By Danish Siddiqui
I believe that sometimes you learn about a city and its society from its local cinemas and the genre of films they choose to screen.
I do enjoy a coincidence. The week after calls for prodemocracy demonstrations under the social media tag of "Jasmine Revolution" and the week before the National People's Congress (NPC), International journalists (and I of course include photographers under this title) are brought in by the authorities for "chat". During the "chat" they are reminded of the terms of their journalist visas and how quickly these visas can be revoked if the rules are broken on illegal reporting. Also outlined are places that special permission is needed to report from, Tiananmen Square heading the list. Our picture of a member of the PLA leaving the Great Hall in Tiananmen Square appearing to almost step on the photographer with this low angle picture, as I said I do love a coincidence.
Cyclone Yasi statistics were impressive, bigger than Katrina that killed more than 1,200 people in 2005, winds of 300 km (186 miles) per hour, more powerful than Cyclone Tracy that hit Darwin in 1974, killing more than 70 people and probably the most powerful in recorded history ever to hit the coast of Australia. The satellite pictures seemed to support all these claims. The expectation of devastation was high. I even began to fret about the claim that the concrete hotel that photographer Tim Wimborne was staying in was actually cyclone-proof. Experts had started to say that cyclone proof buildings might not be. But Yasi passed and only one poor soul died (asphyxiated in his home by fumes from his own generator), a few homes had their roofs torn off, caravans were swept aside and minimal flooding. The only lasting effect that will hit us all are the increased insurance premiums, devastated banana and sugarcane crops; price rises are promised.
Even though the world's gaze is firmly focused on the events in Egypt and Tunisia, top stories continue to break in Asia. Last week during my morning call with Enny Nuraheni, our Indonesia Chief Photographer, she told there was a ferry on fire with hundreds on board, a train had crashed and Mount Bromo was spewing ash, all on the same day. In Japan Mount Kirishima was erupting, thousands of birds culled to try to stop the spread of bird flu and the economy and government were under pressure. But all Japanese worries were forgotten briefly as Japan beat Australia 1-0 in the AFC Asian Cup final in Doha.
As India heads towards their Republic Day celebrations, Prime Minister Singh makes minor adjustments to his cabinet while outside on the streets people demonstrate over food and fuel price inflation and corruption. Adnan Abidi produces a great picture as a middle-aged demonstrator gets to feel the full force of a police water canon. In stark contrast, B Mathur gets a glimpse of the dress rehearsal of the full military parade planned to celebrate India's independence where the security forces are deployed in a somewhat different manner. Danish Siddiqui added to the file this week with a well seen picture to illustrate a government spending initiative with a man pulling a pipe across a building site, the shadow creating an eye like image that almost seems to wink at the viewer.
Our thoughts are with photographer Lucas Mebrouk Dolega who was covering the street protests in Tunisia who is now in a critical condition after sustaining head injuries on Friday from a tear gas canister fired by a nearby police officer.
One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to residents of a housing block in Jakarta. The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.