‘Whatever is produced in haste goes easily to waste’ was actually written by a very famous Iranian poet from the medieval period, Sadi. He was born in 1184 and died at the age of 94. He wasn’t just famous for his writing style but also for the depth of his social thoughts. His poems were so famous that they even appeared on the walls of the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Speaking of the UN, we didn’t know what happened to the warning that they issued to Iran and the deadline they set for the country in the end. We just knew that on 31 August (the deadline), we arrived at the country and then this morning, toured around the capital city and now we were waiting at the airport for the delayed plane that would take us to Shiraz where Sadi was born and where his tomb was.
It was a very crowded and busy domestic airport. I didn’t expect there were so many local people travelling within their country. Our plane was delayed because of a plane crash or something in another airport. We didn’t get any accurate information. First of all, we didn’t understand the local language and there was no announcement in English at the airport. Secondly, the tour guide didn’t know that too. Lost in translation. But somehow, a plane crash was reported in the news and my parents somehow watched the news. Back in 2006, there was no instant messaging and I didn’t use any roaming service so nobody could reach me. I only knew that when I returned home.
We waited for 4 hours at the airport plus we also went there early to check in so altogether we waited in silence for much longer than that.
When I said silence, I was referring to the people in my group, not me. Some young girls approached me and started a conversation with me. Like what I said in my previous blog, they asked me the usual questions like my country and what I thought about their country, etc. They then told me they were learning karate and they called themselves, ‘the Super League’. They were definitely very proud of that. They even ‘performed’ their karate skills at the airport. One girl was filming it while the others were acting. ‘Punch’ one of them pretended to punch the other girl. ‘Ouch!’ the other girl pretended to get hurt. I was in their short film too. 😀
But even the energetic ones got tired. When our plane finally took us safely to our destination, once a capital of the Zand Dynasty, these girls looked extremely exhausted. Even when I smiled to them, they could only return a lethargic smile to me. Of course, it was already after midnight.
We had a few hours’ sleep and then headed to the tomb of Sadi in the morning.
Iranians respected him so much that they built a beautiful tomb for him.
Our local tour guide quoted and translated an extract from one of Sadi’s poems, ‘the world is like a human body, if one part has problems, other parts will be affected.’ Remember, he was from the medieval times! What he said can still apply to us now in the year 2020 and beyond! Nowadays, we are even closer than ever. We cannot isolate ourselves anymore. It may sound like a cliché but we just have to collaborate if we want to live in a better world, regardless of where you are on this planet, because we are all connected, more than ever. COVID-19 is just a wake-up call. Other things have already been happening, such as the way we treat our planet and the consequences, like what the Tibetan lama said. Nature has always been telling us that we are connected. Sarah Desert and Amazon Rainforest have been communicating with each other for centuries. It’s just that we ignore these messages.
Shiraz must be a very inspirational place. Not only Sadi, another famous poet, Hafiz (or Hafez) was also born there. We visited the tomb of the latter too. Hafiz’s poems were so inspiring that Iranians used them in fortune telling. In fact, there was a fortune teller at the entrance of Hafiz’s Tomb.
This mosque looked very ordinary outside. It was named after a person, Ali Ebn Hamzeh. Graves covered the whole ground in front of this mosque. I saw a woman crying at a grave. At first, we were all quite reluctant to walk on the ground. But the local tour guide said the dead knew they would be stepped on, so he said we shouldn’t worry about it.
May the dead rest in peace.
Eram Garden was one of the famous tourist spots in Shiraz. It was originally a Persian garden and now converted into a Law school of Shiraz University.
The painting of the building tells a story of a queen in the past – she was infatuated with a handsome guy and then she introduced that guy to her friends. The story wasn’t appealing to me but the mosaic was.
As we were leaving Quaran Gate, we saw a group of women on the side of the road. At first, they were just having a conversation. But suddenly, one of them cried and then started to wail. In the end, she even fainted on the side of the road. Her group of friends held her up and while doing so, they (men and women) were crying too.
Our local tour guide checked with them and later told us the story:
The group of Iranian women were going to visit a friend in town so they gathered at Quaran Gate. But bad news came. Just as they were about to leave Quaran Gate, they learnt about the death of that friend. The woman who fainted was probably a close relative of that person.
Life is so fragile.
One of the towers of Zand Citadel was slanting a bit, like the Tower of Pisa in Italy because in the past, there was a bath inside that tower. Probably because of the water, the base of the tower started to sink. Hence, the slant.
There had been a live concert being held at Zand Citadel for a few nights and it was the last night tonight so one of my travel companions and I decided to go there after our dinner.
Little did we know that we would have a very special experience there.
It was actually a live variety show for children (and that’s probably why we saw those children gathered across the road earlier). It was all in Farsi (Persian) so I had no idea what was going on. However, despite the language barrier, I enjoyed it.
It was actually the first time the crew toured to Shiraz so the audiences were very excited about it and it was very crowded.
It started at 9:30p.m. but it was already full at 8:55p.m. That was the time when we arrived there. It was so packed that we couldn’t find a seat at all so we stood at the very far end of the park. By now, both of us were used to having strangers talking to us, asking us questions about ourselves, our country, our occupation… etc. While we were having a conversation with a stranger, a little kid came around and asked us to take a photo of him.
Suddenly, a guy came and said, ‘come, come.’ My travel mate and I looked at each other and then followed him. He ushered us closer and closer to the stage. We were wondering what he was doing. The audiences were looking at us. It was a little bit awkward. ‘Gosh, is he taking us to the stage?’ We were both wondering.
Finally, he stopped.
We were now right in front of the stage!
He then led us to the ‘VIP area’ and showed us empty seats!
We were so excited!
Now, we were so close to the stage!
My travel companion said, ‘I have never been a VIP before, even back home but now here in Iran, I become a VIP. I just can’t believe it!’ neither could I. When you sat so close to the stage and got to see the performance so closely, you could definitely enjoy the show.
‘Will they ask us to go up to the stage to introduce ourselves?’ I asked, a bit worried though. ‘I hope not’ my travel companion replied. Apparently, both of us didn’t want to be the centre of attention. Lucky that it didn’t happen.
Just as we were making ourselves comfortable, a girl outside the VIP area waived to us and asked us to sit on the seats closest to hers. There were crowd control barriers between us. She said, ‘sorry, I can’t go over to your area because of this barrier.’ She then gently touched the barrier between us. Even so, we kept talking until the national anthem of Iran was played.
And the ‘barrier’?
It was not important anymore.
It was simply gone.
Other people sitting close to us offered us traditional Iranian snacks. They tasted like Chinese crispy egg rolls. So yummy!!! 🙂 I loved them! I wondered where they bought them or maybe they were homemade.
The girl told us she was a university student studying English – Farsi translation at university. She also told us about her religion, culture, arranged marriage (in the past), divorce rate (I was quite surprised to learn from her that the divorce rate was quite high in Iran in 2006)… In return, we told her about our culture and so on.
During the show, she translated some parts for us to help us understand more of the performances.
There were performers from the south dancing the traditional dance, singers and there was also a puppet show for the kids. In the end, a very famous comedian appeared. When he appeared on the stage, the audiences were thrilled! They screamed so loudly that it shocked the two of us.
The local people looked so conservative and quiet on the outside, but they were, in fact, just like anyone of us.
That comedian was quite good. Even if I didn’t understand any Farsi at all, I could understand what he was doing through his funny body language.
It was such an enjoyable night.
Where was the barrier?
I didn’t feel it anymore.
2 September 2006