A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil, that good may come of it... We are too ready to retaliate, rather than forgive... And yet we could hurt no man that we believe loves us. Let us try then what love will do: for if men did once see we love them, we should soon find they would not harm us. Force may subdue, but Love gains: and he that forgives first, wins the laurel.
William Penn

Be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone...
George Fox

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Being Peace near El Vendrell, and a Conflict Zone Reporter in Calafell

A typical hilltop castle on the way to El Vendrell

A Roman arch in the median of the highway!
 The best thing about having a host waiting for me at the end of the day is that the walk, interesting though it may be, is usually far less interesting than the people I am about to meet.
Take in case Ramón, my host in a village near El Vendrell. At 22 years old he decided he was going to learn how to play the very complicated Indian drum called the tabla. Learning something like the tabla is not the same as attending djembe workshops; it is a lifetime endeavour. In India Ramón sought out and found a tabla master who took him as a student, and for seven months he was immersed in, not only tabla techniques, but the whole of culture surrounding the instrument, from Sanskrit to Yoga to Ayurvedic medicine.
He returned to Catalunya, feeling he needed a break from this immersion, but was soon back again for more. Since then, he has been in India several times, once living on an ashram where he practiced the tabla all day, every day. He now continues his study of the tabla with a teacher in Italy whom he visits once a month.
Meeting Ramón was like meeting the personification of peace, but one might expect a person who has lived on an ashram for so long to be calm and gentle. So imagine my surprise when the local guitar-playing friend he had invited to his house was no less the personification of peace than  Ramón. His friend, Enric, is in a street theater troupe (as is Ramón now) and not only a guitar player but a vocalist as well. It was his birthday that day, and their idea of a birthday party was a vegetarian dinner and a performance of their music which combines the Indian tabla's exotic sounds with the Western guitar. The birthday gift, in the end, was mine, as I listened, or rather blended with the 'peace music' my two friends produced. I gave both of them information on Masterpeace,  and they may make their 'peace music' a part of Masterpeace's efforts. I hope to see them in Cairo!

My host in El Vendrell, Ramon, on the tabla drums, cheerfully tolerating my jamming on his one-stringed Indian instrument 

Ramon and Enric making the most sublime music I've heard in a long time
 The next day a short walk brought me to Calafell, where I met my next Couchsurfing host, Lídia and her parents. While Lídia contributes to the peacebuilding effort through her work as an independent journalist, she radiates, not tranquility, but pure energy. She works with a partner for a Panamanian news agency that gives them the liberty to report on whatever they see fit to report, and they usually find themselves in conflict zones like Libya and Sudan. Lídia is home with her parents for a while, but only because of visa problems related to her next trip to India, where she may find herself in Kashmir. As independent journalists, she and her partner often find themselves having problems the big news reporters don't have, such as visa problems, confiscated cameras (in Algeria) and having to couchsurf for a bed (in Libya). On the other hand, there is nothing to compromise their integrity.
 Meanwhile, Lídia is taking a break from conflict zones by taking photoshop classes, self-defense classes (she did Brazilian jiu jitsu in the past) and cheering for FC Barcelona, or whoever opposes Real Madrid. To have a look at Lídia's reporting, see 'Canal de 2 the parrot' on Youtube. See you, Lídia!

The amazing Lídia and her equally amazing parents

The Roman fort in Calafell

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