Worrisome Sunday

I went to listen t Reese Erlich's lecture in Berkeley this afternoon. He is a journalist with San Francisco Chronicle, and his book, The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East, was just published. The topic of his lecture was: "Will the US attack Iran?" His answer to that question was pretty unsettling. Erlich believes that all plans are set into motion, and that it is no longer a question of whether there will be an attack, but when. He said that excuses for a potential attack are rapidly shifting from Iran's nuclear activities to its interference in Iraq, trying to find acceptance in the US. I was so scared listening to him. He is very sympathetic to Iranian people, and has visited Iran several times. I asked him what we could do to help avoid a war, and his suggestion was for Iranians in the US to get organized and to start developing a unified voice against a potential attack. That is no easy feat, and certainly it can't be done quickly enough. There was some suggestion that Iranians in the Bay Area form a contingent and participate in the protests against Iraq war which is scheduled for October 27th in San Francisco, protesting plans for an attack on Iran. Today I also read this article by Seymour Hersh in the upcoming issue of the New Yorker. It's a long piece, but I recommend it, if you have the stomach for bad news. I know many of my friends believe there won't be a war, but even if there is a small probability, the thought is too hard to bear. I wrote something on the subject which will be published tomorrow.

A Very Good Day

A Gorgeous Water Lily (niloofar) in a Pond in Napa Valley Today. I am so proud of my picture!
My friends came and took me to Napa Valley today. Napa Valley boasts gorgeous scenery, hundreds of vinyards (takestan), and olive trees. I was feeling so much better today, and thoroughly enjoyed my day surrounded by nature and sunshine, talking about life with people my own age, whose company I thoroughly enjoy!
My children and I used to watch many movies together, but with their work and school schedules, it has not been possible lately. They always tease me because I move too much during the movies. Tonight, after we ate our dinner (of leftovers!), we sat down to watch The Fountain. I had promised myself to sit down and not move for the duration, which I did, I'm proud to report. The two of them, however, fell asleep halfway into the movie, and I watched it by myself to the end. It was an interesting movie, a love story with twists of fiction, and I thought Hugh Jackman's performance was stellar. I then woke the two of them to go sleep in their beds! Well, their intentions were good.
I got two writing deadlines out of the way, and I will still need to deliver one sometime tomorrow. It was a very good day for me today, relaxed, and more energetic than I have been recently. I am fortunate to have good friends and family. I count my blessings tonight.


Eftari in Masouleh

Massouleh, Gilan, Photo By Nigel Bahrani
It's Friday. I had eftari and dinner guests tonight. I took some sweet pictures of my eftari spread to show you, but somehow they were lost and I am bummed out about it. I grew up in a big family, with many siblings and many more who stayed with us. I learned how to cook when I was twelve, after my mother was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and it became apparent that she could no longer single-handedly feed close to 20 people at mealtimes. We all learned how to shop, cook, and entertain at my father's urging, as he knew that my mother was depressed about not being able to keep up the physical effort, and our household had to stay a welcome place for all in it and all who came. Cooking for many people is easy for me. Cooking for just a few is simply impossible! Every time I cook for my parties now, I always have several days' worth of leftovers! If I haven't un-learned cooking for 20 by now, I doubt I can do it here on end! So, halva, ash reshteh, and several other dishes will be our food for days to come!
As is now a habit with me, my thoughts and worries for Iran invariably take me to Iran. In my imagination, I visit its many corners, villages, towns, and cities. I walk down its streets, and stop by its tea houses (ghahveh khooneh). In another life, I used to travel to Gilan every Ramadan, to visit friends and family there. On one of those trips, on a cold November day, I had eftari (breakfast) at a tiny tea house in Masouleh, a village entirely built on a mountain. Masouleh is a tourist town, with most of its natives now old men and women. Their youth leave the village to go to live in cities and abroad. The village feels eerie and quiet in off-season. The hot tea, the bread and cheese, and the fresh eggs omlette I had in that teahouse, listening to the wise and articulate old men in presence is one of my most cherished memories. Tonight, I visited Masouleh again, and walked its crooked uphill pavements, looking in on the tiny houses whose backyards are the roofs of houses below. I went to its miniature cemetery located in the middle of all the houses, and stopped by a bookshop where I could always find banned books, unavailable in Tehran bookshops. I had my delicious Lahijan tea in that teahouse tonight, looking through the window panes covered with steam. I was in Iran tonight. I wish you all a very good weekend, filled with rest and hopeful thoughts. Surround yourselves with people you love, and shoo bad thoughts away from your mind and soul. Tell those you love that you love them. Let them take care of you and be prepared to do the same for them. Be good y’all.


