I am forever changed.
My move to the Middle East came as a snap decision even though if I am to be perfectly honest with myself, signs had been there for quite some time.
With this move came a new found confidence and trust in myself. A confidence and a self-trust that I don't think that I have ever experienced during my adult life.
My new life was beautiful even though initially it came with an acute awareness of my otherness. And furthermore, it brought with it a much needed peace of mind too, despite all the initial apprehension to this region's noted conflicts and 'perceived' dangers. Perceptions, mind you that had been carefully painted by Western media, my ignorance and trust in both. Happiness, confidence and a sense of spiritual security were thus the outcomes of my move some months later.
While these discomforts and triumphs were personal to me, it was obvious that life in the Middle East had changed drastically and possibly forever in the last 5 years, resulting in a general despair for most people of this region.
Refugees and the conflicts that made them so were daily reminders to the world of the region's instability. However, their personal despair and how they were to be affected as a result, were still uninvited dinner guests at the West's table of discussion. The West happy to acknowledge this region's present state of affairs only in numbers and statistics.
So, when a Syrian toddler escaping the civil war in a dingy with his family washed up on Turkish shores during the summer of 2015, finally the world was ready to be human.
It is with this sense of shared humanity that I write and decided to start this blog. My interest in sharing my interest in the Middle East was not enough.
I come from a journalistic background, particularly feature writing. And as a result, I know that it is the human stories, often most times even unknown to their main characters, but skillfully identified and dug up by journalists that should be the main feature in any blog espousing world travel.
Travel blogs have to be more than just narcissistic photos and posts about the most famous landmarked places on earth. How many photos of landmark buildings and landscapes does the world need at a time like this when people's lives are being changed not by choice but by circumstances beyond their control, but still sadly within their responsibility to handle.
Culture is fluid. However, in the Middle East despite thousands of years of history, it is perceived that its culture and society have remained somewhat immune to change.
Can we still say this today?
Certainly not after the neo-colonistic like maneuverings of the West during the last ten years.
But the macro-socio-political effects of the West's invasion into the Middle East over the last decade is left to be debated by historians and pundits. However, it is the felt effects of the people of the Middle East and anyone affected by these macro constructs that should be carefully chronicled and captured by journalists of the day: bloggers.
We try very hard to understand a place, a region and even a people through their food, culture, customs and buildings without even trying to understand them through their own words.
Therefore, I really do think that travel bloggers, particularly in the Middle East, but certainly not limited to this part of the world, should do their very best to uncover and narrate the hidden but deeply felt experiences of the people that you encounter during your journeys.
The world needs to know.