It has been more than a month now, since I had to abort the continuation of my peace pilgrimage from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to the Gulf States, and had to come back to the UK.
But here, it really has felt like I have come back home, and I’ve seen a lot of my good friends who have been very supportive and helpful to me, in order to forget about all those incidents and difficulties which I encountered throughout my peace journey.
On my first two weeks back in London, I managed to visit few of my good old friends and talked to them about my peace journey, and told them about how much I would like to write about my peace journey and suggested maybe even a book might be a good idea, to write down what I have seen and encountered throughout my journey, because I do not think anyone who is going to visit as a tourist or even as a journalist will be able to see and feel what I have seen and felt.
On my first week back in London I paid a visit to a place called “Passing Clouds” with a good friend of mine, who told me there was going to be an evening of poetry (“Lyrically Challenged”). He kindly wrote a poem about my peace journey and what has happened to me, then kindly introduced me to the people there. I very briefly spoke about my journey, and I mentioned I am going to write a book about my first peace journey from London to the Middle East. (“First” because there will be more.)
The following weekend I went back to Passing Clouds again, with the hope of making an arrangement to have an evening to talk about my peace journey in more detail, and there I heard from a person who has been through a few different detention centres here in the UK and he was explaining about what has happened to him. At the end of it I mentioned to him and to the audience that what you can see here in the UK is just a drop in the ocean compared with what is going on throughout the world, things I have seen throughout my peace journey and we have to do a lot of work to eradicate all this.
As you all know life here is a bit faster-going than the place that I have just come back from (Middle East), and I wasn’t yet adjusted to the speed of life here when already an opportunity came up to do some IT support work. I saw this as a good way of adjusting back to the fast-going life here in the UK, while reflect back on what I have been doing for the last six months or so, therefore I took the opportunity, and I have been working in this school for almost four weeks now. It is a school that I worked in before, and it has been a great pleasure to see all those old faces in the school and talk to them about my experiences as and when I was getting a little gap of free time.
It has been a fascinating and a curious peace journey to many and particularly a few specific teachers in the school were very interested to hear more. Even the head of media asked me if I wanted to do an interview with some other people he knew, and I told him I’m always happy to talk about my peace journey to anyone who is interested in listening.
Towards the end of my third week back in the UK I went to west London to see two of my very best friends who I came to know during the Occupy (OLSX) camp, and they have been excellent supporters of my peace pilgrimage throughout the whole journey. One of them runs “the PHOENIX Project”, which is a very good project with a film show almost every Friday night. After about two hours of very good conversation and chit-chat and telling them a little bit of my journey here and there while having a very lovely dinner, I said goodbye to them, promising to go back the next day to see a film.
So it was Friday evening when I went back to west London to see the film, which was about Utopian London, that I saw another very good friend of mine who I came to know him through OLSX and he has been almost like my brother here. Even during the time of my ten days in HELL in KSA I did call him to say “I am ok for now, and no need for a panic and tell others as well not to panic and don’t go to KSA embassy yet to protest”, so he meant a lot to me, and after the film show at “the Phoenix Project”, I saw another two friends from the time of OLSX as well, and they did talk about the film in a little discussion group. After that we had some refreshments, and I told them a little more about my peace journey, a couple of photos has been taken by one of my good friend, that shows the event.
At “the PHOENIX Project” talking about my peace journey, after the film show!
then later that evening I went back to the West Country to a place where my very good friend lives.
On Saturday we woke up a bit late because we went to sleep quite late. After having a great late breakfast (and early lunch) I was reminded of ‘meal times’ which I totally lost track of throughout my journey, because I could just eat whenever there was something to eat and if there wasn’t anything I couldn’t complain, that’s just how it was. Then I told my very good friend a little bit more about the story of the peace journey, and after having a great day of good food eating (he was trying to feast me to make me put on a bit of weight again) our time went beautifully well, in and around the garden. My friend also had his lovely new girlfriend there, and we got to know each other slowly since the Friday night, and she was such a wonderful woman, a good companion for my well-deserved friend. I noticed that they could talk for hours without any problems, it was like they hadn’t seen each other for years, and I really enjoyed being with both of them.
Late afternoon, after his lovely girlfriend left us, we were getting ready to go to a boatyard near to the Thames river to get a cover for my friend’s boat and he took me through nice places in the countryside and showed me around the area and explained how the place used to be in the past, and also he pointed out to me where his boat is located and hopefully in the near future we will go and see the boat. On our way going and coming back we saw a camping area and he told me in a jokey way “you should go and tell them their tents are not in a straight line” and that was a great loud laugh “LOL” based on the time of OLSX (and many other occupations). Later that evening we had a great pizza meal and then some more chat before going to sleep.
