By Cyrus Massoudi

ISBN-10: 1848856377

ISBN-13: 9781848856370

For Cyrus Massoudi, a tender Britishborn Iranian, the rustic his mom and dad have been compelled to escape thirty years in the past was once a spot utterly unknown to him. eager to make feel of his roots and piece jointly the divided, divisive and deeply contradictory puzzle that's modern Iran, he launched into a chain of trips that spanned thousands of miles and millions of years during the many ebbs and flows of Iranian heritage. From the border with Turkey to that of Turkmenistan, from the Caspian basin all the way down to the Persian Gulf, his trips took him from the mythological first kings of Iran, to the Elamite state, the eras of Cyrus and Darius, the honor of the Sasanians, the surprise of the Islamic Arab conquests and the later Mongols, Safavids and directly to Khomeini, Ahmadinejad and past. wealthy portrayals of Sufis and growing old aristocrats, smugglers and underground rock bands are all woven including heritage, faith and mythology to shape a special portrait of up to date Iranian society....

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Near me, a girl no more than ten or eleven years old was jumping up and down eagerly. ‘This is my favourite part,’ she announced to no one in particular. Suddenly to my right there was a young woman’s scream. I turned to see the same elderly man who had just now been dancing and brandishing his wooden sword wrestling a little white bundle from the arms of the screaming woman. The bundle was a little boy, barely two years old, wrapped in the ominous white robe. A green hat was pulled from his head as he disappeared into the black throng looking terrified.

A young man in khaki fatigues is being crushed under the tracks of an oncoming Iraqi tank whilst a rose weeps a tear of blood for the martyr. As I stared distractedly at this 6-metre-high mural that towered over the wide road leading into the centre of town, yet again reminded of the ever-present spectre of the Iran–Iraq War of 1980–8, I was snapped out of my reverie by Rahimi. An agency taxi driver in his early forties, he had long been the family’s homme à tout faire, running errands for uncles and aunts to help make ends meet.

The less pious men or those past their self-flagellation dates stood with the women, watching solemnly, clasping their right hand to their hearts, occasionally raising a handkerchief to dab welling eyes between heartfelt cries of ‘Ya Hossein’. The tail of the procession was made up of young boys, some only three or four years old, armed with special mini zanjirs – smaller, toy-like replicas in which the heavy metal chains have been replaced by light, plastic ones. Imitating their fathers in this symbolic act, they brought down the chains onto their frail little shoulders with bewildered looks.

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Land of the Turquoise Mountains. Journeys Across Iran by Cyrus Massoudi

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