More Trick or Treaters at the Door!

So, O.K. Not ALL the Trick or Treaters were young children tonight! These ones were old enough to say that they loved our pumpkin! Everybody is looking for peace, it seems!

Trick or Treat!

It's Halloween. Every year on this night, children and adults alike get dressed in costumes. Whereas adults usually go to parties and parades, children go "Trick or Treating," which is very similar to the old Iranian custom of "ghashogh zani" on Charshanbeh Soori eve. Homeowners who are ready for their ghouls and goblins, leave welcoming signs on their porches, walk ways, or steps, inviting the youngesters to come to their doors. Once the kids arrive with their baskets, pouches, bags, or other containers, they are given candy.Our house was ready for our young visitors. My son, the Traveler, chose to carve the pumpkin in the shape of the international Peace symbol this year. I must say I was really touched to find it when I came home tonight.
Look at these sweet angels who came "Trick or Treating!" Those smiles are real, because they scored big at my house! Chocolate bars were the order of the day. Happy Halloween everyone!


Found Peace Today

I tried to go visit the Berkeley Courts today to inquire about a moving violation ticket I had received a while back (I will tell you the story some other time). The Courts are located across the street from where I work. My little mission fell flat on its face, and as I was walking empty-handed back to my office, I came upon a Berkeley gem. I visited the Berkeley Peace Wall. It was constructed based on a plan by artist Carolyn Marks who was inspired to build it when in 1984 she saw a sign in Berkeley which said: “Do Something Today For Peace.” She asked hundreds of people in different communities to each paint a tile about peace. The wall, featuring the hundreds of tiles painted by those individuals, was built in 1988 and was dedicated in 1989. The park surrounding the Wall is quite possibly one of the most peaceful spots of Berkeley. I thought for the hundredth time, some days all you have to do to feel good in Berkeley is just to step out.
Read more about the Wall here, and see Jahanshah Javid’s photos of the monument here.


The Clock

Nature's artistic shapes happen on my fruit platter! Photo by Tameshk.
My sons went to bed early tonight. The house is quiet and I can hear the appliances and clocks humming and ticking, noises normally lost in the active and awake household.
There is a digital clock in my house which has been locked up in a far drawer somewhere, deliberately making it hard for me to hear it. I have hidden this clock, because I don't have the heart to throw it away yet, and can't bear to have it around, either. This is a clock that sat on my desk at work in Tehran. It is still running on Tehran time because I never figured out how to operate it properly. When I first arrived in California from Tehran a couple of years ago, the clock was still where I could hear it chime once every hour, and 24 times at midnight, Tehran time, which was around noon local time. I remember everytime it chimed, I would think of Tehran and a memory I had left in it. When it chimed 24 times at Tehran midnight time, I would be filled with sad feelings about something deeply personal and painful. Before I found a job, it was a perfectly routine thing in my day to be crying at that same time almost everyday. When I moved into my new house, some things, pictures, mementoes, and that clock, were all moved into a spot where they could not be seen, heard, or touched again. In certain spots of my house, however, I can still hear the clock chime on the hour sometimes. I'm just hoping that the battery would run out one of these days, so that the clock, too, would become quiet like my heart finally did.

Solo Prayer

Pomegranate Harvest Festival in Gilan's Anbooh Village, near Roodbar. See more photos here.

Being a friend to many is a continuous stream of joy and happiness to me. I celebrate my friends' victories, enjoy their happiness, and rejoice in their celebrations of dreams realized. My friend Mani always teases me in how happy I am somedays because a friend of mine has had something good happen to him or her, as though that good thing happened to me! True friendship, however, means that sometimes I have to join in my friends' worries, fears, and frustrations. My friend nearby is agonizing over a difficult dilemma tonight. When I received the call, all I could do was to listen and to try and say reassuring things in a situation that looks and feels bleak and sad, making hot tears escape my eyes and my heart to ache with fear and worry. It was hard to say that we should stay optimistic and positive and to send good vibrations to the unfolding crisis. Later, I sat down to a prayer for him and for his loved one. I can do no more and no less for someone who thought to call me first in his moment of desparation. Pray I do.


Anti-War Demonstrations in San Francisco

Some pictures from yesterday's war protests in San Francisco. See more photos here.


