March 21 is the first day of spring, and it's also the Persian New Year, when Iranians around the world celebrate with mouthwatering feasts (rice with fresh herbs is a favorite) and presents of live goldfish (yes, really!).
This Persian holiday means a lot to me because as I mentioned in a recent post, when I was a little girl I used to live in Tehran (top picture - I am 18 months and in my mum's arms), where I developed a regrettable taste for caviar - not one I can indulge often. It was 1978-1979, the time of the Islamic revolution and we had to flee before my family could explore the many artistic, architectural and natural treasures of this country.
Ever since, I have felt an intense longing for Iran and have rejoiced in the friendship of Persian friends from Paris to LA. Many also fled their country in 1979 and this gives us an instant connexion, even if what they lost is incomparably more considerable than what we left behind. I love their warmth, their extraordinary sense of hospitality and exquisite, if sometimes over the top politeness, their wonderful food and their pride in a culture that boasts breathtaking masterpieces in poetry, visual arts, architecture,film and music; on the internet, I often listen to hypnotic traditional Iranian rhythms on RadioDarvish.com.
If anyone has Persian books to recommend, don't hesitate to share!
Today I'd like to thank all my Iranian friends for their precious generosity. And to celebrate the Persian new year, here's a poem by Omar Khayyam, the 11th century astronomer, mathematician and bard:
This Universal wheel, this merry-go-round
In our imagination we have found
The sun a flame, in the Cosmic lantern bound
We are mere ghosts, revolving, the flame surround