Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Catharsis in recording? Or in drinking and ignoring? Funny old interval, this. I've long given up hope of hearing from the Pakistanis. Four to six weeks the man said... whatever, keep your stupid visa. Not safe overland anyway, by almost all accounts. Instead a plan to extend in Iran, an extra month on my 30 days if they'll grant it, to bear South for Winter's freezing brunt. A quick dip in the Persian Gulf. If they'll extend. If if if, then back up for Central Asia. Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan; dawdling for Spring as visas allow - Tajikistan's Pamir Highway the prize. Contingent, all. I met a man in the pub who'd ridden that on the edge of last Winter and he made it sound quite feasible... Still a week in Norwich outstands. My bicycle frame is there, repaired. I've not seen it yet and am more interested in the paint job than the steel, truth told; the wrong approach, perhaps. I've not spent a week entire at Mum and Dad's since 2003. There's some heavy work set aside on Dad's allotment, apparently; raspberry roots to come up and stuff-piles to burn off - daytime tasks. I'm also looking forward to evening tasks of woodburner and homebrew; endless reloading of my mp3 sticks. I'll find reasons to speed back and forth to town - the Fine City centre - if only my old pride the red road bike.

So I've not really written for a bit. England, family, friends, relationships old and new; it's all so rich that it's hard to know where on earth to begin. I did a friends and family tour of Grim little Northern towns (Preston; Bradford; Stockport; sorry) and then settled uneasily into my old Bristol bedroom (the old-friend-new-occupant on holiday). The designer of my bike on the Tbilisi distance telephone was surprisingly astute - holistic, I thought, for a steel and ergonomics man - in his advice. If you can weather it financially - and psychologically - ... best come home. Finance is obvious and boring and preferably not engaged with (until it's gone); but the latter! I'm curious to see how quickly my Lonely Resolve returns (like muscle memory?) as I pedal through Armenia into Iran's Winter after this 6 weeks. Mainly I've been falling back in love with my friends, very proud and a little envious of - in Dad's words - the productive fruits of their rooted existences. There is this obvious conflict/difference: nomadic vs rooted, each's ease and challenge, trials and rewards. A nice new perspective, at home uprooted; all around on coaches and couches. I've been a little surprised (disappointed?) by the fluidity of my transition - staid spartan to whimsical hedonist - but why not do it all? I'm assured that specialisation is for insects. Amazing really that so much can happen in six weeks 'at home' against six months adrift. There's almost a thought that I'd need a separate, anonymous blog to even begin recording the social, emotional narrative. The Highs and their lows... Some things are obviously public: The initial underwhelm of my 5 month nephew and its swift, awesome replacement by pride and love; real joy at his apparent daily potential-gains. My petulant alcoholism becoming a simply somnolent, dependant one (I've been happy in the main, after that first, tricky week). Debriefing at the fire station over roast beef (did I pay my mess bill?). Debauching on Stokes Croft over whatever-they-were (got away with that, also?). Everywhere this richness of culture and expression and, perhaps essentially, consumption. Opportunities. The joys of home, the sadness of its transience. On Friday night Joel took me to the University of Dub (wonderful how normative the reggae branding gets) in Kings Cross and after several hours jogging on the spot to Aba Shanti-I and, happily unexpected, Bristol's Kibir La Amlak (frankincense inna dance!) in my finally appropriate leisure wear there was a beautifully misty, misty-eyed walk from Central London to Hackney sunrise. Perhaps tired - hackneyed even - experiences for my local friends but from an Eastern Turkish... or a Former Soviet perspective... gosh. I feel blessed to be coming back home; at some point, later on, after...

But first there are logistics (woollen socks x?) and goodbyes, and that week in Norwich yet. From here, in Jen and Jono's Camberwell domestic bliss (home baked bread, healthy meal, too many short drinks), it's difficult to engage with the next part. In Tbilisi I'll need to rebuild the bike (folly but I'd never stripped it right down, before) and then a couple of days ride to Armenia. Again I know little of the place; the world's oldest Christian country; the Turks did a genocide there at some point; Sofia assures me a certain TV celebrity family hail from there... I expect rain and cold and monasteries. There is a large, high lake to detour around before Christmas in Yerevan. But it won't actually be Christmas, and by the time I hit Iran at December's end, of course it won't actually be New Year.

Forgive all the Wikipedia. Learning as I go and that. Perhaps I'll put up some pictures from home, in a bit.