I’ve set myself the goal of writing about the photographs that I take. So here goes.
This is Mario. Meeting Mario led me to have a number of interesting and eye opening experiences.
I met Mario while I was passing through Montreal, Quebec on the way back from a friends wedding in Vermont. While I was sitting in a coffee shop I saw him stop in front of the window and I was amazed. Here was Mario pushing a huge cart covered in a white tarpaulin and there at sitting atop the cart was a small black cat looking like the figurehead on a ship. At Mario’s feet were no less than six large dogs all attached to Mario with leashes. I was new to serious photography so I wasn’t sure what the etiquette was or how I should go about taking his picture, I just knew that I had to. So out I went and asked if I could take some photographs. Mario said sure as long as I would email him copies if any of them came out. That was revelation number one!
Here was a guy who at a glance looked like he was homeless, which he was, but who had an email address. Wow! Now, of course, I realize that he could easily go to the library and use one of the computers there. At the time it was pretty amazing.
I was really impressed with Mario and his menagerie, not once did I hear any of his dogs bark. As soon as he stopped walking they all just sat down and rested. When he started walking again the walked at his side quite calmly and not a single one pulled at the leash even once. Later on, several months in fact, I found out that each and everyone of those dogs where rescued from being strays by Mario. Again, wow!
It wasn’t until I was on the train back to Windsor, Ontario that I had my second eye opening moment related to Mario. And it wasn’t just my eyes that were opened. On the train I was sat next to a mother and her young daughter (I have since forgotten their names) who I got talking to. Still amazed by Mario I started telling the story of him and his menagerie and the woman next to me said that she knew about Mario. Seems that the areas of Montreal that are Mario’s turf include the office building where her husband worked and that he had seen Mario any number of times. The next bit is the eye opening bit.
This woman and her husband raise Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs and so appreciated the care that Mario gave to his dogs. She went on to say that she had sent extra dog food in with her husband on several occasions to give to Mario for his dogs. Then she paused for a moment and thought about it and said, “We’ve never sent food in for Mario.” From the look on her face it was clear that she had had a bit of an epiphany at that moment and I was once again slammed in the head with the kinds of assumptions that we make about ourselves and other people in this world. What I got to witness was this woman realizing that while they had fed the dogs they had never thought to feed Mario and the way that she said it it sounded to me like she was making a mental note to send some food for Mario as well the next time, at least I hope so.
When I got home I went through my photos, found the ones that I liked and posted them to flickr. A few months went by and I got the following comment on one of my photos
“mario is a sweet guy, he took care of me this summer when i was on the streets.”
Once again my eyes are opened a little bit more. Here’s a guy who is on the street caring for six dogs (and a cat, don’t forget the cat) who also takes time out to help other people as well.
I’m pretty sure that I’ve met the Buddha on the road, and his name was Mario.
I’m going to get back to Montreal to take some more pictures one of these days so I can put some of the techniques I’ve learned to use. I really hope that Mario is still around and I get to see him again.