Sunday, August 16, 2009

"The Soul of Iran"

In The Soul of Iran, Afshin Molavi writes sometimes poetic descriptions of Iran. Example:

"In the grand square of Isfahan, I sat on a bench at dusk and listened to a young Isfahani play the tar, an ancient Persian instrument with an intoxicatingly sweet sound, like the sugary, soft center of gaz, a popular Isfahani candy. The last defiant rays of the orange sun lingered in the gray-pink dusk sky. The shining blue-domed mosques sparkled. The waters of the central fountains shimmered. The whole maidan, the public square rimmed by the blue and gold of exquisite mosques and four-hundred-year-old buildings, seemed aglow. There was a softness in the air, the kind of softness that might be scooped with a spoon and spread on the hot hard flat bread sold by Hossein, the baker down the street."

I have a longstanding soft spot for Iran, dating from when I read Olmstead's History of the Persian Empire as a teenager. Molavi's book is a wonderful insight into daily life in Iran that offers hope for the future.

He also notes that half of the Irani population is under the age of 21 and that 5/7s of the population has dim--or no--memories of the 1979 revolution. This generation, he predicts, "will dramatically change the face of the Islamic Republic."

It is a reminder for all of us to take a long view and not let our actions be dictated by the headlines.