Posts Tagged ‘Kurdish’
Thank you Tehran Bureau!
Picking up where i left off, one of my new friends in Tehran, a photojournalist, tipped me off to a man here in Kurdistan who could introduce me to the Dervish (Sufi) order here & see if he could get me a rare coveted invite to a private cereony. I followed the directions to the Sanandaj museum with my very bad Kurdish asking for “Hadi” i could not pronounce his last name (Ziaoddini) even when spelled out phonetically. The curator of the museum brought me across the way to a mansion which is now a different museum. He brought me to a basement office containging several men covered in plaster which i learned were for manequins. they wore the traditional baggy trousers yet some of the younger ones (30s & 40s) managed to even look sexy, dare i say. If i had fast enough net to post the video you would agree, no doubt.
These artists had no idea who i was except for my incessant repeating the name ”Hadi” & “spas” Kurdish for “thanks.” THey sat me down, gave me tea, and made several phone calls- I watched them smoke their cigarettes out of a long contraptions which i guess was invented so that they would not get plaster all over their cigarettes & inhale toxic fumes (?). After about a half hour a tall, lean, girlishly-handsome man in sharp western dress showed up with his head held high. THey told me it was not Hadi, but that i was to go with him. This man walked fast. His head held high in almost a beauty queen sort of a way. i imagined that he must be gay, but really what do i know with all the cultural differencesthat i do not understand. We got into a taxi- he would not let me pay (not once have i paid for a taxi here in Kurdistan)- when we got out we & walked through a neighborhood which was a mix of rubble and old beautiful manisons. Graffiti for carpet cleaners in Farsi alongside English sayings such as “Fuak you” and “I love u r” (incorrect grammar & spelling) were on the walls lining these mansions. Finally we ended up at one of ths manisons, where we rang a bell at a tall gate- after 5 minutes of waiting someone showed up & let us in. inside was a once lovely and decadent courtyard that now lied in ruins. STill, there was something extremely magical, artistic and romantic about this courtyard and garden. Chickens clucked around us and ducks swam in a man-made pond that had gutting filled with workers digging all around it. We entered a room off the garden with classical music playing where there was a painter inside and several bust of sculpted heads. THere was iron work and all the usual suspects in an artists studio space- homemade English-Farsi flash cards, dusty old photographs laying nonchallantly on a bookshelf, a pack of cigarettes, a tea-stained box o sweets, a near empty sugar bowl, and lots of plaster and paint splattered all over. The artist in the room was not Hadi- but he was one step closer. he said in hand gestures Hadi would be there in 30 minutes, and to wait. He stopped his work to serve me tea. the effeminate man who had lead me there looked at me, bulged out his eyes- motioning his head for the door. He pointed to his watch and motioned for me to chug the tea. He wanted me to leave- Of course, i figured i was interrupting this man who was obviouslly an impressive painter, but Kurdish people really do seem to get intense pleasure out of taking care of others, so that was why i was letting him stop to serve me tea.
As i was about to finish my tea in walked a man with a beard and Kurdish (baggy ) trousers. His trousers were splatered in paint and plaster. He had a presence about him but not in a hughty way. he seems a kind humble man, who had a soft spot and had endured some suffering in his life. Although my friend in Tehran told me that Hadi spoke English, Hadi claimed, in broken English, that he does not speak English. I gave him my photojournalist friend’s card, and we tried to ring him on his mobile. However this being Kurdistan, the lines were cut & we could not reach our friend in Tehran to introduce us & translate. i tried to give him hints as to what i was there for- “Dervish” “Sufi” he then made a phone call to someone who he said would be right over to translate. AS i waited he sculpted a massive head, and his helper showed me a photo book of Hadi’s sculptures, most displayed in public places in major cities in Iraq and Iran. Even in Sanandaj my favorite centerpiece of the city is an abstract looking person with their heads reaching up to the heavens, either in desperation or in grattitude, depending on how the observer is feeling. So of course, it was my great surprise to learn that i was now sitting with the man who made this favorite sculpture. I thought: “who knew that he was a sufi too???” Even though we could not communicate he made clear that i was not to leave like my little helper’s eye and hand gestures had implied.
