8/31/2007

The Clouds

Photograph by Traveler
My younger son and I shared a ride into Berkeley this morning. The clouds had put on a spectacular show in the sky. He asked me if I had my camera along. This is significant, as the two of them are usually rather sick of my carrying a camera everywhere to “capture the moments!” He fetched it from my purse and got busy capturing the amazing formation of the clouds. Around the windy bit of the freeway we take into Berkeley, as our angle kept changing and hills kept appearing and disappearing from view, he kept snapping pictures. I know I have told you before, but I can’t stop my astonishment every time I see him face his environment these days. He is cool, confident, and quiet as usual, but something has changed in him, making him softer, calmer, more peaceful, and a real treat to have around. He washes his own clothes, and is meticulous about getting to work and class on time. When I got home last night, he had cleaned his room and bathroom and had even swept the house—all a first-- in anticipation of my two older cousins who will be visiting this weekend. Something about him reminds me of when he was still an infant and I left him with his nanny to go to work everyday, rushing home to see him and hold him after work, looking carefully at his face and his body, knowing for sure that he had changed while I was gone. These days he is in another “growth spurt,” only this time his limbs and bones are not stretching and growing. His soul grows everyday, I think. Every time I see him at the end of the day, I swear he shows signs of growing wiser.

8/30/2007

Dancing the Dance of Joy

Painting by Vanecha Ebrahimi Roodbaraki, who is an artist from Gilan, living in Paris. She has a nice collection of paintings. See here for more.
Tonight I feel such harmony with my feelings inside when I look at this happy image of Baluchis dancing. You know, I have lived long enough to know that there are hardships, losses, pains, and agonies in life. They are real and they can change the course of our lives forever. Call me an optimistic fool, but I also think that for every pain and hurt we experience, and for every bucket of tears we cry, there is a bigger joy and happiness, a world full of laughter and dance waiting for us just around the corner. If we accept the painful events of our lives with dignity and hope for the future, then we are on our way to seeing those joys just around the corner. I believe in God and I believe in justice. I believe in endurance and I believe in no regrets. I believe in the power of love and the will to change things for the better. Though I truly hear and respect opinions of those who think my philosophy simple-minded and corny, I persist. You know, my way of life has worked for me over and over and over again. Tonight I dance a dance of joy along with those men in the painting. I am blessed and happy. I am.

8/29/2007

Beautiful Boushehr

Palm tree bearing dates in Ehsan's aunt's backyard in Boushehr.
Ehsan is nostalgic about his hometown of Boushehr. Take a look at his blog and see for yourself. Another destination added to my list of things to do before I live a long life! Maybe we could all go together. Long and healthy live beautiful Boushehr, safe from ills and evils of this world.

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (IV)

Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian Literature. It will be summarized. If you would like to read more or in Farsi, let me know and we will figure out a way to make sure you get to see this gem of an Iranian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style. (Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. Part IV here. Part V here. Part VI here.)
In her lonely and melancholic castle, Shirin's only sustenance was milk. Transporting milk to the castle through the mountain was a difficult feat, and Shirin was aware that her caretakers had a hard time doing this everyday. She asked Shapour one time about a solution and Shapour told her that he had an old schoolmate, a young engineer, an expert sculpture artist who could create a canal through the mountain through which milk would run to Shirin's castle. He introduced Farhad to Shirin who fell in love with her on sight.
Farhad's love for Shirin motivated him to cut the canal through granite (sang-e-khara) in one month, complete with a beautiul pool by Shirin's castle. When Shirin saw the completed canal, impressed with Farhad's art and his obvious love for her, she removed her earrings and gave them to Farhad as his reward. Poor Farhad who couldn't talk, returned the earrings and took off into the wilderness where he pined after Shirin, becoming famous for his undying love for her, writing love poems and telling the world about his love. Soon Khosrow learned of the talk of Farhad's love for Shirin. Knowing that another man loved Shirin made him jealous and determined again to keep Shirin and her love to himself.
Khosrow had to figure out a way to get Farhad out of Shirin's life, as Farhad was an excellent artist, good looking, in love with Shirin, and with enough potential to win Shirin away from him. He knew he couldn't leave him alone, but he was a king and honorable enough not to want to kill Farhad. So he called Farhad to his castle to try and bribe him and get him out of Shirin's life. (*In what is probably one of the most beautifully written passages of Nezami's story, Khosrow and Farhad have a poetic dialogue about Shirin, by the end of which Khosrow knows Farhad would never forget about Shirin and would never give up on winning her heart.) Khosrow told Farhad that if he could cut a passage through the mountains outside of his castle, he would let him marry Shirin. Khosrow knew that the project was so immense and so treacherous, it would surely take Farhad the rest of his life to complete it. Farhad agreed and his work, his labor of love, started.
*نخستین بار گفتش از کجایی؟ بگفت از دار ملک آشنایی
بگفت آنجا به صنعت در چه کوشند؟ بگفت انده خرند و جان فروشند بگفت از دل شدی عاشق بدین سان؟ بگفت از دل تو می گویی من از جان بگفتا عشق شیرین بر تو چون است؟ بگفت از جان شیرینم فزون است بگفتا دل ز مهرش کی کنی پاک؟ بگفت آنگه که باشم مرده در خاک

Shahrivar

These days classes have started both at UC and at my kids' college, as well as in many schools. This marks the beginning of the Fall season in these parts. My mental calendar, however, still considers these days as the last weeks of summer. I am filled with images of rice harvest in paddies in Northern Iran. I know these days everybody in Gilan prays it won't rain. Rain would surely hamper the harvest. I have rice paddies (shalizar) in my thoughts.
I am also filled with memories of my childhood and all the work that was done in Shahrivar (August 22-September 21) in our house in preparation for Fall and Winter. We had to stop sleeping outside on the balcony in Shahrivar, because the air would get too chilly at night. Our home was filled with the hustle and bustle and smells of making homemade lime juice, tomato paste, pickles, and jams. My mother would lead the family in letting go of the sweet and easy air of Iranian summers, getting ready for the active seasons ahead.
Paying homage to my childhood memories, during the years we lived in Tehran, one day in mid-Shahrivar I would take my kids and their friends to Tehran Bazaar, where in Bein-ol-Haramain we would find wholesale stationery shops. We would buy school supplies and return home to celebrate the beginning of the school year, and I would help my children make memories they would cherish for the rest of their lives, just as I had done as a child. I miss the excitement of this time of year. I miss Shahrivar in Iran.

