By Samira Sinai
BUDAPEST -- Twenty-four years in Iran. One year in Hungary. I grew up in equal measure in both.
Looking back, I have to say I had a good time in Iran. My family, especially, did a lot for me. And the friends I left behind are as dear to me as life itself.
Because of my love for theater, I got my BA in theater set design from Tehran University. Then I did everything there was to do. I acted in theater and film and directed some plays. With the experience I had gained, I could have found more work.
But living with parents who are both well-known artists was not so easy. I needed to overcome my inner doubts and prove myself away from them.
My family offered me some money and told me I could do whatever I want with it. I could buy my jahiziyeh and prepare myself for marriage. Or I could go on a trip, one that would help me understand not just myself but other peoples. With a surer foot, I could step into the future, on my own.
I closed my eyes and took the most difficult step in my life. I might as well have leaped. I entered a land that at first seemed just as strange as Wonderland to Alice.
Going to Hungary was a dream come true. I always wanted to make better sense of the other half of my roots; my mother's. Dual-nationals will tell you they are neither of one or the other nationality. That can be a very lonely feeling.
But people like me also have the gift of easily being blind to racial, national or cultural differences. That is why, I think, having a dual background is a great blessing worth the occasional loneliness and sense of alienation.
I feel a responsibility toward my two cultures. During my time here, I have decided I have to gain a better understanding of both and then try to build a bridge between them. And not just in my mind. I also want to bring the two societies closer. Through art.
I know I'm only at the beginning of a long road. And I'm completely on my own. But that's the decision I have made. It's a decision that moves and inspires me. I'm in no hurry. I will be patient. My love for both countries is too strong to take hasty, superficial and baseless actions. I want to make a difference.
In this past year, I, like everyone else, have been seeking work, a place to live and just a little peace of mind. I feel, though, for me it was a particularly wild and turbulent time. I still have problems with employment and housing. But I can at least say that after a long time, I'm finally satisfied with my professional abilities.
There have been several small but significant activities that built my confidence. I performed an audio/visual play based on a poem at an international festival, was a jury member at a youth film festival, directed teenagers at a theater training camp and volunteered for the Martin Luther King Project -- a human rights organization. In the meantime, I also taught German to make a living.
But my painting exhibition was something else.
It all came about when I wrote a play, called "The Carpet Weaver's Dream." But because of budget problems I wasn't able to perform it at one of the art festivals. I felt hopeless and in despair. After several other stubborn but unsuccessful attempts, I looked at my set designs and thought: "There's an idea!"
I started to paint carpet designs and on September 1, I held an exhibition. The flowers and compliments from friends and strangers were enough to heal my invisible wounds.
I always did have a strong attraction toward carpets, especially klims. I always wondered if people think about the carpets they walk on. Do they ever look for the subtle messages of love, hardship and desire woven by little Bakhtiari girls?
Maybe by looking at my klims and carpets on the wall, you'll turn your eyes to what's under your feet.
* Samira Sinai's mother, Gizella
* Like mother like daughter -- Gizella and Samira Sinai
* THE IRANIAN Arts sections
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