When alcoholic Mat
Ward was told in rehab that he would die if he relapsed, he decided to try to
see the world before he died, calling at AA meetings along the way to stop him
relapsing. On the 21-country journey that followed, he met Maori headhunters,
Aboriginal criminals, Indonesian heroin users, Thai sex addicts, Tamil
born-again Christians, New York crack smokers, Himalayan 12-step fanatics and a
Galapagos priest who tried to exorcise his drinking demons. Along the way, what
he learnt about AA made him question exactly what was killing alcoholics. Here,
we join him halfway through the journey – meeting 48, in Tamil Nadu, India.
All names have been changed.
twenties, I travelled some. A couple of summer stints working on Hamilton
Island in Australia. Two surf trips to Indonesia. A month in the USA. Two
extended trips chasing girls around the European Union.
always wanted to live in Europe. And despite the joy of my partner getting
pregnant three years ago, it triggered a small nervous breakdown, as I thought
my dream was fading.
months of searching, my wife − who has taught in Europe before − gained a job
in a small international school, in a tiny village in southern Germany. We
swapped roles, and now I’m at home with our son. And by and large, it is great.
But there have been many challenges along the way.
Mary J. Breen was a member of CUSO, a Canadian volunteer organization similar to the Peace Corps, in Binatang, Sarawak, Malaysia from 1966-68.
In front of my prefab teacher’s house at the school, pink
and blue morning glories curled up the wooden handrail and spread out over the
landing. Even though this door was seldom used, I would regularly take a
cleaver and chop away those lovely flowers. Of course, in the steamy heat of
Sarawak, the vines would be back within days, and I’d start chopping again.
Perhaps I wanted to instill some order on my world, or perhaps I was obeying
some primeval urge to keep the jungle at bay.