Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Day in Central Park
by: Farah Montehermoso

I went to Central Park to support my husband who joined the 25th NYC Century Bike Tour. It’s an annual 100 bike tour across five boroughs of New York City.  I am his official photographer since I cannot join yet because of a recent accident. While waiting for him to come back I walk around Central Park taking pictures of people and hope to share with you the stories behind the pictures and some of the issues in New York City.

1      1.   Hijabi Cyclist

Among thousands of cyclist that I saw on the start of the bike tour this lady caught my attention. I think she’s one gutsy ‘hijabi’. Hijabi is a term used for Muslim women who wears hijab or headscarf. As a recent Muslim convert in New York wearing hijab in a fashion capital of the world is a complete irony. For me wearing it is a struggle especially during summer time. I do wear head scarf and I am trying to practice modesty. One of the issues of Muslim women is about modest sports clothes. I am planning to design modest sportswear someday. This lady inspires me, she is just confident with her looks. We’ve heard so many negative things about Muslim community in the news. It is refreshing to see a fellow Muslimah just enjoying herself in a 100 mile bike tour. This image may not go to big news agency but I am proud to show this. Majority of the Muslim community have simple and happy life just in case anybody would ask. 

1.                  2. Homeless Guy

If you have been to New York you would notice homeless people all over the city.  When I first came here 2 years ago I was shocked to see homeless people. Why one of the world’s powerful and rich nation would have homeless people. I always say the government has billions of budgets for research about outer space or war on foreign country but they could not eliminate homelessness. My memory card was full so I have to delete some old photos. I was looking for a shaded bench when I saw this guy. I sit beside him for few minutes.  His bench was pretty cozy.  I noticed other people taking his photo and talk about him in foreign language. Each person has a story to tell. Some people who become homeless were veterans who came back home from war and struggle with PTSD (post- traumatic stress disorder)or people who were released from jail who cannot go back to their family.  When the weather is good like this homeless people can find spaces on the park but during winter time it is painful to see them on the subway in freezing cold weather.

1.       3.Puppy Love

Central Park is also known for its fundraising events like “Susan G Komen Race for the Cure”. 5k walk to raise awareness of breast cancer. Famous names in fashion industry joined with their employees in support for the event. But “Zeus” (Samoyed breed) steals the show. All of the people just notice how cute he is even this brown dog stop for a ‘kiss’. Maybe it is love at first sight. I talked to the owner of Zeus she said they are supporting her friends who joined the walk. Almost every week there are fundraising event happening in Central Park. My husband and I joined several 5k run before. People from all walks of life together with their families, friends and their dogs walk and run for a cause.

1       4. No Excuse
I was walking when I heard this lady saying “Excuse me”.  She ran past me then suddenly I noticed her legs.  This lady is one of the few reasons why I love running. We often make too many excuses not to work-out. You don’t need to know to why she lost her leg.  It maybe from illness, accident or she may be a veteran but the most important thing is she did not lose hope. Just looking at her gives me inspiration to live a healthy lifestyle. There were also blind runners train for the upcoming New York City Marathon. I saw him run with a guide and he has a string attached on his arm and his guide’s arm. If blind and amputee can run what excuse do we have not to be fit. 

1.                 5. Cool Dad

       I am not sure if they are really the father of the kids or if they are married or they are just baby sitters. For me, they gave a new meaning to modern parenting. Isn't it cool to roller blades while taking care of your kids? 

1.       6. Blonde Musician

You will see so many talented artists on Central Park but most of them are men. This lady is not your typical blonde girl. I feel like she represents young adults with college degree who does not have a stable income and has thousands of student loan. I believe she’s a talented artist waiting for her big break. Street performers are enjoying the last days of summer. When winter season comes they can still perform but only limited subway stations or trains.  In Philippines she could be a model or TV actress but she’s more than your typical blonde girl. I can feel her passion and she’s just enjoying her music. 

1     7.Innocence of the young boy

I love this photo. I work as early childhood special education. I remember one of my students when I saw this boy. I was far away from him but I could see he was chasing the birds and I could feel his giggles trying to catch the little birds. I wish young African American boys have the freedom to enjoy their childhood without prejudice and violence. Like other young boy my student was born by irresponsible parents who left their kids in foster care. I saw the transformation in my student’s behavior when he was moved from different homes and different schools. Racial discrimination and racial profiling is still an issue that we face every day.

1.       8.Lost in the city

There is no public transportation inside Central Park except horse carriage and rickshaw. When I saw this Indian family with their luggage first thing that comes to my mind they got lost. I saw them asked an ice cream vendor for direction. I remember my mother-in-law when I saw this lady. My husband’s family is from Bangladesh. My  A ’ma ( Bangla for mother ) also wears sari. I only talked to her on skype and I always saw her wearing her ‘Sari’ (traditional women’s clothes in India and Bangladesh).  New York city is one of the most diverse city in the world. There are at least 200 languages spoken in New York City. Though the city welcomes diversity it is also a struggle to find your own unique identity. 

1.                 8.Love in the city

I met my husband in New York City two years ago and after a year we got married. I didn't have photo shoot in Central Park so I’m happy to see young couple having the day of their lives. I thought they are Filipino but I heard the photographer speaks Mandarin so they are Chinese.  When I saw them walking in front of me I hurriedly followed them and took some shots. In an instant they were surrounded by curious tourist who wants to take pictures too. 

     10 Grow old with you

I love taking pictures of old couple. We all want to have someone to be with when we grow old. However, divorce is rampant in western countries. In New York City, you will see posters of divorce lawyers offering their services. I saw ads like “$300 divorce lawyer, no spouse signature required”. I admire old couple because by just looking at them you would know that they are still in love.  I took so many pictures of couple on the boat near the Bow Bridge. I was sitting on the bench feeling so sleepy when I saw them.  Then the lady took nuts and feed her husband. The sweetest thing I've seen in my day. 

*This article was written last fall of 2014. All photos are property of Cherry Ann Montehermoso