Category Archives: Friends

nineteen days, book release

We are half way through the Baha’i Fast, where Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset for 19 days in favour of spiritual nourishment such as meditation or prayer.

For the third year running a group of Baha’i photographers are posting photographs taken at the beginning and end of each fasting day, accompanied with Baha’i quotes and their own thoughts on the website nineteen days.

The site’s authors have also compiled a book to accompany the project, selling as a limited edition run of 250 copies for just US$15.99, it is available from here while stocks last.


26 hours in London

About two months ago a very distinguished member of the world-wide Baha’i community passed away, he was the last surviving member of a unique collective of spiritual magnets called the Hands of the Cause of God. As soon as the UK’s national memorial service was announced I knew that I wanted to be there and kept an eye open for cheap flights and trains to get myself down to London for the event, it was also going to be a great opportunity to see friends whom I had not seen for years.

A cheap train got me into London at 18:10 on Saturday night, I had arranged to go for dinner at the home of Neil, Saghar and (their newborn baby) Edward Cully. Also present were Manijeh and Vince Afnan-Murray, Simon Batchelor, Ali Khosravi and Sarah O’Donovan. It was quite moving to see the two month old son of Saghar and Neil, it had been a long time since I saw a young baby from of a close friend. We chatted and entertained ourselves until about 3am (partly due to a misunderstanding over transport arrangements) and then I went back to Simon’s flat for the night with him and Ali. I was keen to go to the Guardian’s Resting Place the following morning, before the memorial meeting, it is the grave site of Shoghi Effendi, a central figure in the history of the Faith, and I always feel a crisper spiritual connection, a keener clarity of vision and an instantly elated spirit when I am there, it is my favourite place – in the UK at least – to pray and reflect on life. We decided that we would need to leave by 11am to make the journey, we made this decision just as we were heading to bed at 5am, so even then I knew it to be an optimistic plan.

Just before noon on Sunday, Simon and I joined the traffic in south London heading round to the north, it became increasingly apparent, as we tried various short cuts that saved us barely a few seconds here and there, that we were going to be a little pressed for time, if indeed we would have any. Not long after we had crossed the Thames we were making great time and while I would normally prefer to spend longer at the Guardian’s Resting Place, especially having not been there for so long, we did get a good half an hour there and I felt thoroughly lifted by the experience and quite refocussed on some aspects of my life. It was, as always, well worth the visit. Next challenge, getting to the memorial meeting in good time… again some early traffic was a little worrying but we soon got moving well and got to the meeting with another half hour to spare before the start of the programme.

I am going to blog about the actual programme separately.

The programme was a little longer than most of us had expected, it started at 3pm and ended just before 6pm, I had a plane to catch at 20:10 and had been advised to get to the airport for about 7pm, so that gave me an hour to say hello to old friends and get from Ealing to Heathrow. Nonetheless, as short as some of the chats were it was a delight to meet some old friends and, as I expect will be the done thing from now on, their young children too. Actually the weekend left me feeling quite paternal, not that such feelings are of much use at this moment in life. I’ve often felt it is easier to have a reason to leave early than to hang around and have long awkward goodbyes, but on this occasion the departure was that little bit too soon to be entirely polite about it, which was a shame, but I did have a wonderful time there, both from seeing everyone and from the programme itself.

A final credit is due to Simon’s SatNav for navigating a route through the back streets of west London to get us to Heathrow on time for my flight. There were a few events after that… take off was delayed by computer problems at air traffic control, when we landed at Newcastle airport the doors out of the arrivals hall into the airport were all locked (including the fire exit) and we had to wait another 15 minutes for somebody to come and unlock them, and then once let out into Newcastle Shahla, my mother-in-law who was kindly meeting me at the airport, had broken down in the car park and a man who worked at the airport was trying to get her car working again! Of course, I was soon back by Ladan’s side, and extremely happy for having had such a great weekend trip.


This is just a quick note to say that…

  • Ladan is much more stable and is hopefully over her infection
  • The friend that I reported to be in intensive care a few weeks ago is now at home
  • My own car crash did me no harm and I have an offer of a replacement car

It has been a very crazy three or four weeks and I am still feeling a little bowled over by it all, but it looks like we are all well.

Amy’s Marathon Endeavour

Amy Sahba, Marathon womanOn November 4th this year Amy Sahba will be running the ful 26.2 miles of the New York Marathon to raise money for research into leukaemia and lymphoma.