Language of the Heart

Fall outside my windows. Photo by Traveler.
I was cleaning up in the kitchen. My older son was getting ready to go to work. Earlier he had been in the kitchen, asking me about his red tie and his work pants. Now downstairs, I heard him say something like: "Mom,....Oh No!" I went to his room to see what was wrong and found the door closed. Me: I couldn't hear you, what's going on? Him: Calm down, nothing's wrong. Me: I know nothing's wrong, just tell me why you called me. Him: Mom, don't worry. (Something about that phrase always makes me really worry. So, talking through the door,) Me: Please just tell me what it is. Him: Oh, I thought I had lost something and then I remembered where it was. Me: Oh, O.K. Thanks for telling me. (As I got ready to leave, I heard him again.) Him: It's just that I really don't like it when you worry. (Switching into his "young Iranian lingo,”) Him: Maman, chet nazan! Me: I wasn't worried, just curious. Chet nazadam baba! (Still in his room and through the door) Him: Mom, I can always feel your emotions through your voice and words. I know when you are worried. There is something in your voice when you have panicked, and when I hear it, I panic too! Me: …………. I think for the first time since he was born, my son and I have started to speak the same language--the language of the heart.

Jane's Letter To God

From a series of photographs taken of a whiteboard at a US elementary school, where children wrote letters to God. I received them from my friend Shohreh Nouri. I don't know the source.


Say No To War On Iran

Picture from last March's anti-war demonstrations in San Francisco, showing the Iranian contingent. Photo by Omid Memarian. See more pictures of that day here.
There will be a large anti-war protest in San Francisco tomorrow, Saturday, October 27th. There will also be an Iranian contingent particpating in the event. Please try to attend if you can. Here's what the contingent organizers say:
"...we have yet another opportunity to make our voices heard against the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the potential attack on Iran. In these critical times, where an attack on Iran is high on the agenda of the Bush administration, we need to find a common voice and say NO TO WAR regardless of our political and ideological differences. Join us with your own banners, placards and fliers and march with the Iranian-American contingent among other activists. (For more info call 408-315-2758). We will be gathering at 10:30 am in front of the main public library in San Francisco. The address is: 100 Larkin Street at Grove in Civic Center. IRANIAN-AMERICANS AGAINST THE WAR AND FOR DEMOCRACY IN IRAN"


Updating A Wish List

Washington DC foliage, looking on Washington Monument from Potomac River. Photo by Rachel Cooper.
New England foliage on the banks of the Squam River in Ashland, New Hampshire. Photo by Judy Blomquist.
Since I arrived US, I had heard of leaf color changes (foliage) up and down the US East coast. I kept telling myself that one day I will go to New England during the autumn to see it for myself. My unrealized dream waited in my heart, number one on the list of things I really wanted to do in my lifetime. For a number of years I traveled to Washington DC on numerous occasions. When I still lived in Tehran, I was invited to a wedding in DC in late October of 2005. My plane got in at around 3:30 p.m. As we approached the DC area, I looked down below and saw the most breathtaking view I had ever seen. Not just interspersed instances, but entire trees had turned into unbelievable flaming reds, gleaming yellows, shocking oranges, mauves, purples, and golds, creating the most spectacular visual feast I had ever seen. Before my eyes was the most beautiful foliage scene of the East Coast! Just like that, during that week one of my long-standing wishes was realized and is off the list now. In my many visits to DC, I had never been there during this particular time of the year, which is why I had missed it before. Since that day I reflect that things we wish for in our hearts might be a lot closer to where we are than we think. We should just be lucky enough to see them.


A Trip To Remember

It was a very short trip, as I didn't get very far. Just to San Francisco Airport and back. I don't want to talk about what went wrong because it puts me in a really bad mood again and makes me want to do unloving things to my travel agent, United Airlines, and British Airways. So I give you my trip report as follows.
This is a picture of Daly City BART Station in San Francisco, where I had to unboard one train and wait to board another for the airport.
This is the closest I got to airplanes today. I saw a few of them outside the window of the train station on my way back. My suitcases, bulging with presents for my friends and their families, looking sad and suddenly very heavy. I felt very Iranian again, lugging several heavy suitcases around the airport today. This is the cab driver who took me home from the train station. He asked me in English if I was Iranian as we got to my house. I said I was. I asked him if he was an Iranian. He said "I am from Afghanistan. My name is Hafiz." I introduced myself and shook hands with him, telling him that I think our nations are so close to one another, they could be called the same, as they were in older times. He agreed. Mr. Hafiz said he had been to Iran before the revolution. He said he is a retired civil engineer who works past his retirement, six days a week, to support his family. He has a son and a daughter who have graduated from good California universities and his youngest son is getting ready to attend college this year. He said an education is the most valuable thing an individual can have in life, and this is what he has worked hard to give his children. I asked Mr. Hafiz for his phone number, so that I may call him later to chat, when I am in a better mood. I think he and I can have many interesting chats, but not today. End of trip and end of trip report.


