On Fridays, the children would line up, all glittery pink shoes and Ninja Turtle T-shirts, and hike up a steep driveway from the preschool yard to the temple sanctuary. They walked single file or in pairs, one teacher in the lead and another bringing up the rear, each holding one end of a rope. The kids, 3 and 4 years old, gripped the length of the rope with their little hands stained with watercolor paint and Play-Doh dye. You could hear them singing Shabbat songs as they walked, and later, as they poured into the aisles and climbed onto the chairs in the temple and tried to sit still for a whole 20 minutes. By noon, when parents went to take them home, they were spent and tousled, excited but worn out by the morning's exploits. In their backpacks, they carried small challahs they had baked for that evening's dinner.
A painfully unappealing, unemployed woman in her late 30s with sumo wrestler thighs who wears 10-inch heels and a micro skirt to push around a pink stroller in which she carries her pair of Chihuahuas...
It’s true. Really. The Elizabeth Taylor. She of the many husbands and the showpiece jewels, the on-screen splendor and off-screen grit was, indeed, related to me by marriage. This isn’t a recent discovery; I’m not like my mother, who tends to unearth a long-lost or previously unknown cousin every time she steps out of the house. I’ve known about my relationship to Elizabeth Taylor since I was a young child in Iran, and I was reminded of it again recently during a book launch at USC.
There’s a concept in the Persian language – ghessmat – for which no exact equivalent exists in English. It refers to a person’s unrelenting, inescapable, for better or worse but either way, it was designed and executed specifically for you, destiny.
In the story, a young prince in an old and distant kingdom is mesmerized with salt.
I was 21 years old, a first-year law student at USC, when I walked by a trailer parked on an empty lot off McCarthy Way on the downtown campus. It was late afternoon, and I was on my way home; I only noticed the trailer because it was such an anomaly among the red brick buildings surrounding it. The door was open, and I could hear voices inside, and I saw a young man with dark skin and a sparse, reddish beard standing amid a mess of paper on the floor.
What is it with people telling the truth all the time? I don’t mean under oath, or even in response to a question that has been posed to them...
In case you were too busy watching Congress make a fool of itself last month to have noticed, a parallel, no-less-wrenching debate was raging in the halls of Beverly Hills
We were exchanging “memorable aunt” stories, and my friend, who’s a trial attorney, had a clear lead over all the rest of us.
I once wrote a novel about an Iranian Jewish woman who grows wings and flies away from her husband’s home.
It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, and I’m walking down a busy sidewalk in an upscale neighborhood in Tehran. My mother and her friend have picked me up from school and driven me here without saying what we’re going to do or why we can’t stop at home first so I can change out of my uniform.
“This,” I thought, “is what the surface of Mars must look like.”
Not long ago, I happened to be standing next to a guy at the Apple store in Century City. I was waiting by the register to pay for a new charger for my laptop; he was in line to buy the new iPhone. He looked like he was in his 60s and had had a few facelifts.
For every 100,000 babies born, 6,500 mothers die in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan due to unavailable or inadequate medical care. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, violent conflicts over control of its rich mineral deposits have killed more people than the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur combined.
" . . . Isn't it time that every Jewish child take at least one course in Herzl? If he isn't the modern father of the Jewish People, who is? For without Herzl's many contributions, the Holocaust would have excluded any chance of a Jewish state in Israel . . ."
Why Iran? Why now, you may ask.
In part, it is incredible that such an old and established Jewish community is unknown to most of us, and that the life they led is, for the most part, no more.
Salman Rushdie is at Disney Hall, addressing a near-capacity audience as part of the Music Center's 2006 Speaker Series. He has come this March 1 evening to talk about politics and art, truth and tyranny, free and forbidden speech. He has come, also, to promote his newest book.
My first inkling that something has gone tragically wrong is when I hand the parking attendant my valet ticket and see a wicked, knowing smile -- I know what you've been up to and trust me, you shouldn't have -- spread across her face. I try to smile back at her, but my cheeks are frozen stiff and my eyes feel as if they'll pop out of my head if I try to force the muscles. So I sit in the car and drive sufficiently away to escape the attendant's stare, then flip open the visor and check for signs of disaster: $350 and a trip to the dermatologist, a little vial of poison strong enough to paralyze a horse and here I am, looking exactly like before, except that smiling is out of the question.
"Is Truth more urgent than Desire?" That's the poignant question posed by the beautiful Blue in the opening of "Sunday's Silence," the newest novel by Gina Nahai. It is a question that Nahai herself makes tantalizingly difficult to answer as she intertwines both Truth and Desire as insidiously as the snakes that are the center of this compelling story.
I'm 11-years-old, my world a patchwork of mixed identities and conflicting beliefs, my eyes searching for a horizon I cannot yet see but that I follow almost by instinct. It's August in New York -- a long and gray stretch of humidity and noise, people speaking to me in an accent I cannot understand, streets choked with traffic, shops overflowing with merchandise, buildings that block out the sun and cast permanent shadows upon the city. It's the first of many visits I'll make with my family to America, a small and tentative step along a journey that has begun long ago in my parents' hearts.
It is summer, a long time ago, and I am lying on a terrace overlooking an ancient garden full of rosebushes and fruit trees. The days have been so hot, the asphalt on the sidewalk melts under my feet if I dare step out of the house. At night, the temperature drops. My sisters and I take the hose to the yard and stand there as the day's heat rises out of the brick floor in a cloud of white steam. My mother spreads our bed on the terrace, and we crawl into it, hours before we can actually fall asleep. We thrash about in the cool sheets that smell of dust, summer and lavender bleach; listen to the music that drifts up from our grandmother's radio downstairs; eat fresh mulberries we have picked from the tree in our own yard.
So there's a fairy-tale wedding: a thousand guests in a flower-filled ballroom, a dozen violins playing Mozart, a grainy-voiced singer belting out an old Persian love song. The bride is 20 years old and ravishing, of course, but she's also blessed with charm and charisma, the kind of exuberance that turns heads and drags stares behind her. She's been breaking hearts since she was 14 years old and walked into a cousin's wedding in a frilly white dress and a wide lace headband. Now she dances on stage, next to the singer with the forlorn music, and the crystal beads on her wedding gown glow like fireflies in the dark.