Exposure - A Journey and a Tribute

The last few months has been amazing. I went from being a 'no one' to 'someone'. Well maybe a small visible dot :) I managed to create something that wasn't there. Something that made a difference and  God that is so rewarding. But the journey in between has been one hell of a roller-coaster and this is an honest account of how I felt all along. 

I did not set up this company just to make money. I went into this for a lot of reasons. I felt there was something deep in me that was precious. Something in my past, something in the passion I have had for the mountains of Iran. Something in my relationship with my dad. This thing is so deeply and emotionally rooted that can be powerful and can drive things forward. I noticed it. I let it take charge.

I had just run my first expedition which was a huge success. So I immediately set off organizing the next one which was the Ski ascent of Damavand in April 2015. I then had an idea. I wanted to make a film about it. Had I ever done filming before? No. Did I know about cameras? No. But I have courage and confidence and a stupid belief that everything is possible. So I sheepishly wrote a message to Paul Diffley, an award winning British film maker (I know! What was I thinking!) The thing is I don't really think a lot. I just come up with ideas and set out doing it. So I wrote to him and asked if he had any tips for a regular mum of two who wants to go up Damavand in winter with her ski team (she doesn't even ski herself) and make a film!  To cut the story short, two months later, I found myself in Iran with an official cameraman/director , sponsorship from Trek&Mountain, BMC and Ellis Brigham, Osprey Packs and Sherpa Adventure Gear and Paul Diffley as the producer! I could not quite believe what I had achieved! I had become associate producer of a short documentary film called 'Damavand: an Iranian Dream' which then showed at the BMC event at Kendal Mountain Film festival in November 2015. I suddenly found myself sitting in the front row in the screening, my parents sitting two rows behind me. Paul and Matt (the camera man) sitting next to me, Hazel Findley and Steve McClure, the climbing legends sitting nearby! OMG! I couldn't quite believe this was happening! Then my film showed. My heart rate hitting the roof. This is all about my life after all. I just wished I could turn and look at my dad's face. The film was in a way a tribute to him and that was the first time he was seeing it. I just closed my eyes and imagined how welled up he would be. What about mum. Was she proud of me? After the film, they asked us to come on to the stage. Dad got all tearful. Everyone had a lovely smile. I spotted my friends in the audience! I was so humbled and touched.  I came back with my heart swollen! No! Bursting rather.. With Joy, excitement and hope!! I had done something nice!  I had just introduced my dad to the world. His love for the mountains. I had shared our common love and passion and how that had changed my life. It was an appreciation! an acknowledgement. Secondly I had shown a different side to Iran. Something people don't normally hear or see. A brighter side. I had inspired some to visit.

Matt, dad, mum, me, Paul and Nial at BMC TV event, Kendal

This was a pivotal point in this journey of exposure because suddenly I realized maybe my story is worth sharing. Maybe people would like to hear it. Maybe it does inspire people to follow their dreams, or to go visit this beautiful country. So I thought why don't I try and give a talk as well as show my film. Pretty soon, I had four talks lined up.  The first was in Chamonix, in a little cafe/restaurant. Second was at Ellis Brigham in London where I work part time. Third was at BMC's London and SE area meeting and the fourth was at Royal Society of Asian Affairs. I was super excited and went for them! I was terrified and nervous, specially about the first one as it was abroad and I don't know many people in Chamonix. The talk was planned for 5.00 pm and I sat at the bar feeling cold to the bone and sweating at the same time because not many showed up. The couple of people who showed up were my own friends, and Chris and Amanda from Trek&Mountain who were super kind and supportive. I was disappointed though. This was the outdoor Mecca where I hoped for a bigger audience. I had brought raffle prizes kindly donated by my sponsors. No point doing a raffle now. There were only around 12 people. I felt disappointed. I felt a little foolish. After all, I had spent a bit of money for getting there and back. Was it really worth it? I gave the talk. Those who had come seemed to really enjoy it and I was so thankful they had come! I swallowed hard, tried to focus on quality time with friends and the future. Looking back, I feel people just didn't know about the talk. Perhaps it was not promoted enough. Who knows. Anyway, back in London, I had the Ellis Brigham talk coming up. Felt a bit nervous. What if people don't show up. How embarrassing would that be.  I went in expecting nothing. My husband and my 9 year old son were coming and a couple of friends which was nice. But man,  by 7pm the room was full! All chairs taken! People were standing in the back!! Whoop!!  All the social media tags and mentions by the sponsors and the event organizers had made a huge difference. It's all about spreading the word after all.

After a technical glitch, I set off with the talk. I was in my element. I felt I was on a mission. I had never felt so relaxed and comfortable speaking in front of a large audience. The atmosphere was amazing. This felt great. The reactions I got at the end were great. People came to me saying how they enjoyed the talk. How they loved the personal story and how that really changed their perception of Iran and hoped one day they'd go and visit!!!

The talk at the BMC and the RSAA went equally well with a full house and an eager crowed who came to speak to me afterwards. Who emailed me their thoughts. Who shared their experiences and photos. Since then more opportunities for talks and screening of the film has come up and as ever I have been enjoying sharing my story and telling people about Iran. I have been invited to be part of the panel on the Adventure for All event in LLanberis Mountain Film Fesival (LLAMFF) in Wales. My film has been selected for the LLAMFF, Chamonix Mountain Film Festival, the Slovanian Mountain Film Festival, Adventure Travel Film Festival in London and the Mountain Arts Film Festival up in the Lakes. I have been invited to give a talk at the Alpine Club and the Iran Society and potentially a few other venues. I feel ever so grateful for all these people and organizations for giving me a chance to expose Iran in a different light and share my story. My heart has filled once again with Joy. I feel I am giving a little something back to my beautiful country and its people and above all my dad who taught me to dream and follow my passion. Onwards and Upwards. Love and Peace to you all. 

Huge thanks to Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, BMC, Trek&Mountain, Ospreypacks, Sherpa Adventure Gear, Hot Aches Productions.