Let There Be No War

Mehr (September) is Harvest Time at a Kerman Sunflower Farm
As more and more bad news arrives, I continue to worry about Iran. My mind and heart is full of beautiful images of Iran, its mountains, valleys, farms, rivers, and seas. I remember its wonderful people, kind and hospitable and full of love for their families, hopeful for their children, and thoughtful and generous to their neighbors. Do they know what is happening around the world? Do they hear the horrible rhetoric and headlines we hear here everyday? Are they sufficiently informed about the threats and dangers facing them? I saw a report a few weeks ago which talked about a potential plan to simultaneously attack 10,000 targets in Iran! Reading that report, feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach, I could not begin to comprehend its implications. I don't want an attack on Iran, that much I know. I wallow in anger at politicians whose failure to negotiate and find peaceful solutions is geopardizing the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, endangering peace worldwide. No, I don't know what to do, I just know what I don't want. I want no war, no bombs, no bullets, no maimed, and no dead anywhere in the world, and I particularly don't want it for Iran. One war in recent history has been one too many for Iran. We haven't yet begun to recover from the war which ended almost 20 years ago. We don't need a new one. What should we do? I will do the only thing I know how to do; I will write about it. I will write about not wanting a war. What do you think we should do?

Iranican's Report

Those of you who live in these parts have probably heard of Iranican, a group of young, bright, and beautiful second-generation Iranians who, through their website and weekly television program try to engage second generation Iranians in arts, cultural and social issues, and music of Iran. They were at last weekend's event, and have prepared a two-part video clip of the happenings there. Take a look. If you have time, also look at the pictures on Iranian.com. And here's Radio Zamaneh's report about the event.


Ready for Autumn

Come in to my house! Befarmaeed! So, O.K. I got sick. I saw it coming, but couldn't stop it. Against my best efforts of getting up, showering, getting dressed and ready to go to work this morning, I realized I couldn't do it. I changed and went back to bed where I slept for more hours than I have been able to recently! It will take a few days for me to overcome the colitis attack, but I'll be alright. Earlier this afternoon, I went out to breath some fresh air and to feel the feeble Autumn sun on myself. It felt good. I managed to take some pictures of the hills, trees, and trails across the road from my house, one of which I wanted to post here. Then, as I returned to the house, I remembered my pumpkins which I recently bought to decorate my house for the Fall, and decided to show them to you instead. I think my pumpkin this year is the most perfect one I have ever had! I'll be sure to show you what it will look like when carved on Halloween. I will also tell you about my "pumpkin projects" during the time we lived in Iran.
My children are being very attentive to me. My younger son is playing Bob Marley, Jim Morrison, and Jethro Tull for me as I write this, and is washing the dishes. Ealier he was complaining that I don't take good care of myself, sounding like a grown-up! I have received wonderful letters from some of my readers, which have made me so happy. Except for my worries about the war machine at work, I feel so peaceful all of a sudden, and this is so welcome. Before long, I will have to gear up for an important project at work, and meet three publication deadlines for pieces in varying stages of development. This day, and this hour, however, will be spent relaxing and feeling peaceful, feeling blissfully free and happy. I wish the same for you.


Scattered Thoughts of Tuesday

San Francisco Bay From Ghirardelli Square, Saturday, September 8, 2007, having lunch with Mersedeh & Shabnam
  1. I went to wish Dr. Zari Taheri a safe trip back to Japan tonight. Too bad she won't be back for another year or so. Her students in Japan are so lucky. I got home so late, I missed my chance to talk to a dear friend, as I had promised. Life overwhelms me sometimes.
  2. Reese Erlich will be the Berkeley Lecture Series' guest speaker this Sunday, September 30th at 4 p.m. His lecture is entitled "Will the US attack Iran?" An experienced and reputable journalist, Erlich has reported from Iran (with Sean Penn) and Iraq five times. Erlich's book The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of US Policy and the Middle East Crisis, has just been published. The lecture will be at UC Berkeley, 110 Barrows Hall. Erlich is a very interesting man and an excellent speaker whose lectures I have attended before. It will be my older sister's birthday on Sunday, so I will attend if I can.
  3. I am really upset with Columbia President, Lee Bollinger, for embarrassing the academic community worldwide. Regardless of what everyone thinks of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was so shocking to see a fine higher education institution invite the President of a country to their campus, and its highest official deliver such a rude political statement, driven not by academic intent, but with hostile words meant to appease Columbia donors and political lobbyists. If Columbia really believed in freedom of speech, one of the most valuable and revered pillars of American Constitution, after receiving their guest with respect, an academic dialogue should have ensued, encouraging their guest to answer questions in a civilized environment, something that could have taught Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a thing or two. How did ridiculing and insulting him enrich Columbia? It only served to feed the media frenzy started by warmongers on CNN and FoxNews, while adding nothing to the dialogue, failing humanity's expectations of a good university. I am embarrassed on so many levels for all that has been dear and meaningful to me, to be ridiculed and brokered for greed. Everything and everybody in Columbia embarrassed me yesterday. I would like to believe that such a blatent "sell-out" of American ideals and academic values would have never happened at Berkeley, had the meeting taken place here. If US attacks Iran, Columbia will forever have to bear the responsibility of stooping as low as FoxNews in facilitating an unwarranted war on innocent people of Iran. I am so upset.
  4. On a happier note, I forgot to mention that my little car, Shabdiz, has been repaired and returned to me after that last accident my son had with it. Shabdiz is a member of our family who takes me to work and around, needing little, and giving me the only breaks during the day where I can be alone with my thoughts, my music, and my writing (while taking shape in my head). My daily trips into and around Berkeley were very sad without him. I'm glad Shabdiz is home. I am not loaning him to anyone again.


