SYNOPSIS:  An introduction of Nicola.   A few notes on Noruz.  How to eat Dizi.  One final word on clothing.  Fires or fear?  My way or the local way?  Those are the questions.

Sale No Mobarak!  – Happy New Year!

It started tonight.  I have no idea why all this time I was told, or thought, that Noruz would start on the 19th.  Perhaps, there are a few starting dates?  There certainly does not seem to be a clear end for this holiday.  For the next few weeks, Iran will celebrate an ancient festival that goes all the way back to Zoroastrian times.  It is unique to Iran.  When I booked my flight to Beirut and back out of Teheran, way back in Ann Arbor, I had a Syrian operator on the line.  He was a nice guy who had a lot of good ideas and knowledge of the Middle East.   When I pointed out to him that travel might be difficult during Noruz, he was first surprised – what is that?  And then he rejected the notion as impossible – there is no such thing as another New Year celebration.  New Year is in January.  He is a Muslim and he knows that there is no New Year festival during March.  Guess what?  There is.  Interestingly enough, when I talked to the four girls from Ahvaz a couple of days ago and mentioned to them that Noruz is a very ancient festival, considered quite un-Islamic– they were not aware of the roots of this holiday at all!  One thing you could tell tonight was that the government was out in full force.  Police and army was everywhere, all day, even in little arch-religious Shushtar.  As I was happily posting yesterday’s blog last night, Nicola ran some errands.  She witnessed an arrest in the main circle of town.  Quite demonstratively, a young guy was hand-cuffed and put away.  She described it as a show of power; perhaps, something like setting an example for others?  It was clear who was in control of this day.… VIEW PHOTOS AND READ THE WHOLE STORY