Saying My Heart

My mother, khoda biamorz, had her hands full with me. I was her loudest and most verbose child! She could never tell when I would start talking to strangers, guests, and neighbors, and just what I might say! I would talk to anyone about anything, something Iranian children, especially girls, were not really expected to do. I would ask questions and engage in all kinds of conversations with adults. Once warmed up (!), I would share my thoughts on any and all subjects, sometimes sharing family secrets to my mother's horror! I never forget her watchful and worried eyes when I entered a room full of guests, wondering what I might do and say now! No amount of advice (naseehat) or threats seemed to work on me. I had to say what I had to say and I wouldn't rest until I had said it!
I remember I was a very thin and scrawny kid. When I was about seven, concerned with my thinness, my poor mother took me to the neighborhood doctor, Dr. Family (that really was his last name!). The doctor examined me and told my mother to make sure I ate nutritious foods and less candy and junk (haleh-hooleh). As he was describing a suitable menu for me, he mentioned that my mother should make sure I had honey with my breakfast. I turned to the doctor and said: "My mom serves all the honey in the house to my Dad!" As my poor mother seemed to be dying in her chair the good doctor said: "Well, yes, she should watch your father's nutrition, too, but I'm sure your father wouldn't mind sharing some of that honey with you!" For as long as she was alive she would tease me about those few words with Dr. Family!
I remember one time I heard my aunt, khaleh, talking to my mom, telling her some problems her husband was experiencing in his business. I sat there and listened for a long time. I think I was about eight years of age at that time. My mom was listening to her sister's tale (dard-e-del), and saying some reassuring words, telling her sister that God would help her if she asked him for help. I think she had forgotten about me altogether when I started asking my aunt some questions about how she felt and whether she had talked about her fears with her husband. My mother became aware of my presence and immediately looked worried, probably remembering my history of blurting out anything that came to my mind! She said very nicely, "Nazy Jan. Can you go and call your sisters inside so that we can have lunch?" I said to her: "Maman Joon, can't you see your sister is in trouble? She is in pain and I need to stay here and help her solve her problems. You expect me to leave the room now? I'll tell you what Maman! Why don't you go get the other kids to come in and serve them lunch, because I have to stay here and help Khaleh Joon figure out what to do about her life!" My poor mother was pale with embarrassment! But instead of scolding me, she turned to her sister and said: "O.K. You can pick and choose! Would you rather I stay and give you advice or would you like Nazy to stay and give you advice?!!" My aunt said gently, "I would love to hear from both of you but for now, how about if I listen to Nazy to see what advice she has for me?" My sweet mother nodded her head and left the room. My aunt said: "Now, tell me Nazy Jan, what do you think I should do?" I don't remember much about the details of what the problem was or what I said, but I never forget the two women who were so respectful and loving to an eight-year-old girl who wanted to be a part of the conversation, somehow a part of the solution.
All through my life, I have been respectful of children of any age. I think they should be heard, and they should be trusted to think and to approach life to the best of their ability. Children hold our future and our lives and our promises in their hands. If they are respected, they will learn to think and act responsibly. Where would our future be if our children are not trained to think and act appropriately? Children who learn to express themselves turn into better adults, I believe.
To the two sisters sitting under a green leafy tree in heaven, I bow and send much respect and loving thoughts tonight. For the millionth time in my life, today I finally said what I had been thinking for a long time. The words that had had a hard time getting out of me finally found their way onto my lips and were uttered. I had to say them and I did. I am not afraid to appear silly, stupid, or out of line. I have never been. With the words and thoughts freed from my mind and my heart, I got to live and walk a little taller, with a little more self-respect today. I have spoken my mind. I have to believe in the old Iranian adage, what words come from the heart have no choice but to seat themselves in the heart.
هر سخن کز دل برآید لاجرم بر دل نشیند..... سعدی
Photo shows me at age 9 in our backyard.


