In the Grauniad today, an excellent article about the disappearing aquatic nomads of the Coral Triangle, the Bajau, complete with cool picture of boy with pet shark. Apparently these people live almost their entire lives on boats, like tropical gypsies, trading sea products for rice and kerosene. Some of them still don’t even have motors for their boats. They dive to depths of 30m hunting for food, and to make it easier a lot of the Bajau burst their own eardrums in childhood. At the bottom of the article is a link to the website of the photographer, James Morgan, who visited them to take the photos, where you can find more photos of the same people (as well as some excellent material on Mongolian Eagle Hunters, amongst other things).
Of course, I was immediately reminded of <i>The Scar</i>, by China Mieville, and the inherent romance of a race of aquatic nomads. Looking at scenes like those at James Morgan’s website, I’m immediately taken in my imagination to the places they depict, where I imagine adventures and mayhem in different, fascinating alien cultures. Many of the cultural settings in his website would be perfect campaign milieux, or great places for a group of adventurers to drop by at for a brief adventure. Those Bajau are close to a perfect model for sea elves, and the photo from the Eagle Hunter’s front door has me immediately thinking of dragon hunting… as does anything in Bhutan.
It’s easy to forget the amount of creative impetus the ordinary everyday world offers us, and I don’t think I can say enough how much inspiration and campaign material I get from the ordinary world, even the modern day world that we so readily imagine has had all the wonder sucked out of it. It certainly hasn’t!