OAS/GNT Sustainable Heritage Endorsement ProgrammePHOTOVOICE PROMPT #5: Lost & Found
What do you see here? (Addressed to the whole group)
Shadow Benny plant – Lemongrass leaves
White mug filled with tea – Mint leaves
The snake emblem for medicine – Saucer (white and floral print)
White tiles with lines/markings – Mixed herbs
Why did you take this photo? (Addressed to the photographer)
I captured this photograph to revisit an old tradition in a new environment that is devoid of human presence in order to place the bush tea under its own spotlight—to bring it into focus. By and large, bush tea was something that as a young boy growing up we, almost, always used in the morning to bolster our stamina for a long day ahead of us. Bush tea was, and still is, a social construct that supports family intimacy and the discussions of personal and public politics. Besides, it remains a low-cost alternative as opposed to the high costs of other processed or imported teas or drinks.
What is really happening here? (Addressed to the whole group—alternatively what does the photograph represent?)
Although people are absent in this “Bush Tea” photo, this emptiness forces the audience to present individuals in the image to show that people are not only getting more health conscious, but that they are also involved in the digesting of ideas as they relate to the dawning of insights through contemplation. Even so, the image signifies that Grenadians are sticking to their local culture that is based in the art and skill of simplicity on its best behavior. Simplicity, as opposed to excessiveness, breeds peace and beauty and relaxation. Moreover, peacefulness alludes to the notion of being in the present with oneself, as well as with the world, while completely immersed in experiencing life. Culturally speaking, Grenada’s approach to life, in general, like all other types of global cultural approaches, speaks to the yearning of more sensational adventures, because life seems boring. However, if we accept the minimalist experience, we might find the happiness that we once sought in thrilling encounters. More so, the mixture of herbs in bush tea is used as aromatherapy and as herbal remedies for headaches, pain, and other common ailments in traditional medicines that are disguised as alternative medicines, which goes back to another form of cultural deflection—that is, misrepresenting something old as something new. Speaking of cultural deflection brings to the forefront the concept of cultural deception that governments and pharmaceutical companies use to downplay the beneficial uses of herbs in order to feed us synthetic drugs. To close, the act of drinking tea simultaneously freezes time even as it allows individuals to experience life in its fullness. Perhaps, relishing in the present (moment) while sipping a hot cup of tea, might be akin to the storing and the unveiling of certain cultural or historical contents from a time capsule.
PHOTO Title: Bush Tea: Hot Sip
Photograph Location: Clozier, St. John’s
Photographer: Horace George