Two years ago I was residing in Baghdad. Now I am residing around 300 km to the north. In a Kurdish city called Erbil or Hawler as us Kurds call it.
My 1st priority was to get my family out of there and fortunately I have managed that. Also I had to transfer my carrier and find a place to live. I have been lucky enough to do all that and now we are leading a different life here. The point is that we can breathe again; it is actually possible here….
Around 6 months ago I ran into one of our trainers, Sensei Bashar from Baghdad and then discovered that Sensei Saad has also moved over here. It actually was like the re-birth of hope for me as despite the small number we were a team again and there was hope for training again.
It took some time and a lot of patience to find an appropriate place, some mats and a permission to use the place twice a week, in the afternoons. Unfortunately just before starting again Sensei Bashar had to leave for Jordan and it was just Sensei Saad and I. Still we did start and it was actually working. Eventually some newcomers joined in and even though the number never exceeded 6 people it was still working.
Around three weeks ago the finals started at the university and even though I myself am an academic but from a different college, unfortunately; the place we were using became inaccessible for us. We were told to wait and we are still waiting and hopefully we will go back to training some time soon. Mean while we are looking for alternative places but the main problem remains to be the mats as they are a real rarity here and a big set back for our efforts.
Dr Soorkeu Atrooshi (Soor)
Thanks for responding after so long. I am very glad to hear that your current situation has improved since the last time I heard from you.
I am not posting in aikiweb very much anymore (disagreement with the moderating policy), but I saw your response, and I thought that you and the rest of the aikido community should know what I am currently up to.
Funny you should mention your Sensei Bashar, because I am spearheading a fundraising effort to help send Bashar to run a dojo in Africa. There will be a Benefit Seminar for Bashar on September 29th at Aikido of Berkeley, with 4 (or 5) prominent Sensei's each teaching one class. Registration is limited to 50 students.
Check for upcoming announcements, or PM me if you'd like to know more information.
Now then...onto the thread topics. Normally (as some of you readers well know), I like to debate politics. I thought that in THIS thread I'd leave off and just let people speak their minds, beliefs and prejudices without comment. I think I'll keep to that policy, here.
I have a story about getting to my dojo in a DMV. Between 1998-2003, I was living in what was considered a "bad" part of town. Gang warfare was commonplace, and a lot of houseowners invested heavily in a gun collection. By the time I moved in, though, most of the violence had settled, as the gang members were either all dead, or in jail. The neighborhood was featured in a film "Straight Outta Hunter's Point"
to get from my house to my dojo, I had 4 choices:
1. Drive. My car died in 1999, making this choice unviable (unless I borrowed a car, which I sometimes did).
2. Bus. Took over an hour to get there, and was not reliable.
3. CalTrain (commuter train). This was actually a better way coming from the dojo to my house, as the inbound train sometimes didn't stop in my neighborhood.
4. Bicycling. Took about 45 minutes. Once a car tried to run me off the road, in Hunter's Point. Dangerous, but thrilling.
Here in Santa Cruz, I am an easy 20-minute walk (along a pleasant riverpath) to my amazing dojo. Talk about polar opposites!
Anyway, check for the announcements about the September 29th Benefit Seminar for Bashar. Stay in touch, Soorkeu: either here or via email.