Thursday, March 31, 2005

Barselona, Paris

It has been our last entertainment and joy! I was talking with my friend yesterday and we got to this conclusion that if we had done all our plans about going around and seeing other places we would have circled earth several times!
Today we did it again. We sat down, four of us, and discussed several plans which we can do in the coming holidays two weeks from now. We checked the hotel prices and we planned where to go and what to see. It is the best thing about europe that you can have a lot of opportunities to see lots of places. But I think even if we don't do any of these trips which we might I would enjoy every one of these discussions. Even if I go to Barselona or Paris or Venise I would enjoy it as much as I do now. Being with some of the nicest people that can be found and talking with them, joking, laughing and discussing different beautiful places or going to see them. What difference do these two options really make? I have seen a lot of places and I know that wherever you go you will find a blue sky above your head and weathers which are very different and at the same time very similar to each other. So the most important thing is the people! The people you are with and the people you meet. This is what I must never forget.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Originally uploaded by oxtay.
This wasn't quite a mountain climbing but we really enjoyed some beautiful scenes.

7 and a half!

I forgot to write about the thing that happened to me yesterday. I was supposed to meet my friends at 7:30 in order to go mountain climbing. I had my clock alarm set for 6:45. It was 6:30 that my phone started to ring. I thought well, it is Behzad calling to wake me up a little earlier. As the phone went out after ringing twise I was sure that was the reason. So I woke up without any hesitation. After five minutes the phone started ringing again. This time I answered the phone and I heard some people speaking to each other on the other side. It was that moment when suddenly a fact stroke me: Could it be possible? No way! Today? It can't be! But when my friend asked me where I was, Although I asked him why, before his answer I knew what he was going to say. It was the day they were going to change the clock to summer time and it was actually 7:30! Fortunately the end wasn't so bad. I was ready and packed in five minutes and I even had the tea ready as promised.
We couldn't have wished for a better weather and in the way back we had a very heavy rain shower which was fun seeing it from the other side of the window inside the car.

Wind of Change

I finally gave up and started using one of the usual commenting systems developed by Blogger and this caused me to change the whole template. It was a long time that I had this idea in mind but I didn't want my blogs to have different templated with each other. Haloscan is better for my persian weblog because it handles persian alphabet characters more easily but anyway! I did it.

Yesterday was really great. Actually more than mountain climbing we actually ate! after three hours walk through really beautiful scenes we stoped to eat lunch. We were seven and so everybody had brought something which was enough for almost fifteen people! Next week we have planned to go some other place and stay for night. I really like 2-day programs with camping. I am just waiting for my friend to send me the pictures we have taken with his camera.

Today probably we will go to see "Million Dollar Baby" with two of my friends. I have seen "Aviator" and it really disappointed me. I had more expectations from Scorsese. But about this one, I must say "Mystic River" was a very powerful movie and it seems that Eastwood is getting better in his seventies! Amasing! But the french cinema is something esle. The previous day I saw "La Fleur du Mal", a film by Claude Chabrol. At the first glance it may seem a very simple thriller movie, but when the film finishes you start discovering hidden layers of this film which shows the scandals in fifty year history of a wealthy french family.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Mountain Climbing

Since yesterday the holidays of Paques (french name of Easter) has started. A week ago, when at the time of the new year start, we were in Albi, a beautiful small french town, we saw that they have celebrated a celebration or what they call "f├ęte des mort" or celebration of the dead. It was one week before paques. It was interesting for me that even in this celebration how much there are similarities between different nations. Before the start of the new year, in the last Thursday of the year, it is a tradition to go to cemeteries and show our respect for those who are no longer among us.
Yesterday in the restaurant of our university I was talking to a belgian friend of mine which I have found recently and at the end we amazingly discovered the huge amount of similar things between us. But it is really natural, because they all come from the same origin and all of our basic civilization realities come from the great civilizations of the dawn of human civilization, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and the civilizations in the lands which are now called Iran and Iraq.

Tomorrow I am going to mountain climbing after months! After coming here there has been no opportunity for me to go mountain climbing. I have really missed it. I hope I am not too out of shape. But the people who are coming are really great people, some of the best Iranians in this city. The drawback is that after several days of sunny and warm weather it is now raining in here. But it is a good thing to keep the spirit. The worse the weather the better! We will have to deal with harder situation and naturally we will have more fun and we will enjoy it more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Norooz - Part 2

In the last post the thing I forgot to tell about the Haft-Sinn is the apple. Actually apple is not part of the seven special things, but it is usually present in Haft-Sinn just as a sign like the goldfish or the mirror. And the water which people bring from the rivers or springs is also a sign and usually is used to water the "Sabzeh" throughout the Norooz celebration until "Sizdah-be-dar".

