Friday, 30 May 2014
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
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.
|The ruins of Persepolis, capital of the largest empire 2500 years ago|
Tuesday, 20 May 2014
|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.
Sunday, 18 May 2014
|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
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。