Saturday, March 31, 2012

Novruz = New Year = Happy Spring! [+ Etc.]

It's the biggest holiday in the region.  Alas, this year T and I will miss most of it, in favor of a big 6-0 trip for me to Lebanon and to France.  For four weeks leading up to the equinox people here and in Iran celebrate Novruz, an ancient Zoroastrian holiday. On each of the four Tuesday evenings--dedicated to water, fire, earth, wind--bonfires are made in each neighborhood and people jump over the fire.  Plates of traditional foods numbering seven, all items beginning with "S" are prepared. There is a festive spirit all month long, and despite the still cold temps, the cheery trays of wheat grass for sale at many small shops help to remind that Spring is indeed around the corner. It has been the coldest winter in 100 years here!

A and K, waiting for Spring
wheat grass for sale

Novruz treats


  • Less than three months to Eurovision. Whole neighborhoods have been razed, people displaced, trees uprooted. Construction continues at a relentless pace, pretty much 24/7, not only at the newly-leveled route from downtown to the [new, in construction] arena but at various spots in town, including the iconic new "flame towers" on a hill  above the old city, a long, wide strip of well-established commerce between two metro stations stripped of life, and at a number of state institutions (e.g. national oil company, state puppet theater) where, presumably (behind elaborate scaffolding and screens) sandblasting or perhaps yet another new layer of veneer, is being added.  [Will this post earn me a visit from scary-looking men in black suits, waiting for me at my door one evening, as I heard happened to another foreign blogger??] At 7 pm busloads of migrant workers take off for the night--are there enough of them to do the highly ambitious level of work envisioned?  No doubt this is true of most cities hosting major events.  At least its not Rio, host of the 2014 World Cup, where apparently slave labor and prisoners are being used for their mad construction blitz.
  • It's not the first time I've been on a rogue bus, the driver having decided he (always a "he") didn't like the look of the traffic ahead and decided on a different route. Usually this results in little time savings and, amazing to me, generally NO outburst from passengers who may be seriously inconvenienced. I am thankful I know my way around a bit now, so no panic at not knowing where we are going.
  • In the "never in the U.S." department--an ad for prenatal vitamins called: NATALSID