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'News from Roman' is a place where I write about events or experiences that are important to me for one or another reason. It is a space where family and friends can get themselves updated on my latest undertakings, and where occasional readers can learn about issues which are important to me.

Christmas and holiday greetings


A copy of a Christmas message to family and friends:

Dear Friends,
 
My December greetings may be coming a little early this year. I am travelling to the Philippines next week, and I will only get back home to Thailand, just before Christmas arrives, so it may be tight for me to write at that point.
 
Many of you are surely used to my somehow boring ‘end of the year’ messages. In many ways, I am very old fashioned (yes, some habits die hard), and as such, you will not be surprised to find this slightly too long message in your inbox, this time around as well! ☺
❤️🎉☃️
 
When I think of 2018, without hesitation, what comes to my mind is a word ‘
journey’. You know that I tend to travel extensively, but this year has been particularly rich in travels. I guess there are good and bad reasons for that. Some good ones involve visiting my family, and the people whom I love and care about, but then I have also travelled so much because of catastrophes and disasters, which I deal with professionally. Whatever triggered all this travelling, I genuinely enjoyed and cherished visiting countless number of villages, towns and cities across Asia, the Pacific, Europe and North America. Travelling exposes you to new situations, experiences, and people, and indeed I feel that 2018 has been particularly rich in lessons that has been provided to me. Now the time will show, whether I can be capable enough to take hints from all these learning? Here are some thoughts:
 
Missing people
 
As I grow older, and lead my glamorous life, I acutely start feeling that I miss people around me. So I terribly miss my Dad, who passed away a year ago; I miss Mum, whom I do not see frequently enough, as she is thousands of kilometres away from me; I miss Tahir, who made my existence in recent years to be so fulfilling, but now, as we finally managed to ‘set him free’ and make sure that he is safe in Canada, I feel an uncomfortable vacuum whenever I get home to empty walls; I miss my wonderful family, people that I love and my friends, who are always there somewhere, but they are often too far… I could go on, and on. Yet, missing people makes you realise that it happens because they are dear to you, because they care for you and you care for them. In turn, it is a nice sensation and realisation to have. So that I am thinking to myself that it is okay to expose yourself to missing people, as long as you find a way to treat yourself and keep the people that are important to you around you, either by visiting each other, or by keeping in touch with them.
 
Being overjoyed with Tahir being in a safe place
 
Yes, 2018 has brought a final resolution, to the challenge and the problem that many of us have worked so far to deal with – ensuring that Tahir is in a safe environment, and able to live his own dream, the way that is far less constrained compared to anywhere else in the world. He has been in Toronto for quite a few months now, and he is doing well in adapting to his new country, new society and new lifestyle. You will all remember how stress we had been for months and months before he set his foot on that plane taking him out of Bangkok to Toronto. Through the support and work of so many of you, we made it though, and although, as I mentioned previously, I miss having him around me here in Bangkok, I feel overjoyed and happy to observe his new phase of life in Toronto. There are so many of you, across the world, who have helped in making his freedom to be a reality. I will not be listing people here, but please be proud of yourselves to have given Tahir a chance, and please rest assured that we will never forget your amazing kindness and help. Thank you!
 
Visiting friends and being visited
 
Living in a place, like Thailand, makes it easier to meet people. Many of you have visited me in the country in 2018, which has been absolutely great. Then, I also travelled to visit family and friends within Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Singapore, Poland, Slovakia, Portugal, Belgium or Canada (among other places). I appreciated and cherished all these moments, and I just hope that I will be able to continue meeting you in various places in years to come.
 
Work
 
My work continues to make me happy, but also to challenge me. Again my work exposed me to multiple travels around places in my vicinity such as towns around Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, but also to more distant ones, such as the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji, Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, or Belgium. As you know, I love my work, and I believe in what I do and what many of the humanitarians try doing in their struggle to assist people coping with crises around them. The darker side of this is that you get exposed to learn about things, which, at times I wished I was not aware of. Working in the biggest refugee camp in the world (in Bangladesh); dealing with a seemingly hopeless situation of the refugees in urban areas across Southeast Asia; witnessing unbelievable destruction of lives, homes, livelihoods, ways of lives of thousands of victims of typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, floods, or droughts make you shiver at times. At least, these make me shiver, and it is not only because these things are allowed to happen (or just need to happen – in case of some natural calamities), but also because, theoretically at least, there are solutions at our hand to limit people’s misery. Laws and regulations could be implemented to deal with slavery, to protect refugees, to give them a chance to integrate to their new homes; politicians could be brought to justice for forcing people to flee in a first place; readily available solutions could be applied to limit consequences of some of the catastrophes, or avoid them altogether. We could and should be doing so much more, but we choose not to. National pride existing in all of our countries, lack of empathy of politicians and large businesses international regulations, borders, red tape, religious fundamentalism make me feel that all what we can do is applying patches to problems rather than changing the way we treat one  another… I admit, when you deal with these issues on daily basis, I sometimes get disheartened. But becoming disheartened, in a wired way, gives motivation too. After being upset, we try to reinvent ourselves, and this is when I try challenge myself to look at positives rather than negatives; or simply understand how my own drawbacks, biases, judgements, or lifestyle may be a part of the problem. I guess, it is pertinent to remind oneself that the change needs to happen within yourself, above all!
😉
 
And finally… the beauty…
 
Yesterday, a friend of mine posted online a link to an absolutely
beautiful presentation of the national anthem of Finland. Mind you, the national anthems tend to scare me more often than not, as they frequently tend to underline superiority of some people over the others… but as I do not understand Finnish, I was not distracted by the lyrics and was able to appreciate an amazing musical performance. This very experience made me think of so many wonderful beautiful moments that I experienced in 2018… whether it was music, a walk in a park, a flower, an amazingly tasty meal, a sunset in Sukhothai’s ancient city, a night walk through cobbled stoned narrow streets of Obidos, crispy cold air in a snow submerged Mount Sniezka on Czech-Polish border, the new science museum in Warsaw, cramped and colourful Old Market in Dhaka, modern sky-scarpers of Singapore, a busker in Brussels, a flight over the beautiful island of Tongatapu, the beauty of Sydney Opera House, or charming wine yards of Ontario… All these help me appreciate that I am a part of this beautiful, even if troubled, world.
 
Thank you for all of these moments, and I am looking forward to more.
 
At last, I hope that you are going to have a wonderful December. If you celebrate it, have a wonderful and merry Christmas. If you don’t have a great holiday season! I wish you all a peaceful time with the people that you wish to be with!
 
Warmest regards,
Roman