Introducing Cycle To Iran
Introducing Cycle To Iran….
So, um…. I’m going to cycle to Iran.
There, I said it.
When introducing Cycle To Iran I recall that I was wondering why getting chucked out of my flat wasn’t causing the expected urgent push to rehouse myself, despite the increasing concern of some of my friends and the looming spectre of homelessness. Rejecting the idea of committing to another spell inside yet another private, money-sapping let but with no idea initially what the alternatives might be. Something was cooking in my brain though and I didn’t have to wait long before the timer went PING! And the idea popped out that I was going to cycle to Iran.
You’re doing what?
Cycle to Iran, land of my father. A father I never met and a land vilified by the English press, who would portray a country filled with mad bombers and a government hell-bent on nuking The West out of existence.
I was adopted and brought up by George and Betty Shields and have a sister, Jacky. They are my family but we have not got on for a long time and any hope of reconciliation was ended last year when Mum died and Dad had become so angry that he didn’t want to speak with me again.
My blood father was called Hamid Hamidi, or so it says on my adoption certificate. He was born in (and grew up in) Persia, modern-day Iran and was in London, studying dermatology, when he met my birth mother, Margaret Thompson, who “Helped him with his English”. As soon as he heard that I was on the way you couldn’t see him for dust. Forty years later I met my birth mother; Margaret, or Marguerite, as she had become known and she told me that he was married, almost certainly with a family of his own and that he had presumably gone back to Tehran.
So yes…. Iran.
Am I going there to search of him, or my Iranian family?
No, with a little bit of yes perhaps. My identity is English and always has been. Inside though I have a growing curiosity. I don’t have a general wanderlust but Iran is calling to me. My friend Grahame is forever posting beautiful images of Iranian countryside, architecture and culture. He’s been implanting these subliminal messages for several years and reinforcing a distant ancestral calling within.
Diana, an ex-partner and enduring and abiding friend, has repeatedly told me that one of her Iranian friends said that Iranian people are among the most friendly and hospitable people on the planet. Further investigation reveals that everyone who has written on the subject of traveling within Iran tells the same story, there are over 30,000 Couch Surfers (www.couchsurfing.com) within a 25Km radius of Tehran which demonstrates an uncommonly widespread willingness to be hospitable.
So yes, if by some miracle, the news of my activities reaches an Iranian family member and they somehow make themselves known to me then yes, that would be the cherry on the cake and I would be overjoyed to meet them. But it would be a miracle and I am just keeping an eye open because, hey, there can’t be all that many dermatologists called Hamid Hamidi, can there? He’ll be long gone but there are likely two generations blissfully unaware of my existence. The thought is beguiling.
So why cycle to Iran?
In recent years I have allowed myself to become very overweight. I would catch sight of myself in shop windows and see myself in photo’s and think things like, “You fat bastard, what the hell are you doing? Get a fucking grip”. Florid, but true.
A good friend, Tony, saw my plight and started dragging me up the hillsides around Hebden Bridge but, because I was carrying so much blubber, my back would begin to hurt and the walks would be good but short. He persuaded me to fettle a bike that I’d bought from a colleague a couple of years earlier, which I did and he basically saved my life by doing so as this proved to be very effective in getting me out there and increasing my range enormously.
The bike, a hardtail mountain bike, was too small though so, after saving for a while, I bought a new, bigger, better, redder and just plain fantastic bike, an Orange Clockwork Pro (Or Clockwork Orange) which, over the last couple of years, I have ridden thousands of miles, something I wouldn’t have thought remotely possible before then. The weight loss is going well but I still have a way to go.
Médecins Sans Frontières
(http://www.msf.org) are heroes, they put themselves in the most dangerous situations to “Provide emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, healthcare exclusion and natural or man-made disasters.”
Donate here: http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/cycletoiran