10.11.2017

A month in Iran: reportage 13 - Tehran: Laleh Park, Contemporary Art Museum, Carpets Museum... and a Persian Party

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Laleh Park

Too hot today! I'm melting under my mateau... fortunately Tehran is full of beautiful parks. My favourite is Laleh park, a large green area including also some important museums: the Contemporary Art Museum and the Carpets Museum.
The park itself is worth a visit and I love this area of the city, rich in book shops and crowded of students. 
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Laleh Park
Not far from here there is the University and many alternative locals are flourishing, with original art galleries and alternative theaters. 
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Contemporary Art Museum
It's a fascinating world, but you have to find it and it isn't easy. If you are curious I suggest you book a tour with Tehran_Art _Discovery (look for it on Instagram!), you wont regret.
Today we go straight to the Contemporary Art Museum. It's a bit disappointing: in the garden there are some very interesting sculptures by important artists... but it's impossible to visit it. 
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Contemporary Art Museum
Inside the building there are temporary exibitions by young Iranian artists. But the collection is no more there! It seems it's touring in the USA... 
I have already visited the Carpets Museum and I'm eager to show it to my son. The building itself is very beautiful, one of the many exemples of contemporary architecture in Tehran. 
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Carpets Museum
Unfortunately the museum is under maintenance and its amazing collection of carpets from all over Iran, dating from the 16th century to the present has been random relocated in the ground floor... Amazing anyway. 
Today we are not lucky. It's almost 3 pm and we are definitely hungry. 
The subway to Pasdaran Boulevard, in the Northern part of the city, is almost empty and a we know that a huge tasty lunch is waiting for us.
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Carpets Museum
"Friends of my friends, you are my very special friends!" could be the motto in Iran. Afsaneh, my friends' school mate, open the door of her wonderful house and ask if we prefer to eat on the carpet or on the table. On the carpet of course! 
We eat to much, and then we dance. "Let's take a picture all together!" my friend Najmeh says, "Not without a make up!" So Afsaneh does make up to everybody, me included... You can see me transformed in an Iranian beauty!
Time to go home. Fortunately we have to walk from the subway station in Eram to our place, because my friends are coming and my adoptive mother Monir must cook a huge tasty dinner. Don't go to Iran if you want to lose weight!
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TO BE CONTINUED

Have also a look to Part 1Part 2,  Part 3Part 4 Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8 Part 9Part 10Part 11 and Part 12 


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Lavish building in Pasdaran



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All marble hall for this building
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I'm just WOW
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Huge delicious lunch on the carpet
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Iranian beauty ;)
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Guy and girl at the Persian party :D

10.07.2017

A month in Iran: reportage 12 - Southern Tehran: Golestan palace, the Gran Bazar and the ex USA embassy.