8/27/2007

A Wonder Atop A Mountain

These are pictures of Ghaleh Roodkhan in Fooman mountains in Gilan. This fort is the biggest ancient brick and stone castle in Iran, and is located 25 km southwest of the city of Fooman. It is comprised of an administrative and a military structure, which housed a garrison. People used to live in the military section, equipped with utility services such as a water reservoir (Ab Anbar) which has stayed intact in over 800 years. It is believed to have been built during the Mogul rule over Iran in Saljuq era (1040-1220). Built on two tips of a mountain, it has an area of five hectares. After crossing a mountainous winding route and passing a dense and very beautiful forrest, the first thing the traveler discovers is the castle's grand entrance gate.
In my many trips to Gilan, I never knew this architectural marvel existed. I have seen pictures of it and recently, our friend Alef Shin wrote about it to me in a letter. It is going on my list of things to see before I live a long life!
Here's where the photos and some of the text came from:
First picture is by a fabulous photographer, named Dr. Bavand Bikdeli. Check his photoblog. He is amazing.
Second picture and some of the text is by Atoussa Taghavi.
Third picture is by Maysam Sedaghat.
Last picture has been taken by Alef Shin last Fall on a rainy day.

8/26/2007

Love Story at 4:00 P.M.

Farrokh Shehabi and Dr. Fereshteh Davaran posed for me!
(No, they are not the love story subjects! They're just friends.)
I went to listen to Dr. Julie Scott Meisami, scholar and author of books about Arabic and Persian Poetry, formerly of Tehran, Oxford, and Harvard Universities, who talked about Leili and Majnun in Iranian miniatures and literature. It was an interesting lecture. She explained Iranian miniature scenes depicting this famous love story, which she conducted in storytelling manner. It was a very good time listening, learning, and afterwards hanging out with local Bay Area intellectuals and celebrities! I chatted with my friend, Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar who is a lecturer in Near Eastern Studies Department, the famous writer Shahrnoush Parsipur, ceramics artist, Farrokh Shehabi, and Persian literature lecturer, Dr. Fereshteh Davaran among others. My friends Nazy and Mitra were along and the three of us enjoyed good chit-chat and laughs afterwards. It was a good Sunday afternoon spent at UC Berkeley with intelligent company. I love my life.

8/25/2007

Shower

I was on “super slow motion,” today (you know, the feature used in video re-plays of sports competitions on TV). Everything was slower than usual, and whatever didn’t absolutely have to be done, wasn’t. I was slowing down from a lot of stress, speed, responsibility, and intensity in my life. My plans to go up to Sacramento to visit my sister were cancelled early this morning, and the whole day stretched ahead without any appointments, commitments, deadlines, or people breathing down my neck for something. As I look back at what I accomplished today, I am a little embarrassed to say that my only real accomplishment of the day was taking a shower. I took a long shower, the likes of which I cannot take anymore, it seems. Standing under the running water, I made myself feel the water, listen to the sound, try and open my eyes to see it and feel it inside my eyes, open my mouth to feel the water on my tongue, and fight the urge to cut it and run, as I do every single day. I let the water run and run, visualizing it washing my pressures away, cleaning and draining the stressful thoughts that fill my head, rolling down to my poor neck and shoulders which these days feel burdened and heavy and in pain all the time, taking those pains into the drain. I imagined it polishing my mind, my nerves, my spine, my soul. I willed it to cleanse me and unburden me, washing my worries, my pains, and the tears that had joined the water, letting go of my heart. That’s what I accomplished today. A shower.

Sohrab

Iranian literature has given the world marvels of beauty, wisdom, and poise in poems written by its many outstanding poets. Our poets such as Hafez, Molana (Rumi), Saadi, and Omar Khayyam, just to name a few, are not only sources of national pride for Iranians, as they are known and revered by many around the world, they are sources of pride to humanity.
Traditional Iranian poetry is much celebrated by Iranians of all educational and social backgrounds. In Iran, children learn to cite poems when they are in kindergarten. The miracle of a poet such as Hafez is that all Iranians read his poetry and each and every one of them believes that he knows what Hafez is telling them.
Among the more contemporary Iranian poets, many of whom I absolutely love, this one is very special and dear to me. Sohrab Sepehri was a poet, a painter, and a philosopher all in one. Reading his poetry brings such joy and optimism to me. You can see the painter in his poetry, because the imagery he describes, the trees, the flowers, the mountains, and the green valleys of his childhood Kashan are so vivid you can “see” them in his words. Of all his poems, there is one I know by heart which never gets tiring for me. It is called “And a message in transit,” (Va Payami Dar Rah). I looked for a suitable translation of the poem in English, but couldn’t find one online. I will have to translate bits of it here for you. You will forgive my clumsy attempt at this. This poem gives me so much hope every time I read it.
In lieu of my Friday Dance Post, which I have neglected for a reason recently, for this weekend post I would like to ask those of you who read this, to share some poetry with the rest of us. It doesn’t have to be by an Iranian poet, or it doesn’t have to be a Farsi poem. Just something that means something to you. Elaborate and talk about it if you like, but just the poem is fine, too.
Have a good weekend you all. Rest, relax and be happy. Confess your love to those you love, and read them poetry, encouraging them to read you poetry. You will see the magic.
And A Message In Transit
Someday, I will come and I will bring a message. I will pour light into veins. And I will call: You whose baskets are filled with sleep!I brought apples, red apples of sun.
و پیامی در راه
........هر چه دشنام، از لب ها خواهم برچید
هر چه دیوار، از جا خواهم بر کند
رهزنان را خواهم گفت: کاروانی آمد بارش لبخند
ابر را، پاره خواهم کرد
من گره خواهم زد، چشمان را با خورشید، دل ها را با عشق، سایه ها را با آب، شاخه ها را با باد
و بهم خواهم پیوست، خواب کودک را با زمزمه’ زنجره ها
بادبادک ها، به هوا خواهم برد
گلدان ها، آب خواهم داد
....................
خواهم آمد سر هر دیواری، میخکی خواهم کاشت
پای هر پنجره ای، شعری خواهم خواند
هر کلاغی را، کاجی خواهم داد
مار را خواهم گفت: چه شکوهی دارد غوک
آشتی خواهم داد
آشنا خواهم کرد
راه خواهم رفت
نور خواهم خورد
دوست خواهم داشت

8/24/2007

My Blog on Iranian.com

Here's something I wrote for the new Iranian.com, which will be unveiled this weekend. It's entitled: How I Became A Blogger.

