Saturday, 03 March 2012, 09:14 GMT

Sazan M. Mandalawi

The Kurdish Globe
By Sazan M. Mandalawi

Out of town in search of knowledge

Right now, I am on a train. I will always remember today. It was the day when a friend and I traveled out of town in search of knowledge. This was another day in the life of a Twanasazi* student.

We went to meet Mamosta*, who happens to be a friend of a friend of mine. I had heard of him and his family, and they live in an English city not too far from us. On our arrival, we saw Mamosta from a distance, his back against a wall, smoking a cigarette. As soon as we met, he was quick to point out that he was determined to quit; but once he completed his studies, that is.

We are lead to Mamosta's office, an old building at the University of Leeds, its origins dating back to the 1800s. The building's staircase is tapered, and there is no elevator. The corridors are narrow and long -- a far cry from modern buildings. On a Sunday, this place seems to be haunted. There is not a single sound and almost no light. As we are led to the fifth floor, we come across two people. I know their look very well. It says: "Don't bother me, I have a deadline in half an hour and the printer is not working. I also haven't slept for three nights."

The door to Mamosta's room creaks open and we are invited inside. The room echoed the tone of the building, with aging furniture and dull colors. It had overweight books that needed to go on a diet and the only sign of modernity was the computer and the laptop. This office has no color or liveliness; no jubilant atmosphere or energetic feel. In fact, for the first time in my entire life, I can touch the ceiling without standing on a chair placed on a table. Having said this, there is something special that gives a sentiment of hopefulness. As soon as you enter through the door, you do not notice that there is no life or color here. At the back, opposite to the office door, is a large Kurdish flag that covers that side of the room, top to bottom. The red, green, white and yellow stand out and shine brightly. If the light was not on, the colors would probably glow in the dark.

There is no time to waste. We are immediately asked to sit as he begins to address some of the queries my friend has. I sit towards the back, on a chair by a tiny window, taking notes.

Here we are, three Kurds in England, miles away from home. On a mission in this land to reach an ultimate dream, in a small office, deep in an ancient building, by the Kurdish flag, hungry for knowledge. Quoting Clausewitz, Weber, Morgenthau, Marx, Hobbes and Machiavelli, Mamosta speaks to my friend, often with his eyes gazing somewhere beyond. His thoughts come out logically, in a coherent sequence. Every now and then, he gives examples from the Kurdistan government; he is not pleased with the way many things are working, although I admire his constructive criticism. I also admire that he speaks not from resentment, but from the fact that he wants Kurdistan to be bigger and greater. He has visions for this nation.

As he speaks, I listen and observe. I cannot help but make a connection between Mamosta and the large flag behind him. I feel in this little room where he has probably spent hundreds of hours so far, his only source of hope and optimism is the flag. It is Kurdistan. I can already draw his future as soon as he completes his studies. He is going to return and serve a struggling nation; he has the knowledge, motivation, personality and the brains to make amazing changes.

This was just a glimpse of my day today. As the darkness has approached, we return with not only PDF files and books (legal) in our hard drive, but with something much greater: Inspiration from a Kurd.

*Twansazi, is the name of the scholarship given by Kurdistan Regional to students to study their postgraduate degree abroad. It is part of the HCDP program initiated by the Ministry of Higher Education.

*Mamosta is the word used by Kurds to refer to someone who teaches them, it's a word of respect.