Stepping Out

Early tomorrow morning I am going on a trip to visit dear friends in other parts of the world. I have waited for this trip for a whole year, and I’m excited. The friends I will visit are not very much into blogging, so they will probably not take too kindly to my internet addiction and it is possible that I will have to stay away from it for the duration! What do you know, I might recover from the addiction altogether! I will try to be attentive to them, while trying to write some things if I can. It is not a very long trip, as I’ll be back by Thursday, November 1st. I hope my children don't trash my house too much while I'm gone! Enjoy yourselves in my absence and be good to yourselves and to those you love. Leave me messages if you wish. I’ll come read them. Be good y’all.

Paradise In Flames

"October 23rd, 2007, San Diego, California, USA. A home burns along Via Valle Vista in a neighborhood above Lake Hodges on the east side of the lake in San Diego, California. Photo by Eduardo Contreras"
Southern California burns in flames. Along with an estimated one million other people, my sweet young friend, Mersedeh, who volunteers tirelessly for San Diego's Peyk has had to evacuate her house with her mother to check into a hotel in Los Angeles. I have many relatives who live in the San Diego area, most of whom have their suitcases packed and in their cars, waiting for orders to evacuate. At least 1,300 homes have burnt down, with thousands more in danger. The raging Santa Ana winds have turned the entire area into an inferno. Please pray for the health and safety of all, and particularly the many Iranians who live in that area. I hope Mersedeh is safe and sound. My thoughts are with her and her family and all the others tonight.


What Love Tastes Like

Taleghan's Kash Village Woman, Ashpazan Kash Village Women Cooking For Many in Ashpazan Ceremony Photos by Farshad Salehi
Do you miss the simple and free pleasure of being served a bowl of hot Ash-e-Reshteh cooked and served by the loving hands of women who put their hearts and souls into cooking for hundreds once a year? I miss it. Food that is cooked with love tastes better. Looking at these pictures doesn't really make me hungry. It just makes me nostalgic with the memory of smells and tastes of love. I miss it a lot.



This is a video clip of our trip to Orange County to see Kiosk last weekend. It's called "Having a Biscuit in a Moving Car."

My birthday celebrations are officially over now. This is my last report about it and I promise you won't have to hear about it anymore for another year! My friends had me another birthday celebration today for lunch. It was such an elaborate and fabulous gathering, I was speechless! Wonderful food and a sweet sweet reception, filled with laughter and humor were the order of the day.

I reflect sometimes at the twists and turns my life has taken over the years. Though it has obviously been hard to move on and start all over again, I have left each phase with a heartful of irreplaceable friendships, and have entered another where new friends, as yet to-be-met, have been awaiting me. My young California internet friends have been such an important bridge into the new phase of my life over the past year. For a while, to express myself, I was writing but only for myself. Through their support I found the courage and confidence to share my writings with others and learned to communicate on this new medium, finding new friends and building meaningful relationships. They became my friends and my family all at once, each of us filling the gaps and voids of each other's lives. Their friendship has been invaluable in how I learned to cross the bridge of homesickness, loneliness, and occasional bereavement. Some of them are young enough to be my children, but our relationships are very mature and deep. We laugh a lot and cry a little sometimes when we are together. We talk about life and hurdles each of us has to overcome, and become deeply hopeful for the other's success and achievement.

I feel rich and deeply blessed in how good my life feels these days. A very important part of that life is the friends that surround me now. This is my thank you note to my friends, Leva and Vahid, Mehran, Payam, Reza, Roja and Hossein, Ehsan and Maryam, Omid, Helaleh, Marjan, Jahanshah and Nazy, and of course all the others who come visit me here, whether or not they leave me messages, making me feel a part of a very special circle in this world. Thank you all. You know, it's definitely easier to grow old with good friends!


