Sep 4, 2007

A Brief Encounter With Alan Johnston

I'm in London, UK this week - attending a Marketing Conference. I arrived this morning, excited to be back in one of my favourite Cities. My joy was mildly tainted by the ongoing Tube Strike. It seems that the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has closed two-thirds of the Tube network and affected 10 lines.

Needless to say, It took a few hours to get settled in at my hotel - but no matter, I'm still happy to be here. I decided to go in Search of a popular Thai restaurant called Busaba Eathai. During the meal, my sister, who happened to be with me - spotted someone who looked like Alan Johnston, walking by outside. I had no idea who he is, but by the time dinner was over - I learnt a lot. I found myself thinking that this man must be a really remarkable person - I wondered what it would be like to meet him or even speak with him.

We finished dinner and left the restaurant. Just as we got outside the front entrance - there he was - quietly standing near the street, clearly waiting for someone. My Sister asked if she could go speak with him - I remember asking her if she was sure it was actually Alan Johnston, as she walked up and introduced herself.

Sure enough, it was the man himself. As they spoke, I inched closer and mumbled something about being glad to meet him.

I must say, he was very gracious, quite friendly and repeatedly expressed gratitude to all those who supported him during his ordeal. He mentioned that many people have stopped him in the street (as we did), and said encouraging words to him, and for that he's truly thankful. I waited for him to say something even remotely negative about his captors or the situation he was placed in - but nothing came. Finally, I asked him if he would ever go back again. He paused briefly and responded by saying that the experience was pretty frightening, he loves London and he wasn't sure he could return to that region again.

The Alan Johnston story is not a new one - he was abducted at gun point on March 12th while on his way home from Gaza and arrived back in the UK, in July. The reason, I saw fit to blog about this chance encounter with him, was because I was moved by his grace and humility. He didn't show any bitterness or negativity towards anyone and he certainly didn't need to spend 5 minutes with 2 total strangers on a dark night, outside the Busaba Eathai..........

Thanks Alan.

No comments: