Photo: Orange is the new Black

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well. People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well.
People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

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Post: meditative states make your world go round

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We barely have a moment in the real world, a world of planning ahead, making ends meet, trying your best at work, complex emotions borne of human relationships, and endless demagogy on the newswire.

The real world… a world not necessarily of your choosing… A world you are living with

What about your own planet? Your own thoughts? Your own ambitions? Are they part of your world, or the one around you? How do you even know where you fit in?

Lost in the world, when emotions and life get the better of you.

We are humans, and we have all been there

Everyone has a different way of coping with it

My way:

Building a moment where nothing matters but the now; a moment that symbolises all that you are working towards: rock climbing

It is intimidating, dangerous and unforgiving. I accept that, and I will always respect nature

But when I am on the wall, in a climbing centre or in nature, immersed in the next move and how to move my body to get to the next hold, there is nothing but the now. Work, personal life, money, war and peace do not enter this dominion. No one can.

I am me, my right thumb, my left shoulder blade, my Achilles tendon, the collection of which are working my way through a problem only I can solve, physically and mentally.

The move to balance yourself, feeling your body dedicate itself to that next move, the physical and mental progression up a wall, is unbelievable oneness. The meditative state you enter is the higher plain philosophers have described since the first day of quiescent and spiritual thought. It is hard to describe but I know that all have had that feeling before. Adrenalin and serotonin are the physical working hormones, but accomplishment and belief is the end product, and no amount of chemical reactions in the body can explain this feeling.

I am not a religious person, but I believe that these meditative states are as close to that otherworld feeling I can get, and I consider them extremely important in our crazy lives.

Where this meditative states leads and what it gives you is the capacity to change yourself, and the little bit of the world you know that is around you.

Life is beautiful, complex, amazing and a whirlwind of emotions, but the little moments who render life simple and all about the now are vital. Don’t ever forget that. Find them and you will find yourself

What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan…

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan?
War, Taleban, jihad, deserted mountains, insurgency, war, freedom against oppression, America’s war, Pashtun people, war, war and more war?
First of all, Afghanistan is a country, populated by 32 million people. Yes there are horrible people there, just as there are disgusting human beings in western societies. The lack of a unified justice system and corruption in governments allow them more freedom out there it is true, but I would bet we have just as many dishonest and revolting people in the West as they have. Our society is just better at identifying them and cracking down on them
My point is people are just people, wherever you may go.
What Afghanistan is not, contrary to what media outlets try to make you believe, is a country full of people ready to slit your throat to steal the 10 dollars you have in your wallet, ready to kidnap you because of what your skin colour represents, ready to wage holy war and kill every western or Christian person they see indiscriminately.
This article, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/25/under-americas-surveillance-dome/ ) a truly well written account of the “rule of law” in USA, shows the bias western media has when commenting on international polemics. I urge you to read it in order for your mind to have that 10 minutes of balance when reacting to news we receive through our little screens on our desks or in our hands.
I cannot write as well as the author of the article above, Rev William E. Alberts, but I echo his sentiments completely. We in the UK are relatively lucky to possess a media that still has an element of freedom to it (although this is being chipped away at gradually), contrary to state and corporate owned media in the US. I am not going to start becoming holier-than-thou in this blog, as this is probably not why you’ve clicked on it in the first place, but I guess my message would be: please please please make an effort to read news that is balanced and not written for political ends. Research all points of views before simply basing your own opinion on what you see in one article or bulletin. The world is not just black, or just white. Every person sees the world and its history in a different way, and the more you speak and understand others’ point of view, the more learned you will become.
Just a thought on a sunny Friday morning…
For your information, when I see Afghanistan, I see kebabs and fruits, old men smoking hashish in the parks, green tea being brewed on street corners, battered old cars that still carry on, black hair and green eyes. Most of them, just like you and me, revere family, love their friends, respect their wives as their culture dictates, play football or cricket in the park on weekends, drink tea and whose first instinct is to be helpful and smiling if someone approaches them.

And although I feel tense when walking around, I wonder how much of this is created in my head to what is actually happening out there…

Photo: Kid in Congo trying to understand what I am doing in his village

This picture was taken when I was working in a little village called Azumba, 18 hours by motorbike into Ituri province, North Eastern DRC. This was an extremely secluded location and whilst the accommodation for the training course and subsequent plant clinic development was extremely basic, the villagers were lovely people and took great care to make sure I had a great lasting impression. I still do, and look forward to seeing them in March this year!

This picture was taken when I was working in a little village called Azumba, 18 hours by motorbike into Ituri province, North Eastern DRC. This was an extremely secluded location and whilst the accommodation for the training course and subsequent plant clinic development was extremely basic, the villagers were lovely people and took great care to make sure I had a great lasting impression. I still do, and look forward to seeing them in March this year!

Post: the art of Queuing around the world

Queuing is one of the essentials in life

Yup, that democratic but infinitely boring (and stressful) concept that is one of the stalwarts of civilisation, and one that we do perhaps 5 times a day in an urban environment. We submit to the process of queuing almost subconsciously. It is engrained in our psyche. Personally, if I skip the line, I know I am doing something a bit wrong (the strength of the emotion depending on how much of an arsehole I feel at the time).

However, this is just in the UK, my country of origin. I know how it works here, when it is acceptable to cut the line, and when I cannot. When you travel to a new country for the first time, there are different rules, and you had better learn them, quickly.

Here is a list of various scenarios, and what to do in case you get it wrong Continue reading

Post: My new article in “World Agriculture” journal

http://www.world-agriculture.net/article/57/Uganda-Agrochemical-dealers-practises-and-interactions-with-farmers

My article, recently published on “World Agriculture” discusses how agrochemical dealers, the equivalent to pharmacists in the agricultural world, cope with the necessity to run a profitable business in Uganda, whilst being able to give farmers safe efficient and practical advice.

Don’t worry, the link is just a summary. Whoever wants a full copy, let me know.

Julien

Photo: when you concentrate, nothing else matters

Mohammad Dawool is an agricultural government worker in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan, 1 hour west of Kabul. In this picture he is particularly concentrated because he is finishing the final test of our plant doctor training courses. He passed with flying colours, and is now running and assisting other plant clinics in the Province. I hope to see him out there this year!

Mohammad Dawool is an agricultural government worker in the Bamyan Province of Afghanistan, 1 hour west of Kabul. In this picture he is particularly concentrated because he is finishing the final test of our plant doctor training courses. He passed with flying colours, and is now running and assisting other plant clinics in the Province. I hope to see him out there this year!