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An Ethiopian Odyssey

Chapter 28 - The peace cranes flutter

22nd February 2005

The final stop of the American odyssey was NY. Along with the prospect of meeting Azeb Fesseha, I also longed to visit Ground Zero. What would I find there – would I find a link to the rainbows I kept thinking of, rainbows of peace, every time I thought of people affected by the tragedy of 9/11? Chapter 28 ‘The peace cranes flutter’ explains two links to peace that I found there.
Hurrying to the lift, I decided it was time for a coffee. A small poster by the up/down button caught my eye. On it was the smiling face of Deepak Chopra, the Indian spiritual guru and author. The poster read, ‘Book signing today of Deepak Chopra’s latest book Peace is the Way at 2pm at the UN bookshop.’ I decided to buy a copy and ask the great man to sign it.

There was an expectant air in the UN bookshop. People were going over to the till to buy their books and then joining the line that snaked a third of the way around the store. A cameraman was there, and a small table and chair had been set up by the door. Deepak arrived without any ceremony, sporting glasses with multicoloured frames, probably designer. He sat there quietly smiling at people, signing and then posing for photos. The cameraman captured everything – he must be part of Deepak’s entourage. Another woman opened the book at the required page before his pen touched it. Every thing had been thought of; it must be nice being a famous author!

In front of me, a UN employee titillated a Chinese woman he was plainly trying to impress with details of the latest meetings and gossip about the rape scandals in the Congo. It was clear that lots of management time was being devoted to it. I wondered how much energy had been invested in advance in ensuring that soldiers who wore the blue beret represented everything the UN stood for, especially security and safety, particularly when ordinary people had endured great devastation, whether through natural or man-made disasters.

After the UN man had told Deepak how many times he’d met him, it was my turn. I blurted out, “I’m writing a book to help fund a Garden of Peace in Jerusalem. It will be published next year.” “Ah,” he leaned back, pushing his glasses back up his nose. There was the slightest pause and flicker of his eyebrows. “That’s a very good idea,” he continued in a professional manner, composure restored. He wrote ‘Good luck with your book on peace’ and signed it with a flourish.

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