Photographer: Jens Uwe Parkitny

Imagine never having been photographed before. It’s almost unthinkable in the world in which many of us live, but what about worlds in which we don’t live? My lens into that world came from a friend, with whom I spoke recently about his work in portrait photography and how he uses this unique language to tell stories.

Jens Uwe Parkitny has had the remarkable privilege of taking photos of people who’ve never been photographed before, and is the author of two books — Blood Faces and Marked for Life — Myanmar ‘s Chin Women and their Facial Tattoos. He’s been…

Illustration from ‘The Night Life of Trees’

“You’re the first person who’s ever bought one of these books,” the bartender tells me. It’s an unusual place to buy handmade books featuring folk artists and poetry; they’re stacked on a round table in the corner of the stylish bar in a business hotel in Chennai, India. Where the books come from, where they’re actually sold and published, is a bright, airy space that has hosted the likes of John Berger and Arthur Flowers. Tara Books.

This independent publisher took a bit of effort to find although it’s in a neighbourhood of Chennai I’ve known most of my life…

I love listening to someone talking about a book they’re writing, or planning to write. People write because they feel that there’s something that needs to be said and, that in all of human knowledge, it hasn’t been said yet in this particular way and form. In John Yip’s case, he’s writing about something particularly important — workplace bullying — and it’s clear, when talking to him, that he has something valuable to say about it.

I met John last year; he attended a workshop I was delivering. John is honest about his life. …

The Interfaith Youth Circle and the United Hebrew Congregation in Singapore in an interfaith dialogue session in 2018. Photo credit: fotowala

Singapore’s Arab Street on a weekend afternoon is a pleasant place. The first thing to jump out at you is colour, from shophouse façades and carpet shops, but very quickly the sense of smell edges everything else out and before you know it, you’ve followed your nose to a plate of something delicious in front of you. In the middle of all this, a couple of years ago — I think it was a Sunday — a small group of people on the second or third floor of one of the little shophouses was quietly changing the world.

The group…

It’s fun to play a little game with yourself sometimes, where you challenge yourself to do something in a certain amount of time. “I’m going to get the laundry folded in exactly five minutes and get it over with.” Or, “I give myself fifteen minutes to cook a meal for myself with my own hands instead of ordering takeout again.”

Quick is good when it comes to some things. When it comes to learning a new skill and mastering it, though? A skill like copywriting, in which I train people? …

Deepa Vijayan

Communication + culture, digital communities + language, theology + religion. Writes sometimes.

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