Out and about
The radio this morning issued the following warnings:
Due to the horrendous air pollution that Tehran has been subject to in the past few weeks children, the elderly and those with heart problems should remain indoors. People with high stress levels should refrain from driving at rush hour. And finally, if the pollution continues (and this is the poetic part) the city's birds will give up the city and fly away.
Given that life here has many difficulties, there is a poetic element to almost everything.
Today we went to a fruit bazaar to do the weeks shopping. It struck me that one remarkable thing about this city is that the chain supermarket has not yet established itself here to push small businesses into bankrupcy. Shoppers here still go to a bakery for their bread, a grocer for vegetables and a butcher for meat etc. It's such a novelty for me especially as I can't remember the last time I popped into the local bakery to buy bread straight from the oven. The city is still divided into sectors, to a certain extent. Depending on what you want to buy, there is a sector for jewelery, baby's clothes, shoes, antiques, leather goods etc etc. So, if you want to buy a watch you know exactly what part of town you're guaranteed to find an abundance of watches instead of trailing the high streets looking for jewelers. I suppose many cities work on this sceme but it is rare that it is still working in the same way in this day and age. Maybe I'm just easily pleased ;)
Yesterday I went book shopping and bought myself a few books of traditional and contemporary Persian poetry with english translations. Made me very excited. Book shopping in general is a joy and this was no exception. I did however, get frustrated after a while because the book covers were decorated so beautifully with traditional persian art and calligraphy, but it took me minutes (rather than seconds) to read the covers let alone what was contained within. So, aim is to improve reading and vocab in Persian in order to really appreciate the literature. It's a shame to let it slip between my fingers.
Whilst browsing I also came across the work of one of the most famous and talented Persian Minature artists, Mahmoud Farshchian. Here are some pictures of his that I particularly like:
To be honest its hard for me to say that these are favourites because I fell in love with almost every one of his paintings that I set eyes on. Do bear in mind that to see these pictures as weblinks is one thing, and to see them on the page, see each brushstroke, is another. There was one particular one that blew me away but I couldn't find it on the internet to shows you. It was done in the style of Despair but with white figures on a black background. I won't describe it because it's hard to do it justice.
Bestow is a classic Perisna Miniature painting. A friend told me today that the way Persian classical dance was created was by placing many Minature paintings of women next to each other and imitating the figures' positions in a sequence. A wonderful way to bring art to life.
I was struck by Despair because it made me think of a writer with some extreme writers block :) made me smile – I think many of you will relate to that kind of 'despair'... but on the whole the picture moved me to a great extent, I was quite overwhelmed by the artist's skill, and the stark black-on-white made the despair of the figure almost contagious.
Anyways, my mind is coming alive here in a different sort of way to home; I am using the Persian parts of my brain more and it's doing me a lot of good :) I have been reading from the Persian poet Forough Farokhzad and one stanza really stood out for me:
Those days are gone
Those days when from the slits of my eyes
My songs boiled out like air bubbles
Whatever my eye settled on
It drank up like fresh milk
Well, I hope those days have not passed for me…however bad my 'songs' are they're still bubbling out :) and there is still so much for me to see and lap up, bring it on!