Scattered Thoughts

The Bakery, from Parviz Forghani's Living Windows collection, Iranian.com, August 26, 2008. Go see them, they are wonderful!
1. Several things on my long "To Do List" have been crossed lately, and I am so delighted! Yessss!
2. Omid and I went to pick up his friend who arrived from Tehran this afternoon from the airport. It's always fun to be the first to meet and greet a new Iranian in these parts. That was a lot of fun.
3. I met a new friend this week. I am so impressed by the smart and articulate Iranians who live in these parts, feeling honored to find them interested in being my friends!
4. August is ending fast and I have so much to look forward to in September! I'm going to see Mohsen Namjoo in concert. Heeh! That will be a lot of fun. I think I'm mainly looking forward to hanging out with my friends and this is an excellent excuse! Get your tickets here if you want to go! I am also going to a family reunion with most of my brothers and sisters around a wedding in Southern California. Wouldn't that be fun! I can't wait to see my siblings and their families. Yippee!
5. I have been publishing a series of things I wrote, some of which you have seen here, on Iranian.com. The series is entitled "Kissing All The Frogs," and it is a collection of pieces about relationships. You can check out the three pieces which have been published so far here, here, and here. I will let you know when the next piece is published. Feel free to join the conversations there or here. It would be lovely to hear from you.
6. Of course as August ends, I will also have to prepare for sending my older son off to Santa Cruz. I'm feeling a little better about that whole separation I was dreading for a while. Speaking of feeling a little better, I am also resolving a very hard emotional challenge for myself, I think! This one has been hard, I assure you! I figure resolving it inside myself is half the deal, right?! Soon I will face the other half and if I live, I will tell you the story and the results! In the meantime, any and all good vibes are welcome!
That's my report! Be good and happy you all and have a great Thursday!


Dreaming of a Summer's Night in Tehran

Photo from Five Days in Tehran by Brian Appleton, Iranian.com, August 25, 2008.
Tehran nights are so special around this time of the year. Hidden inside homes and offices under air conditioners and water coolers during the long and hot days, people step out into the balmy evenings at night. Families, couples, young adults, older couples, everyone finds a park, an area of Tehran near a river, near some trees, to walk around or to sit on a wooden bed covered in rugs to have a meal of kebab and bread, a sandwich, or a home-made picnic. All around, you hear the sounds of laughter of grown-ups and the gleeful screams of young children. I remember seeing kids riding the playground sets and swings of Mellat Park, or playing badminton together into the small hours of the next day on a Shahrivar night. Those summer's night picnics are something I miss very much. The smell of barbequed corn, balal, and the sight of perfectly peeled fresh walnuts soaking in a jar of water are unforgettable smells and tastes and sights of my life in Iran. I miss it. Wouldn't it be nice if right now I could pack a picnic basket and go to Darakeh with my family, I wonder? It would. It really would.
Even if like me, you can't go have a summer's night's picnic with your loved ones in a city you love, you can still love your family and friends. Go do it. Have a good Tuesday everybody.



Beatles' "Dont Let Me Down," recorded in 1969 at Abbey Road Studios, this never-before-heard version is from the original studio recording session.

My son, the Traveler, turned 19 on Friday. He was born exactly 20 years after this Beatles recording was made, but he loves the Beatles, just like his brother and I do. I let him celebrate his birthday with his brother and other friends and we finally celebrated as a family tonight. Their friend Pouria was here, too. We had a simple dinner and a simple celebration at his request. He has always been a serious individual, but these days more and more I see the serious young man that is emerging in him. Our routine birthday ritual, where I take a few minutes to tell the story of the day each of them was born was received politely and patiently again this year! Heeh! I can't help it! As I tell the story to them each year, I have to remind them that I do this to emphasize the importance and significance of their arrival into my life. I remind them that this is important because, frankly, I cannot remember my life before them! It's as though with their birth I was born, too. They have dispersed now to go do what young men should be doing on a Sunday night, and I sit here reflecting on my son's experiencing his young manhood and my own motherhood.
Let me tell you about Pouria. Several months ago I invited my friends Lale and Amir to a party at my house. They told me they had a young guest at their home, Amir's nephew, wondering whether they could bring him along. I said by all means as my sons could keep him company. I told my sons that I had dinner company on that particular night and they were to stick around the house to receive my unknown young guest. The two of them protested, as they usually do, saying that I should have checked with them before promising their presence at the party. I tried to cajole (well, threaten!) them into being helpful to me. When my guests arrived and they walked into the house with their young guest, Pouria, as he stepped into the family room where we were all sitting before the guests arrived, he and my older son stood there frozen for a moment. Then they jumped into each other's arms, screaming and laughing. They had been classmates in high school in Tehran! I already knew that it's a small world, but it was good to watch my children learn this, too! The rest is history and they are pretty inseparable now.

