Monday, March 5, 2007

Zagros Restaurant in Tehran

At the top of Park Jamshidieh, above the shadowed walkways and benches, there is a long, long series of stone stairs. You follow them and gradually the ever present cheesy music that wafts from the food stands and the voices of the young couples and families fade from your hearing.

You climb and climb, pausing breathlessly along the way to make promises to yourself about getting into better shape. The sun is bright and the sweat and discomfort spoil your appreciation of the view below, so you plunge upward toward the restaurant that lies ahead perched on the mountainside.

Your goal reached, you take a seat on a carpeted platform and peer down through the bright dyed wool Qashqaei decorations. Tehran is far below under a smear of smog. You're beyond the reach of its noise and its smell and its heat. The ghalyan arrives. You're with friends. There's talk and teasing about who struggled most on the long stairway. The conversation lapses into silence as you stare out over the city, amazed and grateful to be in this place.

Friday, March 2, 2007

On Deluding Ourselves

Like that fond dervish waiting in the throng
When some World-famous beauty went along,
Who smiled on the Antic as she pass'd -
Forthwith Staff, Bead and Scrip away he cast,
And grovelling in the Kennel, took to whine
Before her Door among the Dogs and Swine.
Which when she often went unheeding by,
but one day quite as heedless ask'd him - 'Why?' -
He told of that one Smile, which, all the Rest
Passing had kindled Hope within his Breast -
Again she smiled and said, 'O self-beguiled
Poor Wretch, at whom, not on whom I smiled.'

-From Bird Parliament by Farrid Ud-Din Attar (d.1230), translated by Edward Fitzgerald