Baran (Rain)

Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Hossein Alizadeh (composer, Tar), Kayhan Kalhor (Kamancheh), Homayoon Shajarian (Tombak, vocals), in a benefit for Bam earthquake victims in Tehran in 2004. "Hatta Be Roozegaran" is by Mohammad Reza Shafiee Kadkani. I give this song and this poem to Alef Shin's Dialogue class whose members have been constant sources of inspiration, thought, and joy for me for a few months now. I'm glad Farshad said something to make me think of this poem recently.

حتی به روزگاران

ای مهربان تر از برگ در بوسه های باران

بیداری ستاره در چشم جویباران

آیینه’ نگاهت پیوند صبح و ساحل

لبخند گاه گاهت صبح ستاره باران

بازآ که در هوایت خاموشی جنونم

فریادها بر انگیخت از سنگ کوهساران

ای جویبار جاری زین سایه برگ مگریز

کاین گونه فرصت از دست دادند بی شماران

گفتی: "به روزگاری مهری نشسته" گفتم

بیرون نمی توان کرد حتی به روزگاران

بیگانگی ز حد رفت ای آشنا مپرهیز

زین عاشق پشیمان سرخیل شرمساران

پیش از من و تو بسیار بودند و نقش بستند

دیوار زندگی را زین گونه یادگاران

وین نغمه’ محبت، بعد از من و تو ماند

تا در زمانه باقی ست آواز باد و باران

محمد رضا شفیعی کدکنی


Table for 18

It’s Friday. Continuing with my friends and family’s utmost generosity and kindness to me, I attended yet another birthday party tonight, this time with my family. My sisters and their families and my kids took me out to dinner to celebrate. I ate too much, but laughed my head off when the not-so-svelte belly dancer decided to invite members of my family to the dance floor! It was a sight! The best part of the night was when I looked across the table at my 12 and 13 year old nephews who were watching the belly dancer with fascination! My niece also turned 14 this week. I asked her if her mother had objected to her wearing makeup tonight, and she said “yes.” I told her she was beautiful no matter what she did, but that she could ask me which way I prefer her beauty, with or without makeup. She said “Thank you Khaleh,” but didn’t want to ask me about my preference, so I kept quiet! Some days I think being the “favorite Khaleh” to my nieces and nephews means that I am the “witchy sister” to their mothers! Ha Ha, I don’t care!
I know you have heard me say this many times before, but I say it again: the best things in life are free. Don’t look for them in shops, places, and things. Look for them across the table, out the window, through the telephone receiver, and down the road, free and simple and valuable, unattainable with money, visible and tangible only through your hearts. I wish you all a good weekend, full of love and laughter. Go out to dinner with your family and friends and celebrate no particular occasion, but your love and friendship. Kiss many times and hug until your arms hurt, and if you can, dance until you can’t move anymore and laugh until your ribs hurt! Celebrate yourselves. Be good y’all.


Sahar Shod

"...fahmidam keh sahar shod."
Painting by Hanibal Alkhas*
My friend, the Playboy, calls me long distance to wish me a happy birthday, and tells me that he is in love, again. As usual, I ask him to tell me about her. He says she is the kindest, sweetest angel he has ever met. This is significant, because for the first time in all the years I have known him, he doesn't tell me that she is "sexy, drop-dead-gorgeous, or beeeauuuuutifuuuul." He calls her a "sweet angel." I'm skeptical. I ask him: "Is she pretty?" and he says simply: "She is to me." I have seen my friend "in love" numerous times. Each time, within the distance of our two visits or phone calls, he has fallen out of love with the woman, and when I ask him about the last one he had told me about, he has a hard time remembering which one! Years ago I got tired of giving him advice about women, as he continually insists he knows everything there is to know about us. In fact I know that he knows nothing about women, at least not until this time. I ask him: "How do you know you're really in love this time?" He says: "Because all day long, whatever happens, I want to go call her and tell her about it." Something about that honest statement tugs at my heart. I so want to believe that my friend has found true love this time. Happy for inexplicable reasons, for the first time in the years I have known him I write this one's name in my diary to be sure to ask about her the next time he calls. I write: "Shideh, The Angel."
*Read more about Hanibal Alkhas, and see his paintings here. I have two small paintings by him in my office. Here's my post where I showed the pictures.


