I found this sweet video clip and I would like to share it with you. A Canada-based band named HamAva has performed Simin Ghanem's 1975 song, Parandeh, The Bird. It is a really beautiful song, full of personal nostalgia for me. The singer does a very good job of singing a song originally performed by what must be one of the most powerful female voices in the history of Iranian music. She doesn't take chances with an imitation, but stays true to the music, sounding sweet and vulnerable. I searched for this HamAva band, but couldn't find anything on them. If any of my friends in Canada know about them, please do share
If you want, you can listen to the original rendition of this song by Simin Ghanem here. Believe it or not, this song was written by Hassan Shamaizadeh. What has happened to that great music man?! How come we never hear songs like this from him any more? This is all we hear from him these days! Nothing wrong with it, but he is capable of so much more. I mean there are thousands of composers who can write this, but not nearly enough who can write this. Just wondering!
Since I posted my earlier blog about the lecture, I have heard from a very interesting man by the name of Mr. Charles Ellwood Jones. It is an honor to find out about people who have so much interest in Iranian heritage which is now really world heritage. In his profile, Mr. Jones says: "I am the Librarian at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU. From July 2005 to February 2008 I was the Head Librarian at the Blegen Library of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Before moving to Athens I spent twenty-two years as the Librarian at the Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago."You can follow news about the Persepolis tablets and developments in the case through Persepolis Fortification Archive Project's blogs here. Before I left I told Professor Stolper how proud I was of his life's work, dedicated to research about Iran, thanking him for all his hard work.
Boy tells of school and marbles
Boy is dead
Boy and noose
Boy and noose
Boy and noose
Boy and prison
Boy and pain
Boy and shame
Boy and noose
Mother and bench
Boy and life
Boy and death
Mother and memories
Mother and rage
Boy and airborne bench
Mother and revenge
Two boys dead
Two boys gone
All mothers’ loss
All mothers’ shame
Read here for Behnoud Shojaie's story.
Mohsen Namjoo and Golshifteh Farahani sing "hammash delam migireh" (I long all the time) in Milan Italy. I love Namjoo.
It's Friday night. I know I have been lazy in keeping up my blogs. I have been writing, but not here. I'm going to write again. I have missed it too much. So much has happened that I haven't told you about, mostly good things. I've had to learn more than a few lessons since April of this year when I was laid off my job. I have had to adjust to some major and some minor changes, but all good in the end. It's been an emotional time for many Iranians living outside Iran, just as it has been for Iranians inside Iran. There is all at the same time a lot of fear and hope and concern about Iran. I think about my friends in Iran all the time and I follow the news with interest. Certainly nothing is the way it was just a few months ago. I may not have been the only one to go through some changes. I feel the whole world has changed in drastic ways and it will never go back to the way it was. Maybe that's a good and necessary thing. Maybe things always change at this pace and I never took notice before. All I know is that it's not the same as it was before. It is better, I think. It seems to me that everyone in my circle of friends and family is moving forward with a new awareness, with more knowledge. I can only hope that this awareness delivers us all into enlightenment and a more positive state.It was a calm and quiet Friday night. My sons have already gone to bed and my cat is sleeping right next to me. Namjoo sings and I reflect. Pretty blissful. I want to thank people who came looking for me, banging on my door, sweet Mina, lovely Aida, and the ever thoughtful Masoud. I have missed you all. I'll keep on writing here, sharing pictures and stories from the summer until I catch up. I want to tell you about hope. I want to tell you about love. There is so much I need to tell you. I will.
Iranian composer and santur master, Parviz Meshkatian has passed away. This news made me very sad. I post here the santur piece from his "Dood-e Oud" album, which I believe is the happiest piece of music he wrote. Doud-e Oud was one of the first pieces of music written and performed by Tehran Symphony Orchestra after a four year silence had befallen Iranian music right after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Iranian music suffered terribly during those years, instruments were broken and musicians were sent into hiding. This album, sung by Master Shajarian, was one of the first musical pieces which were produced to herald the beginning of a new era in Iranian music. That's the kind of musician Parviz Meshkatian was back then, courageous and creative. What a loss for Iran. Here you can listen to Shajarian's "Ay Yousof-e Khoshnam-e Maa" from the same album, this one is a bit melancholic, but it is one of my most favorite pieces of music by Shajarian, on a poem by Molana.
Rest in peace and play music in heaven now.
Santurnavazan Ensemble perform "Ze Ba'ad e Ma," (Beyond our Path) at Tehran University's College of Literature, 2005. This beautiful and uplifting piece of music was recommended by my friend, Bahram. Lovely and interesting variation on the way a Santur is played. Great work!