8/23/2007

A Citizen's Arrest

This turned out to be an unusual day after all! Today at work I was running around going to meetings and taking care of things when I realized I had missed lunch. Earlier I had heard yelling noises and police sirens outside my office, and had not considered them anything unusual for downtown Berkeley. When I ran out to get a salad from a small shop by my office as I do most days, I asked the ladies there what the noise was all about. They said a man had tried to snatch a woman's purse, and she had resisted. Then two customers inside the shop who had witnessed the struggle had gone to the woman's rescue, and had neutralized and arrested the burglar. When I came out, the two local "heroes" were giving their statements to Berkeley Police. I didn't know the woman heroe, but I recognized the man who had been sittng across the conference table from me at a software presentation yesterday. When a civilian arrests someone who has broken the law, he has made a "Citizen's Arrest." I didn't think in today's world, outside of movies, anybody would attempt this dangerous civic action anymore. Live and learn.
This evening I went to see Abbas Kiarostami's "ABC Africa" in Berkeley with two dear friends. It is a documentary he did by invitation of an organization in Uganda to tell of the 1.5 million orphans left behind the AIDS epidemic in that country. Simple storytelling by Kiarostami of a human catastrophe. Words are incapable of describing the story of those children's eyes.

8/22/2007

Scattered Thoughts

Ilam's Samireh Region. Photo by Hossein Khadang, IRNA
  1. Berkeley Lecture Series will host a talk by Dr. Julie Scott Meisami, Scholar of Near Eastern Languages on the topic of “The Mad Lover: the 'Romance' of Layli and Majnun," on Sunday, August 26, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. at 110 Barrows Hall, University of California, Berkeley. The lecture will be in English. Here's a map of how to get there. Dr. Meisami is a well-known researcher and author. She has taught at Tehran Univesity, Oxford, and Harvard.
  2. On Saturday, September 22nd, there will be a gathering entitled "Iranians on the Internet," featuring Northern California bloggers, Iranian.com's Jahanshah Javid, and Balatarin's Mehdi Yahyanejad. It will be an opportunity for local audiences to meet people behind the internet pages, and to build new friendships. The gathering will be from 9 a.m. unil 5 p.m. in California State University, San Francisco, and will be sponsored by CSUSF's Iranian Students Association. If you live in this area, it would be so nice to see you there. More details later.
  3. Students are back and classes will start on Monday. Berkeley is once again bustling with activity and young people. I am reminded yet again how exciting it is to belong to a university community.
  4. My boss is on vacation and in addition to my responsibilities, I have to interact with many colleagues, university donors, and staff on her behalf these days. My mind has to stay alert at all times. No daydreaming this week or next. I am not sure I like it much when I can't daydream.
  5. I am considering quitting smoking, again. Sigh.
  6. My reading is coming along beautifully. I wished I could say the same thing about my writing. There just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all, especially if there is no daydreaming.
That's it for now. Be good you all.

18

My younger son, also known as The Traveler, turns 18 today. We went to a Japanese restaurant to celebrate this important birthday together over dinner. I talk about my kids a lot. By now I have told you many times that whereas my older son talks and writes and expresses himself quite freely, my younger son is quiet and reflective. He sees and feels everything, and if pressed, he will tell you his very articulate opinion of things, but seldom voluntarily. An 18th birthday is a significant event for a young individual. It is a turning point of sorts, where the society expects maturity and responsibility of the individual. Beginning in May, I have seen many signs of change in him, showing his readiness to take responsibility, working and caring about people around him. This past week he also started college. Among the requisite math and English and humanities courses he has chosen this semester, he also enrolled in a sign language class. I didn't need to ask him why he would want to learn sign language. It is all so natural for a person who says so little, to want to communicate with people who can say even less. But the most amazing event of the week of his 18th birthday was something that I hold personally dear and meaningful. He wrote his first short story for his English class. Our family now has another storyteller.

8/21/2007

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (III)

Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian Literature. It will be summarized. If you would like to read more or in Farsi, let me know and we will figure out a way to make sure you get to see this gem of an Iranian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style. (Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. Part IV here. Part V here. Part VI here.)
Khosrow went to Roman territory. In Constantinopole, asking for the Roman Caesar's assitance to beat Bahram Choobin, he married Caesar's daughter, Maryam, promising not to marry another. With the help of Caesar's army, he fought Bahram Choobin, beat him and crowned himself King of Iran. Having entered a marriage of political convenience, he continued to miss and pine for Shirin. Shirin's aunt, Mahin Banoo, who had fallen ill, left her territory to Shirin before she died. Shirin's rule over Arman brought release of prisoners, and a betterment of life for the Armenian people. Though she was a beloved ruler, she could not forget Khosrow; however, she couldn't forgive him for his decision to marry Maryam. She spent time thinking about the now King of Iran, Khosrow, the love of her life, until one day she decided she could not bear it anymore. Entrustring her kingdom to others, she got on Golgoon and left Arman for Madaen with a few companions. She settled in a dark and sad residence, far from Khosrow's palace.
Khosrow was not able to see Shirin, as his wife Maryam was jealous of Shirin, keeping Khosrow away from her. Khosrow and Shirin continued to send messages to each other through Shapour. One day Khosrow asked Shapour to tell Shirin to come to a secret meeting place. Shirin was angry at this request, telling Shapour to tell Khosrow that she would not carry on in private with a married man.
اگر شه گوید او را دوست دارم...........بگو کاین عشوه ها ناید به کارم وگر گوید به آن صبحم نیاز است.........بگو بیدار بنشین شب دراز است وگر گوید کشم تنگش در آغوش...........بگو این آرزو بادت فراموش ..... که شیرین گوید ای بد مهر بد عهد.........کجا آن صحبت شیرین تر از شهد مرا ظن بود کز من برنگردی..............خریدار کس دیگر نگردی هزار از بهر می خوردن بود یار.................. یکی از بهر غم خوردن نگهدار

Tuesday's Twist

Another early morning phone call. My heart beats fast, my mouth is dry, my palms are sweaty, and my limbs feel heavy, almost paralyzed as I come face to face with a part of my past I thought I had left behind. Forgetting has been an objective rather painfully achieved. Remembering is even more painful. I shouldn't have picked up that phone this morning.