Pottery, Pears, and Poetry

Farrokh Shehabi's Ceramics Studio in Berkeley
Artistic Hospitality
Not too long ago, I went to see an Iranian artist in Berkeley who specializes in creation of ceramic pottery. I was delightfully surprised by what I found! Farrokh Shehabi is one of the warmest Iranians I have ever met. Of course he is an artist and his beautiful creations are pretty famous in our area and beyond, and I enjoyed watching him finish his work on a piece he was developing. But talking about poetry really endeared him to me! At the entrance to his workshop in Berkeley, he has posted a piece of a Sohrab Sepehri poem (Be soraghe man agar miaeed.....), which prompted a long chat about poetry. The stories this interesting man told me will each be a separate piece of writing, like his friendship with the late Sadegh Choobak who lived in our area for the last decades of his life, or his lifetime friendship with Nader Naderpour, the poet. I also discovered he has a ranch and a fruit orchard where he and his wife spend part of their time. He was very hospitable, serving me tea, fruit from his orchard, and as we talked too much and for too long, a nice supper! My pictures and story about him are incomplete and I will have to go see him again soon to finish it and to write about it. I think it is always nice to be invited to an Iranian's home and be well-received. It is absolutely exhilarating when you walk into an Iranian's corner and find art, intelligence, poetry, and hospitality. I will write about this soon.


Celebrating Friendships

Please bear with me while I test the video feature of Blogspot, getting ready to post something good for you! Please tell me if you can see this silly video clip I made in my car behind a red light today. The only good thing about it is that I took it between two episodes of rain, where the sun broke out briefly and majestically.

I am going to my friend Nazy's house to celebrate our friendship with her and other friends. Though my life is no different than any other's in that I have troubles, worries, and anxieties just like anyone else, I believe my life to be blessed in that after many years of trials and errors, these days a beautiful silver river of joy and constant celebration runs through it. I am so fortunate because I have good friends around me in all facets of my life. My life in cyber space is a blessed one, too, when I think about it, as I have met so many truly special and gifted friends through blogging. On this day I count my blessings as life is good.


Waiting To Grow Up

Santa Barbara sunset from a moving car.
He says: "When I was a child, I loved going to grown-ups and asking them for advice when in crisis. They were always so calm and would know exactly what to do, and would tell me. I used to admire that quality in grown-ups and I couldn't wait to be a grown-up to know what to do by myself. I am now a grown-up and I still don't know what to do. I wished there was someone I could go to, to tell me what to do." I shake my head in agreement. The silence stretches and I realize he is looking at me, waiting for me to say something. I say: "Don't look at me. I have only grown up in years. I still don't know what to do." He nods and keeps quiet, but I can see a smile dancing on the corner of his mouth. I think he is relieved not to be the only one lost.

Prosperity Trees

A pomegrante tree in the lovely home in Claremont, California
I spent a weekend with good friends. It was exhausting as we were stuck in a horrible traffic jam caused by a major accident on the freeway, and spent most of our time sitting in the car, talking and laughing. We visited an interesting couple (Iranian man, American woman) whose home was filled with love and music. In their lively backyard, they had planted fig and pomegranate trees, the two trees which are supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to an Iranian home. I was touched by the kind and warm impromptu reception put forward for us. I was particularly charmed by the sweet and easy love flowing in that household between two people from such different worlds and backgrounds. A dear friend of mine lives in and around that loving home these days, and I'm so glad for her. Visiting them was one of the best things that happened during the weekend. I wished there had been more time to get to know them better.


Breakfast Before Trip

Breakfast with a nostalgist and His Majesty before taking off with a sociologist.


