Normal, in a weird way

How blessed I am to be borne from this soil


Normal, in a weird way
by sahar shokati

I was born in Iran but moved here with my parents when I was five in 1978. I have traveled to Iran a few times and wrote this journal entry for my American friends during my last trip. Thought you might want to post it on

Today was the first day of Spring, which is also the Persian New Year. I've been trying to adjust to the time difference and get my sleep pattern back in order but otherwise, it hasn't really been difficult acclimating to Iran. Although the Islamic regime is still the ruling governing body, a lot of things have changed since my last trip 5 years ago.

I haven't felt weird about being here since I arrived and it's actually a little strange that I haven't felt that way. It feels very normal as when I would fly to L.A. from NY to visit my being at home even though I didn't grow up here. The streets of Tehran are packed full of cars and people...traffic is unbelievable and you're better off walking than trying to get anywhere in a car. They've built an underground subway system to eliminate some of the traffic and smog problems...but like all other 'solutions', this one hasn't worked so far. I haven't ridden it yet but it's definitely on my to-do list.

Being an Islamic country, women must cover at all times but to be's a joke. Women wear a coat (manteau) with a roosarie (hejab or headscarf) and have so much makeup on their faces that I'd swear I was at a show in Vegas. The new fashion here is to wear the tightest 3/4 to 1/2 length coat so the women can show off their physiques even though they're covered up. It's really cold right now (snowing for days) so it almost seems like you're walking in Paris or NY in the fall. The people here are all young...most under 35 so there's a youthful energy about this country. Almost inspiring to be part of something big is happening and they all know it.

Because of the New Year, everyone has been busy preparing and shopping so there's a lot of hustle and bustle and you can't help but to become a part of it. EVERYONE has a satellite dish, though they're "illegal", and they get channels from all over the world...mostly Europe and the Middle East. They're more in tune to the latest music and fashion than we (I use this 'we' as in 'America') are. I've seen more X-rated music videos from American artists (50 Cent, Madonna, Sean Paul...) on Arabic music channels than I even knew existed...a little ironic, isn't it?

2 Days ago, my cousin and I drove down from Tehran to Shiraz (a 12 hour drive) to bring in the New Year with some of his family. If you're not aware, Shiraz is home to the capital of the ancient Persian Empire, Persepolis, (dated more than 2500 years ago) and I've dreamed of visiting this city since I can remember. Because of it's importance during that time (and to the Western world according to many historians), it was home to some of the world's greatest poets and philosophers, whose tombs are here as well. The Sufi sect of Islam and all the mystical teachings of the dervishes had great influences here...I've written a page in my journal that I'll share with you:

"SHIRAZ--On this night of a thousand stars...the first night of spring, the first night of a new year...I stand on the same earth as the great mystics stood. It is easy to understand how they created such magical poetry while standing underneath this sky. The stars are so close they seem to whisper music into the soul and make dancing with the soil feel like meditation. This city is my nucleus...the romantic city whose perfumed gardens inspired poetry of exquisite beauty. Every thing I've ever loved or am is spawned from here. That magical empire of arts, literature and majesty that I read about my entire life is here. Tomorrow I will go to Takhte Jamshid (Persepolis) and hope to see my existence through its glory. I've traveled to many places in Iran...Isfahan, Mashhad, Tehran...but none feel as fulfilling as this.

"Yesterday, I visited Hafez and Sa'adi's shrines and with gratitude paid homage to the treasure of their words for my heritage. They molded Persian culture with artistic grace through their timeless verses. To capture the essence of a people that withstands time and endures all hardships is truly the gift of God. This place where the "King of Kings, the King of the world, King of Babylon, King of the four quarters..." (as Cyrus the Great was so referred) called home, this air that was breathed by Prophets and Poets, this soil that remains rich with the tears of fallen angels...this is Shiraz. To be here is to be all of those things that only our mind's eye can recognize. My heart has opened. How blessed I am to be borne from this soil. Tonight I am reborn...on this night of a thousand stars, the first night of spring, the first night of a new year..."



Good job!

by Transparent (not verified) on

This is great. You are awsome! Thanks.

As for the hejab, from a guy's perspective I must confess, I love the reblelious hejab that you see in Tehran. I can't get enough of it.

It's artistic and some look so sexy, confident and elegant in the way they match up their outfits that it's truly captivating, it's fun, it shows variety, and it stimulates the imagination.

I can easily see it become a western trend before it finds its place as an added look and style to the western womens war drobe. Sooner than later, I hope.

Reza-Rio de Janeiro

In that case,

by Reza-Rio de Janeiro on

You deserve a double credit ... :-)

Thanks for stimulating my consciousness with your writing that is as beautiful as poetry (The last two paragraphs) ...


last two paragraphs

by EasternSunrise on

Hi, in response to your question about the last two paragraphs of my journal on shiraz...its not from a book. its my own writing. :) but i'm flattered that you thought they were professionally written...

I am happy to have shared my experiences with others.  I think we all should feel a sense of responsibility to educate and enlighten the world on our great culture.  Additionally, we must remind Iranians, both in Iran and abroad, about the greatness of our civilization and contributions to history!  We are not now, nor ever will be, a people defeated...greatness of man is in how he is written -- lets make sure we don't allow today's current state of affairs to overcome who we are as a people!




Enshat Bist (20)

by Reza-San Diego (not verified) on

Wow... Very nice....

Would you please tell me, where (which book) the last two paragraph of your essay is quoted from?

Thank you... :-)


شیراز و اَب

maz (not verified)

شیراز و اَب رکنی و این باد خوش نسیم
عیبش مکن که خال رخ هفت کشور است .

Thank you Hafez,
and thank you for taking us back home.

Although beautiful , humanitarian Persian culture more or less survived thousands of years, but not sure will survive this century, unless Persian undrestand it and take care of it.



Hijab is a joke in Iran!

by I wonder (not verified) on

Hijab in Iran is a real joke!

You cannot force back Iranian women who have been relatively free for 50 so years back under chador and to the corner of kitchens. Why don't mullahs get it?

I don't know why mullahs still try so hard to enforce it! they have tried and tried so many times but to no avail! I am afraid in their desperation they might end up hanging a couple of these so called "Bad hejab" women out on the streets to REALLY scare people into submission.
There is no telling what these insane lawless mullahs might do.


halo kako shiraz che mikoni

by Abarmard on

halo shirazi ghaza ham khordi ya kom e gorsneh dari minivisi?

Thanks, loved reading it.


Thank you.

by Feshangi on

I enjoyed reading your article. It is beautifully written and it moved me. 



Indeed very beautifully written

by Anonymous-2 (not verified) on

Shiraz the city of "Roses and Nightingales" is the emobodiment of all that is beautiful about Iran. A city of our great Persian poets with their time enduring poetry and misticism; the old bazzar, magnificent gardens, the beautiful Shah Cheragh, and then the wonder and glory of Takhte Jamshid where our forefathers imprinted the Persian legacy [our legacy] forever in the pages of time.

You captured the essence of all of that is magical about Shiraz in a most beautiful manner.

Thank you.



by farokh2000 on

Thanks for sharing. It would be so much better if our beautiful Country would one day be free from the stupid Mullahs, who have occupied it for the last 30 years.

People could then celebrate freely and be happy. That day will come soon, I hope and then people will burn the Amamehs in the streets, like they did once before.