her plastic bag.
The purple of the doll's hair, the purple of her clothes / Both identical in how they're standing and looking at the water.
Hands crossed in contemplation.
Arms crossed in contemplation.
The yellow of the football, the yellow of the buckets / Both waiting for customers, they have something to sell. Life at the beach is a source of income.
The orange of his beanie, the orange of the camel's decoration / The grey and white of his blanket, the grey and white of his headscarf
The peak of the mountain, the camel's hump.
Young or old, the same, playful hand gesture
The green of the bottle and red of the light/ The green of her ribbon and the red of the chair
Hand to the head
The purple of her scarf, the purple of her hair
There are balls at every beach
Off to somewhere
Ready for the beach in bright colours
Fixing the hair
Walking along the coast, both in white amidst the sea of waves
All photos by the author.
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Oriane Zerah is a French photographer, writer and traveller. She has worked extensively in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. Presently, she is based in Karachi. See her complete work at http://www.orianezerah.com/
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