394.The Man in Blue – St Truiden en Ieper I

I am busy preparing for interfaith week, for which many of the FE Colleges I work with want my advice and assistance. I am also preparing for the London Regional Forum of the 24th of November, where London FE Colleges learn about new developments in interfaith work and get some training.

To restrict my time even more I went to Coventry on November 7 to meet my friend Balwant Singh and to visit all the Coventry Gurdwaré and I am writing this during a four-day visit to Belgium to attend the 11/11 Armistice Day commemoration in Ieper.

Saturday 14/11 I will be at an all day Lib Dem London Region conference where I will speak about my work with FE Colleges, Tuesday 17/11 I will be in Birmingham for the Association of Colleges conference and on Friday 20/11 again in Birmingham to discuss the status of the Sikh 5 Ks and turban.

I am not complaining or bragging, just explaining that the interesting and rewarding life that I have been blessed with sometimes gets too interesting.

On 10/11 I went to Belgium by Eurostar and got my kirpan through without too much trouble. From Brussel Zuid station I took a train to Landen and a connecting bus to the Sikh Sangat Gurdwara, Halmaal, St Truiden.

The bad news from St Truiden is that my brother Mohinder Singh, the Gurdwara pradhan, has recently been attacked by some white thugs. The good news is that the Gurdwara held its second Nagar Kirtan where this time the Panj Piaré were allowed to carry their traditional talwar.

On the afternoon after my arrival I went with Manpreet (Louke) Kaur and Granthi Kewal Singh to an event in the adult education centre where the Flemish equivalent of ESOL classes are given. I spoke with the burgemeester (mayor) about the cultural and religious communities in St Truiden.

The political situation in St Truiden is complicated. I hope that if the mayor loses his job the good work he is doing with the diverse communities of the town will continue.

November 11 is a national holiday in Belgium, and as per usual we went from the Gurdwara by coach to Ieper. The grey sky did not look to threatening, but it also did not really promise sunshine.

We left late and arrived in Ieper late, we missed the actual parade but were on time for the ceremony at the Menen Gate.

This report on my visit to Belgium will be continued next week. Pictures will appear both on this blog and on my flickr account.

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 7:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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