In parts of Iran, several travellers I met seemed to be battling loneliness. Next to no western tourists, coupled with the language barrier and unreliable internet, meant you’d go days, or longer, without English or contact with the outside world. These people often came to me for advise. I’d sit them down, spark up my cigar, stroke my beard and encourage them to adopt a different outlook (they’d tell me to stop being a wanker and to just try and have a normal conversation). OK, sorry. I’ll be normal. Think about it, when are you ever going to be in this situation again, to just have time in the evenings – no distractions, no web, no commitments, to just read and relax. Forced relaxation is a beautiful thing, if you can find a way to embrace it. It’s not until everything you’re accustomed to is taken away, that you think to find something else to engage in.

I’m generally not a marathon reader, i tend to read a lot of different content, in short, sharp bursts, like someone with ADD. That changed. I read. In a way I’ve never read before. In the real world, when do you get the opportunity to just read? Theres too many distractions – emails, pointless meandering on the web, TV. And who can be arsed with intense reading when you’ve just spent the past 8 hours at your desk working? I could feel my brain throbbing each evening, facilitated by a clearer mind from the absence of alcohol. I have an Encoclopeida downloaded onto my iPad, so when I needed info on something I read, I’d go there. It often spiralled out of control as one page would lead to another and so on. I learnt more in the past month, than all of the past year. It was a sweet ride. Embrace the uniqueness of the situation, and make the best of it. Then you begin to discover that no web and no alcohol, may not be such a bad thing after-all (for now anyway). When normal life resumes, I’ll have more than enough time for the distractions of Facebook, the cloudy mind created by friday night drinks, the cheeky midday pint on a Sunday afternoon, or the brain drain from designing something for an impossible client. Now, embrace the moment.