Praying For Peace

Some days are hard. Coming out of several weeks' hard work, sleeplessness, and stress, I was so looking forward to starting a relaxing and commitment-free week. My week has gotten off to a stressful start, with trepidations about what happened today at Columbia University, what is happening in my household, projects I must finish at work, and what is happening to a few friends of mine. Thinking about what will happen tomorrow at the United Nations is not terribly uplifting, either. All day today, I had a crippling headache, and my neck and shoulders went back to their cramped and painful state. Yikes. I guess I will just have to keep remembering how well our event on Saturday went, and how good we all felt when we got together last night to celebrate completion of the Seminar. My bright young friends came and in addition to the regulars, two other bloggers joined us for dinner last night. The Man Who Observes Texas is a very interesting character, full of joy of life! I end this day praying for peace.


Seminar Update-Last

O.K. This is the last set of pictures (I'm exhausted!). From the top: Leva of Baloot; Teleconferencing with Sanam Dowlatshahi of Khorshid Khanoom, talking about internet and bloggers; Jahanshah Javid accepts Certificate of Honor from City of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors for his service to Iranian community in diaspora; Ross Mirkarimi, City of San Francisco Supervisor awards Jahanshah Javid the City's Award; Arie (Arastoo) Siletz, an Iranian.com writer and an author.

Some of the Bloggers at the Seminar

From the top: Marjan of Saat-e-Sheni, Omid Memarian, Mandana of Baraneh, Ala Hazrat Haji Agha himself, reading Dr. Shirin Ahmadnia's (Az Zendegi) message from Tehran.

Seminar Update

From the top: Mehdi Yahyanejad of Balatarin, with Sepideh Sigarchi, Vice President of San Francisco State University's Iranian Cultural Club
Hamed Nikpay, Jahanshah Javid of Iranian.com, Bruce Bahmani, an Iranian.com writer, and Arash Sobhani (of Kiosk)
Ahmad Kiarostami, graphics artist and director. More later.

Seminar Update

From Top: Sima Shakshari of Farangopolis presents her research. Ehsan Akhbari of Shena dar Shenzar reads one of his posts. Hamed Nikpay and Tobias Roberson present their Persian fusion music. More later.

At the Seminar

We are here. We did five blog presentations already, and now Sima Shakshari of Farangopolis is giving her presentation. I'm glad I'm done with my reading! Take a look at http://parsarts.com / who are live-blogging the event. Here's my picture of (from right) Omid Memarian, Arash Aramesh of Berkeley Forum, and Jahanshah Javid of Iranian.com. I will write again soon, if I can.


Turning Virtual Friendships into Real

Iranians on the Internet A One Day Gathering It has been a crazy few weeks. I am no stranger to volunteer work. I participate in community affairs for the honor and joy of participation. On top of that, I love nothing more than to work with young Iranians who have joy and passion for a cause. Doing all this work during my personal time has been hard this time, however. I miss sleep and am ridden with anxiety for "dropped balls." I have written my letters, prepared my presentations, and have organized what I had on my list. Now, I will go to bed early to be prepared for tomorrow. If you live in this area, do come along. If you don't, as soon as I can, I will write and tell you all about it. I hope it all works out.


International Peace Day

September 21st, a day of ceasefire, a day of non-violence, a day of inter-cultural cooperation...
See here.


Iranians on Internet Seminar Agenda

I put the agenda in my blog on Iranian.com. You can see it here. If you live in these parts, it would be a pleasure to see you there. I'm so looking forward to seeing my friends and soon-to-be-friends this Saturday. I am also excited to be seeing my artist friends, Hamed Nikpay, Heather Rastovac, and Arash Sobhani of Kiosk ! Though I have a lot of stress associated with the event, I am really excited, too. It will be fabulous, I hope. Mehran, Leva, Jahanshah, and Mehdi have done a lot of work planning this event. Come if you can.

Autumn's Surprise Arrival

Autumn is upon us in the San Francisco Bay Area. An Autumn child myself, I have always looked forward to the time of year in September (Shahrivar), when all of a sudden nighttime and early mornings turn cooler, promising the upcoming change of seasons. Quite indeliberately, I tune into the leaves on the trees, checking them for color and texture changes around this time of the year. No sight in nature is more beautiful to me than the way tree leaves change colors and turn into fiery reds, deep yellows, and bright oranges in the middle of evergreens. Foliage is the most profound change in nature for me. This year, however, Autumn has crept up behind me and has surprised me. I feel as though I'm not ready for it. I wish the cold, nippy air of Berkeley away, wishing for the warmer air to linger a bit longer. I think I was robbed of Summer this year, busy with all that comprises my complicated life these days. Well, enough moaning. It is here and it will stay in the Bay Area for about two months when we are delivered into this area's windy and cold Winter. In a few days, I will decorate my house with my Fall decorations, gearing up for the new season, for My Season. (Photo credit here.)

Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam's Dance Performance

On Sunday, September 9th we went to see Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam's Dance Variations on Persian Themes in Los Gatos. It was an amazing performance by him and two other female dancers, Karine Gonzalez and Sahar Dehghan. They performed several solo and duo pieces, choreographed by Moshkin Ghalam to Iranian classical, folkloric, and fusion music. Do you remember the long video clip I had put in my earlier posts about him? That was the first piece they performed, entitled "Sohrab and Gordafarid." Throughout the program, Iranian poetry and music accompanied the dance pieces. Poems by Nima Youshij, Forough Farrokhzad, Vahshi Bafghi, and Fereidoon Moshiri were included, performed by Ahmad Shamloo (narrated), Shajarian, Zande Vakil, Sousan Deyhim, and Parvin. Before I knew that a Spanish dancer, Karine Gonzalez, was the lead female dancer of Nikissa Dance Company, I had observed that what little I had seen of their work had a profound flamenco influence. Combining flamenco moves and steps into his dances may have somewhat distanced them from their Iranian roots, but has added much excitement and electric energy to them. One piece of dance Moshkin Ghalam did himself around Hossein Alizadeh's Faryad, sung by Mohammad Reza Shajarian, was particularly moving and brought tears to my eyes. Moshkin Ghalam brings athletic energy to his dances, which are delivered with artistic and poetic ease and beauty. I found the performance, the costumes, the music, and the poetry beautiful and quite memorable. I will leave you a treat. Watch this video clip of Moshkin Ghalam talk about his passion in life: Iranian Dance, which was produce by bebin.tv. I love what he says about Iranian dance, its roots, its lost years, and some artists' efforts to find it again and to revive it. Though I was delighted to know that Moshkin Ghalam's dance company would answer questions at the end of their program, I was a bit disappointed by that segment of the program. I think Moshkin Ghalam must have been tired of answering repetitive and what he may have thought as "silly" questions on his tour, and I could sense an impatience which appeared as arogrance in the way he received questions. Well, to cut him some slack, he is a dancer and an actor, and a good one at that, so I won't score him on his Q/A abilities too harshly! The video from bebin.tv does a better job of representing his points of view than the Q/A we sat through. Backstage he was warm and kind and I took some pictures of him and the other dancers. It was a fabulous night.


I Am From

"The Street Lined With Trees"
Vali-e-Asr Avenue, Tehran
I finally have permission from my older son to post pieces of a poem he wrote for his English 222 class. Take a look: .......... I am from a living, moss covered bridge, Forsaken near the Caspian Sea, A kingdom to be ruled by a child, the dip below cut by a slow stream, sparks of light over the water, the sun golden on the swollen green, teeming with life and wonder. I am from white sand silver by moonlight, Sharp, moving borders with the black water littered with diamonds, The gods surely play in the star strewn bodies above, The feel of the breeze and the sound of the surf carrying me away, endlessly. I am from kabob sandwiches, made by an old man on a street lined with trees, the leathery skin of the man’s face red from the flames, mahogany hands dancing above them, Putting hot meat to bread, cilantro and a hot, hot special sauce, every other night for years, fifty cents buy a full belly. I am from the alley of Daneshkooy, narrow and L shaped, Buildings unique, each scorning its peers, A weeping willow breathing in the back, Wise, wily cats roam the dumpsters, A life of the stones and slings of children making each a grizzled veteran. The asphalt a battleground, where hide and seek, soccer and seven stones are waged, Where lines are drawn and crossed, It is no stranger to the salty blood of split eyebrows and loosened teeth. .............


Bloggers' Game

My friend Mana has invited me to participate in the Bloggers’ Game, Vatan Chist?, or what is the meaning of “homeland” to you. My country, my “homeland” is where I feel I belong. It is where I have memories. It is where I understand the language. It is where I have fallen in love. It is where my parents were born and buried. It is where my friends were born and buried. It is where I love every rock, every leaf, and every drop of the water running through its rivers and seas. It is where when things aren’t going well, I make it my business to complain and then try hard to fix things. It is where it matters what happens next. It is where I would bend over to pick up trash from its sidewalks. It is where I obey the laws. It is where I pay taxes. It is where I vote, hoping to make a difference. It is where I worry if it goes to war. It is where I wait for its soldiers to return. It is where I care about its environment. It is where I care about its education. It is where I love seeing its babies, children, and young people. It is where I care how its old people are doing. It is where I would listen to its music. It is where I would watch its dances. It is where I read its books. It is where I would respect its spiritual beliefs. It is where I miss its streets if I am away. It is where I miss its people when I am not there. It is where I hope I am missed if I’m not there. It is where I walk down a street, passing kitchen windows, and am able to associate every single smell to a dish and a taste I know. It is where I understand, appreciate, and love the people around me, and hope that they would do the same for me. Now I would like to invite the following people to the game: Ala Hazrat Haj Agha, Alef Shin, Baloot, Bayramali, Ehsan, FarNice, Jeerjeerak, Neda, Nimeh Shab, Serendip, Sheni, Shobeir, Siah, Tameshk. Please leave me your post link in this post if you accept my invitation and play the game.