I threw the dice
Watching the result A one and a two I looked at you And you looked embarrassed After all your doubles I smiled Making do with the tiny move Saying: "I'll take it! Better move like a turtle Than to remain stagnant." You looked puzzled For the joy exploding nearby In the form of a big smile On the face of the woman Celebrating her one and two.
I played backgammon in the moonlight last night. It was great fun, said the One Two Woman.
My friend Rojan performs a new rendition of the old-time Iranian song, Morgh-e Sahar. You can see more of her music here (I love this one! It makes me so happy every time I listen to it.) and here, where she performs with Pournazeri brothers of Shams Ensemble.
It's Sunday. My older son is home for the weekend. A cup of tea, a window to the green branches of the tall trees outside my window, and a whole day of planned chores await me. I'm still buzzed with a writing class I attended yesterday. I have several pieces of writing in the works and just as soon as I have made a dent in my endless list of long-postponed projects today, I will get busy with the writing. I plan on leaving at least one of them here. I hope you all have a peaceful Sunday. Go and embrace and kiss all those who matter to you in your life. That is the number one item on top of my "To Do" list today. It's been too long.
My friend, filmmaker Sabereh Kashi, has an exciting new film project in the works. Here is a first version of her film, "My Home of the Last Seven Millenia." In it she tells the tale of her return to Kashan from San Francisco, in search of a childhood memory. Congratulations to sweet Sabereh for her amibitious and loving project.
(Does anybody know what to do with the "chopped off" display screen of YouTube links on blogspot?)
~ ~ ~
As the crowd flowed and moved through,
Everyone a drop in a sea of green
Taking tiny steps ahead
Shoulder to shoulder
The telegraphic words and looks
Transmitting meanings and messages
Through the deafening roar
A nod of reassurance
A tiny smile
~ ~ ~
The crowd grew greater and wider
And in an errant second they were pulled apart,
Separated by the sea,
Tiny and black clad among the trees,
She watched him happily engulfed, foam on the wave,
She lost sight of him
The crowd took him
And she stood there thinking
“This wholesome crowd will protect him”
“He will be safe”
~ ~ ~
And didn’t hear the key turning in the lock
And couldn’t hear his familiar footsteps down the hall
And melancholy swiftly turned to despair,
She became a soldier searching
The young man who was last seen wearing a green ribbon
High and low
Low and low
She asked “Have you seen my boy?”
“He was wearing a green ribbon”
~ ~ ~
The news came
Stark and short
And the crowds gathered again
Hailing the end
Wearing black ribbons
~ ~ ~
The mother looked in
The sleeping boy forgetting to breath
The shroud framing his man’s shape
Softly she said “Wake up Sohrab”
Her life’s dread and grief ahead
As the crowd prayed
The smell of camphor and rosewater
Mixed with the sound of sobs and muffled tears
Marked the start of a barren life
The life of the mother without her son.
U2 perform "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" in solidarity with Iranian people during their 360 degrees world tour in Dublin, Ireland on July, 24th, 2009. Amazing performance.Today I am going to the San Francisco Mega Rally in solidarity with Iranians. It will be at the Civic Center Plaza on McAllister Street from 12:00 until 4:30 p.m. (catch BART to Civic Center station). Join us if you can. Do it for Iran.
"The Three Iranian Sopranos," Nasrin Asgari, Shirin Asgari, and Kamelia Dara, perform Iran-e Maa (our Iran) at their 2008 Vancouver concert. The song is composed by Hamid Zargarzadeh. I need to find the poem to this song.And so, life goes on. For someone who is "in between jobs," I have been terribly busy this summer. It is no longer possible for me to say why my heart has been heavy. Is it my personal stuff and the job situation, or is it what's been happening in Iran? I just know that my heart has been heavy. But everyone's heart has been heavy of late. I'm going to start writing here again. I have a lot to tell you. Soon.
If I could name the shape of happiness, If I could show the place of happiness,If I could describe the smell of happiness,If I could convey the time of happiness,If I could elaborate the taste of happiness, I would tell youThat happiness is a cup of caffè macchiato,At my favorite coffee shop in Berkeley,With two fresh madeleines,An internet connection,And the world in my handsMaybe sometimes,Happiness happens on a Saturday,Even if you stayed home, jobless, the week beforeMaybe some days,Nestled in your chair,Fighting anxiety and fear,There might be a messageThat stirs excitement and hopeSprinkles a smile on your face,And grabs your heart with joy,At the thought of love.Caffe macchiato at Musical Offering in Berkeley.
Sar oomad zemestoon, or Aaftabkaran, an old revolutionary song is played by two young artists. I love this clip!
