What in the World Are We Thinking: A weekly column by Behrouz Bahmani
By behrouz bahmani
March 31, 2003
The Iranian

Happy Now Ruzz, er noRowse, er Norooz, er No Rooz...???!!!

As all of you, I have been immensely enjoying the past 2 weeks of the traditional Persian/Iranian celebrations. I don't know why, but this year it seems to be an especially good year for some strange reason.

The world seems to be falling apart, but I have never felt a more stronger sense of community than now. While bombs have been exploding over Baghdad, here in the Bay Area there has been a veritable explosion of Iranian cultural awareness so far this year. With groups like Persian Center, Society of Iranian Professionals, Payvand, and Baivoter, the Iranian community has blossomed like a fat and happy Sonbol at a haftseen.

Persian Center the lion leading the cultural charge here, once again "kicked it" with an impressive Chahar-Shanbeh-Soori, which has now grown to a full-on blockparty of over 2,000 people milling about Durant street, requiring it to be blocked off for the traditional fire jump, and the new tradition of dancing unashamedly to blasting DJ'd Pop music in the street after. It's fun doing the cabbage patch with styrofoam cup full of Ash-e-Reshteh in your hand!

This year once again a handful of mayors and governors made their declarations, designating this year's date as "Iranian Heritage Day" and acknowledged the "many contributions made by Iranian-Americans to their respective communities...".

Mayors like Tom Bates of Berkeley who built up an appetite for sabzi-polo-mahi at the Thursday night Persian Center party at the Mark Hopkins after finishing a 5 mile anti-war protest march. Now I'm not so sure being endorsed by the mayor of Berkeley is a plus nowadays, but I'll certainly take it.

As my good American friend, Patrick Ward said, "Ah Berkeley! The only town in America with it's own foreign policy!"

Most surprisingly absent however, was the fine and distinguished (looking) governor of California, Gray Davis, who once again was just "too darn busy" to sign the declaration himself, so we had to settle once again for his lieutenant Bustamante. "Methinks though dost make excuseth too much!"
Maybe next year the governor will find the time in his full days of digging himself out of the energy scandal, budget deficits and complete school system collapse, to sign the damn paper!

And just one last demographical note here Mr. Davis, California is host to more ex-pat Iranians than any other place on the freakin' globe. I'm no political analyst, but this might be something to consider come next election when you could use an extra couple hundred thousand votes. But at the rate you are going, take a wild guess who we won't be voting for!

This year's Sizdah-Bedar was the best one yet, the weather here in California has been even more excellent (sunny 78 F) and in Southern California, early reports indicate that with the recent move of a ton of Iranians to the more affordable and real-world Orange County, OC is the place to go next year!

This year even Google the Aroos of the American search engine industry, got "infected" with the holiday "virus". As you may know, Google traditionally decorates their logo for special occasions and American traditional holidays like Christmas, New Years, and similar. During the recent winter Olympics they changed the logo almost daily. I guess the Google team loves the winter Olympics (a lot!).

This year the Khodemoni contingent at Google, through the encouragement of Niloo Nouri (once again of Persian Center), popped on a subtle yet obvious haft seen logo decoration for the day. However, they wimped out at the last minute placing the logo only for Iranian users inside Iran or for browsers set to read the internet in farsi font.

They missed the real cross-cultural awareness point by not placing the haftseen for ALL users to see, but placing the Logo in full view of only Iranian users was nothing short of a poke in the eye of the theocratic government of Iran which has always disdained and stifled this celebration. So it was a victory of sorts. Maybe next year we'll deserve full frontal on Google!

And finally the name.

You know, the name! The name that like the many varied Iranian opinions on anything, is part of our ongoing cultural unification complex. The name digeh! What? You want me to spell it out for you? Well that's precisely my point, how should we spell our traditional Iranian holiday? Here's what we have so far; (I'm sure there are more but you see the problem)

Based on my limited knowledge of the english language and phonetics, there are some obvious problems. Some spellings are unpronounceable (neuruz?), some are just wrong, (NowRuz?!) and some are too rough (NO!Rooz!)

I humbly offer we call it NoRouz. Here's why,

First the "No" part;

I know a lot of people want a closer sounding No, but whatever it is it certainly isn't "Now", Now is said "Now is the time for all good men...". So Now just won't work. "No" is really the best pronunciation we can find, so let's stick with No for now, I mean...whatever.

OK the next part, "Rooz";

Rooz, although the right pronunciation, is a bit vulgar and for some reason looks and sounds low class, it has an almost gangsta-rap feel to it. Rouz still has the right sound (as in Moulin Rouge), and it has a classier feel to it, an almost French feel, even though anything French is not politically correct these days. Nonetheless, me like!

So there is my proposal, the official spelling of our millenniae-old tradition ought to be: (Tonbak-Roll Please)


(And we'll capitalize the R just for flair!)

Regardless, however you spell it, I hope you and your loved ones have the happiest one yet, and that this year will bring you and your families health and prosperity.
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