From Istanbul to Tehran

Tehran, Iran

I liked Istanbul. I took it really easy checking out two Turkish baths, the bazaar, the Blue Mosque and the Aya Sofya in two and a half days.


It was interesting how Turkish people perceive Iranians. Almost all of them think Iranians are Arabs… personally I don’t care too much but for most Iranians that’s a bold insult! Well, Iranians are not Arabs as most Westerners don’t know either – but their ignorance may be forgiven… they also think Alexander the Great was the first “civilized” emperor of the world.

Anyway, at least the Turkish should know what their neighbor’s ethnicity is. Then again, many Turks don’t even know that Kurds are not solely some rebelling mountain-Turks but an ethnic minority. So their ignorance may also be forgiven.

The other stereotype some Turkish seem to have about Iranians is: “Oh it’s the country of Kalle-Pache”… whatever that is supposed to mean 😉

So after two days in Istanbul I took the Trans Asian Express from Istanbul to Tehran.


I liked it! It was my first time on a train for three full days.

I shared my cabin with two Tehranis. One was a young rebel who entertained the whole wagon by expressing all of his frustration with the current situation in Iran. The other one was gay but tried to deny it, which was funny since it was so obvious that he was gay. It was a bit unfortunate for me that he wasn’t open about it as it would have been interesting to get an insight into the life of homosexuals in that regime and into the Tehrani gay-scene.

At the border the trip became even more interesting!

On the Turkish side I had no problems at all and everything was easy.

When we arrived on the Iranian side I soon realized that I was not in a free country anymore!

The whole train was locked down with soldiers guarding the train outside. A border officer came into our cabine and checked our passports. He didn’t exactly have a very friendly nature!

When he saw my passport at first he seemed to be confused. Then he mumbled something about “You have only two days left!” and finally left with my passport saying he would be back in a second.

The second turned out to be an hour…

In a way I expected something like that to happen. Let’s say, my family history doesn’t potentially make me a friend of this regime. So with the current political situation and the US trying to infiltrate the country with young exile-Iranians like me, I could potentially be an American sleeper.

After an hour another guy came back telling me to go to the dining car.

From that moment onwards I felt a bit like in a movie scene:

When I entered the dining car I could clearly feel a strange atmosphere. I sat down in a chair. To my right were two uniformed immigration officers. In front of me sat two plainclothes officers… I figured they were from the secret police. To my left sat a train attendant.

At first they all starred at me. I was a bit irritated. Then, finally, one of the immigration officers wanted to confirm my name. As I confirmed it the officer slowly repeated my name looking onto his lap-top’s screen. I don’t have a Muslim name, which could be, I thought, irritating. Non-Muslim names are less common for my generation… and even worse, I have a king’s name, which can be considered to be political confession.

After the officer had repeated my name it was silent for a few minutes. Everybody in the room looked at me. One of the secret police officers had a very negative aura around him. And of course it had to be him who would stare at me not looking away for a single moment. I could feel how he observed every single move I made. I figured they tried to provoke some type of nervous reaction off me.

But I remained calm!

For a strange reason I felt really relaxed. And when I realized that the weird guy starred at me thoroughly I relaxed even more. I almost had to laugh out loudly as I found that situation too unreal.

After a while another Iranian traveler entered the dining car. He sat down next to me. He was a about 60 and lived in Canada. The officers asked him some questions. He had to fill out a form and was allowed to go back to his cabin.

After a while, one of the secret police officers told me to follow him. We left the train to enter the border station. Two soldiers guarded outside with four more standing around inside. We entered a filthy room with a table, a laptop and two chairs. I was told to sit down while he would check out something with his computer.

I was a bit confused about the special treatment!

After I was waiting for a while he started asking me some questions. Since my Persian is not fluent he got a bit irritated.

He would ask me the same questions over and over again, trying to figure out if I had something to hide. Again I found this whole scene a bit funny as I was in a similar type of situation once before, trying to enter the US as a teen – having a “special security check” there too after the immigration officer was convinced I didn’t speak German. Then, I also had to go to a special room to be questioned.

So for the Iranians I could potentially be a American sleeper and for the Americans I could potentially be a Iranian terrorist 😉

Anyway, the officer was a bit confused as I couldn’t specify my grandmother’s address (where I would stay in Tehran) and furthermore didn’t know her last name by heart (in Iran women keep their maiden name after marriage)… well, I just call her grandma!

