Category Archives: Marzieh’s Posts

Zayanderood – Marzieh Edris

016 Isfahan has had some good news during the past week. Zayanderood is full of water and life again. There has been great traffic around the river during the week and you could see a crowd on and around Khaju and Siosepol bridges most of the day. The city seems full of excitement and energy again. I hadn’t thought how important the river was to my city before it had dried up. It’s obviously important because of its water and its effect on the temperature and humidity of the city, and etc. But there’s more. Zayanderood is the source of life of the city, and it has gained an important place in our daily lives. We spend so much time in the parks around the river and walking on its beautiful bridges, it’s the number one place we think of going to whenever we want to go out with family and friends, even when it’s pretty cold in the evenings here. If you walk in the parks on the riverbanks early in the mornings you can see groups of elderly walking, playing chess and cards, or just sitting on benches and watching the river and chatting. Under Khaju Bridge you can almost always find someone singing traditional Persian songs and their own small audience. And there is always a crowd of people walking on Siosepol in the evenings. The river has affected our way of life and our culture in this city more than we had realized before losing it and Mikel’s post got me thinking about it again today.


Unrelated to old age

I know this is unrelated to the current topic, but I want to tell you what has been going on in my city during the past month. Mostly, because it’s all I can think about right now. During the past month there have been a number of cases of motorcyclists pouring acid on random young women on the streets of Isfahan. I say a number of because there seems to be no certainty as to how many; according to officials (I’m going to be using this word a lot an no names, and I don’t really think it matters much anyway) there might have been 8 to 11, although one official insists there have only been 4 victims. Last week one official said they had arrested 3 to 4 people related to this case (again not sure if 3 or 4) and another stated, only a few hours later, that no one had been arrested. This has obviously caused a lot of fear and unrest. There has been talk of a new legislation allowing everyone in society to guide others to the right path or the path of god. And one cleric had said it has become necessary to take action against women without the correct form of Hijab. So, it seems rational for most to assume these violent actions to be related to this new legislation, and a sign of what may come if it’s passed. Officials have tried hard to deny any relation between the two; they have called them the actions of one lunatic and not an organized crime of a group with a certain belief. I’m not certain what the truth is, and although I have seen it again and again, I still find the prospect that beliefs may drive people to such hatred and violence, and to cause such fear and disharmony in a society terrifying. Maz

Growing old in Iran-By Maz Edris

The Persian culture is just as obsessed with youth and beauty, and just as frightened of getting old and death as most other cultures. Some types of cosmetic surgery have actually become routine and the norm here. Apparently we are number one in the world in terms of the rate of nose jobs.

Still, this doesn’t mean the elderly are marginalized, disregarded, or disrespected; the elderly are actually greatly respected in my culture. Until my granddad was alive, whenever we went to visit him we had to sit cross legged on the ground (traditionally we didn’t have sofas and we would sit on the carpet and little mats and blankets and big hard cushions to rest our back and that’s what my grandparents’ house was like), we weren’t allowed to stretch our legs in front of him because he thought it very very rude for us to be sitting like that in front people older than us. That was just an example to show that respect may mean different things in different cultures, even from one city to the other in Iran. The elderly’s views on what the family members are doing or should be doing are important and it’s rude to disregard them, even when they haven’t gained as much wisdom as they should have during their years of life. This, in many cases, borders on interference rather than expressing of views. And sometimes this isn’t just limited to the elderly of the family, but anyone older than you will do just fine. Even though the culture is changing, you can still see many families in which the oldest member is the centre of the family and everyone listens to what they have to say. So getting old in Iran mostly brings with it a lot of power. I’m not saying that everyone obeys these cultural rules, I’m just one example of the many young people who, in most cases, listen very carefully to what they are told and then do the exact opposite.

So, we usually have big connected families and everyone cares and looks out for others, and especially the youngest and the oldest members, and the relationships are friendly and loving, but in cases that they aren’t it’s very difficult to get away from them.

