NYU Abu Dhabi is one of the few university campuses in the world that is still operating. Many students and staff still remain on campus, while struggling to stay safe, retain a sense of community and safeguard both individual and community health. Both the editors of this magazine are part of this community. The following images document, subtly, the emotional and psychological impacts on young students whose lives have been interrupted by the looming virus, as the numbers of cases climb daily by the hundreds. NYUAD is also one of the most diverse campuses in the world; travel restrictions and other realities created by the pandemic, affect various students to different extents. What unites us is the common experience of uncertainty and that we are all somehow still in this space, together.
All images taken by the author.
You can find more photography, and a continuation of this series, here.
Postscript is starting a new music column called “for the record” – here we’ll be sharing playlists for each issue and other writing and art on the topic of music. All submissions to this column (including Spotify playlists) can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
bed bugs: lo-fi/chill songs for lazing in bed & staring out the window during quarantine
Scenes of Abu Dhabi, UAE during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young masked men play pool outside Madinat Zayed. Others seem to be selling fake designer clothes in an illicit secondhand market. A lone man in a polo shirt has erected jumping castles to make extra cash outside the Gold Center. The castles are deserted. He listens to something on his phone, absorbed with all the intensity of the clouds gathering above. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.
Laborers in the city must continue to earn money. Juice shops, cafeterias, carpet sellers, cobblers, tailors, honey vendors…all remain. They sip tea in their shops, trying to sell. In 48 hours, they will have to pack up and stay home for two weeks. Almost everyone on the street is masked. Small cigarettes and “massage cards” lie motionless on the pavement. Malayalam, French, Urdu, Wolof, Bengali: all the languages of the streets, of the working class, dance. They filter through masks and mix with the air like steam rising from the chai at Happy Cafeteria. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — must continue to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.
Small groups of young West African men swap cigarette boxes, thin rolls of money, and bottles of hand sanitizer as they congregate outside an apartment building. I try not to look. I, girl with the zooming camera and lens-corrected eyes, am looked at. I stumble upon a shop called MASK FASHION nearby. Life — the exchange of capital and conversations — continues to rumble even at this off-kilter pace.
Vamika Sinhais a co-founder and editor-in-chief of Postscript. Find more of her photography here.
& couldn’t we be softer? flyaways tamed, cowlicks domesticated, & all the scallops filed away. we could make this world
more than His dollhouse, remind our minted, plasticky selves of our own fragility – the shredding of a nail, temporariness of skin, disobedience inherited in the curl of our hair:
rebel. i go to the salon to be so mutinous, palms sweating under hairdresser’s cape. i come to be beautiful for my female gaze, eyes seaming gently shut, as janice
kneads my shoulders. her tagalog rattling above my scalp, knocking with anna’s at reception, like a thousand little cowrie shells. maryam dips
mulchy dyed paintbrush into a mother’s roots, her arabic basting the hairdryer’s din. two french women toast their hands under hot igloos calcifying color on their hands quoi, c’est magnifique, look
how pretty we arm ourselves. & nobody but us can ever know how it feels: “for women only”
once, you set us apart so we kept making rooms for ourselves, steaming & polishing our own kilns, where we come under fire, but only for the pleasure of ourselves. see, the swing
of my smoking mouth, my smooth jazz hair – this is all mine, ours, this space where we lacquer & buff all the edges you sink in our silkened surfaces: yes, we’re the paper you toss after glossing upon, with all the errors of your hands.
Image by Ciu Xiuwen, documentary still from “Ladies Room”, 2000
with you i have learned love is utopia & dystopia at the same time. so love is Earth & we are highly skilled to kill it. like damn, what did you think? all the god in the gold chains round our necks could make us beautiful, & holy & not human? we are just bodies, drums of water & chemicals & constructions, paper -skinned. little marbles of World rubbing against each other, how acid leaks from a cloud’s cheek more than rain. all this, to say: we are ending.
Painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, “Two Calla Lilies on Pink”, 1928