When he asked me how I would get to her place, I just replied that I would call her on arrival, which again is a bit strange as it is quite unusual for Iranians not to be welcomed by the whole family at the train-station/airport.

Finally, after more than 30 minutes of questioning he asked me eventually the most important question:

What is your religion?

Unfortunately I don’t know the Persian term for “religion” so I couldn’t answer at first!

It was the last question as perhaps it made two things very clear:

Quite likely I am a god-damn pagan!

But more importantly, I’m not very likely to be a sleeper if I don’t even know the Persian term for religion!

He gave me my papers, told me that I could stay for three months – no day longer – and asked a soldier to escort me back to the train.

Back in the train my cabin members enjoyed the story…

The next evening we arrived in Tehran and fared-well.

So this is it… I’m finally in Iran.

I’ll have almost three months to find (out) something… whatever it might be…

Perhaps I’m here to see what my original culture is like.

And of course I also want to know what this talk about the axis of evil, terrorism, anti-Semitism and evil evil Islam is all about.


I’m here to see how evil my roots really are 😉

vox

The Vienna Experience

Istanbul, Turkey

It’s a bit strange: Now that I am in Istanbul I write about the “Vienna experience”. I should get in sync again…

Vienna was an interesting experience!

It’s funny: Many people consider me to be on a holiday… me travelling to Asia, not to Vienna. I myself considered Vienna to be some kind of holiday compared to the rest of my trip…

Though that’s not exactly true either… only relatively seen. In reality I was not too exited to go back to Vienna as I wasn’t sure what I would have to face there.

So what does that mean?

Coming back to Vienna was a real challenge! Coming back means facing myself, especially those aspects of my character and life I preferred not to face in the past. Therefore, coming back means facing the past… facing my life there… my reality there!

So coming back to Vienna is part of that whole trip… although the stopover was not planned…

One thing about this city is: supposedly it is my home! I grew up there, yet, I never felt at home there!

Arriving in Vienna was much easier than I had expected… apart form the temperature! But I won’t complain… my maple-leaf friend had a 70 degree Celsius drop… anyway…

I had a warm welcome from one of my closest friends and I felt at home in the city I never did.

My first night in Vienna was a very special one!


But in the end I had a tough time in Vienna. It was very cold! And I don’t only talk about temperature. There was a reason why I wasn’t exactly exited about coming back.

I see it positively! Vienna is like a “reality-check” for me. So what’s my reality back home?

There was something with Plato and a cave… but maybe I can recall that another time… anyway…

Blood is thicker than water!

I have a few good friends there!

Conflicts don’t solve if you don’t go right at their roots but only their manifestations!

It is easy to dislike this city when you are in it for too long and it is easy to become nostalgic about it when you are out of it for some time!

People in Vienna drink a lot of alcohol!

Vienna is “Valium-City”!

Vienna is like Babylon!

I hate that city!

I love that city!

I seem to be confused, no?!?

Perhaps I have to come back for some more reality-checks…

But maybe the following explains something:

Vienna is the city with the fourth highest quality of life in the world.

Vienna is the city with the second highest suicide rate in the world!

?!?

Perhaps people there are a bit confused, no?!?

So maybe people there drink a lot of alcohol so they have less suicide thoughts?

Alcohol seems to be a true bliss 😉

Cheers!

vox

Christmas

Vienna, Austria
About 2010 years ago a man was born who inspired some people to found a religion. I guess this man must have been quite powerful and charismatic!

So more than two thousand years later millions of people around the world, Christians as well as non-Christians, celebrate this man’s birthday.

And some Christians wonder why some non-Christians do.

That’s a good question!

Why do millions of people celebrate the birthday of a man who is the founder of a religion that is responsible for some of the biggest crimes in human history like the Inquisitions?

Why do some Muslims celebrate the birthday of a man who kicked-off a religion that would fight them in the Crusades?

I cannot answer this question!

I can only tell you what I feel about Christmas and Jesus of Nazareth.

Every year, again and again people are surprised that me and my family celebrate Christmas… being Muslims.

