Photo challenge: Cities

Ailsa has posted a photo challenge:  take her on a tour of my favourite concrete jungle.  Well I’m not partial to concrete, and I don’t have a favourite city, but I do have a favourite photo of a city.  Here’s Nairobi in 1941.  Or 1942.

Bombay, 1941/42
Government Rd, Nairobi, Kenya, 1941/42

Ailsa quoted John Berger:

‘Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and, in this, hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.’

Nairobi is a young city, established in 1899 by the colonial authorities in British East Africa. So that tells us her age. But is this city feminine or masculine?  Perhaps a long-time resident of Nairobi could tell me.

It’s now one of Africa’s largest cities, with a population of 3.1 million, but look at this photo from the ’40s – not a lot of people on the street, not a lot of cars on the road.  Plenty of space for everyone.

And from the same photo album, this mosque in Nairobi, a very attractive building made of bricks, not concrete, and only three stories high, not scraping the sky. I like the man in uniform helping the woman cross the street, though she is also in uniform and obviously very competent. It was the gentlemanly thing to do. They’re easy to spot in the vast space of the uncrowded streetscape.

Bombay 1941/42
Khoja Mosque, Nairobi, Kenya 1941/42

The photos are from my father’s World War II album.

Thanks Ailsa for the prompt to find photogenic cities.

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Author: Trish

Literary translator, French to English. Family history amateur.

8 thoughts on “Photo challenge: Cities”

  1. I love the spirit of your offering Trish. Avoiding steel, glass and concrete, and from your own photos, I thought you might come up with something closer! Goulburn comes to mind 😉

    1. Sometimes I post about Australia, sometimes France, sometimes about my father’s WWII photos, which is my favourite source of photos for the blog. But I’ve already posted most of them on here over the past couple of years. There are just a few good ones left, like these two of Bombay.

  2. I love the top photo, why I dont really know. I have never thought of places as male/female or in love etc,, it puts a different perspective on a place.. 😉

    1. Yes it does put a different perspective on it. I thought of the top photo when I saw the ‘Cities’ challenge, and knew I had an excuse to use it.

    1. It does look peaceful. I haven’t been there, but I’ve heard it’s hectic these days, and seen photos online of traffic jams that resemble car parks. How things can change in a few decades!

  3. Wow, a different world altogether…my sister (incidentally, her name’s Trisha!) lives in Mumbai and these pictures look nothing like the city today…thanks for sharing!

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