Editors’ Choice

Editors’ Choice Articles

Crossing Shibuya

travelers-talesBy Aaron Gilbreath

Grand Prize Silver winner of the Twelfth Annual Solas Awards

Within Tokyo's populous Shibuya ward lies the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. By some estimates, 2,500 people cross here during rush hour each time the signal changes. Locals call it “The Scramble.” Every day, over two million passengers pass through neighboring Shibuya Station, commuting to work and enjoying the area’s countless shops and restaurants. Many of them pass through The Scramble. When traffic lights turn red, they all turn red simultaneously, stopping ten lanes of automobile traffic and sending pedestrians from five separate crosswalks into the massive intersection. For nearly one full minute, people flood the street in what seems an explosion of human buckshot. To the casual observer, the surge resembles chaos ─ all these bodies, weaving and darting, moving in different directions across each other’s paths. Yet there is order to it, a choreographed chaos. As Los Angeles Times writer John M. Glionna said in 2011, “Despite so much humanity inhabiting such a confined space, there’s rarely a collision, sharp elbow, shoulder-brush or unkind word.” When you watch footage of The Scramble, you can’t help but wonder what holds this system together. How do people remain so well-behaved?

Crossing Shibuya 2018-03-07T21:03:57+00:00

All the Grains of Sand

travelers-talesBy Angelique Stevens

Grand Prize Gold winner of the Twelfth Annual Solas Awards

It was a full moon, which meant from my vantage point, I could see his naked silhouette shining blue as he washed his body behind the big lorry. I was naked too, behind the Land Rover. The body was so familiar, that wiry frame, those graceful hands, the shaven head and the point of his beard. We had both gone, separately, to bathe behind the circle of vehicles that surrounded our camp. I had been so careful about choosing a spot farther away from the men sitting around the fire that I hadn’t realized I moved myself closer to the place where the crew washed. At some point, mid-bath, I turned my head and there he was, no more than 20 feet away bent double scooping water from his basin and splashing it on his chest.

All the Grains of Sand 2018-03-01T19:30:50+00:00

The Fan Over the Dining Table

travelers-talesBy Donna Lawrence

A reach for understanding of an unknowable past.

My grandmother wrote a genealogy tracing her family, the Corbins of Virginia, and it was fun to flip through the slender book and find interesting connections. Some of it was speculation. One Hanna Corbin married John Augustine Washington, brother of George Washington. She may have been connected to our family of Corbins—that was uncertain. But one connection that Grandma was sure of was William Tappico, King of the Wiccocomico Indians of the Algonquin tribes, whose granddaughter, called Mary Tapp, wed our ancestor, John Corbin in 1799. My dad was so proud of that, our Native American blood. But, among the records of births and marriages and deaths, one entry stopped me cold. It was the last will and testament of William Corbin of Culpeper County, who died on December 3, 1796: “I give and bequeath unto my son Benjamin Corbin one Negro wench Sarah and her child Lydia and all their future increase.” Reading those words, I forgot to breathe.

The Fan Over the Dining Table 2018-03-07T20:35:56+00:00

Some Vague Stars to the South

travelers-tales

By Dave Zoby

Syria, and the ancient lessons of friendship.

Dust-covered aluminum satellite dishes rimmed the rooftops. During the heat of the day, electrical circuits popped audibly, faltering all afternoon. Mid-day, the bakers came out in their floured aprons to read the state paper in the shade of their doorways. There was the sweet-shop, the pharmacy, the place to buy shoes, a booth for a haircut. And always the joyful roar of farm tractors strumming the streets, the farmers seated at the wheel, a load of watermelons stacked on a wobbly trailer. We snapped the requisite photos of the Omayyad Palace in Damascus—even me, in a half-hearted way, with a cheap camera my mother had leant me. There must be hundreds of images from our meeting with the Grand Mufti: the Mufti in the middle of the group, the Mufti smiling, looking serious, pious. I memorized his famous quote: There is no holy war. Only peace is holy.

Some Vague Stars to the South 2017-04-24T02:31:53+00:00

Like Dust in a Storm

travelers-tales

By Sivani Babu

A tragic close call in rural Colorado.

Useless. I wiped at my sunglasses with my dirty hands, trying to clear the droplets that settled on the lenses. The water smeared and streaked across, creeping into dust filled crevices and turning to mud. It became even harder to see and I gave up, pushing the glasses into my muddy and matted hair where they came to rest atop my head. Useless. I could relate.

Like Dust in a Storm 2017-06-05T17:45:21+00:00