Friday, 30 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (5) Final Episode: Iran! Iran! 伊朗印象(5)终结篇: 伊朗!伊朗!

Isfahan Square
Two weeks in Iran showed me the extent to which a country can be savagely demonised by the corporate free press. I was surprised by the contrast between what I saw, and what’s commonly portrayed in TV and newspapers. I hope my pictures have said at least a few words.


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (4) — Heroes 伊朗印象(4)- 英雄篇

Persia’s Achaemenid Empire once kinda stretched from Turkey in the west to Pakistan in the East. Its founder Cyrus the Great (circa 600 to 530 BCE), and legendary capital Persepolis (eventually razed by Alexander the Pyromaniac) may evoke a glorious past, but are no match for Hafez and Saadi in capturing the soul and passion of Iran. Few other people revere their poets like Iranians do. The mausoleum of Hafez is still packed with admirers after more than 600 years. They seek solace from his philosophical love poems, even use them as soothsayings to calm the mind and heart. Saadi Shirazi who lived a century before Hafez is similarly remembered. 

大约两千五百年前,波斯的阿契美尼德王朝疆域辽阔,西包土耳其,东含巴基斯坦。王朝的缔造者居鲁士大帝,和被希腊纵火狂阿历山大烧毁的著名古都 Persepolis,虽然标志着古波斯帝国的文明和强大,但对伊朗人来说,魅力还不及哈菲兹萨迪。看来没有一个民族比伊朗人更爱慕伟大的诗人。六百多年来,伊朗人到哈菲兹的陵园凭吊,冥想,找寻灵性,修补创伤,络绎不绝。他充满哲理的情诗,甚至被用来占卦。

The ruins of Persepolis, capital of the largest empire 2500 years ago
2500年前世上最强大繁荣的古都 Persepolis

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (3) — Mosques and Morgues 伊朗印象(3)- 上帝与波斯

Visitor Contemplating a 1500-year-old Fire behind glass
in Zoroastrian Temple in Yadz
在 Yadz 拜火庙的火盘,供人隔着玻璃观赏参拜。


Religion and the Middle East are inseparable. Iran is no exception, though the average Iranians are not nearly as devout as they appear to outsiders. Started out as monotheistic Parsees (Zoroastrians) in the 6th Century, ancient Persians worshipped a God named Ahura Mazda (unrelated to the Japanese car) with an unremitting fire maintained by a keeper. A few centuries later, it was replaced by Islam, brought in by Arabic conquerors. It has since dominated the spiritual side of Iran, especially after the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago. Zoroastrian has survived as a minor religion, and some fire temples are still in use. 

宗教在中东有历史性的中心地位,伊朗当然不例外。不过对一般的伊朗人来说,宗教无疑是历史文化和生活的一部分,但信仰并不狂热。波斯人在六世纪创立了拜火教,教义极为简单合理,不外正念,正言,正行。拜火教中文译名有些误导。教徒拜的不是火,而是与日本汽车同名的真神“万事达” 。崇拜祂的工具是薪火不断的“火盘”。伊斯兰教由阿拉伯侵略者大概一千年前带入波斯,自此成为主流,但仍然有部分人信奉拜火教。

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (2) — Persian Bazaars 伊朗印象(2)- 波斯市集

Tehran Bazaar 德黑兰市集 

Whenever I visit a strange place, I like to see its markets. They tell me a lot about the locals’ lives, habits, social order, living standard, and behaviour towards each other. For example, supermarkets are efficient, impersonal, and cold, while advertising “organic” produce. I wonder who invented them. 

Persian Bazaars are colourful, personal, and busy, but clean and quiet comparing with their Far East counterparts. Iranians do bargain, but not at the expense of sanity and composure. They don’t scream and exchange curses ritualistically before finalising a deal. The bazaars open early in the morning, then take a long nap after lunch before resuming in the late afternoon. Normally, there’s a seemingly incongruous tomb of an imam and/or a religious school in the midst of fragrant herbs and sticky candies, probably to remind people of their spiritual needs while depraving the bodies with yummy food and colourful fabrics.



Saturday, 17 May 2014

Impressions from Iran (1) - SMILING FACES from Bush's AXIS of EVIL 伊朗印象(1)- 布希 “邪恶轴心” 的善良嘴脸

When newspaper-reading friends first learnt of my plan to join a few retirees for a trip to Iran, their common reaction was: “Iran? You be careful huh.” As departure approached, I became slightly nervous about adventuring into Bush's “Axis of Evil”, braving a “yellow travel alert” dutifully echoed by the Hong Kong Government. I even considered buying insurance for the first time. However, anxiety was no match for my curiosity about the only other ancient civilisation which still thinks reasonably independently.

前阵子有几位退休朋友自己组团游伊朗,我立即报名参加。除了中国,当今世上还能基本上思想独立的文明古国就只有伊朗,非要看看不可。 但很多经常看报纸的朋友们知道之后,都面带忧色地警告我小心。“踏足美国的邪恶轴心非同小可,惟望三思而行。” 可惜退缩已经太迟,最后只有鼓起勇气,与家人拥抱道别之后,战战兢兢地登上飞机。