Thursday, November 15, 2007

I Had a Dream

I am just getting ready for my pectoral tendon operation tomorrow. I am told I will have my arm in a sling for a few weeks, and I may not be able to type. Its such a comfort to know however that there are so many good Iranian bloggers now that do the kind of work I do, i.e. tell the world about what is happening in Iran.

I am a bit in two minds about the operation. I am almost back to normal now, except that I lack confidence about doing heavy lifting with my right arm. Even swinging the golf club the other day worried me and I had to stop after a few attempts on the driving range. I am reassured by the surgeon that I should be able to get back to 100% in a few months if I have the operation and I will be able to continue with all the sports I love doing.

Any way back to the subject of my post. I had a lovely dream last night, it seemed so real and strangely enough I remember while I was dreaming, I kept saying I should write about this in my blog :) I dreamt I was back in my ancestral town of Astara by the Caspian sea.

Astara is derived from the Persian word Ahesto-ro, where travel gets slow, because of the marshlands that surround it. It was divided into two and the northern part was lost to the Tsarist Russia after the treaty of Gulistan. Whole families were divided by the river, and separated families used to come by the opposite sides of the river and ask each other how they were for many years after the divide.

The spoken language in Astara until the early to mid part of the previous century was Talysh before a mixture dialect of Turkish and Persian spoken today in the Azerbijan province took over. Talysh is an old Iranian language which can be traced back to the Medes. See examples of Talysh language. Persian speakers can easily understand most of the Talysh language. I am told my maternal grandfather used to speak in Talysh and considered it his mother tongue. There is still a sizable minority, around 800,000, of Talysh people who live in the province of Aran, which unfortunately changed its name to the Republic of Azerbijan in 1919. The Talysh people who live in the Republic of Azerbijan are severely repressed by the Turkish chauvinists who rule Aran today and are banned from speaking their language and practising their culture.

Last time I saw Astara, it was still a small town and most its inhabitants knew each other. The people in Astara were decent, truthful and honest people. Burglaries, for example, were unheard of, and people left their front door open without fear. I remember telling my grandfather to lock the front door as we left his house once, and him telling me not to worry for there are no thieves in Astara.

I am told Astara is no longer like that and because it is now an important border trading town, many people from outside the town have moved in and its original indigenous character has greatly changed. In fact I have been warned I would be unpleasantly shocked if I ever see it again.

Whenever I go to Cyprus or some Greek island, I am most reminded about Astara. It had that Mediterranean look and feel to it.

But back to my dream. I was surrounded by my many cousins and taken to my paternal grandfather's house, where we used to stay during our summer holidays. To get to the house itself, one had to walk past where they kept the turkeys and the chickens and then through this big delightful garden, with all kinds of fruit trees; figs, pears, apples, lemons everything. If you wanted a fruit, you just picked it from the trees. I could actually smell that unforgettable scent in my dream. Then there was the water well and the hand operated water pump and finally the house itself. It was built of wood and raised above the ground on wooden columns. As I walked up the steps to the porch, my eldest uncle greeted me in the usual way, "Hey little sledge hammer, you are back!"

He was an interesting character. He had a fearsome reputation for his temper, and when his eyebrows tangled together as he frowned, you felt big trouble was just round the corner. He left school at a young age, his reasoning was that Hitler will soon invade and all the text books will change so there was no point in wasting time and learning the current ones :) And that's the best excuse I have ever heard to skive off school :)

After he left school, he started trading by secretly crossing the border at night and smuggling goods in and out of the country. As a result of these cross border runs, he had learned basic Russian that he could get his way round with. What he was most famous for however, was when during the Russian occupation of Iran after the second world war, he had beaten up a Russian soldier who had stolen something from his shop. A daring act in broad day light, which had increased his reputation amongst the locals.

His shop was at the only cross road with traffic lights in the town. I used to cycle to his shop on this bicycle which was too big for me and I could just about use its pedals but the bike was too high for me to get off from and once I got close to his shop, I would shout 'Amoo, uncle!' and he would come out of the shop and grab the bike and help me get off. On one occasion I recall, he was too busy bartering with a punter inside the shop, and he could not hear my frightened screams of 'Amoo, Amoo' but I was lucky that the bobby on the crossroad noticed my frantic screams, ran after me and grabbed the bike.

One of my cousins I have never seen. He was born after I left Iran, but I recognised him in my dream from the photos I have seen of him. My cousins have also had children whom I have never seen and I was being introduced to them in the dream as the 'cousin from England'. Of course so many of my relatives have also died without me being able to even go to their funerals. All my grandparents, two of my uncles, aunt, and many friends amongst them.

My cousins then took me on a tour of the town. One by one, landmarks and buildings in the surreal formats you expect to see in dreams appeared to me. The finale was one of the things I loved most about Astara. Grilling this fish endemic to the Caspian Sea, in the evenings on the beach. It is such a meaty chunky fish, you could put it on a skew just like you do with kebab. Yummee, and so I woke up disappointed that my dream had to come to an end.

25 comments:

chester said...

What a nice dream.
I don't know if the town 90% of people grew up in is anything like the town they left 20 yrs down the road.
I wouldn't want to walk the streets now that I grew up on. (unarmed anyway)

Good luck with your surgery!

Azarmehr said...

Thanks Chester

Bahramerad said...

Potkin e Azziz,
You are amassing...you even dream of Iran in your sleep and in your unconscience mind, fly back to where you belong, with your friends and relatives and a countryside that will never change, at least not in your mind.
I guess we have all had such dreams but have not got the talent to put it in such wonderful words.
Here is something for you and hope that everything goes well for you and you have a successful operation and heal very quickly.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfOXJWyBXdo

Azarmehr said...

sepAs fereydoone gerAmi

Winston said...