8/20/2007

The Gate

One of my readers, Pardis, is a young woman from Shiraz. Recently, as we were corresponding back and forth, I reminisced about her home city of Shiraz. I had an uncle who had married a Shirazi girl and settled there to have many children. I had several bona fide Shirazi cousins, complete with that sweet Shirazi accent. For many years we would travel to Shiraz to visit with that side of the family for Nowrooz. We would go through what is called Darvazeh Qoran, or The Qoran Gate. According to an old Iranian tradition, the gate held a Qoran on top to keep those traveling under it safe on their trip.
We had such wondrous times in Shiraz, walking the tidy backstreets, visiting the monuments, enjoying the public gardens, and everyday at mealtimes, picking Narenj off the trees in the backyard to enhance the food on the table. The best herb and fruit extracts (aragh), paloudeh, noghl, and even cream puffs (noon khamehi) I ever had in my life was in Shiraz, or was it that everything tasted good when we were children? People of Shiraz are so warm, so welcoming, and possess such unique sense of humor. Shiraz gave me such beautiful childhood memories. I continued to travel there with my family until Nowrooz of 1978 (1357), which was the last time I saw Shiraz. During the years I lived in Tehran, I could have gone back many times, I suppose. I didn't go, primarily because there were other places I had never seen which beckoned me, but also because some memories are better kept as you remember them, clean and crisp and innocent, magnificent. Shiraz has many monuments for which it is famous, the most important one of which is Persepolis. For me, however, Darvazeh Qoran is the most memorable monument in Shiraz. The reason is that every time we drove under it, my father would whole heartedly pray and wish all travelers a safe journey, each time teaching us something valuable about our traditions, culture, and beliefs. When I think of Shiraz, this is what I think about, and I miss it tonight.
You can see all the pictures Ali Majdfar has lovingly taken of Iran here.

Reflections

Torkman girl at a wedding in Bandar Torkman, Photo by Hamed Khorshidi, Fars
I love reading. When I read I feel so happy and peaceful all the time. This weekend I realized I hadn't been able to read for such a long time. I spend very long days working and writing and what not, and by the time I haul myself to bed, I am so tired I pass out. I miss my poor neglected books. So, I have started to read something beautiful, something I have had for a long time, but have always put off reading, because it comes in seven volumes and to take it on would require a long-term commitment. It's Nader Ebrahimi's Atash Bedoone Dood. When I was in high school, a television series was aired based on this novel, which takes place in Torkman Sahra. I loved those names and those characters and that story, looking forward to watching it every week. Beautiful memories in mind and an excellent novel on hand, I get to it. If it's report worthy, I will let you know. I have a feeling it will be.
Take a look at the entire photo set here. I think it would make you happy!

8/18/2007

My New Friend

My sons have been having a house guest for the past week. They have been taking turns spending time with him during the days and the three of them have been hanging out together in the evenings when all three are home, running around to heaven knows where, coming home late. The two of them went to work early this morning as they do every Saturday. I was working on some writing at around 10:30 when I heard a noise. I was startled to see their friend leave the guest bedroom and join me in the dining room! I realized then that I had been left in charge of our house guest! Well, just for a few minutes while he showered, had a cup of coffee with me and left to take care of some things. He is such a delightful young man. He and I talked about life, education, Iran, and US. I found this young man to be so wise and worldly. He is going home to visit his parents after four years, and he is excited. In sitting with him in my pajamas and talking about life, sipping coffee, I couldn't stop smiling about how on a weekend I had set aside for reflection, the two of them left me a little gift to show me hope in the new generation of Iran. The good news is that I now have a new friend. His name is Iden.

Music of My Heart

I was an audience of one to someone’s sweet Setar for a little while tonight. My soul is longing for Iranian music now. I want to listen to some Daf, but there is no one to play for me, and my Daf playing is simply not good enough to cheer me up. So, I would like to take you to listen to some Daf with me tonight. But first I share with you one of my earlier posts, when I was only writing for myself (my “blogger-makhfi” time). It's entitled "Daf."
It whirls and sings and jumps out of his hands, only to return and to resume the magical and intoxicating beat of music of a different kind and texture, sporadically augmented with the sound of chains chiming. Mohammad Vali once read me a poem in which heaven was described. Among the imagery the poem described, it said: “…and people there play music, a different kind of music, with a different instrument, something we have never seen before, something that might resemble a Daf… .” Tonight I was in heaven, listening to Pejman, playing the Daf so masterfully. I wished he would play longer…..I wished he would live up here to play for us everyday.….I wished we could all be together everyday……I wished Mohammad Vali were still alive. He is up in heaven, playing the instrument that might resemble a Daf. I remember his funeral quite well….his son and his best friend played the Daf as he was put down in the grave….they cried and played and cried and played…and just as dirt was shoveled onto his grave, the two of them kissed their Dafs and threw them into his grave, to be buried with him. I think he is playing the instrument that might resemble a Daf, and I miss him, my friend.
Now watch this artistic video clip produced in protest of war by by Abbas Bakhtiari who lives in France. Though other instruments and vocals are used in the music, Daf is the predominant instrument in this production. Now, please see this video clip where Mirfarsad Malekniya and Kambiz Mohitafi perform a Daf duo. If you are still with me, watch this amazing Kurd musician, Keivan Alimoradi, play a solo Daf. An excellent presentation. And last, this is sweet, watch this American man, Matt, play our Daf. No dance this week. You can imagine the dance of angels in heaven to the tune of Daf in your minds. Be good you all, celebrate life, love, and laughter. Enjoy your weekend and don't forget to tell those who occupy your hearts that you love them. When they say it back to you, rejoice, as you are a complete person now.

8/17/2007

Dessert

At lunch with Katayoun today. Alborz, Berkeley.

Dr. Zari Taheri

I went to my last class last night. It was another memorable experience, spending time on something that feels so natural for me to love, Persian poetry. It was too short, as usual, leaving us wanting for more. I suppose I should be grateful for the opportunity, though limited. Even when she isn't around, Dr. Taheri keeps an eye on all of us, sending us emails and telling us about interesting things. We try to get together in her absence, but it never feels as good as when she is with us. She is a remarkable woman, our Dr. T. P.S. No, I'm not in the picture. This is a classroom in Berkeley's Near Eastern Studies Department. That's why there is Arabic writings on the board.

8/16/2007

Tu Quieres Volver

I used to think I could never again listen to this song. I thought remembering the memories would surely generate enough pain and emotion to warrant some major physical side effect! I thought I wouldn't be able to handle the parade of memories of lost dreams in my mind. I was sure it would kill me to face that sadness. Tonight, as I put myself to rest from a very long day and many days of piled up thoughts, commitments, and emotions, I listen to this song, putting some of those memories to rest, too. They have stayed long enough. They have pained and hurt enough. The memories must go. As a major house cleaning (khooneh takooni) takes place in my heart and mind, I must be brave enough to keep the good and let go of the sad. The song, which I love, written by the Gypsy Kings and performed by Sarah Brightman, stays.

