I was sitting here last evening, watching all the twits ( tweets?) from everyone on Twitter, Mr. S, Chris Pirillo, Leo, ( as *she* shamelessly name drops like she actually knows them) and it occurred to me that I had not been to my flickr site for a few days. I have a large collection of groups that I belong to, Kentucky Women Photographers, Santa Cruz Mountains, most are of Cali I admit. I went through the groups with the new photos ( love that flickr announces the groups who have new photo’s posted) and thought I needed to see something I had not looked at for a while, a new topic.
I decided to see what was on Flickr for Isfahan, Iran. For those who do not know my story, my Dad worked on the F-14 program between the Shah and Grumman back during the 1970’s. Yup, I lived in Iran right up to the very last month before *you know who * returned. I went to ASI school, along with a lot of other American kids, and I got to be immersed in the Iranian culture in a way that might just be impossible to do today or ever again for Americans.
I had the absolute run of the city and countryside. I mean, I could come and go as I pleased ( as long as my mom and dad did not find out 🙂 Hi Mom – Dad!
My parents did not keep us hidden away on the housing base we lived on, we were able to really experience the country in every way possible. We went on weekend drives throughout the countryside, going to Yazd, Persepolis, and even making an attempt at the Iraqi border ( that one did not fly 🙂
I loved going into town to shop. We did not *do* commissary, oh no…. we did the Bazaar’s. The Russian Bazaar, the Naghsh-e Jahan Square (< see the picture here.) Oh the sights, the sounds, the smells. The spices would wash you over with their scents and to this day, I can recall the scents as if I were still there. And the different stalls, copper smiths, gold jewelry, Persian carpets… the list goes on. What an experience I was given! * I do regret not having been old enough to recognize the value of the Persian carpet, but I did always value the artistry of them, of all the crafts they do*
And did I mention the food? Oh yes, there was food there that would rock your socks off! Chicken with rice and veggies, to die for! And the rose ice cream, and the chai *tea*. Then there was the Shah Abbas Hotel, where one went for a more elegant meal, along with the history of this city. And the Ali Qapu Palace, the reflection pools, the rose gardens. The 33 arch bridge.
I would be shameful if I did not tell you about Nann, the most wonderful bread to eat. We would skip school, and go to town to hang out. Do some shopping, then head to the bakers for the bread of heaven. It was baked in an outdoor brick style oven right over stones. And when it was done and you had it in your hands, covered with butter sometimes you would find a tiny rock still embedded in it. But we never cared, it was that good.
But the most lasting impression of Isfahan I have is the evening when call to prayers were done. I would sit up on the top of our house, watching as the sun set and listen as the Imam would call for prayers. I always felt that I had slipped into some far away time, the indigo and peach sunset bringing me great peace.
Well, I know how much I enjoyed it while I was there. Was it different? Of course it was, but was it so different that I felt out of place? Not for long, it soon became home for me. I was not aware of when this feeling of home became, but I do know that as I was sitting in a desert air strip for hours, leaving my possessions and beloved pets, and most importantly my Father behind while my Mom, my brother and myself were evacuated out was really hard on me. I knew we were never coming back, despite all we were told. I don’t remember much of that flight out , except for two things… one is trying really hard to see through my tears out the windows, trying to see Isfahan one more time; and the other is a fear I would never see my Dad again. People who loved us were now full of hate for us, with a force I would never have expected. The last few months in Isfahan were hard, we were out of school more than in due to threats violence towards us and our school buses . The very people who welcomed us as friends into their shops, their lives were now aiming hate speech at us when ever some Imam called for it. But even during the worst of it, there were family friends of mom parents, who remained friends to us. Who really really cared for us.
I think I have suffered a tiny bit of PTSD from this whole ( I was only 16 when we came back to the US) I don’t mean from the violent things that happened up until our plane left the country that day so long ago, I mean from the realization that people could stop liking you for very little reason, kind of what I see happening in this country today.
But, the thing is, to this day I harbor no ill will toward the Iranian people, I actually miss them. I was let into their lives, their country to experience things that will be in my heart forever. I had for a long time hoped that one day I would return to see the jewel called Isfahan. This sadly looks to be impossible for me now, but no one can take my away. I was given a gift that will be forever etched into my heart.
I have never been able to say good bye until now, but I feel its time.
Khoda Hafez, Esfahan, Motshakeram 🙂
* please go to Brian J. McMorrow ‘s website out for more photographs of Isfahan if you are interested, there are so many awesome photos of the way of life there!*