My perception of Jesus of Nazareth is a man who proclaimed unconditional love for all beings! No Inquisitions, no Crusades!

Unconditional love for all beings!

This is, I believe, independent of any religion!

Love is independent of religion!

And looking at the time of the year it is celebrated we see that his birthday “coincides” with the winter-solstice… when darkness is overpowered by light… when light finally succeeds over darkness…

And I personally prefer light over darkness…

For me, Christmas is a celebration of unconditional love and light… and this is why I celebrate Christmas!

So with this message I want to send all beings around the world, independent of religion, race and entity…

…universal love, light and peace…

vox

Reflections on Love

Vienna, Austria

Yesterday I had an inspiring conversation about love and what it could be. It made me reflect on my past relationships and, of course, what I believe love to be.

I had a few relationships and I always believed my feelings to be love.

Looking back being honest with myself my feelings were always influenced by need and desire.

Some I loved, I needed, not to feel alone.

Others as I had lacked affection in a while.

Some I loved to overcome a previous relationship.

Others as they gave me a future perspective.

Some I loved simply because I got used to them.

Others because I was in fear… in fear to be alone (again) or not to find anyone “better” or not to be loved by someone else as much.

Some I loved as I learned a lot from them.

Others because I wanted to teach or inspire them.

Most of them because I needed them for something!

So I wonder if I ever truly loved one of them!

Don’t misunderstand me: I respect all of my former girlfriends and I highly value all of my previous relationships.

Yet, being honest, at last all these relationships broke up when either I didn’t need them anymore or they didn’t need me no more.

Each and every single relationship would break up the moment the conditions why we loved each other changed or fulfilled.

So I wonder if that truly is love!

Does love depend on these typ of conditions?

“I love you ’cause I need you!”

“I love you ’cause I’m (my happiness) is dependent on you!”

“I love you ’cause I learn a lot from you!”

“I love you ’cause I fear being alone without you!”

“I love you ’cause I fear nobody else will “love” me like you!”

And there are many more sentences like that…

So what happens if I don’t need that person anymore? If I’m not dependent anymore? If I don’t learn from that person anymore? If I don’t fear being alone without that person anymore?

Do I still love that person without these conditions?

I guess it really depends!

If I really love that person I will still do so… So these conditions must have supported a deeper love! But if these conditions “create” love…

Well… I’m not too sure!

It feels like ill-motivated love to me!

I’m not sure if I truly love someone if it is only based on these type of conditions.

So I come to conclude that I only truly love if that love is not based on some ill-motivated conditions! If it is not dependent on various factors but rather if it is detached… detached from ill-motivated desires and needs.

I believe that I can only truly love if I love myself and am happy with myself… if I don’t need my partner to do so.

Of course that doesn’t imply that I may not need my partner at times, may not learn from my partner, may not be more happy being with my partner, may not…

It just means that I’m not dependent on my partner to live my life, to feel good, to be happy!

And of course I’m far away from that state and I need to work a lot to grow personally and reach that state. And of course it doesn’t mean that I won’t have relationships until I have reached that state. Quite the opposite is the case: every single relationship will help me to get even closer.

But at least I want to try to be honest with myself…

…not to fool myself…

…not to clown myself…

and look at what it really is that makes me feel affection for a person!

By doing that I do grow, being honest not only with myself but also with my partner and giving every partner I feel affection for the chance to love that person truly and not ill-motivated!

So this is my personal perception, my personal truth, my personal reality about love… today…

So let’s see what I will have to say in two decades from now about this entry 😉

vox

Back to the Roots?!?

Bangkok, Thailand

So maybe it wasn’t supposed to be the first time…

And this time it was a good experience! Real good! I couldn’t do a silent retreat as it wasn’t possible at the moment at the temple I stayed and yet I learned a lot. A lot about myself, a lot about Thai culture and something about Buddhism and Thai temples.

So now it is really time to move on!

Where should I head next?

If I follow my heart I have to go back to my roots… finally…

Sri Lanka was supposed to be next… but i have no roots to find there! At least not that I knew…

Well, going to Iran is not that easy a task though. I cannot just go there. In my case the only other places harder to enter are perhaps Bhutan and the States… at least with that picture in my passport 😉

So the first thing I would need to do is to get my father’s blessing.