In Iran sending the elderly to a nursing home is usually frowned upon, even when it’s to high quality private homes (what I’ve seen of government nursing homes has been terrible) that have the equipment to care for them better than in their own homes. It’s considered rude and disrespectful and as though you were tossing them aside, you should be caring for your parents as they did for you as a child. It’s your responsibility to take care of your parents in their need. My grandmother is no longer able to take care of herself but still lives in her own home with a nurse to look after her. We all have certain days to visit her so that each day someone will check up on everything and my aunt calls every day to check she has had all her medicine and to know what she will be having for lunch and dinner. On holidays we take turns looking after her so her nurse can visit her own family.

I think it’s important to listen to what other people have to say, especially when they have lived longer than you and gained more experience than you, and be open to other people’s views and ideas. But, it’s also important to know that you are the only person who knows what’s best for you and your life and should be the only one making decisions for it. I also like my culture’s view on taking care of parents and making life easy for them when they become old. I think it is our responsibility because they have given us life and because of all they have done for us. I will treat them as they have treated me and as I will like to be treated in the future.


Turning 30…By Marzieh Edris

Me and a few of my cousins on my birthday.

I have to begin by apologizing for not writing last week. I was out all day with friends buying a whole lot of new books, and so I forgot entirely. Bad excuses, I know! But it was my birthday the next day and I started celebrating a little early. Mind you, the actual day didn’t start off great; I tried to make a mental list of all I had done right with my life, and it wasn’t a very long list to say the least. So, I ended up starting my day thinking about all the things I’ve done wrong and all that I should or could have done but didn’t, instead of my short list of things I’ve done right and am proud of. I moved from that to thinking of all the people I wished were here with me, but weren’t, and how I missed them! So I was a bit gloomy by the time I got home from work. Luckily my cousin put things back into perspective for me by saying: You’ve turned 30 not 70!! And things got much better when my mum and dad came home with a delicious cake and most of my family came over, all wearing party hats, to surprise me, which my sister had organized from Armenia. But, it got me thinking how easy it is to start to look at everything with negativity and to criticise oneself, how difficult it is once you have these thoughts to let go of them, and how much more real and logical they seem as opposed to positive thoughts at the time. It’s so easy to drown in them and you almost always need help to get out of them. And, I’m so grateful I had help.

Influence and independence



I’ve been thinking about influences our society, relationships, and circumstances have on us and our decisions and how it’s related and if it’s related to our independence. Unless we live in seclusion, we are bound to be influenced by our surroundings, but I don’t think that we have no control over it to the extent that it deprives us of our independence. I think we choose most of the circumstances we are in and the people we live with and are in relationships with. So, we choose those we are influenced by. Even if we consider the influence society and family has on us at a young age, although it may not be easy to discard these effects at an older age, it isn’t impossible. We all come to age and state our independence by letting go of at least some of the beliefs we have inherited from our parents. So I don’t think to be influenced is to lose your independence.

To say that I’ve learnt from my society or my family to hate and discriminate is not acceptable to me, because as an adult you could choose to open your eyes to reality, and to learn new things, and to discard and unlearn the negative and wrong lessons you’ve been given. If you still hate and you hold those wrong beliefs, you’ve decided to do so. I know that some people grow up in environments that give them the freedom to view the world in their own way and others are taught nothing but one certain point of view to things. And that makes changing and seeing the world in a new way very, very, very, very….difficult for the second group, but it’s still not impossible. And if there is always the option of changing and choosing, then, the influence is not to the extent to deprive us of our independence.



