Almost 3 years ago, it was.
And it has never left me.
This city, this huge, beautiful, wonderful but completely broken city.
I visited it for 3 nights. As I wandered its streets and its alleyways, its parks and its squares I could feel it weighing heavy.
This city's past was painful. I could feel the pain years afterwards. I could see the pain in people's faces. It hadn't left them. They remembered.
They remembered days gone by when all they knew was power-filled people, dictating their every move. Their memories of freedom had been so shattered it was hard to rekindle them now.
Their freedom was taken, and I could see the struggle to get it back.
I didn't understand what they were saying. I'd never met these people before. They were just people, ordinary, everyday, very, very special people, and they were lost.
They were living in another century. Clawing, reaching, trying their best to get themselves out of the depths of despair, but they couldn't quite manage it. They need a hand out. They need to be shown freedom.
I don't know of the truth, the facts, the anything behind my words. But I could see it in the dirt, the rubbish, the brokeness, the lack of smiles, the rush to keep going.
These people were lost and they needed to be found.
Have they been found yet? I do not know. Maybe I'll never know.
But I learnt something.
I learnt that once dreams and ideas and realities of freedom and hope have been shattered, for them to be remade once more we need to help. We can't just expect people to find something when they don't know how.
We need to bring people out of centuries gone by, give them cleanliness, refresh them and restore them with hope.
We can't face our battles alone.