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoorWe woke up late. Now we are in a hurry and thanks god for the new Tehran subway! it's still uncompleted but it covers almost all the city allowing to move in a decent time. It's crowded, and that gives an idea of the huge ammount of people living, working and daily moving in Tehran, because the streets are permanently blocked by the traffic jam. 
Image may contain: 1 person, shoesThe rush time is crazy, especially on the lines crossing Azadi Tower area, because there is located an important bus terminal. Fortunately - for me! - on the Tehran subway women have got a dedicated space. That isn't true for men, indeed the subway trains are mixed, but women can opt for the only women part, that's less crowded the most of the times, and in rush time it's preferable to be squeezed among other women than in a crowd of men... well... at least I prefer! The subway is a moving bazar: any kinds of vendors get in and loudly advertise their merchandise, and people buy. It's perfectly legal. Male vendors shouldn't get in the only women train... but they do anyway.
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Image may contain: flower, plant and outdoorGolestan ('place of  flowers') was the official residence of the Shah, who used to listen to his subjects sitting on his majestic marble throne. I have already been here but it strikes me again the joyful concept of this 'hall of throne', open on a beautiful garden rich of flowers and refreshing fountains. Golestan complex includes several palaces and I'm looking forward to visit again the stunning 'mirrors palace', all decorated in small pieces of mirrors reflecting the light and creating an incredible athmosphere. Pure splendour.
No automatic alt text available.It's midday, the azan (or 'adan') softly comes from the nearest mosque. A family pray on the grass and I silently join. Now we are hungry: Golestan Restaurant, inside the palace, is not cheap but very very good. Traditional Persian dishes are well cooked and potions are large. 
Image may contain: 1 personIt's very hot in the early afternoon and we are sitting on the grass when a man in a uniform comes to us. I recognise him: he is a 'pasdaran'. Very kindly and in a good English he tells us that it's forbiden to sit on the grass. We thank him and move to the nearest bench. 
Wow! times have changed! I remember that in my last stay pasdarans were very strict and almost unfriedly: a political fight was in act opposing the liberal President Khatami and the Supreme Guide Khameni, so Pasdarans were sent around enforcing the dressing code and laws regarding drinking, music, men and women public frequentation... Now they are all smiles, especially with tourists. The democratic President Rouhanni has been elected for the second time. He signed an historical pact with the International Community about nuclean energy development for civil use obtaining the lift of sanctions. Iran is opening to the world and finally the world seems to understand that Iran is a friendly, safe, peaceful country.
Image may contain: outdoor and waterIn the streets outside Golestan a big crowd is busy shopping in the Grand Bazar and in the many shops all around it. We are in the Southern part of the city, more working-class and more traditional. Here the Revolution had one of its center, the other one being in the University among radical students embracing Islam as a political ideology. Even now in the Grand Bazar you can see groups of people, especially men, sitting on a pile of carpets or standing in front of a shop sipping tea and animately discussing. 
Image may contain: indoorThe Grand Bazar is huge! we have been walking up and down in his corridor for almost two hours and we didn't see it all. And walking it's hard because of the crowd and kinda scaring because of the porters' carts riding full speed. Porters' work is vital for the Grand Bazar as its dimensions don't allow to pick up the acquired stuff directly by car, especially when you bought something big or many items. It has to be carried outside. And given that the porters are paid piece work... they run like hell!
Exhausted, we emerge. Airconditioning makes the subway especially nice! Few stops and there we are: just in front of the ex USA embassy
Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, food and indoorThe last time I have been here standing and taking pictures it was forbiden, we had stopped by the other side of the street discretely shooting from inside our bus. Now I can pose few inches from the wall, covered on anti-American graffiti from the days of the hostages crisis. 
Image may contain: 1 person, standing, tree, crowd, sky and outdoorThe embassy is abandoned. There are project about it, to transform it in a museum or to the place of a students' association. But - just like the hijab - it has got such a symbolic value that its normalisation requires time. Iran is moving on, slowly but steadily. Only, it is moving in its own direction and can't accept any external forcing.

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TO BE CONTINUED

Have also a look to Part 1Part 2,  Part 3Part 4 Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8 Part 9Part 10 and Part 11Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, table and indoorImage may contain: outdoorImage may contain: 1 personImage may contain: 1 person

Mingma G on Nanga Parbat again and Record by Muhammad Ali Sadpara

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October 3 at 2:15pm, Mingma G wrote on facebook:
"What about if I say we made nanga parbat-8125m summit yesterdayn now we are safely back to base camp?"

He had said he wasn't sure about his Nanga Parbat summit and that he was going to try again. Well... he did.
The expedition also set a record because Muhammad Ali Sadpara is the first and only Pakistani who got to the summit of Nanga Parbat 4 times.
On October 5 at 1:36 pm Mingma G. shared some dettails:

"We are heading back to city.
We 8 climbers made Nanga Parbat 8125m Summit on 02-10-2017 at 12:40pm. We had really good weather during our climb and we are all safely back from mountain.
We are sorry for no updates as our friends suggested us not to give any information about this climb. 
By this climb, I understood that Pakistan's tourism agencies need to focus on Autumn climbing and trekking around Nanga Parbat area as the weather remains very fine and clear all the days.
Congratulations to all climbers on Manaslu for successful ascent and other climbers who made safe descent from Dhaulagiri and Makalu.
Ps: photo and videos will be shared once we are back in city.
#Be #Determined #Don't #Wait"

Congrats!

