Posts Tagged Afghanistan

Day 10 – Seven Heavens Beneath a Waterfall

10jnalph.gifIt was a strange experience walking into a BBC building in the middle of Tashkent – a small piece of England, a refuge, an embassy. Jenny Norton who runs BBC Monitoring Tashkent had been a very good contact for us when this journey was planned. Today she met us in her office, a room rented as part of a hotel complex. Being very interested in our journey, she was happy to advise us about the areas we are planning to travel to. She pointed out that as part of our description of musicians and music it is likely some sensitive issues will be touched on. “Tell it like it is” she announced. She mentioned the relative peace and stability in Uzbekistan compared with the problems in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. She assured us we would be safe following the planned route of the rest of our journey.

10alpha.gifWhilst wandering around Tashkent in the sweltering heat, we came across an intriguing character standing by a fountain in Alimdjan’s Square – in memory of the great Uzbek writer. His face had the weather-beaten look of someone who spends a lot of time in the open. He could have been forty …or sixty, it was hard to tell. He started to tell us about the significance of this place. It was not, as we had thought, just another piece of grandiose Soviet architecture but had all kinds of cosmological significance. This genial and likeable gentleman goes by the rather unusual name of Alpha-Omega. Intrigued by his stories, we followed him down some steps to what appeared to be a maintenance room of some kind – this was his home. He welcomed us in, sat us down and offered us tea. He then continued with his story.

As far as we could understand, he was describing all the cosmic forces acting upon this spot. He gave an explanation of the ‘seven heavens’, the five parts of the human body and the four elements. His wide-ranging conversation darted from one subject to the next, seemlessly. Somehow it all seemed connected. By now there were complex cosmological diagrams and mathematical symbols drawn on a piece of paper.He explained how all the religions were in fact one and how Jesus Christ was coming again soon, in fact he was already born. He described himself as a Dervish, a Sufi holy man and said that he was a reincarnation of Ibn Al Arabi, a famous Andalucian saint. This statement was followed by a complex astrological breakdown of how this fortuitous event (his reincarnation) had happened.


A couple of books we saw lying around his room were indeed works by classical Sufi authors. He lived very tidily in this simple room and wanted no money from us. ‘Everyone is welcome here’, he said. We asked if he knew any musicians. ‘I’ve met some… up there’ , and he pointed to the sky.

Tomorrow we are travelling to the Holy City of Bukhara. Our first real interception with the Silk Road. I am eagerly anticipating this city – log in and find out about musicians we will be meeting.

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Day 0 – Through the telling of stories we try and make sense of our world

‘Through the telling of stories we try and make sense of our world’.

I invite you to share a live story and a journey.

A story in the present tense, a journey about to begin!

Our ancestors gathered around the campfire, our grandparents the radio, our parents the TV. We gather now around the luminescent glow of the World Wide Web.

Is this the ‘The Global Campfire’?

The Millennium draws us to reflect. Our technology has woven a powerful web but has eroded personal contact, many of us crave a ‘sense of belonging’.

My journey in Central Asia is an epic quest. In the tradition of storytelling, I invite you to participate to engage.

Let me hear your voice.

I’m a musician. Musicians are traditionally storytellers, poets, philosophers, priests, teachers and inventors. In Central Asia this holistic role is alive. As we encounter these musicians, shall we rediscover the integration of life and music?

Nomadic musicians now settled in former Soviet cities, cling to their music. Do they retain an urge to wander?

This will be a ‘live’ journey from ‘concrete jungle’ to wild nomadic pasture. I will travel from the ‘Holy City’ of Bukhara through Samarkand, the ‘Pearl of the East’, along the borders of Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Together with the nomads I plan to venture into the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan and the Alatau range of Kazakstan.

I want you to share and contribute to discovery, to meet others whose lives echo distant truths. We will encounter musical traditions and ancient rituals closer to nature and rooted in a shamanistic* past. The desire to search for ‘alternatives’ and ‘chase’ dreams persists.

Share your dreams

‘When we travel there is no past or future. We engage with the moment. So much that we take for granted, is suddenly in question as we pack our world into a suitcase.’

Much ‘modern’ life is built around obsessive planning for some mysterious almost mythical ‘future.’ When you travel you live in the ‘now’ – that for me is dangerous and exciting.

As this aircraft descends to Almaty on the 28th July I will again be truly alive!

I become ‘the digital hunter-gatherer.’ Tell me what you seek

What’s out there in that dark city full of new smells and unfamiliar sounds? What secrets lie on tomorrow’s page?

For the next six weeks share the sounds and culture of Central Asia, experience that sense of the present, engage daily with each new corners’ revelation.

The ancients said ‘the person who arrives is not the one who left’.

Join me on a journey of 2500 miles, a thousand faces and as many stories. As the ‘Old Silk Road’ merges with the ‘information superhighway’… perhaps we too will change?

  • ‘the drummer who gives life to the spirit’

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