A Friday To Celebrate

A Berkeley sidewalk in the rain.
It's Friday, and another week comes to an end. To those of my friends and family who fasted during Ramadan, Happy Eid-e Fetr. This video clip, showing a marvelous musical performance of Iranian and orchestral instruments, composed by Javid Afsari Rad and performed by Norwegian Radio Orchestra in Oslo, is for you. I found it on Omid’s blog. We had a big rainstorm last night and all through today. As I dropped him off at the train station, I lent my umbrella to my younger son, who for the first time in his life had decided to use an umbrella to save his work clothes from the rain. It might appear as mundane and unworthy of reporting to you. For me, it was another of the daily revelations I am experiencing with my children, seeing them acting as adults for the first time, each incident worth mentioning and celebrating. Needless to say, I got to work from the parking lot with wet and frizzy hair, smiling like a lunatic!
There will be a Berkeley Lecture Series lecture by my friend, Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar at UC Berkeley's Barrows Hall on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. She will be talking about “The Image of the Jew in Persian Literature.” For the past 20 years Jaleh has been a lecturer and a scholar of Persian literature and Iranian cinema at Berkeley. I’ll be taking a short trip to Los Angeles with my friends tomorrow. If I can come back in time on Sunday, I will go listen to the sweet and knowledgeable and unpretentious Jaleh. The lecture will be in Farsi.
I have found a DVD of a dance performance I attended last spring. Soon I will try Blogspot's new video feature with it and see if I can upload a bit of it for you to see here. I’m looking forward to the challenge.
I wish you a wonderful weekend, full of relaxation and celebration. Enjoy the time with your loved ones, confessing your love to them. Just think: they already know you and accept you exactly as you are, and that is a valuable attribute of long standing relationships and family. That’s why they need to be celebrated--for putting up with you! In return, put up with them and love and understand them as they are. You can’t miss with this advice, I assure you! Be good y’all.


With Hafez

View of San Francisco Bay from Oakland Hills, getting ready for rain.
I read today that there will be a nationwide celebration of Hafez in Iran on Mehr 20th. Hafez is every Iranian's poet. Everyone reads him and believes that Hafez has talked to him/her directly. Every Iranian lives with Hafez and heeds his advice. A poet whose poetry never ages, and for seven hundred years has provided lovers and those in need of advice a poetic way of expression. I live with Hafez. I have a small collection of twelve Hafez books, from a small, travel-sized one to beautiful calligraphy versions. In honor of the upcoming celebration, here's your Hafez invitation. Share your favorite Hafez poetry, or, if you feel like it, please open a Faal for us. I have already made my wish and I'm waiting to hear from you.
پیش ازاینت بیش ازاین اندیشه‌ی عشّاق بود مهرورزی تو با ما شهرهٔ آفاق بود یاد باد آن صحبت شبها که با نوشین‌لبان بحث سرّ عشق و ذکر حلقهٔ عشّاق بود پیش ازین کاین سقف سبز و طاق مینا برکشند منظر چشم مرا ابروی جانان طاق بود سایهٔ معشوق اگر افتاد بر عاشق چه شد ما به او محتاج بودیم او به ما مشتاق بود حسن مهرویان مجلس گرچه دل می‌برد و دین بحث ما در لطف طبع و خوبی اخلاق بود شعر حافظ در زمان آدم اندر باغ خلد دفتر نسرین و گل رازینت اوراق بود


As Is

Pistachio Harvest in Khorasan's Torbat Heydarieh
I really like the way days become shorter on this side of the year, giving way to longer evenings and nights. Evenings and nights are my patch of time in which to think, to do things, and to feel peaceful. My days at work are now filled with meetings and assignments. I never know where the day goes, and before I know it, it's time to head home. This evening my younger son and I went driving. He seems to be a natural, cautious and attentive. I think he will be ready to take the test soon. Dinner served, dishes washed, and everybody winding down, it feels good to know that the night will be long, where I can think and write.
I am working on a long overdue piece on a fabulous Iranian artist, lost to most of us for years. He was born to a family of artists, and was raised to grow and be one of the most famous talents of his time in America. His is a story which will mesmerize you, I'm sure. I just hope that I can write it well to do his remarkable story justice.
As I sit here, getting ready to start writing, a thought hangs warmly on my mind. Too often, we look for happiness in things other than the ones we have, places other than the ones we have visited, and people we have never met. It is interesting to have new experiences. It is exciting to acquire new things. However, it is infinitely rewarding to occasionally stop and look at our achievements as represented in the life we have. I believe happiness is here and now, wherever we are, with whatever we have, and around whomever we already know. It feels good sometimes to stop and appreciate all for which we tried hard on days gone by. Tonight I am loving my life as is.