8/15/2007

My New Piece on Iranian.com

"My friends tease me endlessly about my fascination with the radio. Many of them think radio to be a dying or a dead medium, seeing very little use for it. I beg to differ. ....." You can read the rest here.

Freedom of Expression at the Grand Lake

This past weekend I drove by the Grand Lake Theater again. As I waited behind the traffic light, I pulled out my camera to snap this picture (please forgive its poor quality). The Grand Lake Theater in Oakland is one of the best-known landmarks in the city. Not only is it famous for the impressive restoration job that was done to it, but also for the fact that it is owned by a liberal who uses one side of the theater marquee for posting political messages. This week's reads: "We applaud Secretary of State Bowen for exposing the total insecurity of computer voting!" If you go here, you can see tens of pictures showing the different political messages the Grand Lake has displayed since the 2000 presidential election. Regardless of what the messages say and whether I agree with (or even understand) all of them, my Iranian mind is continually engaged and provoked when I pass the Grand Lake Theatre in Oakland.

A Window To My Homeland

Each time one of my friends goes to visit Iran, he or she becomes a window through which I will catch a glimpse of all that I love and I miss there. Though we each go into different families, different settings, and more or less different experiences when we go back to Iran, we have so much in common in all that we miss and would like to explore again. As my friend goes back for a visit, I wait for his return to tell me what Iran looked like, what it felt like, what it sounded like, and what it tasted like. He is now my window to my homeland. I wait for him to come back and to open the window for me. Bon Voyage.

8/14/2007

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (II)

Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian Literature. It will be summarized. If you would like to read more or in Farsi, let me know and we will figure out a way to make sure you get to see this gem of an Iranian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style. (Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. Part IV here. Part V here. Part VI here.)
Khosrow, on the other hand, arrived Arman territory and was received warmly by Mahin Banoo (Shamira), Shirin's aunt. He told her about his love for Shirin, asking for her hand in marriage. She gave him Shabdiz's equal, a horse named Golgoon to ride back to Madaen to find Shirin and to return her to Arman territory so the two could get married. Simultaneously, Khosrow was advised to return to Iran to succeed his father, Hormoz, becoming the King of Iran. Unbeknownst to him, however, Shirin had already left Madaen, accomapnied by Shapour, heading back towards Arman, so the two missed each other again!
Upon return to Madaen and realizing that Shirin had left and Bahram-e-Choobin had revolted against his kingdom, Khosrow returned yet again to Arman. This time he and Shirin did finally meet. They spent days getting to know each other, succumbing to the love that had so swept them both off their feet. Shirin, however, wouldn't agree to intimacy with Khosrow, unless his honorable intentions were known to her. As much as Khosrow loved Shirin, he was a king, and he didn't expect resistence from any woman! So the lovers danced the dance of flirtation and patience. Shirin told Khosrow that if he wanted to ask for her hand in marriage, first he had to claim his country back from Bahram Choobin. She told him that she would only marry a true king, and with his throne in the hands of Bahram, Khosrow was not really a king. Khosrow left Shirin in Arman to go claim his country and his throne, feeling angered and dejected by Shirin.

8/13/2007

Tochal Last Friday, 7:08 a.m.

Looking at Tehran from Tochal. Photo by Alef Shin, August 10, 2007
I used to think that Tehran's air pollution was responsible for, among other things, people's hopelessness. I held that if the air cleared up and people could only see the mountains surrounding Tehran everyday, they would find new resolve to live, because you couldn't see those mountains and not want to live, to smile, to love. Living elsewhere and deprived of it all, I would say today that just knowing that those mountains are still there, the city underfoot, and the millions of people inside, even if I can see none of them right now, gives me the will to live to see them again, all that makes my Tehran, the city I love.
(Click on photo to see details.)

Enveloped With Love

With Wanda, Photo by Kathleen
I went to my friend Wanda's birthday celebration last Saturday. It was an Afternoon Tea Party. Wanda has been my friend for 24 years. She is warm, wise, and wonderful. I have learned so much from her about American life, politics, race issues, jazz, and people. Our friendship history holds laughs, tears, disagreements, and jubilations. Old friendships are like old robes, I hold. You can wear anything around your house, but you reach for your old robe to envelope you and hug you and just "be familiar" and comfortable, keeping you warm and content. I sat in the beautiful courtyard of Bates House with Wanda and Wanda's other friends. For those few hours, the real world felt so far away and there was no worry, no pain, and no anxiety, for in the company of old friends, I was enveloped with love.

8/12/2007

What Heaven Must Sound Like Right Now

Watch Ostad Bikchekhani on Tar and Otsad Farnam on Dayereh play live at Hafezieh in Shiraz in the early 1970's. I had never seen the Dayereh played like that! Listen to the masters and enjoy. The two of them and Hafez are probably making Heaven sound and feel beautiful right now!

I Am What I Am

My Sunday mood, which I present to you with joy. The legendary Shirley Bassey sings one of my most favorite songs in the world. I am keeping quiet as I sort thoughts and ideas upstairs!
I am what I am/ I am my own special creation/ So come take a look/ Give me the hook or the ovation It's my world that I want to have a little pride in/ My world and it's not a place I have to hide in Life's not worth a damn till you can say/ Hey world I am what I am/ I am what I am/ I don't want praise I don't want pity/ I bang my own drum/ Some think it's noise/ I think it's pretty And so what if I love each feather and each spangle/ Why not try and see things from a different angle Your life is a sham till you can say/ Hey world I am what I am/ I am what I am And what I am needs no excuses/ I deal my own deck/ Sometimes the ace/ Sometimes the deuces It's my life and there's no return and no deposit/ One life, so it's time to open up your closet Life's not worth a damn till you can say Hey world I am what I am

