Sunday, March 21, 2004

New Year is here….

New Year or Norooz is here at last. Norooz means new day in Persian & it’s the first day of Farvardin. & Farvardin is the first month of spring over here. So one expects it to be sunny & warm but this year instead it was snowy & white. We believe that whatever the mood is in the beginning of the year it will last all through the year…. So I guess we’ll have a nice cool year!
I will write more on the subject of New Year customs & the fortnight of Norooz really soon. But right now you may go check the links below.
norooz & haftsin
good luck...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Chaharshanbe-Soori OR Festival of Fire:

Well Chaharshanbe-Soori means Wednesday party in Persian; but actually it is being held on last Tuesday-night of the year. This night, unlike Yalda, is not a family gathering... it’s more like an outdoor night with friends if you know what I mean.
Tonight is Chaharshanbe-Soori… & believe me it’s the coldest one I have seen over years. Actually the weather changes had been rather unexpected here. We had some really warm days & most people turned off the heat providers & put aside the winter clothes. Then suddenly it started to get cold again & the rain started on Saturday…. Well it was ok but Sunday it got colder & Monday morning I got up & the whole city was covered with snow! Hopefully it stopped snowing this very afternoon yet it is VERY cold outside for this time of the year (about -1`C; while the average for this time is around 12`C)
What we do on Chaharshanbe-Soori? Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you…. The festival begins almost after then sunset… teenagers & young boys & girls make large fires outdoors. We, as me & my sister along with our next-door pals, usually have small fire in the yard. Then everybody jumps over the fire & sings the Fire poem, wishing to for all the pain to burn with the fire & happiness warm us up like the fire. We usually perform dance moves while we are jumping…. It’s so much fun. Then we would have potatoes & sausages roast in the fire & all kind of snack foods….
This part is the main part of Chaharshanbe-Soori but over the years, another part had been developed that is not originally a custom of Chaharshanbe-Soori but it is so common that nowadays you can not avoid it. & that is the firework part as I may call it. There would be all kinds of firecrackers with loud sounds & also fireworks which are really beautiful. The sound of firecrackers however is not very pleasant yet most young people love to set them off! & if you are walking or riding in the street you must be prepared for some to set off right under your foot!
Chaharshanbe-Soori had been banded over the past 25 years & it is the first year that it is officially held by government. Still like pervious years the anti-riot police arrest some young men in the neighborhood…. I don’t know much but I guess this festival had become a mean to show our protest against limits & boundaries. You know we go hang out in the neighborhood with more freedom than usual & you can see people dancing by fires & the music blasting & all. Tehran turns to a club in this night. & that is not inside the frame we are supposed to live in.
I like the feeling of freedom in the air… (Although you have to watch for this police forces); still there is so much fun just cruising around. You see we get out & everybody is into a party mood. It almost never happens that you play dare-devil or truth or dare in the street. & more you never find this kind of unity in folks. It doesn’t matter where you are from, what you are wearing or what you do for living, the only thing that matters is you & the fact that you want to enjoy the night.
Personally I am not much into the whole going-out part… because first of all I hate loud noises & second some dare-devil games really bother me, you know the way some pathetic guys try to draw attention by taking really stupid dares…. But I have no chance of staying home, having an out-going sister along with my twin cousins. However this time I managed to stay in the doorway while they were playing tow doors away. :D
There was this large fire on the corner of the street & almost everybody in the block was there. & there was tow imaginary rival groups fighting with firecrackers & all…. I had been too tired (from Khoonetekooni) to join in but then this old friend of mine came over & almost dragged me in the battle-field! I stayed a few minutes & as soon as he let go of me I went back home. Then the police forces rushed in & folks went to the yard of the building. Beside that everything went fine.
I wanted to show you how we really celebrate the end of the winter. Sure there are more customs for Chaharshanbe-Soori like Ghashogh-zani (in which somebody mostly kids hidden under chador knock on every door & ask for sweets & Ajil & wishes happiness & fortune for the folks in the house) & Falgoosh (which means eavesdropping to find hints about your future or hear you future partner’s name), although they are not really practiced these days. Last time I’d seen ghashogh-zani was over 15 years ago. & as for Falgoosh I myself did it once when I was 14! Me & my cousin stood in a dark corner of our street & my cousin’s boyfriends passed by & shout his own name for my cousin! He said Aatish (my cousin’s nickname) you are going to be my spouse one day! How embarrassed we both were.
Alright! Gotta go catch some sleep now! It is like 3am over here!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Valley of Friends:

