As far as I remember I was always rambling around. As a primary school kid I used to make my homework as quickly as possible then I disappeared for hours in the neighborhood. I knew quite well all forests, lakes and swamps around my city – Wloclawek in Poland. As an university student I used to pass my exams as quickly as possible, usually at the end of May, and then I have been packing my rucksack and going to the Beskidy mountains on the border between Poland and Slovakia. I have been spending there next three, sometimes even more, months. It didn’t matter for me if it was hot or cold, rain or sunny weather. I was always happy if I had a place to sleep in the night – a tent, or a mountain hut, sometimes even canopy of a tree was enough. I knew quite well all remote places in the mountains. Later I became a mountain guide and I enjoyed this function for years – going with students and adults groups for weeks. I was even paid for this guiding.
Although I used to cross the border between Poland and Slovakia at a random place my first real overseas trip was to Alma Ata in Kazakhstan (former Soviet Union). I have been an official visitor at the State University – searching for some interesting articles in the university library. It was my first meeting with Asia and I learned a lot about Asian culture, food and nature. I liked the nature, I didn’t like (well at this time) the food, and I did not enjoy the culture – it was all “salted and sweetened” by the Russian influence. Much later I learned how to distinguish between the faked culture and the real one. But for this I needed many years and at this time many changes in the World happened.
Then I have spend a few years hunting for an interesting job overseas – a place where I could see the World and enjoy life in a different culture. At some stage I had a contract from the university in Ethiopia, but due to some reasons I postponed my flight and next week a war in Ethiopia started. My next offer was from Libya, the university in Sebha, but I was not able to get an Libyan visa. It looks that I was not “red’ enough for them.
After these experiences I finally got my first real overseas contract – it was Papua New Guinea University of Technology, UNITECH, an university under Commonwealth umbrella with strong ties with some UK and Australian organizations. We have been living in Lae, a small city on the eastern seashore of the Papua New Guinea, over the green waters of the Solomon Sea. The place was wonderful and I enjoyed living there with my family. After some time in Papua New Guinea my kids started considering PNG as their home country. I must say – it was a home country for me also. We were attached to it very much and we decided to leave it only when a civil war started knocking to our doors. Sometimes in the night we could hear shutting outside the campus. This was definitely time to leave.
From PNG we have moved to Macau – a small island near Hong Kong. At this time it was still the last Portuguese colony and during our stay there Macau changed the owner. It went from Portuguese hands to the Chinese. The takeover was very rapid and we did not see much changes. However, Macau became much safer under the Chinese rule. It looks that the Chinese police was much efficient cleaning the city from various gangs.
After three wonderful years of living in Macau and working as a Dean if School of Information Technology at Inter-University of Macau (now this is Saint Joseph University), I was invited by Zayed University in Abu Dhabi to transform their College of Computer Science. In this post I was able to use all my skills that I learned and gained at UNITECH and then at IIUM. After a few years of working for ZU I was tired of a specific atmosphere of this university. Fortunately I got a nice offer from New York University of Technology to stay as a Professor at their Abu Dhabi campus. So, next few years I enjoyed of teaching at a good American university in the Middle East. This was the time when I had opportunity of travelling through the Middle East. However, the most impressive and eye opening was my first visit to Istanbul. This was the moment when I decided to move my interests towards Islamic history, Islamic mathematics and Islamic art. For a few years I have been visiting various places in the Middle East, exploring mosques, reading a lot about Islamic matters and experimenting with Islamic geometric ornaments. Out of this interests came out a number of papers and a few books.
Last year we have moved from Abu Dhabi back to Poland – I guess, for good but who knows. Now I divide all my free time between Islamic art and gardening. I plan some new books, some new workshops, some conference lectures and more trips.