So I left writing about Norooz right at the moment when the old year is going to change to new year. At that time the family gathers around the Haft-Sinn and waits the new year to start. Then the parents give their children the first gift of the year which is usually money, because Iranians believe that how your year will be depends on how you start the year. After kissing each other and congratulating the beginning of the new year if they were the younger members of the family they start their Norooz visits with the oldest member of the family and the next few days are spent visiting every friend or relative that they care about. So in these days I get to know some of my far relatives that I might not see them through the whole year. The best things in these visits are the "Eidi"s which the children and younger people get and also I must say so many different and delicious kinds of cookies and sweets. So it is really hard to visit different people the whole day and being offered different cookies and drinks and to be able to control yourself not testing all of them. These days are really relaxing, seeing people in their best clothes in their cars driving gently and everybody is kind to each other. The rest of the Norooz holidays until Sizdah-be-dar is spent in different ways, but most of the families plan a trip to go see other places. So usually Shiraz, the famous city of Hafez and Sa'di, is very crowded and the hotels in this city are all booked even from one month before. The reason is that this city has its best weather in this time of the year and it has many interesting and beautiful things to see.

And at last comes the last day of Norooz celebration. "Sizdah-be-dar" verbally means to pass the thirteenth. It is the thirteenth of Farvardin(First month of Iranian year). As the ancient Iranians believed that 13 is a number for bad luck they wanted to spend this day in the countryside and outside cities and towns to make sure that this day goes well. Today it is just a chance to go to the countryside along the mountains or the sea and spend this day with friends and families, play and again have a chance to try a lot of delicious foods! But the feeling at the end of this day is not so good because you are dead tired and you know that tomorrow everything is going to start again, the work, the job, the studies… and so it is. But what happens to the Sabzeh? Everybody usually put it in the car and take it with them in Sizdah-be-dar. Wherever there is a river they throw the Sabzeh into the river and the river takes these young wheat plants to wherever it can.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Year 1384

Year 1384
Originally uploaded by oxtay.
And this is to complete the below post about Norooz: A very traditional Haft-Sinn. This kind of thing is hard to see these days.

Norooz - Part 1

Yesterday, for the first time in my life away from my family in Norooz, I started my new year along with two of my friends visiting a historical beautiful town near Toulouse. For Iranians, without a doubt, Norooz is the most important celebration of the year and the vacation coming with it is the most awaited one! The word "Norooz" means New Day. Actually preparation for Norooz starts almost one month before, with a tradition called "Khane-tekani" which means cleaning almost everything that exists in a house. So everybody living in a house are supposed to help clean the house upside-down! Then starts the preparation of people themselves with buying new clothes and cooking or buying special cookies and sweets for Norooz. Also among the things that are bought are gold fishes, usually two of them for each house which decorates part of what is called a "Haft-sinn". Haft-sinn is almost a must-be item in every Iranian house during Norooz days. It means putting seven specific things(all starting with the sound "S" or in Persian alphabet "sinn") beside each other on a table which represent the fertility and reborn of nature. These seven objects are

1. "Sabzeh" which is a group of grown wheat seeds tied together

2. "Somagh" (I don't think there is any word for this in English! I have only seen it in Iran and it is something usually eaten with the Iranian traditional food "chelokabab")

3. "Senjed" (This one I don't know in English! I couldn't find it anywhere)

4. "Sonbol" (lavender)

5. "Sekke" (coin)

6. "Seer" (garlic)

7. "Serkeh" (vinegar)

Other than these as I said there is also gold fish and a mirror which in Iranian beliefs is a sign of prosperity and happiness. It was interesting that yesterday for the first day of the new year, Google had changed its logo in Persian page to a "Haft-sinn"!

Then comes the day for "charchanbeh-soory", the last Wednesday of the year. The night before, usually friends or families gather together to celebrate this night. It usually starts by making a big fire. The scenes seen in that night are always really interesting. When you look along a street or an avenue you see fires in front of most of the houses. And if a fire among them was bigger than the rest, after some time everybody gathers around that fire and start talking to each other. Younger people do fireworks. And everybody jumps over the fire. In Toulouse, that day we went to a park nearby, called Pech David. Some of the Iranians had come there. So luckily I had the chance to jump over the fire this year, again! After the fire people go inside to eat dinner. After the dinner again comes the time for youngsters to go out for "Ghashogh-zani" or what we call "bille-bille" or "shal-sallamagh" in Azerbaijan. Boys may wear scarf and put on women's clothing and girls draw mustache and beard in order to avoid being recognized by the friends or families who they knock on their doors. They may get so many different things like colored and painted eggs or cookies and sweets. But they must come back to their house because the next day very early in the morning they should get up to go bring water from a river or a spring nearby. As far as I know this is being done only in Azerbaijani part of Iran. Although now with urban living it is not so easy to do things like this but as early as 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning the streets outgoing the city are almost blocked by huge number of cars going to bring water. And this water usually is brought in mud jars. But, well, some of these traditions are fading or changing to other things as years pass.

After all of these, the most important day finally arrives. Before this day "haji firooz", usually a thin man with red clothes and painted black face, announces the coming of "Amoo Norooz" (uncle Norooz) which will bring spring with himself. But this "Amoo Norooz" is somehow different with Santa, because in fact he comes mysteriously and nobody knows what he looks like. The only fact is that he is very old!!!