Not All Balls Are Round

I went to see my family this morning. Having lived in these parts for over 30 years, my family members are by now avid American football lovers. I don't really understand the game, nor do I have any inclination to learn it after close to 30 years! I only like to observe the joy my family seem to experience with the sport. They watch the game and I watch them, that's how this goes! There was a San Francisco 49'ers game on this morning. There was also a soccer game on in Tehran, which was being broadcast at the same time. Of course I like and understand soccer a lot better, except I only like to watch the National Team games. This morning's game was between Persepolis and Rah Ahan, and while I could understand why some people in my family were wearing red, it was hard to understand why the ones who usually wear blue were also in there making noises! In order not to miss any of the action, two television sets had been set up in my sister's living room and each showed a game which would intermittently receive attention from the small crowd! I sat there and watched for about two hours, as I filled my eyes, my head, and my heart with my family's presence and energy, keeping quiet mostly, letting their sounds and noises envelop me. I was reminded yet again that my family has belonged to two worlds for a long time and the simple exercise of watching a football game on a Sunday morning when you love and care about both worlds, could receive a slightly different approach, though noisy and boisterous just the same! I will share a secret with you (and please don't tell anyone), but if I absolutely had to choose, I would probably choose the Red Team. Something about them feels so down-to-earth and appealing to me, though their football has been atrocious recently! I hope you will still come to see me knowing that secret!


Alessandra Dances To Sting's Bach

It's Friday, and I am so looking forward to the weekend, when I will finally get a chance to rest a little after keeping a very crazy schedule for a couple of weeks. This weekend I will attend a dinner party in honor of Dr. Zari Taheri, and will go to visit my sisters whom I have grossly neglected for a few weeks. I found this video clip in Nikhang Kowsar's blog a few days ago. It is such a beautiful clip. It is long (under 6 miutes), and the first 2.5 minutes are merely visual, but of incredible value. It shows a famous ballerina, Alessandra Ferri, getting ready to dance. Then Sting joins her and plays the "Prelude" from "Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major" by Johann Sebastian Bach on his guitar, to which the amazing ballerina dances. It is awesome. Watch her arches, that dance, and the expression on that beautiful face. It is truly mesmerizing to watch.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend, full of music, dance, laughter, and sleep! It's Ramadan, so to those of you who fast, ghabool basheh. Regardless of whether you are fasting or not, you can still confess your love to those you love! Do it! Some things in life never get boring. This is one of them. Be good y'all.


Maz Jobrani, The Iranian Comedian

Maz Jobrani signs his DVD for me.
This post is for one of my readers, Pardis, who has had a long week, full of bad news and depressing events.

My friend, Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar, who is a lecturer of Farsi literature at University of California at Berkeley, took me to see the Iranian comedian, Maz Jobrani in San Francisco's Punchline Comedy Club earlier this month. Maziar Jobrani had been her student in Berkeley, and had invited her to come see his performance. I was honored to be asked along. Maz Jobrani is a fantastic comedian. A very funny man, full of life and an interesting perspective on American life and politics. I believe his efforts in trying to promote understanding and to present Iranians as they are, completely different from the violent and angry portrayal we tend to receive in the media these days, are remarkable. Take a look at this video clip and you will see for yourself. I know that many people can't go to Youtube from Iran. You can watch a funny clip of one of his acts on his website, which I hope is still accessible. Once you get to his websit, click on the picture of the nose in the middle! You will see him on the Jay Leno show, promoting his show, "Axis of Evil." I hope it will bring a smile to your face.


Another "Normal" Day in Berkeley

This has been a busy week. Work has been intense, and I have finally pulled my act together to make numerous lists, crossing off things that I am determined to complete. On the personal front, since Sunday I have met a dancer, a pottery artist, and an author, all very interesting Iranians. Each of them has a story I would like to share with you when I have a chance, or as my faithful reader, Alef Shin has recommended to me, when I have emptied my cup some, and I can pour more into it! Tonight, however, I would like to show this picture of a young woman I saw in downtown Berkeley yesterday afternoon, taking a walk with her pet parrot. I suppose anywhere else in the world, what I did, which was to stop, get over my surprise, pull out my camera and snap a picture, would have been a normal affair. In Berkeley, however, no one ever stops to care! There are so many "different-looking-and-acting" people you see as you walk down the street, you will never be able to arrive your appointments on time! There was something so fun and carefree about a young woman who takes a walk to ATM with her parrot, I couldn't resist it. I am telling you: I love living near this crazy patch of the earth, my beloved, different, unpredictable, and unparalleled Berkeley. In Berkeley, anything goes. Even me.


The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (VI)