8/10/2007

Friday Musings

It is Friday, and I want to talk about dance. In the years I lived in Iran, I went to see what could be seen of Iranian dance. Whereas musical concerts and plays were staged almost all year round, dance productions were no more than two or three a year. Dance, which is no longer called by its name, raghs, is now called “harmonious movements,” or harekat-e-mozoon, except in specaial cases must be staged as a part of a “play,” and is scrutinized and censored as an art form, where the music cannot be too exciting, the dance moves for women cannot be too fast, and there cannot be any “lewd” movements in the dance, and since many moves in Iranian dance contain kereshmeh, they cannot be included in the choreography, and will either have to be removed or the entire production will not receive permission to stage. Dancers, choreographers, and directors of dance productions are routinely harassed and monitored, many times arrested or barred from work, and in one case I know about, the entire cast of a dance performance were pulled off the stage and driven to detention on their opening night! Dance is a tricky business in Iran. If it is to give the expected excitement and joy to the audience, it must be choreographed and executed cleverly. With their limited expression and movement opportunities, I have seen extremely powerful dance productions on Iranian stage, where even sex has been depicted quite effectively, thanks to the creative choreographers and casts.
One of the choreographers whose productions I have attended is Farzaneh Kaboli. Herself an accomplished dancer, in recent years she has worked on producing and staging “plays” which are more than 90% “harmonious movements.” As a dancer she won many awards, and after the revolution, she set up her own dance school. She has a group of very talented dancers in her dance company, whom she trains for at least one production per year. Amidst serious adversity to her art of choice and much harassment to her as an individual, Farzaneh Kaboli continues to live, love, teach, and show Iranian dance. She is not losing hope. Why should we? Sorry, I don't have any video clips to show you, but if you go to Farzaneh Kaboli's webite, you can read about her, look at her gallery, and find out more for yourself. The above picture is from her gallery. If I'm not mistaken, it is from Fajr Theatre Festival of last year, and the picture was taken by Omid Salehi. (I wished people were more careful to credit their sources, especially where their intellectual property rights are involved. Anyhow, you can look at Omid's spectacular photography at that link).
A young Iranian blogger friend, Daisy, who is a student, an aspiring artist, and a gardener had left the clip of a very inspirational speech by Steve Jobs (of Apple, Inc.) on her blog (it's in English) which I am borrowing here. It is entitled Connecting the Dots. Once inside Youtube, the text for the speech can be viewed on the right side panel. Worth the 14 minutes, I thought. I wish you all a wonderful weekend, full of recreation and joy. Hug and kiss your friends and family and your lovers, and remember to say you love them as often as you can. I am a bit under the weather, and wonder now whether I will be able to make the many engagements I have lined up for the weekend. If I do anything interesting, I will let you know! Be good Y'all.

The New Iranian.com

Some of you may know that Iranian.com has been going through a transformation. In keeping with the new wave of internet publishing, Iranian.com has been undergoing changes to make its content and software capabilities more up-to-date and easier to access. As a part of this new look, for example, readers are now able to publish their comments online immediately after reading an article. Another exciting new feature of the internet magazine is its "Blogs" section, where bloggers can each have their own space to publish posts, where Iranian.com audiences all over the world will have access to them. This is a very exciting new feature for me, as I am honored to be a part of the blogging team on Iranian.com. At this time we are experimenting with the new technology, as the Blogs section of new Iranian.com will also allow Farsi capabilities. Several of my blogger friends, such as Ala Hazrat Haj Agha, Bayramali, and Baloot will also be accompanying me in the new space among others. Of course each of us will continue to blog wherever we are, and will participate in this endeavor in addition to our current blogs. Here is the as yet un-announced new Iranian.com's site, and here's where the Blogs are, and here's where I blog. Go take it for a test run. I think you will be impressed with Jahanshah Javid's labor of love, Iranian.com. And please do remember where you heard it first!

8/09/2007

Santouri Cancelled in Stanford

Hoda has left a comment, telling me about the cancellation. Thank you so much Hoda Jan for taking the trouble to let me know. You are really kind, and as my kids would say, you are "Ba Maram." So, I guess we will all have to go to Aleph Null's performance in Berkeley on Sunday and have a good time!
Related to the subject, Leva had also kindly sent me this article about why Merhrjui, et.al. won't be traveling yet.

Wake Up Call

In our household, between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. three similar-sounding yet different alarms go off to wake us up. We only have one morning person in our midst. My younger son and I are not morning people. I heard my older son try to wake up his brother this morning after the alarms had gone off and some of us (!) refused to get up. He said: "Bidar sho dadash." Lying in my bed still tired from having gone to bed so late after a long day last night, and not ready yet to face another long day today, I thought to myself whether I had ever heard them calling each other "dadash"* before. I am sure I had never heard the two of them call each other "dadash"--well almost sure. When did they start using that word in addressing each other? How had I missed it? They both got up, fought like crazy like they always do (you know, "Where did you put the gel?", "Why did you stain my pants?" , "Get out of the shower!," that kind of thing), and they left. Oh, I think I forgot to report that the two of them now have their own car! Though I'm running late again this morning, I'm sitting here wondering what other good thing is going on around me which I am not hearing and knowing about? Have a good Thursday you all.
*Dadash means brother in Farsi (I think it has Turkish roots, but I'm not sure. It's equivalent to "bro'" as opposed to "brother."
Here's a picture I took myself when we went to visit my nephew in Stanford a few months ago. My sister has kindly held the branch so I can get a good view. I give this picture to all of you who participated in the discussions of this week. You gave me the best blogging experience since I started. You made me proud.

8/08/2007

Wednesday Whereabouts

I dreamt I was in Tehran again last night. I must be missing it more than I thought. It's Wednesday, and I will have a long day ahead of me, leaving for my poetry class after work and getting home late tonight. I'll come back and tell you all about it. P.S. I dreamt that I was going to see someone I obviously cared a lot about, and I was looking for a flower shop to buy flowers. Any interpretations?

8/07/2007

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (I)