I spent Friday at an art fair, a part of the profit of which went toward a charity for children with cancer at Omid Hospital. My friend’s mother was selling some of her paintings to help the charity. So, I sat there thinking of you, our blog, and independency as I watched individual, different, and independent beliefs, looks, tastes, and art come together in one event, women with complete covers and ‘Hijabs’ and others, like me, just about managing to keep the scarf on. Nobody interfered with the individuality of others; therefore, they came together as a group with ‘respect’ and harmony.
I have to explain that this is kind of a big deal here. The fact that a big group of youngsters can come together like this without many restrictions, that we had live music, and there was nobody to check peoples way of dress was fabulous! So I was overjoyed with the mixture of independency and interdependency in one place.
I can tell you from personal experience that when independency is overthrown for ‘the good of an interdependent group’, you might not like or agree with the shape that group takes or the regulations it sets. And this group may not necessarily grow into a democratic ‘interdependency’. The ideal is that democracy and interdependency come side by side, but in the current state of things we are far from any ideals.
So, to comment on whether we should blow up independency, I have to say I don’t agree. All things are best in moderation. I don’t doubt for a moment that if you were told that some features of your independency, which you enjoy today, were illegal as of tomorrow, you would find many uses for it and many reasons why it’s necessary. I still think it’s a context-based issue. As individuals, we need a combination of dependence and independence in our lives. We need those solitary and independent moments, the right to make decisions independently, and to make mistakes by ourselves, as much as we need communication, connections, and relationships and the inevitable dependence that comes with them. If we can use our independent rights, and consider others and respect their independency, we can maybe become closer and more interdependent.
I think I’ve overused the word independency; I was getting really confused by the end of the writing. 😀

The Meaning Of Independency


First of all I have to say I enjoyed reading all your views. I agree with Abner’s argument. Independency may not necessarily be positive. But I guess it really depends on the context we are arguing about; the place and maybe even the time. The meaning of and views toward independency seem to have changed over time. Over the course of history people have separated themselves into groups, tribes, empires, and countries. They have moved toward separatism and the power of a select few. And those select few have used their power to dictate, kill, and increase their own power, and separatism has led to wars, domination, and suppression of nations. It has only been in the current century that world views and laws have started to change and to move more rapidly toward empowering the masses, communication, ‘Dialogue Among Civilizations’, interdependency, and peace. At some point, the world may even stop building independent states. I think the ideal would be to eliminate borders, authority, and independent states entirely and become co-dependent. I don’t know how or if that can ever come about, but it most definitely cannot be gained today. So we must live in our separate and independent groups for now and at best define this independency in the most positive way possible. So I think the most important questions we are all faced with now are: what does independency mean? Does it mean we are free to do as we please within our borders? Does it mean we cannot interfere in the affairs of other independent states? Do we have to stand by and watch whatever happens within the limits of an independent state; to watch terrorist groups like Da’ish gain power and tyrants like Bashar-al Assad terrorize and kill? Was it acceptable for the US to interfere in Bosnia and stop the genocide of Muslims? Was it acceptable for the US and Britain to orchestrate a coup to overthrow Mosaddegh? Where is the limit to this independency? Under what circumstances and which regulations are we allowed to disregard this independency and the borders that guard it and take action against that which occurs under the shadow of its name?



Doroud from Persia
Doroud is hello in Persian, although the word Salam, which is the Arabic word for “peace”, is more widely used today. I am Marzieh; I was born in Isfahan, Iran. I lived in the UK for around 4 years during my childhood. I studied my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Language in Isfahan and my Master’s in English Literature in Sheffield, UK. I am currently a translator and editor of medical texts. I live in Isfahan, which you might have heard of in the news concerning its nuclear reactors, but it is actually famous for much more than just that. We call Isfahan ‘nesfe jahan’ meaning ‘half of the world’. Isfahan was the capital of old Persia, so it has many beautiful, old buildings and palaces. It is also famous for its bridges and Islamic architecture. The heart of the city is the Zayandeh Rood river (life-giving river), which is currently dry and lifeless and the cause of much sadness and anger for its residents. Iran is a multicultural country and home to many different linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups of people; Turks, Baloch, Kurds, Armenians, Zoroastrians, Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, and Jews just to name a few. The variety and collaboration has always intrigued me. I hope I can provide a more realistic image of life in Iran in this blog than that you might have seen through the media.
I agree with David on the need for “more communication across borders” and the opportunity the internet provides. The fact that those in power, like in Iran, fear this medium of communication and try to control and limit it as much as possible is in itself proof of its power and ability to create change. So, I am excited about this blog and look forward to hearing more about you all.