On Sunday after scrambled eggs for breakfast he kindly took me for a lovely, almost 6km of walk around the village where he lives and it was a great walk and a reminder of my peace walk; I had to do a walk like this throughout my journey and even sometimes three times longer than this as well. He took some nice photos of me around the village too, which you can see, few of them here.
The River Churn beside me.
The River Churn behind me.
The River Churn behind me present day!
You can see the past in this link!.
My friend also showed and photo me, on our route, that we were walking, the river Churn and the water which was going to an old mill as you have seen some photos of them, and also he was explaining to me that what was going to happen to the old canal, that in some places you couldn’t even tell there was a canal there, it was just, like a piece of land covered with trees, but he was hoping that the restoration programmes for the canals, which he is involved with, will hopefully restore almost the whole 40km or so of this beautiful canal before it gets too late. I was saying to him “it will be a great route for your boat to come this close to the village”.
The Old Canal!
The Old Mill behind me!
After coming back and taking a quick shower, and having an absolutely delightful two days of talk and rest over there, my wonderful friend kindly took me to a place in Swindon and I caught a megabus and headed back to London to attend the school again on Monday.
It was another new week at the school and while I was helping them with their technical questions they were also asking me about my moral peace journey. I had to talk a lot, to many of people there, telling the story about my peace journey from the start and only very briefly, so I decided at the end of the week, when we were going to have three days off 04/05/06.05/13 (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday), send a brief message to all staff and students at the school for their kind patience with me during this hard period, many of them will be aware of what I was being doing for the last six months, and most of them have been absolutely great in supporting what I have done,and also giving them a link to my blog so they would have enough time to read my story and I have to tell less about it and more about why I did it, and If they wanted to become my friend on facebook as well, I have written that they could send friendship requests and we can keep in touch more often.
Also in the e-mail I mentioned that they might have to bear with me if I am a bit slowed down and even sometimes might not be able to remember some password or the cause of some technical problems, just to let everyone know that if I wasn’t as fast as before, the reason behind it was, that I have been away on this journey, and I am very much capable to catch up with what whatever I could do in the past here in the school, and now with more confident and clearer mind, so I left the message just like this for them to absorb.
Here we go again it was another weekend and this time towards where? You guessed it right, to the West Country again; the second time was going to be a very special one, because we were going to have a micro gathering with a very special friend of us from the time of OLSX, reuniting again three of us and spending some good quality time together, talking about what has really happened to all of us during the past six months while we have been away from each other.
In London it was about 10pm that I was waiting for my best West Country’s friend to come and pick me up, because I had too much with me to carry on a bicycle all the way to west London to meet up at the PHOENIX Project, so I had to ask him to kindly come to near central London and give me a lift from there.
I had with me a bicycle, some clean clothes and some clothes for washing, and the flysheet of my historical ‘peace journey to Middle East’ tent, which survived the hands of KSA’s police. After almost all of my stuff was taken away from me at the Saudi border I was lucky enough to get some of my things back, which had been scattered all around the no man’s land between the Jordanian Al Omari border and KSA’s Al Hadithah border. When I found the cover for the historic tent, there was the cork of a wine bottle on top of it, like it had been planted there to make me think this theft had been done by some drunk people. I had big doubts – it felt like a set up, a way they (the KSA authorities) had thought of to get rid of me after I was there for ten days. They took the poles from my tent, but they didn’t take the cover, knowing then I wouldn’t be able to put up the tent and so it would be very hard to continue (a drunk person wouldn’t think that way, at least I haven’t seen one in my life thinking that way, and this along with many other things made me feel sure the theft was the work of KSA intelligence, intended to make me head back to UK as soon as possible).
Anyway, back to the Friday in London: I also had a laptop which my wonderful friend had lent to me the first time I visited him, so I could start to write about my peace journey as soon as possible. I was carrying all of this, and also all day on that Friday I had been running around the school which made me tired, so I did not have enough energy to cycle all the way to west London with all this stuff (it was almost 10km), so I had to ask my friend if possible to kindly come and pick me up, so we could then head towards the West Country together, which he did. He kindly turned up on time and then because of a bit of misunderstanding on both our parts we got lost, but after me giving some directions and then him having to go back a bit and then listening to the lady navigator (Satnav), we finally started talking to each other again and told one another how our week had gone, because it was just a week ago when we had seen each other and now it was time for a catch up.