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.)
Single again and in love with Shirin, Khosrow went to Shirin's castle to see her. Shirin let Khosrow into the courtyard of her castle, but would not let him to come into her living quarters. She told him that she wouldn't let a drunk man into her home, and that if Khosrow was truly interested in her, he would have to respect her as a Princess and a woman of integrity and sound values. She told him she had waited for him all these years and was not interested in anything but a respectable union with a man she loved. After their quarrel, Khosrow returned to his palace, feeling sad and rejected. Shapour consoled Khosrow, telling him that Shirin truly loved him as he loved Shirin and they were meant to be together. Khosrow finally proposed marriage to Shirin, treating her with the respect she had commanded from the first day. A wedding ceremony, worthy of a King and a Princess became underway and the lovers finally married and began their life together. Shirin was a true Queen to Khosrow, helping him become a better King, kind and forgiving to his people.
Khosrow had a son, Shirouyeh, from his marriage to the Roman Princess, Maryam. Shirouyeh was an unruly and mean spirit who had been in love with Shirin since he was 10 years old. As soon as he came of age, he imprisoned his father, Khosrow, and crowned himself the King. Khosrow was in prison and the only thing keeping his sanity was Shirin and her company. Shirouyeh finally murdered his father, Khosrow, in his sleep while his wife, Shirin was asleep. When she woke up and saw Khosrow dead, Shirin was devastated. Shirouyeh sent a messenger to Shirin, telling her that she was allowed to mourn Khosrow for one week and after that she would have to marry him. Shirin prepared Khosrow's body for his funeral. She then put on makeup, dressed herself in lavish clothing, dressed her hair, and put on beautiful jewelry, following her husband's coffin. It appeared to all watching that Shirin wasn't terribly sad at her husband's passing. They took Khosrow's body to a mausoleum. Once there she asked everyone to leave her alone with Khosrow. She undid Khosrow's shroud and kissed his chest where the knife had made a wound. She put a knife to her chest and pushing herself against the knife and Khosrow's body, she cut herself, held Khosrow, kissed his lips, and put her head on his shoulder and died.
زهی شیرین و شیرین مردن او...............زهی جان دادن و جان بردن او چنین واجب کند در عشق مردن...............به جانان جان چنین باید سپردن
"The End"


September 11, 2001-September 11, 2007

I asked the young Russian woman who was my translator whether they were saying anything about Ahmad Shah Massoud’s health after the explosion. She listened and said: “Some say he is still alive. Americans say he is dead.” In the afternoon, as we were driving back into the city, I asked her again if there was any news about Ahmad Shah Massoud. She listened and said: “No news about Shah Massoud. But they say an airplane ran into the World Trade Center in New York.” I didn’t believe her. She had made some mistakes with her English earlier that week, and I was sure she didn’t know what she was talking about. She was quiet and I kept quiet, too. The news broadcast continued on the car radio. Several minutes later she said: “Looks like another airplane hit the other World Trade Center Tower.” By this time I was sure she not only had poor English, that she was also really stupid, as she had no idea how big and tall those towers were and how airplanes worked. I had a hard time keeping a straight face, thinking that I will be cracking jokes about this woman’s translation skills for years to come. When I got out of the car and walked into the lobby of my hotel, I saw many people huddled around the TV set in the lobby. From their expressions, their collective silence, and their body language, I could tell something ominous had happened. I ran to the elevator and went to my room where I saw it on TV. Later that evening we went for a walk near Kremlin and Red Square. Though everyone seemed aware that summer was over, the night air didn’t feel terribly cold. We sat there in silence, watching others walk by us also in silence. Many people had ashen faces and several people were crying. We had ashen faces and we were crying, too. We knew many people had died, but the numbers were not known to us at the time. I just knew that early in the morning of a weekday, someone who had bought a cappuccino at Starbucks downstairs and was sipping it, quite possibly looking across the pictures of his wife and kids on his desk, or pictures of her daughter’s graduation and her son’s Little League pose, saw the horrible sight of an airplane approaching his or her window. The world changed on September 11, 2001, forever. The lives of those in World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and those in those airplanes were just some of the beginning numbers on a growing scroll of human lives lost in the fires of ignorance, greed, and blind hate since then. Today I continue to cry for the victims of September 11, 2001 through September 11, 2007. As the world continues to burn in blazing fires of mistrust and hate, I remember the morning of September 11, 2001 in Moscow as quite possibly the last day I woke up to my world as I knew it. (This piece was published in Iranian.com today, under the title: "The end of the world." Here's the link.)

Going Home

The road I take going home from work everyday in Berkeley/Oakland Hills.
Over the years, the shapes and sizes of houses where I have lived have changed. From my huge childhood house in suburban Tehran, to a tiny college-student studio in Berkeley, to the house in which I now live with my children, and all the small and huge houses in between, the shapes, addresses, cities, and continents of my residences have changed. Things and people in those houses have also somewhat changed based on circumstances governing my life at different times. At no time in my life, however, have I felt the peace and happiness I feel these days when I go home at the end of the day. I have come to realize that the house doesn't matter. It is the "home" that matters, that which gives us peace and happiness, the place where we feel relaxed and joyful to be, to eat, to think, to laugh, to cry, and to live and love. I'm glad I am finally out of houses, and that I live in a home, where I believe I have everything a person could ever need in life, where people await or meet you lovingly and eagerly, where there is peace. I have that home now, and it has taken me many years to reach it, but I'm there. Each day I leave work at the end of the day these days, I tell myself I'm going home to my home.


Iranians on Internet Seminar

Click on image to read.
On Saturday, September 22nd, there will be a gathering of Iranian bloggers, internet professionals, and audiences in San Francisco State University. If you live in this area, it would be so good to see you there. Bloggers of Northern California, and a few from out of the area will be there. Iranian.com and Balatarin will also have presentations. It should be a good time. Plan on joining us if you can. I look forward to meeting you in person.

