Video: Violinist In The Mountains Of Iran

I love hearing different music when I travel, and often it’s the music I remember the most. One of my clearest memories of Bulgaria, for example, is an elderly woman on the streets of Sofia singing a folk song. Even though I didn’t know the words, the song stuck with me.

Here’s a video of another chance encounter with traditional music, this time in Iran. Youtube poster bornainspain was hiking in the mountains outside Iran’s capital Tehran and came across this old gentleman playing a catchy tune on a bright red violin. The caption says it’s a very old Persian melody. It sounds familiar, though, and I don’t think I heard it when I went to Iran back in 1994. Can anyone tell me the name of this tune?

Whatever it is, he plays it well and this video points out one of the best things about travel – the chance encounters that make lasting memories. Do you have any fond musical memories from your travels? Tell us about them in the comments section!

Video: Finding Love In Iran

When people think of Iran, dating isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. It’s a conservative country with a strict form of Islamic law. Natural urges are unconquerable, though, and young people will always find a way to hook up. This video from Alessio Rastani describes how the young and well-off find love in Tehran, Iran’s capital. Rastani talks with his cousins, who live there, about how to go about it and what Iranian women are looking for in a man.

This is nothing new. When I was in university back in the ’90s, one of my friends was an Iranian woman studying in the U.S. She told me that when she was in a girls’ high school, guys would hang out in front of the gate at the end of the day and throw little balled up pieces of paper onto the ground with their phone numbers on them. If you liked the guy, you picked up the piece of paper and called.

She was strictly Muslim, so talking was all she did. She liked one guy enough that she got permission for him to come over. After a few visits, her parents left them alone together. The first time this happened they sat together and talked for a couple of hours. After he left, her mother came out from the next room and said she’d been listening the whole time and was proud that she had been a good girl. My friend replied, “What did you expect me to do!?”

For her, you could be a good Muslim and still have fun.

Check out Rastani’s YouTube channel, HelloIranTV, for more great videos about life in Iran.

Battle of Marathon to be fought again

While the U.S. is having lots of Civil War reenactments lately, it’s not the only country where avid hobbyists like to refight old battles. This year Greece is marking the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, an epic clash between the Greeks and Persians that saved Europe from invasion and allowed Greek culture to thrive. To commemorate the battle, there will be a reenactment on the actual battlefield.

The battle was a desperate attempt to stop the Persian Empire, the major superpower of the day, from invading Greece in 490 BC. The Greek city-states of Athens and Palataea blocked the passes leading out from the Persian beachhead on the Plain of Marathon. Even though the Greeks were outnumbered two-to-one, they attacked and routed the Persians, ending the invasion.

There’s a legend that an Athenian named Pheidippides ran from the battlefield to Athens to announce the victory and died from exhaustion right after he gave the good news. The distance from Marathon to Athens is, of course, about 26 miles. This actually never happened, but it makes a good story.

From September 9 to 11, hundreds of reenactors from around the world will converge on the battlefield for a day of sham fighting and historical demonstrations. The Greek side will include many Greeks, while the Persian ranks will have many Iranians. Dozens of other countries will contribute people as well. Events will be centered on a reconstruction of the Greek military camp and there will be archery demonstrations, ancient music and dancing, and much more.

At least 200 warriors will duke it out on the original battlefield, but there won’t be any blood spilled. The Greeks will have dull spears and the Persians will be firing rubber-tipped arrows. I bet this poor fellow pictured here, a Greek casualty of the real battle, wished there were rubber arrows back in his day.

[Photo courtesy Keith Schengili-Roberts]

Iranian and British national museums face off over artifact

Iran’s national museum has cut off ties with the British Museum because of a controversy over a 2,500 year-old cuneiform tablet called the Cyrus cylinder. One of the most important artifacts from Persian civilization, the cylinder was supposed to be loaned to Iran but the loan has been delayed. Iran says the delay is politically motivated, but the British Museum says they need to compare the artifact to two similar tablets that were discovered recently. This is a change from the reason they gave back in October, citing the insecure situation after Iran’s disputed national elections.

In anticipation of displaying the cylinder in Tehran, the National Museum of Iran has spent $200,000 to enhance its security systems, but now it has nothing to display. The UK now faces the possibility of having all its scientific and cultural missions to Iran canceled. The move is similar to what Egypt did to the Louvre a few months ago in protest over some artifacts stolen from the Valley of the Kings.

The Cyrus cylinder was made in 539 BC to commemorate Cyrus the Great’s conquest of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The inscription is significant for several reasons. It mentions returning exiles to their homeland, which might refer to the end of the Jews’ Babylonian captivity. Some scholars have written that this passage and others about just rule make the cylinder is the world’s first declaration of human rights, although it is by no means comparable to a modern constitution. The text is online here.

Nooroz Mobarak or Happy New Year

When some of woke up this morning and turned our calendars to Tuesday, March 20, 2007 another part of the planet and even some of our friends nearby were turning the page to the first day of a new year – the year is now 1386. Nooroz (Persian New Year) is no stranger to the Gadling pages. I mentioned it last year and offered some greetings for those who wished to spread good cheer and happiness through local communities celebrating the days long event.

This year I’m going to leave you with a few events to check out across the country should you feel so inclined to learn a little about this fascinating culture and holiday. Last year I missed out on various happenings, but this year I’m hoping to find a nice party to crash in the DC/Virginia area. Here are just a few of my finds, but please feel free to share the specifics on others.

From pars411 I found this Eid Nooroz party happening tomorrow at Lima in D.C. has a calendar featuring events taking place all across the country from San Francisco to New Jersey throughout the entire holiday. So not many discoveries on this end, but there are several out there worth looking for and participating in – I’m sure.

Again, happy, happy New Year.