Over the Flames
My friend, Renaud, is a very interesting man. Son of a French businessman, he grew up in Tehran in the sixties and seventies. He attended Razi School. He speaks fluent Farsi, though he is really humble and never admits his full command of the language. He likes Iranian foods and spices and makes his family Adas Polo ba Keshmesh. He enjoys Iranian music, and through his mumblings I think I may have discovered that he plays the Tombak, too, but I’m not sure. He works at Berkeley with me and lives around here with his family. Renaud is father to two of the most beautiful children in the world, Isabelle and Thomas. I may be thousands of miles away from home, but to have coffee with this kind, sweet, and generous man every morning, talking about work, life, families, politics and such, has been a wonderful cure for my homesickness. Though he never says it, I believe him to be a lot more Iranian than some of the born and raised Iranians I know, because he has the gift of remembering his good memories of Iran, appreciating its arts, poetry, and music, and expecting nothing in return from Iran, hence never getting disappointed with it! We all went to the annual Charshanbeh Soori ceremony in Berkeley tonight. It felt so good to be surrounded by one of the largest congregations of Iranians I had ever been to outside of Iran. In Renaud’s eager participation in the ceremonies, encouraging his children to jump over the fire, and moving to the beat of Iranian music while snacking on a Kabab sandwich, Katayoon and I felt like we had gone out with members of our own family. This is the way it should be, I thought. Love for and good memories of a country that means so much to the very fabric of each of us. My friend Renaud is an Iranian.