As a young child Ladan suffered from leukemia and was lucky enough to make a full recovery. More recently, Ladan’s father Bizhan has also survived a different form of leukemia, though he has been left with less energy on a day to day basis.

Amy Sahba, photo by Shahram DanaAmy’s grandfather, Frank Marshall, died from leukaemia in 1982. On November 4th Amy will be remembering her “Daddy Frank” as she sacrifices the comfort of her body in his name, in Ladan’s name, in Bizhan’s name and in the names of (currently) six other people through whom cancer has had an impact on the lives of Amy and/or her friends.

Throughout her life Ladan has frequently made donations to Cancer Research in the UK, helping increase the odds that other people would survive cancer as she did. For the last few years she has been unable to do this and so I would very much appreciate it if you could support Amy as she runs in Ladan’s name, exactly three years to the day that Ladan fell unconscious.

You can read Amy’s sponsorship page, a little more of the background to her decision to run marathons to raise money, and make a sponsorship offer, by clicking here.

Link: Team in Training – Amy Sahba
Link: Amy’s blog, montague

[Portrait photo (right) by Shahram Dana (modified)]

Amy Sahba’s Marathon Fund Raising

Link: Team in Training

Amy Sahba is the sister-in-law of the best man at our wedding and moved to New York several years ago to work with CNN. She is in training to run a marathon in which she hopes to raise $1,800 toward research into blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphona and myeloma.

This is cause very close to my heart and even closer to Ladan’s, with both her and her father having suffered from leukemia in their lifetimes. I have made a small donation myself but have little to give at this time in my life, so I am encouraging others to please support Amy, with however little or much you feel comfortable offering, in her marathon endeavour.

Simply click here to read Amy’s donation page and to make your offer. Many thanks!

Manoocher Visits

Manoocher and James at Bolam Lake
With the Newcastle summer subsiding Manoocher hopped in his car and drove up to enjoy the surrounding countryside with me in the rain. Above is a picture of us enjoying the rain at Bolam Lake in Northumberland, below is a picture of Manoocher enjoying the rain at the Penshaw monument near Sunderland.

The Penshaw Monument was built in 1844 anddesigned by John and Benjamin Green, that’s all I know about it and I found that out from the BBC local website, there was no information about it at the actual site.More photos of our two small excursions can be found here.


Picture 041
Originally uploaded by Princess T.

A few days ago I commented on this photo of driving on the M6 by Manijeh Afnan-Murray that there must be something wrong with the suspension on their car, well, it was only a joke but our own car – obviously being indirectly related to any car that Manijeh drives (Ladan, who bought it, is a cousin of Manijeh’s) – has got all sulky and started playing up just a few months after a service. It often sounds like the exhaust has come loose, Ladan’s car loving uncle thinks our suspension has gone, though it feels fine to me and photos are quite steady from it, and the acceleration isn’t always what it used to be. Unfortunately I’m not sure I can even afford to buy the car flowers to make it feel better at the moment, I’ll have to keep up the charm offensive and hope it stops playing up in such a sulky fashion. In future I’ll be sure to get our car’s approval before making any comments about other vehicles it may feel a connection with.

Martin Roper

My Uncle Martin, husband to my mother’s sister Mavis, died unexpectedly from a heart attack on the morning of April 15th. He was 68 years old.

Martin had been feeling a tightness in his chest for a few days but did not feel it was anything that needed a doctors attention, on the morning of Saturday the 15th May his wife noticed he was struggling to breath and tried to assist but he soon died in her arms.

I would not say I was particularly close to Uncle Martin but I was always fond of him, as an uncle he was a cheerful man and never short of interesting things to say. He was also considered to be quite healthy, Martin and Mavis had retired to Uppingham, Leicestershire, for the surrounding countryside and views and enjoyed their walks together. I managed to make a very rare excursion from Newcastle for the occasion and was pleased to have been able to make it. My Mum also flew over from Zambia and I got to catch up with my cousin Phillip Roper whom I had not seen for many years.

The Funeral service was held on Thursday 5th May at Kettering Crematorium. It was a beautiful hot sunny day. Many of the guests had met Martin and Mavis on holiday in Greece where they often went. In the service Martin was referred to as a private man that very few people knew very well, but that everyone who did know him liked what they knew.

The picture is of Martin in Newcastle on the day of our wedding.