Maybe that’s the thing to do next…

vox

 

A God’s Birthday

Bangkok, Thailand

Yesterday was the Thai King’s 79th birthday and Thailand was all in yellow (the king’s colour). People here love their king. He seems to be very wise and caring. So it was nice to experience this day with the Thais in Bangkok.

So now I will move on to a monastery nearby to do a short retreat. If they let me in this time 😉

There is a lot on my mind these days. I reflect upon my friends and friendships in general. Sometimes I wonder how many true friends I have. Perhaps it depends simply on my definition of a friendship.

I believe a true friendship to hold even if I share an unpleasant perception. By this definition I do not even have a handful of true friends!

Most people cannot take my perception…

… but than again maybe I cannot take most people 😉

vox

Bangkok Again

Bangkok, Thailand

So it was not supposed to be!

The trip from Surat Thani to Chaiya usually takes an hour. It took me four and when I arrived the retreat was full… for the first time ever!

I went to the temple nearby to sleep there for the night. It was nice and simple! And I figure I will be sleeping at temples more often in future.

On Friday I took the train to Bangkok. It was a slow train but I was accompanied by a very remakable young Dutch woman and we had a good chat.


So now I’m back to Bangkok and I enjoy the city. Many travelers hate it but I think it’s a lively and vivrant metropolis! Although it smells ; )

I’m not quite sure what I’ll do next. Perhaps I’ll head north to Chiang Mai and Pai or maybe I’ll go to Sri Lanka a bit earlier than expected… who knows…

I’ll go with the flow!

So for tonight I plan to stay in Bangkok…

vox

Leaving Koh Phangan

Leaving Koh Phangan

Surat Thani, Thailand

Today I left Koh Phangan.

For the last two months I’ve lived on this island. I encountered a few good people, had many good experiences and mentally I’ve finally arrived in Asia.

So this is the end of the beginning of my trip!

I benefited a lot from the yoga course although I considered it to be only warming-up for deeper spiritual experiences and practice to come. In the beginning I really liked my school. There were some good people and I liked the teachers a lot, both being new to teaching. Apart from that I had many good experiences giving my fellow students treatments.

When I left the yoga school I was disillusioned as one of the school’s most advanced teachers arrived to take over classes.

I came to conclude that I ended up in a “spiritual” gang-bang club. I am not sure they know what tantra(-yoga) is really about… but maybe I just don’t know 😉

Maybe I’m doing them unjust… who knows…

So last week I returned to Cat Island. I felt different. I had finally arrived! I wasn’t phobic anymore. I wasn’t so heady anymore… I was… relaxed?

This time I did really enjoy everything… it was beautiful… it was real good!


And now the warming-up is over… two months is quite enough!

I’m heading towards Chaiya where I will do a ten day Buddhist retreat. No talking, no reading, no writing… meditation for ten days.

It is my first time so I’m really looking forward to this… especially since it’s been a long time since I wanted to do it!

More than four years ago I was searching for a retreat on the Internet after my relationship then broke up. I never ended up doing the retreat but I read about shiatsu for the first time which eventually lead me onto my new path and this trip…

So this is it… finally!

SILENCE

vox

 

Cat Island

Cat Island, Independent Island

Yesterday my friend Moses and I were on a trip in the rocky part of Cat Island.

We left as men and returned as tree-hugging hippies…

Non of us had ever climbed before so we looked up to these grand rocks respectfully.

Slowly we overcame our fears as we treated these rocks with great respect… treating nature with great respect…

Soon we climbed around barefooted feeling everything… feeling alive…

We explored life around us and within… gazing at the horizon…

…embracing nature, inhaling life…

Only a poet could truly describe what I have felt like and experienced…

And I’m no poet!

Though one thing I can say is:

Life is beautiful!

vox

Arrived

Koh Phangan, Thailand

On this day one year ago I had my first exam of six to come in the following nine weeks…

It was like hell!

A few white hairs remind me of these nine weeks and everything that happened during that time…

In a way it is funny… looking back today I become nostalgic. My mind is sick!

Today it was a friend of mine who reminded me of these weeks by talking about all the stress she has at the moment… and she really does… but perhaps in a year she’ll also be nostalgic about it…

So maybe it is not only my mind that is so sick…

vox