🏎 Meetings with remarkable people

Between December 2021 and May 2022 I have been involved on an incredible journey that led me to discover and investigate the cultures and ways of living of two countries that I have come to love: Mauritius Island and Uganda.

This experience allowed me to live extremely different dynamics to what I was used to and gave me the opportunity to get in touch with people and places that fed my desire to investigate the space that surrounds me, who lives it and how they live it.
I have collected a lot of material, developed various exercises and explored new means of archiving the present which I will have the pleasure of sharing soon.

What I intend to share now is the story of an encounter, lasting less than an hour, outside of a supermarket in Mauritius Island, with a person I will certainly never forget:

Unaware that I would have met him that day, I did not carry with me any means of documenting this fantastic moment.
I will therefore limit myself to recounting what happened and accompanying it with photos of the place where we met, the pencil Ajeanmarie used and what he imagined.

I hope to see you again Ajeanmarie.

It was a great pleasure.

Tamarin (Mauritius Island) January, 24th 2022 _ 12:30 p.m.

That day I went to the supermarket to buy a block of paper to visually document my surroundings.
When I came out, I noticed a man sitting next to where I had parked my motorbike.
His eyes looked tired but full of hope, he was wearing a shabby shirt and he was carrying a backpack that had run its course.

He had long hair and a beard, and beside him were two old-school crutches. When I approached the motorbike he looked at me, and noticing the block of paper I was holding, he asked me if I liked drawing. I said yes.
The man spoke in Mauritian Creol, a language I find difficult to understand clearly, especially considering his accent.
However, we managed to understand each other. He tells me that he also likes to draw and that he likes cars.

He asks me if I have money to give him, but I only have my credit card with me. He seems like a good man and I want to help him, so I decide to go back to the supermarket to buy him some water, bread and a banana.

Before leaving the store, I found a small pencil on a table next to the checkout counter, the kind used to fill in the lottery tickets. I took it.
I went back to the parking and Ajeanmarie was still waiting for me. I gave him food and water and with them the pencil and one of the sheets of paper I had bought. I told him that they were a present for him so he could draw whenever he wanted.

He immediately started to do so and began to draw a beautiful car.
He focused on the details and had an extremely firm and thoughtful stroke.
He started talking, I didn't understand everything. He was chewing on Creole, French, a few words in English and something in Italian. He teold me that the government does not consider people like him.
The handicapped.
They don't make a profit, so they are not interested. He was fascinated by cars, trains and planes.

He used to collect metal with which he built small models, which I understand were very well made.

He said he would like to be a bird.
To be free.

And in the meantime he turned the paper over and starts drawing another car, apparently faster than the other, a sort of speed car.
He looked like a very intelligent person, yet he is homeless.
He lives on the beach and is physically unwell.
We talked, or at least understand each other, for about an hour.

Time flew by.

I wanted to film how she holds the pencil, record her voice, but I had no camera or phone to do so.
It probably means it had to be this way.

He had many stories to tell and in the meantime he continued to draw, pressing the pencil harder and harder against the paper. I could have stayed there for hours.

At a certain point, a guard approaches and invites Ajeanmarie to move away, as "people like him" do not look good sitting in front of the supermarket.

However, he decided to finish what he has started and then collected his things and gave me back the paper and pencil. I helped him get up and, accompanied by the guard, he went towards the street.

I have not seen Ajanmarie since that day, but I have always carried a block of paper and a pencil with me in case I would have meet him again. It was a special meeting.

Thank you Ajeanmarie.

self_else 2022