Sunday, August 21, 2011

The World We Travel In

Children on the Streets of Aleppo Syria
What a difference a year makes! Just a little over 12 months ago, I was concluding a trip that took me through a spiritual roller coaster in India, an archeological tour in Egypt and Jordan, a pilgrimage along the silk route in Syria and Lebanon, and reliving the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire in Turkey. Back then, one chapter of my life had ended, and the next one – as a graduate student in Los Angeles – was just beginning.

Today, a new chapter beckons once again. I am about to move to Switzerland for the next four months as an exchange student. Without any doubt, I will be taking this opportunity to visit parts of the European continent that I have yet to set foot on. Poland, Romania, Serbia and perhaps Bulgaria. I also hope to visit some of the many friends I have sprinkled throughout the continent. 

But as I write this blog entry, the world is again is a very different place from what it was just a year ago. Back then, I recall standing on a knoll on the far western reaches of the Egyptian desert at the Siwa Oasis, looking over palm trees and the endless expanse of sand towards Libya. Today, reports in the news indicate that the government of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya is on the verge of collapse, with rebel forces moving triumphantly into the capital Tripoli. Siwa was also in Egypt, an Egypt that was under the rule of Hosni Mubarak at the time. 

Most shocking for me has been the news that is trickling out of Syria. Last year, I reported how Syria boasts architectural and archeological wonders unlike any I have seen, people that were both welcoming and friendly. Early this week, I listened with disbelief as the news on the radio reports that the Syrian military is plummeting gunfire and rockets on the city of Latakia, the same city of Latakia that I spent four whole days at – relaxing and chatting with students and professionals at a literary cafĂ©, while listening to live jazz music; the city with beautiful expanses of golden beaches along the sun soaked Mediterranean coastline. 

So much has changed, and I often wonder about the many wonderful people I met throughout that trip. How are they doing? Are they even still alive? My trip through Egypt and the Middle East last year had been well timed. Given the situation in the region right now, I would not have been able to make that same trip this year. Throughout that journey, I learned the virtues of patience and tolerance. I learned that we are all, no matter what we are doing right now, on a journey of a lifetime! It is really up to us to make the most of it! If there is a place that you have always wanted to visit, do it now, because it might not be there if you wait. Keep dreaming and happy traveling!


  1. Agreed. Four years ago my journey in the wider middle east included those countries, and it amazes now to think that Syria is essentially on lockdown,really could go either way and Egypt has cast off Mubarak after 40 years (although the vast structure of Generals and Officials remain). Jordan on the other hand,probably just got a bit more expensive :D . In a few days I return to Jordan and Egypt for a short holiday. Jordan probably hasn't changed much except being more costly, but it will be interesting to chat to people in Egypt about it all and too see if the atmosphere feels any different.

  2. Thank you for the picture. The smiles on the children faces are wonderful. It touched my heart.