Tehran is a really noisy city. I mean it’s never quite even in the middle of the night you can still hear noises & it is much worst in the main streets…. Well, not that I don’t like it, I even find it appealing, but still there’s time that you need to go to a quite place…. I’m living up the main street of Tehran & my place is in the middle of tow highways & this very main street; so you say it, silence is a luxury to me.
Tehran is hilly & most streets have slight slopes… & I happen to live up on a hill. (You know a friend of mine who lives in Netherlands always says you live on a high mountain! But well, to me it is only a little hill.)
I’m sure you are wondering what these tow subjects have to do with each other. Well, in just 5 minutes walk from my house, down the Doostan (friends) valley is an old small park, where the only thing you can hear is the birds singing & the wind blowing. It is not like you are just 10 minutes away from a highway at all. & you know the whole area had maintained the style & texture over the years; the large houses & the way you can walk down the street & kids riding bicycles & happy couples who shares a nice afternoon tea together…. I just love the way it is here! Most of the neighborhood had basically lived over here for the past 20 or more years, so most faces are familiar & you always get a friendly nod passing someone. It’s like a really small town in this specific area…. Living here all my life, I had never paid attention to these little facts & subsequently I’m not surprised when I occasionally bump into ladies who are standing out doors talking to each other without scarves or Hijab of any kind (for a short time of course). Although to some of my friends it seems rather strange when I do the same thing.
So whenever I want to have a little time to myself, I just put on my favorite walking shoes & go down to this park. & I look at all these beautiful houses & I start making stories about them. Some of them had been wiped out & new multi-story buildings are growing fast. Well, I am not too happy about that. New-comers can change the overall mood of the area, but changes are inevitable….
Ah; I just wanted to tell you about this very nice place & I guess I babbled on once again. & hey it’s new year in a week!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

just a minute...

I’m back just to drop a few lines…. First of the weather is amazing! I can’t stop myself from feeling like I live in heaven!
Second of all Tehran is a wild wild city & I’m in love with wild cities! & remind me to write about Friends Valley… in my neighborhood!
& last but the most important one go check this “new blog” …. I’m sure you will like it.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

growing up

I meant to ask you something & I want you to answer me honestly. Do you think I have changed *a lot* in the past few months? I mean do you think that you don’t know me at all? Do you feel like I have been replaced by someone else?
I know I am changing, growing up or whatever you may call it & I know it’s not for best…. What I’m saying is lately it seems that all I do is wrong & that I don’t have time for my friends. & as time passes by I feel that my morals are transforming into something nobody but myself understands. I’m afraid of growing up, if it means all this changes. & I am not ready for this… anything that it might be.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

House cleaning for spring:

We have this custom which we call khoonetekooni.... It means house shaking in word by word translation. But actually it is a tradition of cleaning the house completely before the New Year (Norooz) comes.
This is rather because we believe that you go through the year the way you started it.... it means if you have a clean house at the exact time of new year, you are supposed to have a clean one all through the year. Or you will be doing whatever you are doing at the moment of New Year. That's a generally accepted belief & who dares to say someone's belief is superstition?
Remind me to explain a bit more about Persian calendar.... It is really interesting & that’ll explain about the seasons & all!
What does really khoonetekooni means? What we do for house cleaning? Basically you wash & clean everything in the house. It usually takes the whole Esfand (last month of the year) for us to do the cleaning. Because my parents are both working & well, my dad doesn't like us to have maids in the house. (He has some strange ideas about social ranking & ... he believes that while we are healthy enough to do the cleaning & renovations, there is no need to have someone does it.)
During this month the walls will be washed & if they would need painting, they will be painted. All the windows would be totally sparkling & spotless. The extra dishes –which are not probably used all year round- would be rinsed & re-located in their cupboards & cabinets. The cabinets, dressers & closets are all cleaned. Even the attic would be unsoiled & reorganized. The carpets are swabbed & they sometimes they would even be rinsed.
I dare say the worst part of house cleaning is washing the curtains! You know they must be washed, rinsed, hang down to dry & then ironed! After that it takes a whole day to hang them back on the place! Mom always says we live in glass house... the saloon alone has got five usual windows & 3 French windows & need 25m of cloth for one set of curtains... you see? To my relief, we have bought a new set of curtains that will be delivered in the last week of the year so we don't have to go through the usual curtain-washings!
Most of the time, the decoration of the house is changed by rearranging of the furniture. I, myself, change my room decorations every year by using new set of sheets & matching curtains. I also move my bed, desk & bookcase around the room. So my room-cleaning is usually the longest & most time-consuming of them all, if we dont count the kitchen. The easiest one is terrace, I guess. The only thing to be done is to swab & wash the floor & set the chairs around the table.
I love this season... the mood of cleaning & waiting for the New Year. It always makes you want to do something, to change & renew your surrounding. Katherine always says the air smells like khoonetekooni! I think she is right. A few days ago, I was walking down the street & I suddenly felt that I should dance instead of walking. It's the weather & the mood of New Year. I will right more about this mood. & yeah; there is the Festival of Fire (Chahar-Shanbeh Soori) in tow weeks.... Life is wonderful!