I know I said this before--just a few seconds ago, as a matter of fact! Please consider participating in the elections on Friday. Cast your vote to be counted. If even for one day, for one hour, for one minute over the past four years you have worried about a possible attack on Iran, if you have felt shame about things that have happened in Iran, about the way Iran has been represented to the world, or for words that were said by someone else but whose weight you have carried, consider participating in the elections and showing that you care. Be responsible and vote. Iran and Iranians inside Iran need you now.
After living in the US for a number of years, I returned to Iran in the early 1990’s. During my stay, I managed a software company in Tehran . Here’s a memory.My Accounting Manager informed me that our bookkeeper, Mr. Alizadeh, was continuing to show very poor performance. He was making numerous mistakes and was not making any effort to improve his performance. She had given him several notices over an eight month period, and she was sure now that Mr. Alizadeh lacked the skills and drive to perform his duties. She said she wanted to release Mr. Alizadeh from his employment with our company. I reluctantly agreed. Naturally, firing people was one of the worst and saddest things I had to do. Mr. Alizadeh was a very polite young man with a young wife and two small children. He was tall, handsome, and extremely pleasant. I had to accept, also, that he was a lousy bookkeeper! I agreed to five months’ severance pay for Mr. Alizadeh, and a promise to give him good references for his future employment. The Accounting Manager went off to fire Mr. Alizadeh.When the Accounting Manager returned to my office shortly thereafter, she informed me that she had gone through the dismissal process with Mr. Alizadeh, but that he had insisted he wanted to talk to me. I asked her what he wanted to see me about, and she said “He says I want Ms. Kaviani to fire me. If she tells me to go, I will.” Oh brother! I told her to bring Mr. Alizadeh in, so I could fire him, too.As the two people sat in my office, I went around my desk and sat in the chair next to Mr. Alizadeh. As is customary in Iran , the coffee table in my office had a plate of fruit, serving plates, and a jug of ice water and some glasses. I told Mr. Alizadeh how sorry I was about this whole business; how I wished there had been a way to save his job and to keep him on the team; how I had watched anxiously over all the months he had been put on performance track by his supervisor; and how sorry I was to see him go. I told him I would do everything within my power to help him find another job.Mr. Alizadeh looked so crestfallen and so sad. I was so miserable, too. He said: “I understand, Ms. Kaviani. Now that I have heard it from you, I believe it. May I ask for a last favor before I go?” I said: “Sure, Mr. Alizadeh, what would you like me to do?” He said: “May I have a cigarette?” A cigarette?!! Phew, I was so relieved! Sure, no problem! I said: “Of course, Mr. Alizadeh!,” offering him one of my cigarettes. I even started to light his cigarette, but he took the lighter and lit his cigarette himself.The Accounting Manager and I were exchanging anxious glances throughout this time, trying to pass through this very uncomfortable meeting. The two of us watched Mr. Alizadeh while he took one long drag on his cigarette. The inhale was so strong and so long on that drag, I swear half of Mr. Alizadeh’s cigarette turned into ash before our very eyes! We were also making small noises, saying some insignificant things to fill the uncomfortable silence while we waited for Mr. Alizadeh to enjoy his “last wish,” like a convict on death row or something. Mr. Alizadeh was not engaging in any small talk with us. His face had assumed a very dramatic look of sadness and perplexity. He was frowning and kept a stoic smile on his face. Mr. Alizadeh took his second drag, which was just as strong and long as the first one and it looked like the cigarette ended right there. I was feeling so bad about this whole meeting, wishing it to end for all of us to be free of the awful episode.
At this time, Mr. Alizadeh opened his left hand and put his cigarette out in the middle of his palm. Oh My God! What the hell?! I saw this first, so I stood up and took two short steps toward Mr. Alizadeh, while screaming “Nooooooooooo!” I could also hear the Accounting Manager’s echoed “Nooooooo” in my wake. By the time I made it to Alizadeh, he had tightened a fist around the cigarette butt in his palm. Without thinking, or remembering that in the Islamic Republic of Iran, women aren’t supposed to touch men in public, I reached for Mr. Alizadeh’s fist, trying to pry it open to retrieve the cigarette butt and check out the undoubted burn spot on his palm. Nothing doing. He had his fist closed tightly and won’t let me open it. All the while I kept saying “That was a really stupid thing you did, Mr. Alizadeh! Let me see your palm!” In the few seconds which in the super slow motion of bad events always feels like an eternity, when I realized that Mr. Alizadeh wasn’t going to let me open his fist, I reached over the coffee table, picked up the ice cold water jug, and poured water on top of Mr. Alizadeh’s clenched fist. He yelled and jumped out of his chair, because the cold water quickly seeped through his crotch where his hand had been held nearby.At this time, the staff outside my office, who had heard the commotion, the two women’s screams and then Mr. Alizadeh’s yelp opened the door and came in. The sight of me and the Accounting Manager each on one side of Mr. Alizadeh and his standing in the middle with his soaking crotch must have been so confusing to them.….I had a few other encounters with Mr. Alizadeh before he left our company, though none of them were as dramatic. He did get another job elsewhere and came to visit me periodically for the rest of the time I worked in that company.I changed Mr. Alizadeh's name.
