Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wed, 12 Apr 2006

Dear Everyone

First of all - just to complete the last part about Sizdah Bedar, I forgot to mention another point that makes that day so significant. The sizdah (13) that is being thrown away is being done on the 13th day of the first month called Farvardin, and therefore the 13th day of the New Year ... (It seems to me so much more appropriate that the New Year coincides with the first day of Spring - rather than in the darkness ofWinter ... ?!?!?)

Second of all, just a bit - rather quickly since we are leaving soon - of a recapitulation of the last week: We (Nima and I) met with representatives of the government, my official hosts here, at the guesthouse where I am staying, which is owned by the government. These two gentlemen could NOT have been more gracious and hospitable, checking to see what I might need here, enquiring about my comfort and satisfaction with my housing situation, which I AM, TOTALLY- it is sooo comfortable, with great views over the rooftops of Tehran, with GREAT HOT WATER!!! - a truly wonderful luxury ...

I tried to explain in my rather broken (but developing, YEAH!!!) Persian language, what this culture has meant to me, since I was a teenager and happened to find myself at a concert of Classical Persian music, Santur and Tombak (hammered dulcimer and hand drum, respectively), in Hollywood, of all places. Searching for meaning and substance in that time of my life, and in that environment, was not easy, to put it mildly!!!

And then at that concert, I was brought to tears, profoundly ... and for the first time in my life, through all the plastic trappings of the tv/film industry, FINALLY, here was something REAL. The effect of that experience was stunning ... and opened up something SOOO deep inside myself ... and continues to this day ... countless "coincidences", drawing me into MUSIC ...

I tried to explain to these gentlemen that Iranian Culture, including music, poetry, philosophy, the warm hospitable-ness of Iranian people, etc, has truly given me my life, and I am so deeply, deeply grateful for that.

What I have since realized is that this music, architecture, carpets, and on and on ... aesthetic sensibility, is not only BEAUTIFUL ... but the SCIENCE at its foundation opens a window into the nature of ... reality ..... OK I can hear some of you grumbling about my words being hokey or something like that ... but TRULY, as I have studied a bit about Islamic Art, and the concepts of proportion, geometry and the interrelatedness of everything, the depth and power of these manifestations provide a key for understanding - and EXPERIENCING - the dynamics of the laws of nature (Fibonacci series, Golden Section, etc...) ... and oneself as a part of the harmonious Grand Totality ...

And HERE I AM in PERSIA !!! I still am pinching myself, to make sure I am not just dreaming this all up ...

Also last week Nima and I went to visit Ostad (Master) Mohammad Reza Lotfi, who by another stroke of extraordinary kismet, happens to also be here in Tehran now. He is the World Class performing Artist and authority about the old tradition of Persian Classical music, and I have had the unspeakably great honour of studying with him and performing with him in several concert tours.

Next day Nima took me to his music school, where I met quite a few wonderful students and friends of his. I relayed some of my feelings (above), and also about fusion music - since I come from lots of experience with mixtures of various (first and foremost, with the FIRST fusion of Middle Eastern music and jazz, Sudan Baronian's group, Taksim, based in New York City). It has ALLLL been great, and yet I have been hungering for sooo long to understand the roots, and meaning, and source - and for sure, for me, Persian Classical (Radif) music holds the key ...

At Nima's school I had the chance to play a HUGE ceramic tombak used for Zurhaneh (ancient men's gymnastics) - which was so heavy I could barely lift it! ... The great pleasure of visiting with some longtime cherished Iranian friends, who also just happen to be here now, including two that I have known for at least 15 years, from my earlier involvements with Middle Eastern and particularly Persian music in New York.

... A visit and yoga class with another dear friend really helped get me inside my body again, after all the uproar leading up to my arrival ...

... A sumptuous dinner party at the very lovely home of a dear friend (who has just returned to Tehran and is running a company here, after 33 years in America), and Nima and I played a bit for the guests ... Thanks to Nima's astounding musicianship, and the beautiful setting ... delicious food, company, candelight ... wonderful poetry reciting from Nima and a few of the gathered souls ... we were all transported ... friends from the past and new friends ...

... Visit to the Jom'e Bazaar (Friday market) ... allll kinds ofwonderful old and some new goodies - odd trinkets, wonderful textiles, anything you could imagine (somehow reminiscent of my favourite NewYork City Canal Street), with some musicians playing soulfully from a corner. Found quite a few wonderful treasures which I was lucky enough to come away with, with the help of Nima's parents!

... A birthday party for one of Nima's sisters ... a great celebration! Some of my own friends came too, one Iranian friend from California, and also a new Greek friend ... And THAT story is rather great:

There is a wonderful and by far my favourite restaurant in Greece, right downstairs in my neighbourhood in Athens. It is known far and wide as a very traditional place, super traditional Greek food, and quite an important gathering place for all sorts of Greeks who come there from all over the city. And, the owners are ... of course, Iranians!!! My last night in Athens before coming here I stopped by to say goodbye (and to grab some supper), and the owner (who of course is an old friend of old friends of mine there) told me that his wife just happens, also (!!!) to be here in Tehran now, visiting with his brother... I had not met her before ... So I gave her a call and she came to the party with two companions ... FULL CIRCLE! It was so wonderful to get back into the Greek spirit and language rhythm with my new friend. Also some of Nima's musician friends came, and we had a great time, soaring off into poetry and music and all in all, a most amazing and completion-making party and gathering and celebration!!! Happy Birthday, Shiva!!!

Also here at Nima's house are two love-birds, who really do hang around in their cage, constantly pruning each other and kissing and carrying on ... they are adorable! ... and, music lovers! Whenever Nima and I are playing, they sit in rapt attention, watching every move of our hands, and dancing! ... swaying back and forth in perfect rhythm!!!

Next, a visit to a great instrument maker here ... came away with all sorts of wonderful treasures. Visits with friends of friends, and new friends ... and on and on it goes!!!

... Visit to the home of musician friends of another friend ... great jam session ... great connections!

... Visit with a professional Iranian tour guide whose English is impeccable, an expert in ancient Mesopotamian and Persian history ... for sure, a tour with such an expert would be greatly beneficial ...!!!

And third of all ... Two days ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table here at Nima's house, talking with his mother (who along with his whole family, has been ushering me into Persian language so smoothly and graciously!!!), with my Iran guidebook open on the table to the section about Kurdistan ... and his mother told me that an old family friend would be coming for dinner, who is Kurdish, and from the SAME village whose name was staring up at me from the page of the book, open before me ...

What to say, other than: the Muses are BUSY!!! ... In a little while, after lunch (which I smell coming from the kitchen ... YUMYUM ... ), we are going with this family friend to his village in KURDISTAN!!!!! And I am in search of the women dervishes who play daff (one of the instruments I play - a huge frame drum with chains inside, causing a swooshing sound while being played), so I can catch up with their spirit ... and to just BE in the mountains of Kurdistan ... another very longtime dream ... (good grief, another language hurdle ...!!!)

Soooo, unedited, quickly written, thanks for your patience and as always sending MMMMMMMMMMMMUCH LOVE to all, and next news, after this remarkably-timed voyage!!! (and/or when I can find another internet situation ...!)

- Rowan (Rohan, comparable Persian and I think Kurdish name ...)


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