Reflections on art, fitness, family, politics and literature that hit me like bricks as I chauffeur my children from place to place...
A pink taxi
July 3, 2010
The Lion and Sun, the emblem of Pahlavi Iran
1979 was an eventful political year and a milestone year for me. I was nine and aware of what was happening in my motherland.
I was aware that my maternal family's lives had changed for ever. I was aware that they had to leave everything behind to live in the USA and in Dubai. I was aware that my grandfather, and my aunts, had lost their homes, lands and that their wealth had been expropriated.
A revolution had occurred at our doorstep.
I didn't grow in a household or even in an extended family where events were explained to me. I witnessed them third hand, and interpreted the reactions and eaves dropped on conversations that never seemed passionate or biased. In fact, I hardly remember much criticism of a new regime that had transformed my family's life. They were just struggling with the pride of affirming their identity and preserving it.
"Where are you from?" The eternal American question.
"From Iran". They never hid behind the pretentious "Persian".
"Oh?......you must be from the Ancien regime?" I was French speaking and didn't need explaining.
The adults would reply: "not old or new regime, just Iranian". I think I heard my mom shock more than one with "new regime".
My aunts had a small picture of the Shah framed and put almost negligently on a coffee table in their Utah living rooms. A way of remembering times lost. Eventually those pictures made room for their own grandchildren's. I used to look at the picture of the Shah and wonder.
My grandfather had pictures of himself with the Shah. He had once even emptied the contents of his house in Shiraz to host the Shah (I think his ten kids had to sleep at his sister's). But hosting the Shah or receiving him at hospital openings didn't mean he was a supporter of the Shah. My grandfather was serving his country and developing the health infrastructure. He was his own man, never one to partake in personality cults.
I think I inherited that philosophy and have always questioned royalist feelings. When I was introduced to the late Shah's son Ali Reza, who was my classmate at Harvard, I spoke to him without any reverence, as an equal.
A few years later, I visited the palace of the Shah in Niaravan. I walked the cordoned corridors and peered into the Shah's bedroom, the way tourists pear into the royal bedroom at Versailles but here I noticed, in all surprise, that it wasn't a palace, just a nobleman's house. Perhaps, they had overspent at the Peacock throne party, but the house was a humble one.
Incidentally, I also visited Khomeiny's home and "arena" where he gave his most spectacular speeches. It wasn't an arena that could hold thousands of people as appeared in the historical photos, just a medium size amphitheater that could host a hundred spectators at most. Incredible, the manipulative power of photography. Photographs can distort history: old or new regime!!
The pink taxi runs from 7 am to 7pm. It picks and drops off my 3 kids at school, ballet,judo, aikido, violin, climbing, riding, squash, basketball, skiing, skating, swim team, friends, grandparents and teachers. The car, not pink, but a black SUV, drives to Carrefour and Coop. To Club stretch for pilates and Aviation club for weekly workouts. It is driven by a woman who navigates on the radio, gets DJed by her 4 year old or sometimes quietly reflects. The thoughts are about politics, family, humor, literature, art or fitness. Sometimes they are excruciatingly longwinded, other times they are gossipy and hot.
I hope you will all enjoy!