10.03.2017

A month in Iran: reportage 11 - Northern Tehran: The Last Shah's Residence and Tajrish

Image may contain: sky, car, tree and outdoorWHAT A TRAFFIC! "I coud never live here" I think while my friend Sara drives her car like a true Tehran badass "I love living in a big city" she says getting off the highway to a beautiful tree-lined boulevard. 
Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, shoes and bootsThe last time I have been here it was winter and there was the snow. Now the green foliage makes it merry and bright. Beautiful new houses for the new riches have been built in the last years in the northern part of the city, and I wonder about the result of the Islamic Revolution as far as social equality.
In Iran people live very well, you don't see extreme poverty and the wellfare system is effective. Many key sectors of the economy are pubblic or under a close public control so that it can be fairly described as a 'mixed economy'. But class differences are acutely perceived. The Revolution has been a turn point for the large mass of poor workers but it failed to elimiate the Iranian upper class privileges. 
Image may contain: indoorThe Revolution itself was complex and polysemic, I don't even try here to give account of it, but it's important to say that Shi'a Islam has always been a revolutionary ideology with clerics supporting the popular claims against the political power, so it was normal to see a merge between islamist and communist militants in the uprising culminated in the last Shah  overthrow. 
No automatic alt text available.We are walking in what is now a splendid public park. The last Shah's private palace is a museum and Sara is right to say: "I have seen more lavish houses in Tehran...". The big Shah's brocken statue outside the palace is one of the symbol of the Revolution and I take a picture there as I did 15 years ago. 
Image may contain: 1 personThere are many museum in the park, the most interesting in my opinion is the Museum of the Water, displaying tools and method of mesuring and management of the water in the Iranian cities since the past until the present.
Tajrish shrine and bazar are the next destination. I love this place. The Bazar is smaller and less busy than the Grand Bazar in the southern part of the city, the shrine is cosy, beautiful and warm. 
The Prophet's family or Ahl al-Bayt has got a main role in Shi'a Islam so the tombs of its members are considered holy places and often visited for worshipping. But it's always worshipping of the one god.
Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and foodHowever a shirine is more than that, it's a small world where people feel at home. Here you can pray or read the Quran, but also chattering with your friend, study, write on your laptop and even sleep, especially in a hot summer afternoon. 
Men and women have dedicated sides of the shrine, separated by the golden grid guarding the holy grave. Touching the grid is part of the ritual as well as weeping and beating the chest, because according to the tradition the most of the  Ahl al-Bayt members died as martyrs, victimes of an oppressive and illegittimate power. 
The women side is noisy, crowded and chaotic. Children are playing, womens are parying loud or talking on the phone... My son says the men side is quieter...
Enough for today: tonight we go out! 
The next day we'll take the subway and we'll go exploring the southern part of the city: Golestan palace, the Gran Bazar and the ex USA embassy.

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Image may contain: foodTO BE CONTINUED
Have also a look to Part 1Part 2,  Part 3Part 4 Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 , Part 8 Part 9 and Part 10


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9.27.2017

About Nepal... by my friend Shankar Tamang

Image may contain: mountain, sky, cloud, outdoor and natureMy friend Shankar Tamang wrote this short article about his country and I'm glad to share it with my readers. 
He's one of the many - too many - Nepalis forced to work abroad, far from their families and often in hard condition. 
In spite of all he's always happy and keeps a positive attitude. So many times he cheered me up when I was sad, and probably he was having more reasons than me to be down...
Enjoy!