Before i knew it the room was filled with a group of artists from Tehran, Kurdistan, Canada and the UK. All Kurdish born but now sharing their great talents with the world. THe Canadien and the Brit of course explaiend everything to me and i explained to them that I as told Hadi was a great Sufi who could giveme the magic password enabling me to go to the Dervish ceremony at the local order. We all had a good laugh over that b/c Hadi is not a Dervish, though he does have great respect for them & of course, good relations with them. My Brit friend let me know that although i thought i was wrong in assuming he was the guru, i was in fact right- he is a guru but another sort of Guru and that i made a wonderful error which lead me to some good people including the most celebrated Kurdish artist in Iran! I realized too that the man who came to pick me up, and who motioned for me to leave is basically a groupie/entourage/wanna-be sort of person who also greatly admires Hadi’s work. Hadi let this man know that after our meeting he was to take me to another museum they are restoring and then eventually to the Dervish order where he was to arrange to get permission for me to attend their upcoming ceremony. I was also informed by my new English speaking friends that women are normally forbidden from attending these rituals because it inhibits the men from “reaching ecstasy” we had a good laugh over that. My friend let me know when i go to be extra covered and look as manly/homely as possible! After leaving my new friends & having some good conversation with Hadi via translator, his helper took me sightseeing, and then finally to another manison where we met a crazy but young Azan (man who sings at the mosque) who tried to become my husband, and a very funky 85 year old Dervish- priceless memories. By that time the helper learned I that i was “in” with Hadi and his friends, so of course he was picking me apricots, fetching tea and being a real sweet heart. I have much more to say than this but i have to run.. tonite is the ceremony & soon i will post photos of Hadi, tell you about our conversations, what inpsires him, & of course explain some of his great work, etc-… in the meantime you can read about him at www.ziaoddini.com
Posted on July 9th, 2008 by admin. Filed under Iran.
I decided to come down to Kurdistan sans bicycle since it is a more “unknown” part of Iran. Some friends back in Tehran expressed concern in my going becasue they believe Kurdistan is full of drug dealers & rapists. Guide books do not say that however, and i knew much of my well-intentioned friends perceptions are colored by the media here & their portrayal of the Kurds- they certainly have been persecuted time & time again in Iran, Iraq & maybe also in Turkey, tough i do not know much about the Kurds in Turkey. This is the poorest region in Iran, which of course has part to do with the government playing favorites, or in this case non-favorites- like everyplace on this planet. Kurdistan lies on the border of Iran & Iraq. In Iran the Kurds make up about 10% of the population and unlike other ethic groups here they have not moved into big cities like Tehran & Mashhad so little is kown about them, adding to some of the suspicion & worry. I have only been with non English speakers since arriving here so i do not know much yet about the culture or history but i hope to find someone soon – a guide or not- who can explain a bit because it seems very interesting- the politcs, and the history/customs which are very different from the rest of Iran with the exception of the intense hospitality ; )
I decided it would be best to make the 400 + kilometer journey to Sanandaj (the main hub of Kurdistan as far as i can tell) by savari, which is like a share taxi. In Tabriz I was the only person in the share car and the driver spent much of the time talking to me, laughing at me, and in general actually making me nervous. He kept motioning to me to take off my headscarf (some say the Kurds have different rules & do not need to always wear scarf) & also sit up front with him. I am sure he was just trying to be nice, but I was more concerned that he would misinterpret that I want to be his girlfriend, or something like that. We drove through barren desert, where at one point i saw tanks with fires blazing all around them (some sort of training exercise?), as well as a nuclear reactor which i was sure to pretend i did not see. When we were close to Pianshur, near the north border with Iraq, i became a bit nervous. we stopped at some sort of station, where i was the only woman, while all sorts of taxis traded passengers and goods. Oddly enough there was a group of very handsome well dressed men- who looked Iraqi to me- smiling very friendily, saying “hello” -not in a creepy way. After we left we then we stopped in other towns where i was then traded as a good- and sent into one new savari after another until I finally reached Saqquez, the half way point- where i had to again bargain for a new savari to the town of Sanandaj. Again, people do not speak any Engish, particularly in these parts- and they are not used to tourists. So my lack of KUrdish and Farsi caused quite a stir of concern. After much discussion- with hand motions and drawings- I hopped in a share savari with 4 others and was thrilled to find out that one passenger, a 33 year old female doctor, spoke very good English. She let me know that every one was concerned about what i would eat (my default cheese puffs), where i would sleep in Sanandaj (i have a book of hotels), and if i was comfortable and felt safe. JUst a glimpse into what i would learn is the unparallelled hospitality in this region, which at times gets to be so much that it is downright embarassing. My new travel partner was on her way to the nearest town (Sanandaj) that has a psychologist- a 2 and a half hour drive each way. Talk about a dedicated client! We talked at length about psychoanalysis vs. cogntive behavioral therapies, good self help books (I have noticed Iranians are nuts about Wayne Dyer), and heart disease (her profession). Our car stopped on the way, they took photos with me, and as usual, my driver bought me juice and fresh fruit. When we arrived to Sanandaj the passengers argued over who was going to have the “honor” of paying for my fare ( for real, aye?), and then they all accompanied with me to look at hotels. The driver- a nice man with a kind smile and good energy really wanted me to come stay in his home with his wife and 2 daughters. My friend said she knew him from making the journe to her shrink each week & she thought it would be okay. THey all insisted, and i thouhgt: “hey i have never stayed at my taxirivers’s house before, and it is only possible-if not typical- in Iran (supposedly a den full of terrorists according to the CIA) so why not go & experience it, aye?” (side note: i keep saying “aye” b/c one of my Tehrani friends lived in Canada for some time & says it all the time, i guess it is contagious).
My taxi driver picked up his wife and daughter & we immediately went for ice cream. After that they brought me to a park, had their relatives join us, while we looked over the dusty brown view of the city of Sanandaj. It is a sprawling city with houses & apartment buildings built on hills.. there is lots o traffic too, of course.. over the hills, or mountains- lay several valleys with traditional villages (which i will visit in the coming days before i get back on my bike) & then Iraq. Things always steadily move in the direction of food here- it is how Persian people show their love and respect i am told. SInce no one spoke English it was really tricky how to communcate that i am a vegetarian, wihtout doing my chicken, cow & fish impressions- which i have to admit i did do, but they did not understand it. Luckily, my friend in Tehran is just a phone call away when i am really in a jam & needing translation. THey made me “macaroni” and i made a veggie sauce. We drank tea, looked through 4 photo albums, and then watched 3 wedding videos. Again, the Kurds have afew different rules.. so unlike the rest of Iranis, they are allowed to have their traditional co-ed weddings. People get dolled up with makeup- ladies wear sparkely dresses, with lost of gold coins strung on their head, on necklaces and on belts. They dance almost belly dance style in front of the bride and groom as they sit, waching with little expression on their faces- almost in a daze. THen bride & groom each take a turn dipping their pinky finger into a jar of honey then placing their pinky in the other’s mouth as the suck the honey away. We then watched more videos- for what seemed to go on forever- of Kurdish style dancing, which in my opinion is one of the easiest dances to do. you stand in a line, arm in arm (co -ed or not) face blank which you put one foot infront of another bend at the hip ever so slightly- you then move as one unit slowy in a circle- or not– these videos really do go on forever! i have video to share when i return in case you are wondering!
Now I am off on a wild goose chase to find the Sufi-Dervish Monastary here, meet the guru (using a secret passord, so to speak- meaning an artist-connection from Tehran) to be invited to attend their ceremonies thursday & fiday nite. Sasparilla leaf!!!!
- Some photos from Misrata… stories to follow.
- The Boat to Misrata (Libya): Men’s quarters vs. Women’s quarters
- Why I had to visit Misrata (Libya).
- Greetings from Benghazi, Libya
- Just another day in Cairo…