Freed At Last

Ali Farahbakhsh, the Iranian journalist who was in prison for close to a year was just released, according to his sister, Helaleh's post in her blog. I never knew him before his imprisonment. He writes about economy, which most people don't follow with interest, and which also made his arrest and imprisonment so bizarre. I was very sad for a young journalist who was unfairly accused and treated to a long jail term. I wrote something about it in April. His freedom is very good news, indeed. I am glad he goes home to his toddler and wife and to his aging parents. I met his worried sister at the Internet gathering last month. She must be so happy for his freedom, and I am happy, too.

Ms. Wisdom Fails

Looking out the window at work today.
My older son has been experiencing office politics lately. The whole story of rivalry, gossip, and potential backstabbing is finding its way into his so far inexperienced work life. He calls to "consult" with me. I listen, ask some questions, and give him my opinion. In his funny and sarcastic way, he says: "Thanks for the fortune cookie, Mom," and we hang up. Though he appears to have learned his fundamental lessons about honesty and integrity, he appears unwilling to learn about self preservation and conflict management. I can't convince him to walk up to someone and discuss his feelings openly, seeking a mutually satisfying solution. Part of me thinks that this is because he is young and as yet inexperienced. Part of me, though, thinks that he is having a "typical male" approach to his predicament, staying uncompromising and bullish when he feels he hasn't done anything wrong, and that there really couldn't be a better way for bringing harmony to his environment. As I sit at my desk and feel inadequate in helping him, I also feel for both my sons today. They are men who are trying to find their way through life with a woman as their only present consultant, confidant, and teacher. I suppose telling him "to try and work it out with your coworker before escalating it to your manager," might sound like a fortune cookie piece of advice. Sigh.


Happy Mehregan

Today is Mehregan Day, 16th day of the month of Mehr, celebrating the emergence of Mitra, the sun. "On Mehregan Day, angels came to the aid of Kaveh, the ironsmith, Fereidoon was crowned, and Zahhak was imprisoned in Damavand Mountain, freeing people of his tyranny..." Abu Reihan Birooni
فریدون چو شد بر جهان کامکار............ ندانست جز خویشتن شهریار
به رســم کیان تاج و تخت مهی.............. بیاراست با کاخ شاهنشهی
به روز خجسته ســر مهر ماه................به سر بر نهاد آن کیانی کلاه
زمانه بی اندوه گشـت از بدی................ گرفتند هر کــس ره بـخردی
دل از داوری­هـا بپرداخـتـنـد ..................به آیین، یکی، جشن نو ساختند
نـشـسـتـنـد فرزانگان، شادکام.................گـرفتند هـر یک ز ياقوت، جام
می روشن و چهره ی شاه نـَو............... جهان نو ز داد از سر ِماه نـَو
بـفـرمـود تا آتش افـروخـتـنـد................. همه عنبر و زعفران سوختند
پـرسـتـیـدن مهرگان دیـن اوسـت.............. تن آسانی و خوردن آیین اوست
کنون یادگارست از و ماه مهر................ به کوش و به رنج ایچ منمای چهر
شاهنامه­ی فردوسی
Source: Aryaboom


Abadan On My Mind

Photo by Amir Parstabar.
Our weather has turned cool. My feet are cold all the time now, and I have to wear socks, my least favorite item of clothing! I made my Sunday morning cup of tea, and sit here watching the steam making a pretty dance escaping the cup. I took care of chores yesterday. It was a solitary day for me, where by accident or by choice, I didn't get to talk to too many people.
Quite by accident I ran into a blog in Iran, and when I read its latest post, I felt good. The post is really a letter to Mayor of Abadan, asking him why Abadan has not been fixed and repaired in all the years since the war. It is an intelligent and responsible piece of writing, filled with love for Iran, without hate for anyone. I would like to think it would be the type of thing I would write if I were smart and brave enough. Alas, living outside Iran, many people believe that I don't have the right to write such a letter, even if I had the intelligence and courage! Well, I'm glad someone who lives inside Iran and went to visit Abadan recently wrote it. As many of you know by now, I am not from Gilan, Mazandaran, Khorasan, Boushehr, Abadan, Shiraz, Isfahan, Baluchistan, Azerbaijan, or most of the other cities and villages I write about. I am from Iran. I belong to all of Iran, and all of it belongs to me, regardless of what anyone might say to the contrary.
I continue my solitary weekend today, taking care of more things and doing some work for Peyk, clearing my plate. I hope you are having a peaceful day, too.