After almost two hours we got to our lovely destination and we were about to send a text to our wonderful guest who was coming from the north, when we got a text from her to say she wouldn’t be able to make it on time and we shouldn’t wait for her; she is well equipped and she is going to sleep in the middle of West Country’s forest.
By this time it was almost 2am and my friend and I both decided to go to a deep sleep each one of us in our own bed, in luxury compared with what I have been through in the last six months of my peace journey. We woke up in style as well, knowing we have this special guest who will turn up soon from the north and who has slept in the forest last night.
So, here we go! it was just at the right time as we were preparing for our breakfast that our special guest turned up. We were so delighted as we saw each other after quite a long time – I had just seen her for a brief two hours the previous week, but now I was going to see her for more than a day and this made my wonderful friend (the West Country host) and I so happy. He set up a video and audio so I could talk about my peace journey to the Middle East and it would be recorded, he did this hoping to encourage me to find a best way to record and write it all down. He also made toast for us and our visitor told us about her more than four hours journey from the north, through road closures on M6 and how when she stopped for the night she was already quite close to us and we were still awake, but she has decided not to come and disturb us and the neighbours so late.
Below you can see a nice photo of me and my great friend from North, while we are talking about what has happened in the past six month, which it has been taken by our wonderful host.
My great friend from North in our wonderful host’s place in West Country!
So on Saturday 4th of May the weather in the village of the West Country was an absolute delight and after our nice breakfast and talk it was almost afternoon and we decided to go out to the garden and try to find some poles so we can make the historic peace journey tent cover into a proper tent again; this is the tent which I have put up more than 100 times in towns, villages and even capital cities all the way from UK to KSA. The idea that I’ll just throw it away because it’ll be no use to me with the poles stolen was completely false, and within about half an hour, with the help of my great friend with his tools and equipment and spare parts, the tent was up again in the garden. I cleaned out all the sand which had got into the tent in no man’s land during the time of the biggest storm I have ever seen (beside which the heavy gales and storms of OLSX were nothing but I managed to save the tent after that, too)… and here we go!, it was up and running and ready for the next expedition, ready to complete the round-the-world peace journey.
After this we started to put up the most wonderful pentagon /geodesic 2.5m dome that my friend has made it (it is 8m in total, but because of the space we just put up this small one and it was a wonderful experience to spend some time together putting it up. While we were doing this my friend told me that last year he had been in the Green Gathering festival and it was a great experience to put up the 5m geodesic dome there. I told him if I am around I’ll be happy to come and help to set it up with you at this year’s Green Gathering. Last time I helped to put up a geodesic dome was in OLSX and that was just a 5m one but an 8m one would be more fun. I also said I could talk to people at the Green Gathering about my journey as well. My aim of a peace visit round the UK to spring and summer festivals is now approved to go, next I have to go and see if I can speak to the organisers of nine or more festivals and get to go there, to talk about my peace journey to Middle East.
Below you can see a few photos from the historic tent, the Dome and some working equipment in the garden:
I am putting up the historic tent, while my great friend is watching and enjoying the sunshine of the West Country!
The historic tent, the 2.5m Dome, and our great friend in West Country!
I am cutting some screws for the base of the historic tent!
After having a wonderful breakfast, repairing and finding two missing poles for the tent and making some extra bits with some screws so that the tent can stand very nicely, and also putting up the dome, we had enough time to have a wonderful afternoon tea and then head out for a great walk again around the village, this time in a new direction because I was always reminding my good friend “no repeat and always go forward”, and he kindly did arrange that and three of us had a wonderful almost 5km walk. On our way home we went to a place which is called LONDIS and I asked my good friends “what does it mean?” and I did not get an answer, but now with the help of Internet we don’t have to worry about anything, and here we go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Londis. From LONDIS we got some stuff for our evening meal, and we got back about 8pm and after a little bit our host’s wonderful girlfriend turned up and she has come with plenty of cakes, dessert, and ginger cookies, so we didn’t have to worry about after our meal.
Our evening meal was a nice vegetarian one and almost all of us loved it our wonderful friend from the North has brought a little bit of fresh vegetables from her Garden and we all had a bit of it as well, and then as I mentioned our dessert was already there and we enjoyed it very much, then talking was on till late into the evening and there it was, we had enjoyed another day out in the West Country, and after saying goodnight to each other, we all went to our luxury beds again.
At “the West Country in our host’s place” talking about my peace journey, after a great vegetarian dinner which was made by our great friend in West Country!
At “the West Country in our host’s place” talking about my peace journey, after a great vegetarian dinner and a wonderful dessert made by my great friend’s girlfriend!
