Email extract to Razzik Gatrad dated 23rd September
It’s interesting and INSPIRING to read about people’s development in spirituality, and yours in particular I knew from when we met (and I cherish each and every discussion we had on this).
Creating a lifestyle
I did not become a vegetarian, but only adopted a vegetarian diet. Chacha talked me out of it because of health issues the doctor brought up (from my occasional fainting) the year before. The difference here is that occasionally I did eat meat when I went out though not often at all. I am moving towards becoming a full vegetarian but for me its not just about ‘eating vegetables’. It’s a lifestyle of meditation, yoga, love, dance, community work, travel and being a part of nature. That means knowing the world outside my physical world; knowing different types of vegetation, trees, flowers, insects, birds and animals within my habitat, where I live and also where I travel to.
I had started this project in England during the early months of 2009, walking barefoot, spending hours reading between trees, sipping on morning dew when I was thirsty,…..I am learning to blend in and that takes the littlest of lessons like not flinching when a bee lands on my knee, and just spending a few minutes touching trees. I was beginning to feel this feeling of falling in love with all the life around me, and I loved that feeling.
In June and July, I spent my time in a farm, in the forests, visiting waterfalls, swimming in the Atlantic, climbing hills, volcanoes, exploring caves, learning about cetaceans…..Jumped into very very cold lakes (one of which in Austria bronzed me because of its concentration of iron oxide!) and then did some mild canyoning into gorges and waterfalls – I was always asking myself what more can I do to touch the life all around me? — my next beautiful nature trip might be to Thailand in early December or late January to learn how to handle elephants in an elephant conservation park.
Afghanistan’s lives and dies
Life in Afghanistan is slow but exciting. Living with an Afghan family is enriching though I had not expected there to be so many cultural differences. I am so much a part of the Afghan community and Afghan life that I have more local Afghan friends than I do international friends and I like this very much although there are days I yearn to have a smooth conversation in English.
I feel I do good work here, good work though frustrating work and I am learning to separate my work from my emotions. This is where I confront my strength. I am alone here and have no money or security. It is here where I come across the worst and best of people. This is where I love with all my heart and this is also where I learn to negotiate my relationship with others. All the life I used to read about come into being. They say in Afghanistan everything is communicated orally that if these stories were left to perish with the people who carry it, its like burning down a wing of a great library. I don’t feel free and it contradicts the life I deliberately choose live, the life of a free spirit but this free spiritedness takes other forms, different forms and I am not sure yet how this will change me. Afghanistan is present to all my best encounters with people; love, affection, generosity, gratitude. And the worst ones too.
It’s been two months now and the next two months will be even more exciting. I always have to remind myself to write so none of these experiences and their lessons float away into the air.