But other than these stories, Norooz itself is a very precise time. Actually Iranian calendar seems to be the most precise calendar being used. As far as I know, the Gregorian calendar that is used in every western country has a one-day error in every five hundred years (that is why they skipped the leap year in Y2K). That is one day in every million years for Iranian calendar. And the other thing that I like is the time the year changes. It is not midnight like other countries. It is the time which is exactly the same for everywhere on earth, so in fact everybody can start the new year in the exact same time. The reason for this is that this precise time is based on the movement of earth around the sun and it is the time when the earth passes the Vernal Equinox of its orbit around the sun. This is good because everybody around the globe can celebrate an exact time together and it is in fact the real start of spring.

I think I'm now in the halfway of the story, so I leave writing the second part for tomorrow!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

New year has arrived...

The best weather in the world! These last few days have been very good in the sense of weather. Yesterday I simply couldn't sit down and went right outside to walk and run along this beautiful canal by my residence. Under the shadow of leafless trees with a very gentle breeze that touches and coddles your skin when you run, it is truly tranquil. You see other people running, playing, walking and riding bikes and you start believing that spring has come at last and nature has started to reborn. I really love this time of the year. The few days which remain to the end of Iranian year, before Norooz, everything seems to change and renew and reborn.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Who is afraid of Iranians?

Someone has commented that he doesn't agree with me about the racism among French. Actually I don't remember saying that French people are racist. I just guessed the reason for some of the things my Iranian friends had told me.

Well, I think it is time to admit something that is very bitter to say but it is mostly true. That is the fact that Iranians are one of the most –if not the most- racist nations in the world and some of them admit this and the others are possibly just ignorant to this reality. I don't really like to say something general about a nation, so I will rephrase my sentence above. Among Iranians there are many people who make fun of the other minorities living in Iran. I say this because I consider myself one of the victims of this behavior. They unmercifully make terrible jokes about Turks, Arabs, Lors, Qazvinis and Gilakis. They are so used to this that as I said before they don't notice it. I have many friends who say these jokes in front of me and they laugh and they say "hey! Take it easy! It's just a joke!" Fortunately I know this and it's ok with me, but there are many who don't think so. And this hurts their heart. The injuries to body and mind might be cured but to the soul, it is not that easy. There might be many explanations for this manner. I am not a sociologist to analyze these kinds of behaviors in a society, but I have heard people saying that this is because of the things these minorities have done for Iran in recent decades which the Fars people have not been able to do and they avenge by making fun of them. This is considered to be one of the similar behaviors which can be seen in other nations. For example, this is what English people do to Scottish people.

But anyway, as I said this is not a general thing and everywhere in every country all around the globe you will find people who don't approve other people other than their own.

So, I was going to talk about French people but I ended up criticizing my own country! It is again the matter of generalization, but the people I have met till now, they have been really good to me and I haven't felt anything. The only people which seems to get some dislike from some French people are the people from Algeria and Morocco and there are many reasons for this issue which I don't think I would be the right person to talk about this.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Film Farsi

First of all, I'm really sorry for not writing regularly in here. Well, simply I just don't feel writing sometimes and it gets very hard to push myself to the front of computer and start writing about something that I really don't know what it is.

Any way, I completely agree with you, KL(by the way, what is your complete name or at least something which I can call you by that name?) about the Indian movies. Actually we have a similar term for a similar kind of movies made in Iran. We call them Film-Farsi. But I must admit that I know very little about other kinds of movies made in India. Even my Indian friends in here haven't mentioned anything about it to me.

Monday, March 14, 2005


I am back again. For no clear reason, recently suddenly I felt not writing at all. I don't know the reason myself. Tonight I just forced myself to come and write again. Maybe it would help. Three days ago one of my Indian friends invited me to his room to go and watch an Indian movie with him and another friend of ours who is from Italy. The movie was called "Dev", appearing as usual in any recent Indian film which I have seen, Amitabh Bachchan. This man doesn't seem to get old at all! Any way! But for me it was just a motion picture to look at, without sensing anything. I am getting used to any kind of movie in the world. After getting out the juice in every Iranian or Hollywood film and after trying the masterpieces of strong and meaningful cinemas like French, Italian, Swedish and Japanese, now there is hardly any movie which can satisfy me. Especially in Indian movies! I must admit that in Indian film industry they are using the same material in every film and the actors act in a really unrealistic way which you can obviously sense it. The movies are too long. About the length of Indian movies, I just refer to Indian super star, Shahrukh Khan:"I don't watch Hindi films. They go on and on". Also all of them picture an impossible dream. But it is a fact that many people all around the world love these movies. I have a cousin in Iran who has learned Hindi and can talk and understand Hindi just by watching Hindi movies. This is the power of cinema in picturing what people want to see.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Hi! Bye!

These last days I don't feel at all writing anything. Even today, after Iranian nuclear plans again made the top line of google news. Even when a few days ago, Martin Scorcese lost the Oscars again to keep the record in last 30 years. Even after the weird exam I had two days ago. Even after one of my dear friends left France to go to Iran and won't be back until three weeks later, after the Iranian new year.
And right now my mobile phone doesn't work since yesterday and I have got a very bad cold and all my body aches and to be honest, I'm not sure what I am writing. So I will be back but just after I feel completely up and going and thirsty to write!