“When I was at the World Social Forum in Nairobi, for two consecutive nights, the same woman was sleeping next to me”.
Whenever I tell this true story to my friends or colleagues, they give me that puzzled look. They don’t know what to say.
* * *
It was indeed an exciting week. I felt like I was a freshman at university again. That first and second weeks when you try out lots of different courses. So many sessions of the WSF attracted my attention, it reminded me of those days at university.
And I was with a group of academics and unionists that organised a couple of workshop on globalisation and trade union movement. We eventually published a book on that theme.
All these activities kept me busy all the time. I skipped my lunch most of the days but never felt hungry (but nor did I lose much weight). WSF always comes with quite a few organisational problems and hiccups but I had a strong sense of fulfillment at the end of the day. It teaches you a good lesson that if you got a genuine message to deliver, you just do with against all odds (there were no chairs or tables in the room where I was making my speech but people came and I spoke anyway).
* * *
Her name was Rebecca. She came from the United States and had an academic career in teaching performing art. She sat next to me on our BA flight back to London. But the flight was canceled after waiting five hours on board the aircraft. It was almost 4am when the captain said “engine trouble. We try again tomorrow night”. By that time, she was fast asleep.
Because the flight was full, when we came back 24 hours later Rebecca sat next to me again. We talked about holding workshops at borders to organise truck drivers and we could have some acting elements in such meetings. This time the flight did take-off and soon afterward, we both fell asleep.