On Sunday it was another new day and another new dawn and because our wonderful friend from north was going to leave us at 12pm we managed to have another good two hours together around the breakfast table, and chatted away about whatever we have missed from yesterday, and then we said goodbye and a big hug till next meeting which isn’t set yet, except that we know there is going to be a Green Gathering on 1st – 4th of August in Chepstow (https://www.greengathering.org.uk/), so we hope to meet up again there and catch up with a bit more of our different stories and adventures.
After saying goodbye to our northern friend, then we were just left with my good West Country friend, his girlfriend and I, and we had another good day ahead of us, and we did some more camping repairs and after completing those and putting down the precious (priceless) peace tent then we disassembled the dome and then we started repairing bicycles, just in case we had a chance to go for a ride the next day on Monday, which was another day off. Then my friend did some gardening, and then again he kindly arranged for us to go for another wonderful walk around the countryside in a different direction than before, but on the way we encountered mosquitoes (or some strange flies) which we didn’t expect to see at this time of the year, but we managed to survive, and again it was a great continuation to my journey, walking every weekend, I wasn’t feeling that I have stopped my travels. So, after about another 5-6km walk we got back to the house then while we were relaxing and listening to some nice Gramophone music they kindly made a nice Italian pasta dish and after talking about a little bit of art, we planned our next day, and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
On Monday after again having our wonderful breakfast we did go to a camping equipment show and we enjoyed the exploration of different tent experiences and even talked to a man from the show about my peace journey, and then my good friend’s girlfriend said goodbye to us and we headed towards his boat on the Thames river. On our way I saw some people were playing with some handheld helicopter and airplanes and I really enjoyed watching them, and then we headed to the riverside where my good friend’s boat was anchored. I found out that the platform for the boat had been damaged and we tried together to put four new poles into the ground and push them down with a tool, which was new to me! a “post rammer” , also this new tool caused a little bit of injury to my left hand thumb,but also I was bitten by a plant which was all around the area, “Nettle”, of course I forgot all of this after having a nice late lunch on the board of the boat, as you can see me here.
An enjoyable meal on the board of the boat!
I really enjoyed helping to do this temporary platform, and after that my very good friend kindly took me back to Swindon through the famous magic roundabout and then after a bit of debate with the driver of the National Express coach (the driver was asking for my ticket and I was saying “here is my booking reference number” and he was telling me “I can’t accept this, it is just your writing” and his argument was “if I said to a bar man, ‘here is a £10’ and gave a piece of paper with £10 written on it to the bar man, so will the bar man give me a few pints of beer? he wouldn’t, would he?” And he said “what you are asking me is like this, and anyone could write this and come and try to get on board a coach, will I allow them?” and I was telling him “these are two quite different issues, here I have a reference number and in your example it is just writing.” Finally I had to call National Express head office and they talked to him, and he let me get on board, and so I managed to head back to London for another week of action at the school with IT, and my peace talk.
The last weekend and this one I tried to gather some of my thought to write about the period that I have been back and also about my main peace journey and also plan for the next few weeks, during which I have to start my peace journey again, and this time around the UK’s spring and summer festivals. I haven’t had much time for visiting anywhere far, apart from going to a swimming pool a few times here in London, and spending some good quality time with few of my nice friends here in the capital.
I have spent almost four weeks running around and trying to be a little help to the great school where I was working, and I have seen a lot of good people there trying their best to teach and prepare many of the younger generation, despite the harsh reality of the outside world. All we can do, wherever we are, as human species is to be just helpful to our fellow human beings, nothing less and nothing more. I have seen that the austerity measures here in the UK is affecting the heart of education which isn’t really doing much to prepare our young students for the world that they deserve to live in! The school where I have been working is affected, like many other sectors of society like the NHS. Here in the school people were talking about who and what departments might be the victims of the austerities. I can’t see the world is going to be any better by just saying “I can’t do much – I am just an individual and we have to do it all together”; I will carry on with my peace mission and will tell the world it is not going to be any easier for us if we just accept what we have got and expect the world to change itself!
As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “if you want to see the change in the world, you have to be part of it”.
I am very concerned about where I can best deploy myself to be much more effective than just going into a school to help with IT and trying to earn some so-called “money”. Doing this is definitely not satisfying me and I am saying to myself that if even I am drawn to go and work despite knowing I can live without it, well why am I doing it?! Then the bigger question is – how can we make society work, all co-operating together, not just acting as individuals?
In a society where profit has the first say in every aspect of it, it is a sick and depressing society, and we all should think much more carefully before we do anything to keep this system going, otherwise we just become ‘the matrix’, creating the very bitter reality of our lives.
Till next time, may peace be upon you all, where ever you are in the world.