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EPISODIC-45 ‘I’m sorry, Nilanjan. You can’t go in!’ I can see Tahmineh struggling to get these words out of her chest. I can see her face turn pink, her large eyes floating in deep disappointment. What? Someone puts out the bright November sky. We are standing outside the tight-shut gate of the Zahir-od-Dowleh cemetery. I [...]
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EPISODE-44 “Attar traveled all seven cities of love, While I’m still at the bend of its first valley.” I hear Fayizeh softly uttering these lines. I know this couplet. I also know most educated Iranian know this by heart. This is Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi paying his tribute to one of the great Sufi poets of [...]
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EPISODE-43 The fabled city of Neyshabur is about two hours’ car drive from Mashhad. The road offers the same monotony of dirty-yellowish undulated fields merging into nude grey hills in the horizon, which appears to remain unchanged all over Iran. It’s starkly different from the usual scenes we watch beside the highways or railway tracks: [...]
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EPISODE-42 Mashhad, the capital city of the Razavi Khorasan province in eastern Iran is known to the world for a shrine. I spend a whole day in that shrine. I have no friends in Mashhad, so I go alone. Haram-i-Imam Reza is about 10 minutes by taxi from my hotel. I leave the taxi mid-way [...]
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EPISODE-41 The word "Shiraz" always conjures up in my mind a nostalgic picture of my college-days. Late-1980s. As a boarder of the historic Hindu Hostel, which within its notorious walls had sheltered among numerous other celebrities, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, India’s first President, my general routine was to swim past the day in deep slumber, wake-up [...]
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EPISODE-40 Architectural engineering, art, religion, tenets of kingship, dynamics and dimensions of socio-economic relations, history of empires: Persepolis offers all these, and more, depending on the Musafir’s interests. More than anything else, however, Persepolis proclaims the evanescence of human achievement. Lost for hours in the ruins of gates, halls, columns, staircases, bizarre animals and birds, [...]
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EPISODE-39 “So you see what your Alexander the Great had done!” says Somayeh as a deep sigh escapes her. The oblique emphasis on ‘your’ and ‘great’ doesn’t escape me. ‘Parsa’ in old Persian. Parseh in modern Farsi. Takht-i-Jamshid in popular parlance and Persepolis in English: the vast palace complex of the Achaemenid Empire, two and a half millennium [...]
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EPISODE-38 “Azizam, my friend, is this a town of closed small scale industries?” I ask Shahram. Yazd, central Iran. Located by the fierce Bafgh desert, it is one of the oldest living cities in the world, with its history firmly rooted in the Median empire in the 6th century BCE, if not before. As I [...]
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EPISODE-37 Returning from the salt-lake, just before entering Varzaneh, I am transported to this Bishnupur-afternoon, as I notice the pond, and ask my driver to stop the car so that I can spend a little time on its banks smoking a few cigarettes quietly. Of course no one is taking a bath here, nor is [...]
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EPISODE-36 Varzaneh, however, is not just about the Desert. Nor is it about the uncanny Salt Lake alone. Villages for me hold a deep attraction, no less fascinating for being tedious. I find it difficult to put my finger on the exact pulse, but villages seem to have an intrinsic rhythm of life that can [...]
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EPISODE-35 Someday I must traverse a desert. My first engagement with such a vast expanse of lifelessness left me unsettled. Flying from Chicago to San Diego I had seen from above the vast Death Valley. And the dark crumpled Badlands. It’s frightening. I was to see the same heart chilling face of Nature flying from [...]
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EPISODE-34 My initial plan was to head for Yazd city, the capital of the central Iranian province of the same name, from Isfahan. But my friend Javed insists that I visit his home-village Varzaneh, about an hour’s drive from Isfahan. Javed is a student of Mathematics at the Isfahan University. He, however, apologizes that his [...]
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