The quickest and most efficient way I know to tell you that I'm alright is to share a one minute video clip of a drive we took down to Santa Cruz last week. The voices belong to a singer on CD, myself and my older son. The music is a medley of old Khorasani folk songs which my friend Hadi gave me a couple of years ago.
I have been put through the wringer recently, but I'm slowly but surely re-emerging. I have so much to tell you, and I will say it until you get bored with me! You will see. I love you all and I thank those of you who missed me and wrote. It was a good feeling to be missed--I particularly needed it over the past few weeks. Thank you for helping me remember that for every bad thing there are thousands of good things, and that for every malicious person in this world, there are thousands who are capable of love, trust, and integrity. I'll be back with more stuff soon! I love you all. I do. Yes, I do.
Kayhan Kalhor performs with Brooklyn Riders
I have been attending the Iranian Alliances Across Borders Conference in Berkeley this weekend. It has been a very good time meeting new people and catching up with old friends. My writer friends in Northern California and one from New York are here for the conference and it's been a pleasure hanging out with them. When we went to dinner last night, it was wonderful to look from one end of the table to the next, seeing authors, poets, artists, and musicians all having an Irani dinner together and talking about life! I am also impressed by the beautiful and intelligent young Iranians who have shown up at the conference, whether to present papers and ideas or to receive them.
I'm planning on going to watch Kayhan Kalhor, the Iranian Kamancheh master, perform with Brooklyn Riders tonight. I will let you know all about it! I will also tell you about the Fared Shafinuri concert my friends and I attended last night soon. It was fabulous! Have a great Sunday everybody!
Iranian jazz and blues crooner Rana Farhan performs Drunk With Love. Enjoy!I continue to maintain my Nowruz energy level and optimism! My attempts at keeping my personal space organized has prevailed and I am glad to report that a lot of my former self is showing again, too! Heeh! It actually feels great! I am laughing more and though I am still way behind in my emails and calls, I am very slowly turning things around! In all of this I have a heightened and focused sense of love and appreciation for my family and for my close friends who are loving, loyal, and always kind to me. April is turning out to be a busy month, with everything from work to family matters to volunteer assignments and events piling up on me with a full calendar again. No complaints, though, as I am now doing many of the things I really enjoy doing and hanging out with people I really like and respect. I will be meeting up with other writers from the Association of Iranian American Writers this weekend, and I'm really looking forward to the IAAB conference, too. Later this month there will be a music festival for Iranian.com (Saturday, April 25th), and I have agreed to help out as a volunteer for that fundraising event. I will write more about this later. If you would like to help out, please either buy tickets to the concert which will feature Faramarz Aslani, Arash Sobhani, and Sahba Aminikia (and a surprise guest), or donate to Iranian.com to keep this important Iranian medium afloat and alive. As chance would have it, I will be visiting with Fared Shafinuri and his band, Tehranosaurus in Berkeley this coming Friday! If you live in these parts and are available to meet some pretty talented young Iranians, let me know! I think we will be hanging out in Berkeley during the afternoon of Friday, April 3rd. Before I sign off, I want to say one last thing. Life does go on. Even after the worst of events. Even after the biggest losses. I wrote over a year ago about my co-worker's visit to my office to tell me about her impending divorce after a long marriage. All last year I have been watching my friend deal with her new life, making progress one day and retreating on another, trying to make sense of her new life. Today she told me she is going on her first date after her divorce. I doubt anything will come of it, but I am pleased for my friend for picking up the pieces of her life, trying to make herself whole again, and moving on. Even the simplest and most mundane things appear hard and impossible for people who are going through traumatic events. A date is a pretty good start, I should think! Yes, life does go on.
Fared Shafinouri sings Arianaz in Tehran. This is beautiful music and I'm sure you would enjoy it! Look at the sweet video clip of my beloved Tehran. I found him on YouTube last October. Here's his MySpace page where you can find other tracks of his new album. His music is so sweet and refreshing.Fared and his band, Tehranosaurus, will be performing in Berkeley this Saturday night. I am going to see them perform. The concert will be the entertainment segment of the IAAB conference. Here's the concert's Facebook announcement. It will be at the Pauley Ballroom of UC Berkeley on Saturday, April 4th, 2009 at 8:30.