اقا بامید بهبودی زودتر

Azarmehr said...

cheers W. Keep on blogging

SERENDIP said...

what a glorious dream and lots of useful information about Iran. Healing thoughts and speedy recovery. take good care of you.

Azarmehr said...

Thanks S.

Aryamehr said...

Wishing you all the best for the operation!

Hidden Author said...

You seem to go on vacation alot...golfing, skiing, etc...are you one of the wealthy exiles who left Iran soon after the downfall of the Shah?

Azarmehr said...

thx kia

Azarmehr said...

hidden author,

i grew up in a very ordinary family in iran, my relatives still all live in iran and i was by myself when i came to uk. fortunately in a secular democracy one is given the chance to make what one can of one's life.

i am comfortable but i dont consider myself wealthy. you can have a game of golf fr less than £20 and to practice on the driving range would cost you less than £5. with all the cheap flights available these days, you have the opportunity to visit many places. ski holidays in east europe do not cost much either particularly with all the friends i have there.
i believe one only gets one stab at life and one should make the most of it, but do it in an honourable way.

having said all this i dont think one should be ashamed of his wealth and i would have been just as proud if i was the sort of person you have in mind.

Hidden Author said...

You mean you would have been just as proud if you had made your money sucking up to the Shah just as the wealthy of today's Iran suck up to the mullahs?

Hidden Author said...

Oh and one more thing. How well do you think secularization would work in Iran? They tried it in Turkey and now the masses are reverting back to "that old-time religion" if you know what I mean!

Azarmehr said...

if you read my reply, you would have noticed the word honourable. you think every one who makes money does it by sucking up? some do some dont. your wealth or lack of it does not make you a better or worse person. you should judge each person by their merrit and stop having a chip on your shoulder

Azarmehr said...

the turks have forgotten how harmful it is to mix religion and state, the iranians are right in the middle of it. why you think only Europeans are good enough for secular democracy?

Hidden Author said...

Religious Europeans have as their model Jesus Christ, a man who said to "give to Caesar's what is Caesar's and to God what is God's". Religious Arabs, Turks and Iranians have as their model Mohammed, a man whose violent attempts to *become Caesar*, set into motion expansionist and terrorist tendencies that continue to this day! In short, lukewarm Christians get strive to reach the middle ground but lukewarm Muslims have to concede to the extremists because the example of Mohammed allows no middle ground! As the mullahs remind the people, if you read the Qu'ran and you read the Hadith, you see that Mohammed commanded his followers to wage eternal war against the rest of the world, a holy war central to the faith he started--thus a lukewarm Muslim possesses a lukewarm (but still existent) tendency to sympathize with the jihadist. So if the majority of Iran's Muslim majority is lukewarm, they may groan about the strict ways of the mullahs but in the end, they must concede the debate (to the extent there is a debate) to the mullahs because they concede the mullahs' main point--the sanctity of Mohammed and the need for people to obey him. And what it all boils down to.

Hidden Author said...

Oh and by the way. Even if the Iranian opposition can--with outside help--overthrow the mullahs, how long will it take? Let's say it would take ten years. Now if the mullahs get a nuclear device in *five* years and then decide to start a nuclear war, then the opposition will take five years too long to satisfy the needs of the outside world. And if you think that the mullahs would never start a nuclear war, let me quote a man by the name of Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani: "If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world."

And finally let me conclude by saying that perhaps an attempt by the West to bring democracy to Iran would have the same wonderful results as Bush's gift of democracy to neighboring Iraq!

Amir said...

Dear Potkin,
We need your power and your mind for Iran's future.
take care
Amir A. Fakhravar ( Siavash )

Pasha said...

پتکين عزيز،ـ

اميدوارم که عمل جراحی را با موفقيت پشت سر گذاشته باشی و تندرستی خود را بطور کامل باز يابی و با قلمت چون گذشته بر دهان فاشيستهای اسلامی بکوبی و در راه آزادی ايران گام برداری.ـ
خوابت خير باشد. آرزو مي کنم که تو و ديگر تبعيديان جهان بار ديگر به وطن آزاد خود باز گردی.ـ

Azarmehr said...

sepAs siAvash, bA yek dast ham poshtet hastam.

Azarmehr said...

sepAs pAshA az hameh mehrvarzi hAye tow keh hamvAreh marA yAri dAdehi.

Azarmehr said...

to hidden author,

if europeans have jesus, we have zoroaster, i am not sure you are even aware of the scale of secret conversions from islam to the old religion of iran.

if the allies had not overtrown Reza Shah the Great and the pillars of secularism that he was firmly placing in Iranian society, Iran would still be a secular society.

the support I talk about is not what you have in mind. I don't know any presidents or prime ministers and I am not in touch with any of them. I am talking about the support of the international public opinion, the same force that dismantled apartheid in South Africa.

I have heard different estimates on how long it will take IRI to have nuclear weapons but none are under a year. In 1979 despite all the CIA and US embassy reports the 'Island of Stability' suddenly became the scene of the Islamic revolution, another revolution is still possible despite the 'experts' reports.

revolutions, peaceful or otherwise, are unpredictable and fast, they take everyone by surprise.

Bahramerad said...

Potkin-
You are quite right!
The next Revolution will not be advertised on television.
See: http://tinyurl.com/2b4kwx

Anonymous said...

Hidden Author, please see this too:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAUaAf6ae60&feature=related