I hope my son's life is filled with music and love. I hope his new year of life is full of wonderful new experiences and joyful incidents. I hope he continues to grow in his loving and caring character. I hope he has a good year.

For all of you, I wish a happy Monday and a great week. Be good y'all!



Tabatabaee House, Kashan, Iran. Photo from IRNA, August 18, 2008.
for a land that holds my childhood
for a place which saw me through love
for streets that saw my joy
for trees that witnessed my tears
for shops that traded kindness
for shopkeepers who sold wisdom
for friends who gave me love
for old ladies who gave me advice
for children who gave me wonder
for youth who gave me pride
for my parents who were my world
for their graves which beckon my tears and tales
for the people who are strung out
for the time that it was
for the place that it was
for the home that it was
for the home that is no longer
for the hope that rests within,
I am homesick.


Naz The Taz!

I spent the weekend continuing to get organized. Long neglected chores and things only I knew hadn't been done in a long time were finally done this weekend. This is a glimpse of what a corner of my walk-in closet looks like now. Heeh! I know this must sound a bit anal to you, but I folded all my clothes and filed them in order of color, so that I don't have to keep looking for things all over the place in the mornings! Well, that is until my whole system is messed up again and I can't find anything anymore! It was fun discovering things I hadn't seen in a long time because I'm not tall enough to see everything on the shelves when they are all messed up! Short and Shelakhteh! That's why I need to get organized, and this was my bit of "closet trivia" for you!
I also did paperwork, filing, cleaning, and cooking this weekend! I was "cooking with gas," as the American expression goes! I was a regular Tazmanian Devil! I still have a little bit of work to do which I will finish tonight, hoping to be back to my normal routine when all the clutter and mess has been cleaned and cleared, freeing my mind to think and to do better. I am doing all of this in preparation for a huge writing project I have to start, knowing that I can't get started on it unless I feel at peace with my environment.
All the time I was cleaning up, I was listening to The Doors. Here's one of their songs which you might enjoy; Spanish Caravan, performed live in Europe in 1968. and while on the subject of The Doors, I would like to show you another thing! John Densmore, the drummer with The Doors, now manages his own record company which concentrates on world music. Watch this interview with him where he talks about his interest in Persian music and how he is working with an Iranian artist, Reza Derakhshani, to create music of peace. Have a great Monday and a fabulous week y'all!


Friends All Around

Camera time, everybody! So, here's my young, old friend, sweet Assal. I have known her since the day she was born in Berkeley. She is beautiful, kind, considerate, and generous of the heart. She is also a very good writer, a poet, and a very funny girl all around. She has taught me so much. Many of you know her from her kind and insightful comments in my blogs. I saw her and her beautiful mother, Sheida, at a baby shower this past Saturday. We had a grand old time! I was walking fast down the street yesterday afternoon to run an errand and return to work. I heard someone say "Salam" in Farsi. I turned around. A young man was looking at me. I had never met him before. He said: "Shoma Nazy Kaviani hasteed?" (Are you Nazy Kaviani?). Perplexed, I said "Yes." He introduced himself as Mehdi, a young graduate student in Electrical Engineering at Berkeley. How the heck did he recognize me?!! He said he reads my blogs! Can you imagine the surprise?!! Of course such meetings had happened to me before, but usually at functions and lectures and such, never when I was running down the street like a lunatic! Of course, the minute I got over my surprise, I had to pull my camera out and snap a photo of my brand new friend, Mehdi. Here we are everybody, meet Mehdi. Hint: he must be super smart to be going to Berkeley! And so, I went to my last Persian Literature class of this summer last night. It's always wonderful when July rolls in and I am treated to Dr. Zari Taheri's classes. And it's always sad when the classes end. I love this highly educated and most wonderful human being, my teacher. I'm going to miss her so much. She says she has to stay in Japan for two more years to work on a very special Persian literature research project. Bad for us and good for the Japanese! And speaking of Dr. Taheri's class, I took my friend, Marjan, to last week's class with me. Marjan is a brilliant young blogger who used to live in Southern California. She has just moved up here to attend UC Davis this Fall. She is travelling now. I hope she has a good time wherever she is. So, that was all I could fit in one post! I have some other pictures to share with you, but they will need their own separate posts. I hope you all have a great Friday. I'll write again tomorrow.
P.S. I have started replying to some of your kind comments. I hope I can go back to my routine. I miss it too much!