Let me tell you one of the most beautiful love stories ever written in Persian Literature. It will be summarized. If you would like to read more or in Farsi, let me know and we will figure out a way to make sure you get to see this gem of an Iranian tale. Remember this story. Tell it to your children. They will always remember that they heard about love from you first. Celebrate love Persian style. (Part I here. Part II here. Part III here. Part IV here. Part V here. Part VI here.)
Hormoz was the King of Iran. He was a kind king who loved his people and cared about his kingdom. After waiting a long time, he became father to a baby boy. They named him Khosrow Parviz. He was a good looking boy who was trained by teachers to become a well-educated prince. By ten years of age, he learned riding, fencing, and archery. He loved to learn new things. He had a companion, named Shapour, who was a master painter, and best friend to Khosrow. As Khosrow turned into a handsome young man, one day Shapour told him about the Queen of Arman (istan), Shamira, who ruled over a vast territory, and was unmarried and had no heir other than her beautiful niece, Shirin. He described Shirin's beauty for Khosrow, and told him that she was always accompanied by a group of beautiful companions, and had a gem of a horse, named Shabdiz who ran faster than the wind. Several days later Khosrow told Shapour that he thought he had fallen in love with Shirin, and Shapour had to go to Arman territory to find out if Shirin would marry him. Shapour assured Khosrow that he would take action to make sure Shirin would fall in love with him.
Shapour went to Arman territory. After researching Shirin's daily whereabouts, he found out that Shirin and her companions would be going to a day outing in a forest nearby. Shapour arrived at the forest before the ladies arrived. He had painted Khosrow's picture on a piece of paper, hung it on a tree, and left quickly. When Shirin and her friends arrived, they started playing, dancing, and having a good time, until Shirin suddenly saw the picture of Khosrow on the tree. She fell in love with his likeness in the painting. The next day, Shapour went and did the same thing again, and when Shirin and her friends arrived, she saw Khosrow's picture again. This time, she was impatiently looking for someone to tell her the name of the man in the picture. At this time Shapour just happened to come by (!) and told Shirin that this was a picture of Khosrow Parviz, the Prince of Iran. He also told her that Khosrow is in love with her. Shirin begged Shapour to tell her what to do and how to see Khosrow, and Shapour told her that she would have to run away from her companions to meet Khosrow half-way towards Iran. He also gave her a ring Khosrow had sent her. He told her that if per chance she couldn't find Khosrow on the way, she should continue towards Madaen and once there, she should show the ring to the court attendants and wait for Khosrow there.
Shirin ran away the next day on Shabdiz and nobody could follow her. After galloping away for miles and miles, she came to a pond, got off her horse and seeing nobody around, took off her clothes and stepped into the pond to take a bath. In the meantime, Khosrow was galloping fast towards the Arman territory. On the way he came to a resting stop not too far from where Shirin had stopped. Walking around, he came to the pond where Shirin was bathing, and saw her in the water. Standing there admiring the beauty of this anonymous naked woman in the moonlight, Shirin saw him suddenly and became anxious, and he turned his eyes. Shirin left the pond, quickly got dressed, got on Shabdiz and started on the road to Madaen again. Each of them who had found the other attractive, remembering the one they were pursuing, turned and went in opposite directions.
[The Story of Khosrow and Shirin by Nezami Ganjavi, abridged by Eghbal Yaghmaee in "Love Stories of Persian Literature," translated by Nazy Kaviani]

8/06/2007

My Neighbors Outside The Window

I want to show you what the trees outside my window look like, again. Our house sits on a small hill, and the trees outside are at least 30 years old, and about three stories tall. I can see the branches from the rooms upstairs, and the trunks from my bedroom downstairs. They are home to birds and squirrels. Occasionally, our area is visited by raccoons, and I have even seen families of deer looking for food or water by the creek a little farther up the road. I am a "city girl" myself. All my life I have lived in big cities or when in smaller cities, I have lived on main roads and circles. This is the first time I am living in an area which is so green and close to nature. There is something very peaceful about living near trees. The continuity of life in them and the way trees surrender to cycles and seasons, is a good reminder of how to live. They do their best everyday and accept change easily and bravely, and they endure winds, rains, sunshine, cold, and heat, never forgetting their mission. I am learning new things from my neighbors outside the window. (Click on the photo to see the details.)

Dinner For Three

Deciphering

This photo was on Ghalbe Khoshbakht's blog (I link it as Lucky Heart). What do you suppose the sign is trying to say?

8/05/2007

Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of Happiness

It's a cool August morning. A Sunday. I should have slept longer, but couldn't. So at 7:15, I went to look at the sky, the trees, the wind running through the trees and shrubberies outside, the overnight clouds shifting quickly in the hands of the delicious wind that is blowing in all directions. I looked. I listened to the sounds of leaves moving, the sprinklers watering the lawn outside, the few cars passing in a distance, the airplane flying overhead, the birds having a celebration on the tree branches, the whistle of the kettle inside. As I sit here sipping my Tea Anglaise (strong tea with milk, a long-time addiction of mine since I went to live in the UK for an assignment a long time ago), I see the wind blowing the curtains in and pouring fresh air inside. I listen some more. I'm thinking to myself when was the last time I let my senses be exposed and relaxed like this? To let myself hear and see everything, even when nothing is seemingly happening around me? I love the taste and temperature of my tea on my tongue. I love being awake. I love being me this morning.

8/04/2007

Orange in Downtown Berkeley

Remember John the Nurse, the activist I ran into at Shattuck Square on Thursday? He wasn't there yesterday when I left work. In his place was this group. This group believes that George Bush and Dick Cheney must be impeached. They invite everyone to show their solidarity for this idea by wearing orange. They believe that as more and more people wear orange clothing, especially on Fridays, they will show their determination to get George Bush out of the office. They were selling orange articles on the side, too. (I believe none of my words were required here. If you click on it, the picture is so telling of where and what and how and who and why. Don't you think?)

Aleph Null in Berkeley

Do you remember I wrote in both my blog and on Iranian.com about the beautiful music of Aleph Null? They are coming back to Anna's Jazz Island in Berkeley on Sunday, August 12th at 8:00 p.m. I heard from their group leader David Hauer, who also plays the saz and guitar with the band. David tells me that they have new material and a novel configuration. For those of you who haven't heard them, I can assure you if you are amenable to fusion music, and you can make it to the performance, you won't regret it. Their beauiful music, and in particular Hosssein Massoudi's velveteen voice, will delight you. Take a look at samples of their music here.

8/03/2007

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam

As I mentioned before, Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam, an accomplished dancer with the Comedie Francaise, who manages his own dance company Nakissa in Paris, will be traveling to North America. Those of you who live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto, might wish to mark your calendars. I hear he is fabulous on stage, and judging from the few video clips I have seen of his dances, I would have to concur. In addition to the Iranian dance moves he seems to be able to choreograph, I detect flamenco moves in his dance, which is very interesting. Take a look at these short video clips: one, two, three, and four (this one I had shared with you before—it’s on Youtube, so some people might not be able to see it.). Here’s a list of his scheduled performances:
Los Angeles: Omar Khayam, August 25, 2007, 8:00 p.m., Wilshire Ebel Theatre, 4401 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA 9005, (818) 908-0808. Toronto: Danses Mythologiques, September 1, 2007, 8:00 p.m., Toronto Center for the Arts, (416) 898-8266 Vancouver: Dance Variations on Persian Themes, September 7, 2007, Kaymeek Theatre, West Vancouver, 15th and Matter Avenue, (604)306-5170 or (604)529-9262 San Francisco: Dance Variations on Persian Themes, Sunday, Sept 9th, 2007, 7:00 p.m., Smithwick Theatre, Foot Hill College,12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94402, Box Office opens at 5:30 p.m., (650) 571-9344.

