Around the Haft Seen.
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The changing of the year coincided with Eastenders on BBC Prime to which my step mother immediately attended to her fix. The screen switched from the supreme spiritual leader presenting an annual address not unlike the folk in Britain receive on Christmas day (from HRH herself) to two east London girls in an interracial lesbian bed-scene. I could not contain my shock and burst out in what later became laughter. It wasn't offense that befell me but amusement in juxtapose and a reminder of the acceptance I once enjoyed. "What she needs is a good seeing to..." exclaimed Mo whilst waltzing though the market - this episode could not have been any more unsavory. Television is not something I indulge in, but for a rare moment I was fixated, refreshing my mind of where I wasn't whilst noting each topic that might not even arrive in people minds here.
Our following morning expedition asked that we wear black and not wish a happy new year as we visited three houses in mourning. The new year also coincided with the mourning of Imam Hossein, the 40th day being exactly on new years day. This coincidence resulted in the much anticipated, and in my mind, legendary Haji Firooz not dancing the streets in his black and red get-up and blacked out face. Although I don't fully apreciate the meaning of this, the idea of an Iranian minstrel interfering with the remaining Tehran traffic was a sight I had yearned for since purchasing the dancing doll months previous.
For these reasons I uncomfortably wore a solemn face while we saw long missed family. We travelled around the blissfully empty streets of Tehran being nothing more than sacks of tea, fruit and nuts. At each house I would stare at the portraits of the late family member with the black ribbon wrapped at 45-degrees to the corner while my ears picked up my father's small talk and odd joke. Unfamiliar with the etiquette I cringed as the other guests brought themselves to laughter.
Within the last month I've had the revelation that I'm half Azari. After parting with information about my family to friends I would often be asked whether I was Azeri - somewhat ignorantly I would answer that I'm Iranian. The queries were normally put forth after mentioning that my family speak Azerbaijani (pretty much the Turkish language) with one another. After several of these moments I asked my father if I was Azari to which he gave a puzzled response - "of course". This frustrating reminder, that much is assumed of what I know, has caused another period of reevaluation. Being Azari I figure, from the little I have learned, is like maybe being Scottish - I'm British but Scottish. As the family gather around the nucleus - my grandmother - for the new year's visitations I found I was in exactly the same position I was 3-years previous (my first visit to Iran as an adult), I was at a loss as to what was being discussed. Normally the Azerbaijani is broken up by third parties and I have benefit of listening to my grandmother's increasingly odd Farsi accent, yet on this occasion I was in a thick gaggle of Azari. The gradually familiar tonguey sound of Azerbaijani - a language that sounds like a person talking with a boiled sweet on the go - resonated around the walls as they have for years gone and I was left, sat at square one, tea in one hand, pistachio in the other.