A Message On The Road

"We are the children of Iran," by Shapour from Iranian.com, August 12, 2008.
One day
I will come, and bring a message.
I will pour light into veins.
And will cry out: O’ whose baskets are full of sleep!
I brought you apples, the red apple of the sun
I will present to the beggar a jasmine flower.
I will give the pretty leper woman a gift of earrings.
I will tell the blind man: The garden is so spectacular!
I will be a peddler, peddle through alleys and cry out:
Dew, dew, dew.
A passerby will say: honestly, tonight is a dark night,
I will give her the Milky Way.
There is a legless girl on the bridge,
I will put a constellation of stars around her neck.
I will take away all the curses on the lips.
I will tear down all the walls.
Sohrab Sepehri
Translated by Mahvash Shahegh
Leave a poem for us if you like. Have a great Wednesday everybody!


Harvest of Love

Date Harvest, Boushehr Province, Iran. Photo from IRNA by Hadi Fakhr Ahmad, August 10, 2008.
They look so cool and delicious in the photograph. You can't feel the heat that has been enveloping and nurturing them into ripeness for months. You can't feel the humidity and temperatures that surround and beat down on the farmers bringing these beauties to the homes of millions of Iranians. Soon it will be Ramadan and all the boxes of gorgeous dates, rotab, will be prepared to find their ways into the Eftar spreads of millions. Think about it. How is it possible to be hot and look cool? How can something be so hard to grow and maintain and harvest, and bring so much sweetness and nutrition to so many? Wouldn't it be really wonderful if all of us lived like those date trees, withstanding extreme conditions while all the time preparing a feast for everyone, benefiting others by our fruits? Wouldn't it be wonderful if everyone had such a sense of undeterred purpose in life? Today I think I would like to be a tree that blossoms and bears the sweetest fruit in the world. What would it take to be such a tree? Belief, resilience, and love. That's how I would like to live my life. Like a tree that bears the sweet fruit of love.


Boy With A Bird

Boy With a Bird, by Roya Salari, an Iranian artist living in London, from Iranian.com.
I saw this painting among some others by Roya Salari on Iranian.com this afternoon. My older son had come to talk to me for a few minutes and he saw this image on my screen. He sat down next to me and the two of us continued looking at it in silence togehter. After a few minutes he said: "That's really beautiful. I think poems can be written about that painting." I looked at him and I said, "Yes, they can. And I think you have already written some of them." He nodded his head in acknowledgement, looking a little embarrassed, because I know him so well. He has written many poems, and in many of them there is a boy in the center of the poem. What's a little eerie about this is that in several of his poems about a boy, he refers to "the sliver of a moon," just as it appears behind the boy in the painting. It was a strange and sweet and comforting conversation between mother and son.
This was a weekend for me to catch up on many things. I am somewhat satisfied with my progress. I have been so tired and overwhelmed recently, pushing myself physically and emotionally. I have to make a big decision and it has been weighing heavily on my mind, too. This weekend really helped me in sorting myself out. In the middle of the day, I stopped work and my sons and I had a delicious Chelo Kabab-e Soltani lunch together (no, I didn't make it!). Though I don't normally eat big meals, I let myself get carried away with the delicious meal, complete with fresh onions, as Chelo Kabab must be eaten! I was joking with my sons, telling them that the choice was all theirs--to eat the onions with me or to put up with me in the house for the rest of the day! The two of them couldn't bite into those onions fast enough!
Life goes on with its normal ebbs and flows, some days better and some days harder, but still all beautiful. I may have dreams and ambitions and fears and hopes, and there are some wishes I would love to see come true. But I wouldn't change my life for anything. The way I see it, it is exactly as it should be and it is a good life, full of exciting challenges, friendships, and love. What it has missing it will have in a matter of time, and what it already has will flourish and grow and get even better. I believe that. And I wish the same for all of you. Have a fabulous week everyone!