Santouri in Stanford

The Persian Student Association of Stanford University will have a very special presentation of Dariush Mehrjui’s new movie, Santouri. As you may know, the movie could not obtain a license to screen in Iran. Even after several demanded modifications were made to it, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance himself announced it "inappropriate for showing" this morning. If I can, I would like to go see it in Stanford on Sunday, August 12th. Mehrjoui movies are always interesting to see, and what makes this viewing very special is that the legend himself, along with actors Bahram Radan and Golshifteh Farahani will also be present to answer questions afterwards. If you live in this area, make a note of the details, and if you can, go see it.
Sunday August 12th, 6:00 p.m., Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University, Panel Discussion with Special Guests: Dariush Mehrjui, Bahram Radan and Golshifteh Farahani will be in person and there will be a Q&A session after the movie.Doors will open at 5:30 PMGeneral admission: $20, $15 with SUID, Map: http://www.stanford.edu/dept/korean/cubberley.htm

Progress on Unearthing a Treasure

I am concentrating on writing my piece about the “lost” Iranian artist I have discovered (he wasn’t lost at all—in fact he was a world-renowned artist, but mostly unknown to the Iranian community). It’s a bigger research job that I’m used to handling, and the “story” in it still needs more information and work to develop. As I struggle with it, I can’t keep the smile of happiness off my face, for it is something that should have been done a long time ago by people a lot more competent than me, but somehow I got to be the lucky one to tell it. Are you intrigued?

Shooing Her Demons

A young friend of mine is going through a difficult, yet important transition. She is acknowledging some difficulties she has and is seeing a specialist for help. I am so very proud of anyone who can gather the courage to face his/her demons and to seek help in driving them out. I think the younger Iranian generation handle their lives so much better than our generation did, pained with “what would others say?”, fearing labels, and struggling with reservations (roo-dar-vaisi) even with ourselves. Way to go my brave young friend.

Ashamed

You won't see a picture of this week's executions in Iran here. I cannot tell you how watching those images has affected me. The fact that they happen is bad enough. To watch them and those who watched them is a disgrace to humanity. After seeing them a few times, I have stayed away from any of the blogs who had the pictures, as I know those images will haunt me endlessly. I strongly oppose the death penalty anywhere in the world, and see it as a violation of human rights and human integrity. I believe that capital punishment for heinous crimes should be life sentences in prison, where the criminal is punished by separation from the society, living in which in harmony is the ultimate human privilege.
How is killing someone because he or she killed another any better than what he or she did? How perfect can a judicial system be to determine a person must cease to live? Is there such a perfect judicial system in the world? In less than perfect judicial systems, even if death penalty is allowed, can we all be certain that the person being executed is guilty, has received the proper trial, and a fair verdict? I think governments must protect and improve life for their citizens, and must not take it away from them, or, worse yet, to expose them to view the process of someone being brutally murdered. That’s why looking at pictures of young people being executed in Iran this week has been a disgusting and horrible experience for me.
Wherever I went this week, there were pictures of several men in various stages pre-, during-, and post-execution. With each picture, I cried in pain and shame. The pain is at loss of human life, and the shame is for belonging to two countries, Iran and US, both of which have capital punishment in their laws. The shame comes from any judicial system that believes a still young person is uncorrectable and that there is no hope in his or her being redeemed, re-educated, and restored. I feel the pain of families who lost a loved one to a hideous crime, but I cannot condone "an eye for an eye." I can't.

First of Several Posts This Friday

I fed my sons and several of their friends a family meal tonight. It felt good to brush up on my domestic skills! As I sat down to prepare my Friday post, paying attention to do a good job of it, as I love writing my Friday posts, I realized that I might have too many items on my list! When my posts get long, or when there are too many items on them, I fear that I will bore you too much. I will then try something new this week—several independent posts. This might make leaving comments specific to the post easier, too. Do let me know if you find it too disconcerting to have to look at several posts here in one day! Here's wishing you all a good weekend. Be good to yourselves and to those you love. If you love them, tell them. It never hurts to say it and hear it one more time. Really. Try it.

8/02/2007

John Says His Piece

As I keep telling you, it is never a dull moment in Berkeley. As I was leaving work this afternoon, I ran into this man, John, who is a nurse at a hospital. On his day off, he is an activist for the rights of workers, he said. In the few brief moments that I stopped by to see what he was up to, he said he believes that true "freedom," "rights," and "liberation" should come from within groups and nations, not handed out to them by others, especially governments. He was walking around good-naturedly, advocating his cause in what was a beautiful sunny afternoon after the fog burnt off. Though there wasn't enough time to really find out more about his message, I thought the picture might convey something about the kind of place Berkeley is. I was grateful he agreed to be photographed, and with a smile at that!

Isle 6 of Safeway In A College Town and Revelations of Intent

My son, the Traveler, is a quiet young man. Never says more than he feels is needed. We ran to the supermarket on his day off yesterday. As he was pushing the cart while I was fetching various items and throwing them in the cart, he stopped. I looked at him, a little puzzled. He said: “We should get some school supplies.” You would have to know us and the roads we have traveled as a family to know just how significant those few words were to me. The Traveler will start college next week.

8/01/2007

Khosrow va Shirin

Today is a very happy day for me. I am going to my Persian Poetry class in Berkeley. Our teacher, Professor Zari Taheri, who now lives and teaches in Japan, returns to her alma mater, Berkeley, where she taught Persian literature for many years after graduation. Each summer she returns to the San Francisco Bay Area to teach a poetry class. Last summer I attended her class, Shaeran-e-doreh-mashrooteh. Her classes only run for six weeks and they end abruptly, just as you are warming up to them! She is a delightful (and very beautiful) woman, an accomplished scholar, and is a joy to listen to and learn from. I am taking three of my friends with me to this class this summer, and I will meet up with my many wonderful friends with whom I have kept contact since the last class.
This smmer we will study Nezami Ganjavi's Khosrow va Shirin. I am so excited to be reading Nezami. He is the ultimate storyteller (no offense to those who love Ferdowsi more than Nezami--I love Nezami not so much for his "epic" portrayal of scenes, but for the romantic ways in which he describes the relationship between this man and woman.) There are parts of Khosrow va Shirin which are defined in extremely elaborate erotic details, while in others, feelings are expressed in unique and poignant ways. I think Khosrow va Shirin is the most romantic story ever told, again, not becaus of the love story itself, but because of the way Nezami tells it. For the next several weeks, each week I will tell you what I learned in class, if it is report-worthy.
The above miniature is from the Shah Tahmasb Khamseh Nezami, which is kept in the British Library in London. It shows the scene where Khosrow Parviz's portrait is shown to poor Shirin for the first time (by Shapoor), making her fall in love with this mysterious handsome stranger! Just writing these words makes me so impatient for the class! (Source Encyclopedia Britanica)