The Spreads and Vinyards of My Imagination
I went to Fars News Agency's website to find myself some nice photographs, something I used to do everyday but have been unable to do for a while. I found two photographs and I couldn't decide which one to use, so here are both of them! First, a picture of an Eftari spread at the Moslem Journalists' Association. Simple and delicious, the way a real Eftari spread should be. All through my life Ramadan has had special meaning for me and my family. I started fasting during Ramadan when I was eight or nine years old. Everyone fasted in our house, so it was a really happy and wonderful time, waking up to eat and pray and start the fast before sunrise, and to break the fast after sunset. We had so many memorable family gatherings around Ramadan, free with the choice to fast, and choosing it with joy and happiness. The forced ritual of fasting never set well with me in the years I lived in Iran more recently. I could never understand how putting pressure on people to pretend to be fasting or to punish them if they ate or drank in public was of any help to those who were really fasting. When I came to US, where almost nobody was fasting around me, and other people were free to eat and drink and do as they pleased, the pleasure of the choice became more significant. I doubt anybody ever became anything by force, least of all a good Moslem. In the most recent years when we lived in Iran, I had at least two large Eftari gatherings at my house or at a restaurant where a large group of guests were fed at Sunset. It was such a labor of love to prepare for those gatherings. Serving Eftari to a large crowd is tricky business, because everyone has to be served at the same time! Serving hot tea to 25-50 people at the same time is a little harder than you can imagine! Yadesh be kheir. I miss it. I think I will invite my family to Eftari this week. For those of you who pray and fast during Ramadan, ghabool basheh. This is the other photograph with which my imagination ran today! It shows the grapes harvest in Yassouj in the province of Kohkilouyeh and Bouyer Ahmad of Iran. Have you ever walked inside a vinyard at harvest time? I have. The grown vine leaves and the ripe grapes exude a special aroma, a smell like nothing else in this world, so sweet, so delicious, so special. I walked such a vinyard in the autumns of my childhood. That wooden crate, with those gorgeous grapes inside, covered with a filmy layer of vinyard dust, is heading off to markets and homes and family spreads. My father loved grapes. I miss Iran today and my whole body, all of my senses, all of my heart aches in that longing tonight.