"About Nepal
Culture name: nepalese 
Atterrative name: nepali

Nepal is a small and beautiful Himalayan country in South Asia. 
Nepal culture represents a fusion of tibeto-mongolian and Indo-aryan elements.
For many inhabitants of Nepal Nepalese is a secondary language respect to the language of their ethnic group, but the most of them can speak Nepalese language.
Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Prominent among symbols for the nation as a whole are the natural flower (Rhododendron), birds and animals, as well as the curved knives (kukhris) of the Gorkhas, who have fought for British army and Indian Army. 
Nepalis have settled primarily in the lower hills and valleys, and in the Terai. The Tibeto-Nepalese people have distinctively Mongolian features and speak Tibetan languages. 
Many Nepalis do not feel that they have eaten a real meal unless it has included a sizable helping of rice. The most of them eat rice twice a day, usually at midmorning and early in the evening. 
Rice is generally served with lentils (daal), (tarkari) a cooked vegetables, pickles (achar). 
In poor and higher altitude areas, where rice is scarce, the staple food is (dhiro) chapati and roti. 
The large majority of the people is employed in subsitence farming growing rice, barley, wheat, millet and vegetables.
The name of the national currency is Rupee. Nepal is heavily dependent on trade from India and China. 
81% of Nepalis are Hindu, Buddhist people are 9%, Muslim people are 4.4%, Christian people are 1.4%. Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was born in southern Nepal. 
The highest elevation in Nepal is Mount Everest, world highest mountain, rising 8848m (29029F) above sea level. 
There are many high mountains, including many 8.000: Makalu, Annapurna, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Chuoyu, Dhaulagiri, Manasulu, Himalchuli Saipal...
Thank you!"

9.26.2017

A month in Iran: reportage 10: Bring me to Isfahan

Image may contain: people standing, sky and outdoorIn the cold shadow I contemplate Masjed-e Shah blue dome touched by the early morning light. The big rectangular square is empty, the huge bazar is closed. I'm sleepy. A man passes by bike and it's just a silhouette on the golden background: Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque through the fountain water spurt, there, in the center of the world, in front of Ali Qapu grand palace. 
Image may contain: sky, outdoor and textThere is nobody inside Masjed-e Shah, I'm the first visitor and savour my privilege. I have been here in 2004 and I remember it, still I can't avoid to feel the amazement in front of such a splendour. It's one of the most beautiful place I have ever seen. 
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorWhen I get out it's already hot, Naghsh-e Jahan square has been invaded by tourists and light. Ali Qapu palace seems a mirage, its elegant terrace open toward the wide space where dances and exhibitions were held for the amusement of the king and his court. Steep stairs lead to small rooms finely decorated. Here are guarded some of the most surprising painting of Iran, featuring romantic love scenes, female dancers, cups of wine in a vivid, realistic style. 
Image may contain: one or more people and people standingSheikh Lotfollah Mosque is by the other side of the square but it's too hot to cross it now and I prefer to plunge in the bazar darkness, crowded and fresh. I must admit that I don't like it very much: it's full of tourists and souvenirs, and sellers continuously ask your attention in English or even Italian. It looks like the center of Florence. Not a place I'm missing. But there is a further part of the bazar where locals sell and buy. Here I feel at ease.
No automatic alt text available."Bring me to Isfahan!" I tell myself "Bring me again to sip from the cup of beauty!" Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. This is one of the few places where I feel to belong. It's small, claustrophobic, just a room closed by a cupola, but what a room! and what a cupola! being inside, my back to the wall, looking up to the center of it, I recognise the peacock and its golden tail, made of the pure light of the sun filtering from a hole in the ceiling. This was a private mosque, a place of secret, secluded worshipping for the king family ladies. I hold my breath. I'm sorry I can't pray. I whisper Al Fatiah and can't decide to move.
No automatic alt text available.One day in Isfahan, so few! still this square is the heart of it. I just want to see again Allahverdi Khan Bridge or 'Si-o-se-pol': 'the bridge of thirty-three spans'. I'm disappointed: the river is completely dry! But we are in summer now while my last time it was March and in Tehran there was the snow... The bridge is beautiful anyway and I sit taking a rest because it's about time to rush to the bus terminal.
Image may contain: indoorOn our trip back to Tehran a little nice episode happened, well illustrating the great kindness and hospitality of the Persian people. The bus stopped in a service area at dinner time, my son and I bought two icecreams and two small boxes of pistachio nuts but when we went to pay we found out that our money wasn't enough. The cashier put aside one pistachio nut box and handed out the rest. It was fine, in Teheran we were going to have a regular dinner. Few later a man came to us with the second box: "You finished the money you changed, right?" he said with a large smile "Where are you from?". He didn't know us, he didn't even was on our bus. 
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TO BE CONTINUED

Image may contain: indoorHave also a look to Part 1Part 2,  Part 3Part 4 Part 5Part 6 , Part 7 and Part 8
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