Pollution at the Bazaar

Pollution at the Bazaar
Greetings from the other side

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flashback: Home Movies from 1960's

These are some home movies from my family around the late 60's in Iran (before the 1979 revolution that created the Islamic Republic, so there was no dress code then). Watch until the end and you will be rewarded with a painterly picnic scene of a lovely girl dancing in front of wind swept cypresses.*

1960's home movies from Iran from Eric Feldman & Leyla Modirzadeh on Vimeo.

*The first man you see is my father with a moustache. Next you see my Aunt Mehri's daughter Maryam dancing the twist, with Mehri looking on in a pale pink sweater. Eventually you can see my grandfather smoking the hookah pipe and my grandmother praying, also in the thumbnail frame above. Uncle Fakh is the one serving the saffron rice, also praying in front of Grandma. Uncle Mahmad is the one dancing around, Uncle Mahmoud puts the flower in his mother's hair, and Uncle Shams and his wife Khanouma are cleaning the shaving cream off of their little girl's face.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


My sister-in-law Yegi and her sister Zohreh were my companions on the journey. They are both also my second cousins. Here we are at the Amsterdam airport after many high security searches of our bags and ourselves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wow! I'm here!

The day we arrive is "Ashura." Ashura is a very holy mourning day for the Muslims when Hossein, Mohammad's grandson and his 72 disciples were brutally murdered. They have all day processions and give away food. This is not a celebration but rather a mourning ritual that lasts 2 months and people are encouraged to cry freely about the martyrs. I am grateful that Yegi took me to see it since some of my family members do not like Ashura.

Ashura from Eric Feldman & Leyla Modirzadeh on Vimeo.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ameh Mehri's House (my father's sister)

I spent the first 5 nights with my beloved Aunt Mehri. I was sick for part of it so I didn't go outside much. Ameh Mehri conducts quiet rebellion around her apartment, like having a beer mug magnet collection on her fridge (alcohol is illegal).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Satellite TV

A lot of my relatives have satellite TV, even though it is illegal. Most of the Farsi channels are broadcast out of Los Angeles. My aunt likes to watch TV. I watched all my aunt's favorite shows and her favorite sports. I even got to see Tom Cruise and Jack Black speaking Farsi.

Watching TV with Mehri from Eric Feldman & Leyla Modirzadeh on Vimeo.


For a big city, Tehran has a number of lovely parks. People feel free here to stroll and even unmarried couples hold hands sometimes because the police tend not to patrol the parks. Ameh Mehri took me for a night stroll through the park near her house. Exercise equipment in bright colors encourage men and women alike to exercise here. Here you can see Ameh Mehri trying out some exercise equipment.

Exercise from Eric Feldman & Leyla Modirzadeh on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tajrish Bazaar

Yegi and Zohreh took me out to the bazaar. Colorful foods piled everywhere. Even lamb heads.

Where's Waldo? I'm here under a sign that reads: Aunt Leyla.

My beautiful Aunt Zohreh.

Friday, December 10, 2010


We went in a mosque where I borrowed a flowered chador to wear inside. The women have a separate entrance and their own room in the back but we had to hear what was going on through the wall. Because of the government being an Islamic theocracy, there is gender apartheid in many public places. I spent most of my time with women while I was there.
A lot of my relatives I spent time with in Iran were religious Muslims. They pray 5 times a day and the women cover up when a man comes in the room who is not a close relative. First cousins marry often in my family so even when my cousins would come around, for the most part I would have to cover up.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sights Sounds and Smells

The pollution, which smells like diesel fumes, gives people sore throats and headaches and a particular Tehran cough. I wore a mask when I didn't feel well. The sounds were mostly traffic honking and sometimes a loud speaker. As for sights, I really liked the public art works of murals and mosaics on the side of the highways.

I saw a lot of images of martyrs killed during the Iran/Iraq War. I also images of the mullahs in power on the sides of buildings. President Ahmedinejad was not pictured that much, I guess since the mullahs are really the ones in power. Politics were often a big topic of conversation in the taxi cabs and at gatherings.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


There is a lovely new Metro, with separate cars for women only. I liked the signs warning against getting your chador caught in the escalator.

Meet the Fakhers

This is my Uncle Fakhr and his wife Mansoor Khanoum's family. He has 6 children and I saw 5 of my cousins while I was there: Majid, Hamid and his family, Said and his wife Fatimeh, Ali and his family, and Azadeh and her husband Naveed, who are both preparing to be doctors and helped me when I got sick there. The whole family was very warm and generous to me.

This is Amoo Fakhr and his wife, my aunt, Mansoor Khanoom.

I had a very sweet evening walking around the park with Majid where we ate roasted beets at the cafe there. I remembered Majid from my childhood when he lived in San Jose and we had a good time catching up.

Here is cousin Hamid with his family. He has a store in the bazaar not far from his brother Ali's store.

Saeid and Fatimeh were a lot of fun and very kind to me. They had me over for dinner and took me for a walk in the park where we laughed a lot together.

This is Ali and his family.

Azadeh and Navid were a wonderful couple who are expecting our newest member of the family: little boy Boorna who will be with us soon.

Old Family Photos

Here are some old family photos that my cousin Azadeh showed me.

This is Agha Joon, my grandfather, and my Uncle Mahmoud.

From left to right: A cousin, Saeid, Ali, and Majid.

This is in front of my grandparent's house, with my father playing drums next to his brother, Uncle Shams, and Grandma.

This is my Uncle Fakhr in front of his store.

In Iran, everyone loves a picnic. From left to right: A cousin, Hamid,an unknown person holding Saeid, Mansoor Khanoom, a cousin, Majid.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Fatimeh, my cousin Said's wife, really inspired me with her rug making. She works about 5 hours a day on her rug which she said would take two years to finish. Yegi also showed me some beautiful rugs at the carpet museum, which my Uncle Mahmad helped to design.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Songs and Poetry

Agdas Khanoum, my father's first cousin on my Grandmother's side, invited everyone over for a delicious lunch. Some of the men sang and recited poetry from Omar Khayyam. After lunch, the men played cards and the women watched a movie on TV.

This video clip takes a few seconds to start up but it's worth the wait!

Agdas Khanoum's from Eric Feldman & Leyla Modirzadeh on Vimeo.


Besides the rug museum and the Shah's palaces, I also saw Golestan Palace from the Qajjar Dynasty in the 19th century as well as the old Qajjar center which now houses the Ancient Museum. Outside, there were beautiful orange and red roses that bloomed all winter and seemed to have an inner flaming glow.
I also saw the Cyrus Cylinder, on loan from the British Museum, but I couldn't really take a picture of it. This little cylinder is the first Bill of Human Rights for a society ever found. The Cyrus Cylinder is a legacy of Cyrus the Great - the Persian emperor famed for freeing the Jews of ancient Babylon after conquering the city in 539 BC.