Sometimes it is difficult to have the courage to take pictures to people, but often, in foreign countries, it is much easier. This photo was taken in Hoi An, Vietnam, a small well preserved village. Afternoon, I was going around, calmly enjoying the world, looking to people and markets. This woman, along with others, was on the river with her boats and she sold small trips to tourist and locals. I accepted and we walked around for about 30 minutes, sitting across from each other, divided by our languages. Once in a while, she told me something, but somehow we understood each other.

At one point, she stopped the boat in the middle of the lake and asked me if he could smoke a cigarette. I took this change to take a picture of her. I do not know what attracted me, I believe the strange gesture of intimacy of the two of us on a boat, silence, something that normally two Western people of the same language struggle to share, talksing to preempt embarrassment. The other thing that struck me were her hands, strong, marked by the sun, which donated her very masculine traits although the smile disclosed her true femininity. The other thing I liked was the hat: in Vietnam these are huge, people hide under unseen: that was the image of the silence between the two of us. I decided it was better “black and white”, without the face (there are other photos with that smile), but to capture that gesture. My best greetings to the Hoi An smoker.

Published by Carlo Arioli