Now This!

Rastak Ensemble, a group of young Iranian musicians, plays a Baloochi song on stage in Tehran. Look at those beautiful, talented, young people! Simply joyful! (I'll be back yet again!)

First This!

Kayhan Kalhor, on Kamancheh, performs with Brooklyn Rider band at the Brooklyn Lyceum, March 2008. Very inspiring. Turn up your speakers and listen to what happens when East meets West! Wonderful! (I'll be back!).


Variety By "Bacheh Bad"

Ferdowsi's Bijan o Manijeh on stage in Tehran. Photo by Shahrooz Nabati for Iranian.com. Take a look at those costumes! I so miss Iranian theater. It's one thing we don't see enough of in these parts of the world.
I have been a "bacheh bad," neglecting my beloved blogs for many days now. I thought if I wrote that I was enundated with responsibilities and a little under the weather, I would encourage all to say nice things to me and I didn't want that. Bogzarim keh you guys are always very kind and nice to me, no matter what I say! My blues followed me from last week into this week and I was really mad that I couldn't shake them off. The cloud seems to be lifting now, and here I am!
My kids are so sweet! My younger son keeps telling me that he is concerned to see me working away into late hours of the night and waking up early to do some more work. It's gotten to the point where now when I hear him coming, I get up and go greet him so that he won't worry about me too much. Of course he sees right through me! He said tonight he wants to take me out to dinner soon. My older son and I chatted for a few minutes today about his leaving the house soon. He said he won't be that far and that he'll come visit and camp out here every chance he gets! I agreed but added that it just won't be the same not having him around the house all the time. And there we were, in the state of dread-excitement that the two of us seem to be hanging in these days.
My calendar seems to have become full again for August and September, with something to do every weekend. I get exhausted just looking at all the commitments I have made for myself again, even though I had promised myself I would save some weekends for chilling out. I am really excited about a fundraising event I will be organizing with a friend in August. I'm also excited about the Namjoo concert which will be happening in September. In September we will also have a family reunion around a family wedding in Southern California. Now that's something to look forward to and to be happy about! I'll get to see my brothers and their families, yippee!
My friend says a man she thought about seriously has been acting strange and remote, possibly wanting to end the relationship. My heart breaks for her pain, but I'm relieved they are figuring this out now, as opposed to later. I told her she should look for a guy who would think and act honored and delighted to have her in his life, because she is such a special woman. I hope she doesn't think I just said that to please her and to soothe her pains. I think everybody deserves to feel loved, respected, cherished, and honored in a relationship. Anything less than that isn't good enough, especially for my very special friend.
I will go to my third Persian Poetry class tomorrow night with Dr. Zari Taheri. She is teaching us about Nezami's Eskandar Nameh. Don't you think it bizarre that Nezami and other Iranian poets and authors have such a positive view of Eskandar (Alexander), the man who was responsible for so much destruction in Iranian history?! She is explaining that part of that positive light surrounding Eskandar in Persian literature is that Persians didn't like to say they were conquerred or defeated by an ordinary man, so they built him up to be a hero! I will write something about what I learn in that class when it's over next week.
Have a good Wednesday everybody. I promise to start posting regularly. I have missed this too much!