His name is Mohammad but everyone knows him as Shaad. It’s the name that he gives himself on his Instagram, which means “happy” in Farsi. In his bio writes: “wheelchair backpacker / Psychologist / A backpacker that rediscovers himself in his travels and also do online-therapy”. In his profile picture, he wears a colorful African costume and a big hat. He is 43 years old from Iran, and most of his posts are himself with a big smile while it seems he experienced something exciting mostly in nature, with quite long captions.
But these days all the stories he shares are from an airport in Kenia. It’s been 6 days by now that he’s made a part of the airport as his home. He is kind of stucks in Kenia’s airport and there’s no way out. “I was going to Ghana, where my friends were waiting for me and I decided to stay there for a while until the coronavirus goes away.” He said in an Instagram Live, “But as I landed in Ghana’s airport, just before I pass the gate, police arrested me. They said let’s go to scan your stuff one more time but instead they forced me to aboard a plane which I didn’t know where the destination is!”
. . .
When he talks about the motivation of his long journey, he has to go back to 23 years ago, when he was 20 he found out he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy — a progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. He says “I was bewildered when the doctor told me there is no cure for my disease and I will have to sit in a wheelchair starting from a few years. He was so direct to me that I got angry with him. I was depressed and decided to commit suicide many times and I was sure that I will ganna kill myself when I need to sit in a wheelchair.”
Finally, 3 years ago he had to sit in a wheelchair. But after lots of challenges that he got with himself, he decided to start traveling around the world instead, Which was his dream, and he decided to do everything he loves to do before dies.
So now at this point, Shaad is stuck at Nairobi’s airport!
He arrives Kenia exactly the day that the president commanded no foreigner enters the country. He says “I am out of money. I got the ticket the day before the flight, but they stopped before boarding on the plane in the last second because of my wheelchair. They said I should aboard with my own feet, according to the protocols!” Another option that he has is to come back to Iran, but he doesn’t want to, because his immune system is weakened by his illness muscular dystrophy, and if he gets coronavirus he is more likely to die.
So Shaad dwells in Nairobi’s airport these days. he convinced the airport to give him a safe place to stay, food, and wifi. He says “I asked the airport’s managers to guarantee my safety, and they’ve provided me with a couch in the first-class lounge”. he tried to make himself comfortable there because he wants to make the most of his life under any circumstances. “It’s not the situation of my choice, but I also have so many good things to get busy with, I got a lot of things to read, write, and it’s an opportunity to self-development and work on my acceptance.”
This attitude towards life and its adversaries that Shaad has, started to form at the young age when he studied psychology to comfort himself and find relief. Albert Camus, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Khayyam are among his favorite thinkers. He says “Camus save my life with this: ‘the realization that life is absurd cannot be an end but only a beginning’”.
Now he believes this existential view of life helps him to not get upset and distressed by this situation.
Sitting on his couch in Nairobi airport, he ends his Instagram Live with a poem from Khayyam:
“Khayam, if drunk with wine you be, rejoice,
If next to lovely maid you sit, rejoice,
And since the world in nothing ends, suppose
Your life be flown — while it is not, rejoice.“