Watching Two Artists

Backstage at Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam's performance tonigt. Iranian music master, Mahmoud Zolfonoon is warmly received by the dancer.

Mersedeh had made an appointment to go see Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam backstage to photograph him for a piece she is doing for Peyk. I tagged along and met him in person. He was delightful and warm, different from his dancer persona on stage, and the articulate and at times arrogant artist who answered questions after the performance. It was a fabulous performance and I want to tell you about it. It is, however, quite late and I will have to be up early in the morning. So I leave you this picture, and I will do my report tomorrow. My ears are filled with beautiful Persian poetry and music. My eyes are happy at the feast of beautiful choreography and delivery of Moshkin Ghalam and his Nakissa Dance Company. It was worth the wait.


My Piece in Peyk (Revised)*

Click on the image to read.
This week went by in a blur. Much is happening on the work front, with new projects and exciting changes. I come home tired but happier than I have been for a while. I just finished some volunteer work, and though I'm exhausted, I feel rather accomplished about it! In a few hours I will go pick up my house guests, two briliant young women, both successful in their respective careers, each of whom have made an effort to come see me. I am honored. Hosts and hostesses, I believe, get too much credit for their hospitality. The real credit should go to guests who can go anywhere, but choose to come and be with you. Sunday night is the night we will go to see Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam perform in Los Altos (watch the amazing video clips there if you didn't catch them earlier). It will be a busy weekend for me. Above is the image of an article, recently published in San Diego's Persian Cultural Center Peyk. I wrote it a while back, but hardly anyone ever saw it! I'm off for the weekend, then. I wish you all a very good weekend. Be happy, catch some zzz's, eat and drink what pleases you, do only things you want to do, and forget about what you don't like to do! Surround yourselves with those who make you happy, and tell them that they make you happy. You will see the effect. Be good y'all.

* (I deleted the PCCSD links, as they weren't working. )


A Prayer

My objects of prayer today. Click on picture to see what I mean.
Throughout my life, I have been close to people who are dedicated to their religious beliefs. Some pray five times a day, some never miss their Sunday Mass, some attend Friday prayers, and some observe Sabbath regularly. A long time ago I decided none of the routine rituals suited me. Finding regular and group prayers inconvenient and restrictive, I found my own brand of prayer. I look at the nature and find reasons for prayers there. Sometimes I see patterns in the clouds, sometimes the formation of rocks on a moutain, sometimes how the foamy waves of the ocean ride one atop another to shore; there is always something in the nature for me to ponder the order of our universe and to pray. These flowers were my inspiration to pray today. These tiny flowers were so perfectly arranged, so beautifully vibrant, they made me remember God. There was a prayer for every perfect petal of each perfect flower. I prayed for peace, for understanding, for freedom, for health, for love, and for happiness for all the people I know, and all those I don't. I prayed that there be no wars, no unresolved conflicts, no untimely deaths, no disease, no injustice, and no sadness for all. I prayed for open doors, for open smiles, and for open hearts. As I looked at the uncanny order of those tiny flowers and their simple yet miraculous beauty, I prayed for you.

Off To A Chorus of Angels

I will miss Luciano Pavarotti. He sings to the angels now. He has finally found his worthy chorus.


A Good Day In Berkeley

I had a busy day at work. I then met up with Roja (Tameshk), and her husband Hossein in Berkeley, with Mehran joining us before running to his class. Roja and Hossein are so delightful, young and brimming with intelligence. I had a picture to show you, but I can't seem to be able to upload my camera contents. I am exhausted and really sleepy now, which is rather rare and therefore amusing to me! I think an emotional discussion Roja and I had may have been the culprit. Tomorrow I will see her again and we might go to see Omid for lunch. I am really happy to be able to meet Tameshk. What a worldly and wise young Iranian woman! I am impressed and full of hope as I prepare to call it a day. Oh, and I heard from my friend Lotfi (Professor Zadeh) this week! The man is amazing. He says: "My dear, we must have lunch soon," and I say: "Sure, Lotfi Jan, my calendar is always open for you, when would you like to have lunch?" He says: "I'm going to Europe, and then I have to travel inside US, delivering talks. How about if we have lunch after September 24th?" I chuckle to think that at his age, he is so busy working, he can't have lunch for three more weeks! Thank God for Lotfi.

The Story of Khosrow and Shirin (V)

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.)
Farhad went to Bistoon Mountain and started work. First thing he did was to engrave a statue of Shirin in the mountain, one which he kissed several times a day to gain energy to carry on his laborious project. He would then climb to the mountaintop and from there he would proclaim his undying love for Shirin, and begin to work. He worked day and night to deliver on his end of the promise, hoping for Khosrow to keep his end, letting him marry Shirin. The story of Farhad's astonishing progress in what everyone had thought to be an impossible project soon reached Khosrow. Everyone was talking about Farhad, the artist, the poet, the lover who slept none, working a miracle in the mountains, building Khosrow's desired path. On some occasions Shirin went to visit Farhad, to "observe his progress on the project." Each time she was more in awe of his dedication and felt closer to Farhad.
Hearing about all this, Khosrow was beside himself with envy and fear of losing Shirin to Farhad's amazing love as the project neared completion. He sought counsel from his advisors who told him the only way to eliminate Farhad would be to take evil action. A messenger was dispatched to the mountaintop to tell Farhad of Shirin's death. Hearing this horrible lie, Farhad who saw no reason to live anymore without Shirin, threw himself down to his death. Shirin was devastated at the news of Farhad's death. She mourned his death, cried inconsolably and ordered a suitable memorial monument erected at his gravesite. Khosrow tried to console Shirin by sending her a letter, paying her condolences. Soon thereafter, Khosrow's wife, Maryam fell ill and died. Shirin, in turn, sent Khosrow a letter of condolences. As fate would have it, before Khosrow would propose marriage to Shirin, he had to try intimacy with yet another woman named Shekar in Isfahan, which delayed the lovers' union for another year.