Friday Thoughts

I bring another week to an end, a week full of mixed feelings, longings, good news and bad. As of this week, we will have a new "driver in training" in our household. My younger son passed his written test this week and a new round of anxiety-filled driving lessons will start with him! To his credit, he seems to be a lot more cautious than his older brother who in three months, has had a major accident and several fender benders! We shall see. Looks like I might be able to take a trip to go see my friends at the end of this month. A Decemer wedding is being planned in my family and I'm getting excited about that. This month I also hope to be able to see a blogger friend who might be coming to our parts. Work has been exciting, too, with a huge new project on the horizon, which will keep me engaged for about two years. I'm really enthusiastic about that.

This week I went to listen to a retired British diplomat in Berkeley's Graduate School of Public Policy. Berkeley's GSPP is very reputable and students attending this school will be delivered to jobs in politics and public service. Her name is Honorable Shirley Williams and a Liberal Democrat, she has served as Member of Parliament, a cabinet member, a member of the House of Lords, and most recently as an advisor to Gordon Brown on NPT. She shared her experiences in British politics as a woman, and her reflections on what is happening in the world these days. All of her talk was very interesting, but the most profound thing she said was that the world is at a turning point and the next eight years will be pivotal years in determining the shape and state of our world for this century.

I leave you wih a short clip of a sweet Mazandarani folk song. I hope you have a good weekend, full of relaxation, love, and hope. Go for walks in the nature, look at the leaves and for each beautifully shaped and colored leaf, think of a reason to thank God, if you believe. If you don't, just remember the universal order into which we are born, and marvel at its complexity. Be super good to those who matter most to you, hug them, celebrate them, and confess your love for them. Be good ya'll.


The Lights in Taleghan Nights

A cottage in the village of Gouran, Taleghan. More Taleghan photos by Fatameh Farajmandi here.
It's Friday in Tehran. I remember my Friday excursions into villages near Tehran. At this time of the year, Taleghan must be gorgeous, with walnut and fruit trees slowly shedding their leaves which have already turned into hundreds of beautiful colors. Harvest time has come and gone in those parts by now, my Taleghani friend tells me. He says walnuts and fruits and honey have already been shipped to their destinations. Now Taleghan rests and gears up for the snowy winter ahead. He says Taleghanis love to keep lights on in their homes, and on special occasions, such as Nowrooz, they keep the lights on all night. The air must have turned cool, urging locals to heat up their homes. I remember the prestine and cool sheets and blanket (lahaf) I was given in which to sleep one cold night when I was a guest of a Taleghani family. It was so welcoming to know that they had expected guests in their house, and that I was the lucky one! Their simple breakfast the next day was so delicious, I remember it still. Life goes on. For now, mine goes on some of the time with my memories. Thankfully, the rest of the time I am making new memories. No complaints.

مستان سلامت می کنند

رو آن ربابی را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
وان مرغ آبی را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
وان میر ساقی را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
وان عمر باقی را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
وان میر غوغا را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
وان شور و سودا را بگو مستان سلامت می کنند
ای مه ز رخسارت خجل، مستان سلامت می کنند
وی راحت و آرام دل، مستان سلامت می کنند
ای جان جان، ای جان جان، مستان سلامت می کنند
اینجا یکی با خویش نیست، مستان سلامت می کنند
یک مست اینجا بیش نیست، مستان سلامت می کنند
ای آرزوی آرزو، مستان سلامت می کنند
آن پرده را بردار زو، مستان سلامت می کنند
(برای هشتصدمین سالگرد تولد مولانا)


Berkeleyans Protest the War & Iran Attack Plans

The protestors posed for me! Click on photos for a more detailed view.
My boss and I were walking on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley this afternoon when we saw this group of protestors getting ready to protest the Iraq war, as well as plans to attack Iran. They were representatives of an organization named CODEPINK, initiated by American women. They were standing outside US Marine Corps' recruitment office in Berkeley, protesting recruitment efforts going on at colleges and particularly at Berkeley. They had a sign which encouraged drivers passing by to honk their horns in support of their protest. It was very noisy. Visit this organization's website, and learn more about them.