Julia: I am intrigued by how we all see things so differently.
From frothy pink almond orchards in spring-time Spain to deep lavender fields in summery Norfolk, I adore the swathes of colour that stretch acre after acre after acre, filling the landscape for as far as I can see. Yet, for a farmer looking at those fields, perhaps he simply sees days of tiring work, or money in the bank.
I pin messages all around our house. They say things like “Don’t mix whites and colours”, so my daughters think before tossing their white t-shirts with black leggings into the washing machine. But nobody notices those reminders, so my family is constantly dressed in grey. My husband will comment on my new haircut . . . three weeks after the event! The other day he asked me about a piece of furniture, “How long has that been there?” “Two years,” I replied.
I see a small flock of sparrows feeding on our terrace each day, but I really can’t tell one bird from another. I can be shown the results of blood tests, with the doctor enthusiastically pointing to one percentage or another, and I don’t see the % differences because I am too busy looking at the shape of his pointing finger.
Experts say that there are fundamental differences in the way we view things; that many Asians, when looking at a painting, see the whole picture, while Europeans often focus on a particular detail. I wonder if our sight is discretionary, and we only see what we want to see?
I remember once, we were late leaving for work, and every taxi that went by was carrying passengers. My frustrated husband began counting the full taxis and his mood deepened, while I looked up at a flock of cockatoos pecking at flowers in the branches above our heads, and my mood lightened. I didn’t notice the taxis, and my husband didn’t see the birds – each of us was in our own small world.
Hoi Yee: I can be completely enraptured by the picture of a place that I have never been to. I start seeing how I would live there, imagining what lifestyle I would have. Throughout my teenage years, I used to fantasize about New York, Paris, and Hong Kong when looking at images of their night-time skylines. I was able to aim high and soar above the world like an eagle looking down, around and ahead.
This year celebrates the tenth year since I moved to Hong Kong, and the sights of the high rise buildings and fantastic neon lights never fail to wow me. When I see the majestic angles of the I.M. Pei building or the 88-storey financial tower that commands attention from anywhere I stand, I think to myself that I am so lucky to live in the best city in the world.
More than anything else, a vision can lift my spirits. An impression can take me to places before I actually arrive. From the photo of a scintillating scene, I have been able to delve into a city and feel its fervor, taste its food, and hear the cacophony of its people.