Iman Khalili15 Comments

A message to all of my friends who want to do something good and big in this world but find themselves lost like me.

Iman Khalili15 Comments
A message to all of my friends who want to do something good and big in this world but find themselves lost like me.

So here I am.
Tehran.
This big loud messy uneasy monster of a city.
Maybe the last place one would consider for "taking refuge".
About 3.5 months ago, I did what I had been thinking about for the longest while.

I ran away.

I packed my backpack with whatever I could find for my survival plus a small scratched up laptop and my camera, which I had earned my living with for the previous four years. I had purchased a roundtrip ticket. Vancouver to Bangkok. It was only a couple of weeks before I realized that I had to burn my return ticket. 

You see, I had never planned to reach this point...

A day like this one...

A day like this one...

The story had started back when I was in school. It was one fine day when my dad said: “Son. You can be whatever you want to be. You will be successful”


Fast forward 15 years. I had a degree in Human Geography from the University of British Columbia. I had started a small touring business right out of university, scratched that idea and then onto creating a clothing and accessory line which sold out for two seasons but ultimately was left to suffer a slow death. Then came a branding firm with my brother. I was the "Chief of Marketing and Sales" and then woke up one day to find myself unable to do one more day of it. Then I took the almighty role of a Barista in a local cafe; brewing, steaming, cleaning, wiping, working shoulder to shoulder with my comrades. Realizing that I cannot even afford my rent with the wages from that job, I jumped onto photography. I had a good portfolio, perhaps I could somehow make ends meet. Fashion, products, portraits, concerts, reports, events. But then one day I found myself waking up at 4:00 AM. I was shooting Punjabi weddings for a living. 18 hour days, back to back, for four years. I had to do something. something of value. something of meaning, close to my heart. So we started a radio station out of our pocket. My brother and I worked endless hours putting together a radio that picked up to 280,000 listeners. Then we decided to create a series about a young man who is struggling in Canada trying to put his band together. Someone like myself. The series pilot was approached by a couple of networks. Then our money finished. nothing happened.

And then one night, it all came down in a bustling Indian wedding reception.

Yup. I've lost it here...

Yup. I've lost it here...

While I was trying to maintain my stance, expensive gear and sanity as I was being pushed, pulled and elbowed around, a quite thought came to me; "…so this is it huh? after all of that, this is where you settle” and that, hurt, deep into the core of my soul.

I woke up in Bangkok...
I had a small bag on my back and an unknown future ahead of me. I left behind me my family, as well as a hefty student loan for a degree that I hadn’t used once since I had gotten it. 

Yes. I agree. My dad was awesome for telling his son that he can do whatever he wants to do. but telling him that he will be successful is another thing. The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. I never did. And being successful? well that never happened...

So here I am. After crossing four countries and finally ending up in Iran, I started to do the only thing that ever really made sense to me since I was 7: Sitting on my bike, driving far, finding places, things and people that interest me, and bringing their story home and sharing it with the people. I really didn’t know how that was going to help me. But for once, it felt right...

perhaps the feeling of freedom and being terrified come in a package?

perhaps the feeling of freedom and being terrified come in a package?

Then things started to happen and are happening: The prospect of going to a university program on Documentary film making, creating a series from the footage I have shot from my 3 month trip, making a blog of stories and photos from my travels and meeting with the head of a major travel magazine in Iran.

And honestly, all of this is with one purpose, which feels so great. That, for me, is to give something of myself, to other people. To do something, which I feel uses more and more of my true potential. Uses more and more of the unique, weird combination of things that has shaped me, to perhaps do something good on a very small scale.

Sure, I am not there yet...and its all just in the making. But one thing is for sure, and that is that I rather live a passionate life in the making, than a mediocre life that runs smooth.

This writing greeted me right above my bed on the hostel window, the first night I arrived in Bangkok.

This writing greeted me right above my bed on the hostel window, the first night I arrived in Bangkok.