September Begins

Lafayette Reservoir near my house
I had dinner with a King (“without a throne, and a Haji Agha without a prayer”) last night. It was a delightful time, as is always with him, though I think His Majesty was coming down with a cold, and was a bit quiet! After he left, I did some chores, chatted some with my younger son, and all of a sudden I felt so tired. So for the first time after a very long time I went to bed at 10:30 p.m. It wasn’t a very good sleep, and I woke up at 3:30 a.m., wide awake and unable to go back to sleep. I waited for the sun to come up and I went for a walk. It felt really good. I have been having anxiety attacks reading news and analyses warning about an imminent attack on Iran. Of course reading the Iranian President’s statement: “I am an engineer, there won’t be a war,” or George Bush's statement: "If I didn't think we could succeed, I wouldn't have our troops there," have not been terribly reassuring, either! I am filled with fear and worry. I walked and thought about some really happy things happening around me these days…an amazing love story with a December wedding date; two fabulous young women who will be my house guests this weekend; Tameshk who will be in my town this week; the upcoming “Iranians on Internet” seminar in San Francisco; a gathering in honor of Dr. Zari Taheri; projects I will be tackling at work; my best friend Mandana on her way to North America from Tehran. I step into September with a mixed bag of feelings and thoughts. I hope it’s a good month for all.


Iranian.com Blog

I have a new post in my blog on Iranian.com. It's entitled Googling Iranian Style. Shobeir's post about people finding his blog searching for "Shajarian's Wife's Photo" reminded me that I had to finish this piece! Thanks Shobeir. P.S. Serendip reports that with all the serious material she posts on her blog, the most frequently searched and accessed post on her blog is the one covering Sofreh Aghd (the Iranian wedding ceremony spread)! I'm glad we don't take ourselves too seriously. I find all this delightfully funny! P.P.S. Do other bloggers have stories they might wish to share?


My Corner

This is my corner at the dining table, where I sit and do my internet reading and writing. In other times in my life, I have had access to large areas of space for personal use. At the end of the day, I have come to realize that we don't need too much space to feel satisfied and happy in our lives. I lived in a 325 square meter space where I wasn't happy, and I lived in a 68 square meter space in Tehran with my cat, feeling peaceful and content. This is a corner in my house where most of my awake time is spent at home. It is my corner of love, understanding, joy, and reflection. I laugh in that chair like a maniac sometimes, and I sob openly in it somedays. This is the corner of the world for which I have waited all my life, I believe, where I feel safe, peaceful, free, and complete. Welcome to my corner.


Morghe Sahar

Young masters Mohammad Reza Lotfi, Hengameh Akhavan, and Bijan Kamkar play the timeless Iranian gem of a song.

I am off for the three-day weekend, entertaining long awaited relatives, cooking, and eating with my family, something that is more of a novelty for me these days. I'm around, so time permitting, I will come and check in. I leave you with a song this Friday. It is one of the hundreds of renditions of the timeless gem of an Iranian song, Morghe Sahar (bird of dawn). No matter who sings it and plays it, on a stage, on a CD, in a home and by masters or amateurs, this is a song I love to hear, never getting tired of it. As the song was written for Ghamarolmolook Vaziri by Maestro Morteza Neidavood, I believe it is best sung by a woman.

I hope you all have a good weekend, full of joy and peace. Take a romantic walk in a peaceful place (yes, you can take a romantic walk by yourself, too! Cite poetry to yourself, that's how!), and don't forget to take any chance to tell those in your life that you love them. Be good y'all.

مرغ سحر، ناله سر کن...................داغ مرا تازه تر کن

ز آه شرربار، این قفس را..................بر شکن و زیر و زبر کن

بلبل پر بسته ز کنج قفس درآ............نغمه’ آزادی نوع بشر سرا

وز نفسی عرصه’ این خاک توده را.......پر شرر، پر شرر کن

ظلم ظالم، جور صیاد.......................آشیانم، داده بر باد

ای خدا، ای فلک، ای طبیعت............شام تاریک ما را سحر کن

نو بهار است، گل به بار است...........ابر چشمم، ژاله بار است

این قفس چون دلم تنگ و تار است

شعله فکن در قفس ای آه آتشین.....دست طبیعت گل عمر مرا مچین

جانب عشق نگه ای تازه گل، از این...بیشتر کن، بیشتر کن، بیشتر کن

مرغ بی دل، شرح هجران...............مختصر، مختصرکن، مختصر کن