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Bon voyage…   Leave a comment

A little story for tonight.

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been bewitched by summer moonlit nights. The most special of them all, the night of the full moon, rising behind Acropolis or shining over a beach in the Aegean,in August.

I also don’t know anoyne who has sung the August song without tears in the eyes. This song is an emotional storm raining bittersweet memories for the unbearable pain of the impossible love. It was written for the composer’s girlfriend, who died of drugs. No-one has sung it better than its maker, Nikos Papazoglou, who died of cancer today.

For me, Papazoglou, was the last of his kind. Anticipating Papazoglou summer concert would take me through the winter blues. He rarely appeared on TV. His lyrics and songs are embedded in our summer (and winter) nights, with a refined but hard truth about our day and night most inner thoughts and feelings.

I wished you had kept a lighter lit in a summer concert with Papazoglou. But this can’t happen anymore, so I send you this song in a lame video along with my poorly-translated lyrics; its lyrics a little token of love and promises you can find when bathing under the August moon, somewhere in Greece.

Kαλό ταξίδι Νίκο!


Why does the song have to be so sad?
You would think that it fell off my heart.
And this very moment that I am full of joy, it climbed up to my lips and is smothering me.
You would say “take care for the end”.
I love you, but I have no voice to say it and this is an unbearable grief.
I melt in pain, because I feel it as well, that the path we are taking is impassable
“Courage, this will pass”, you will say

How can I ever forget her loose hair?
The sand that was bathing me as a waterfall?
As she was leaning over me,
thousands of kisses, diamonds that she was giving me generously
I will go even if it’s not good for me in the end

On what kind of ecstatic moment, what kind of magic dance, could this creature be born?
From which distant star comes the light that went and hid in her eyes
and me, the lucky one, who has seen it.

In her sight, a tiny little sky, with lightnings and clouds unfolds
but when the nnight comes, it floods with light, the August moon rises
and the prison shines form inside.

How can I ever forget her loose hair?
The sand that was bathing me as a waterfall?
As she was leaning over me,
thousands of kisses, diamonds that she was giving me generously
I will go even if it’s not good for me in the end.


Posted Monday, 18 April, 2011 by piperi in Uncategorized

Deptocracy   Leave a comment

Posted Saturday, 16 April, 2011 by piperi in Uncategorized

Saudi   Leave a comment

To close you in that golden cage, I wouldn’t. Many at times have suggested what a golden cage is and this one is pretty accurately. Firstly because it is a cage. To ghetto us from them and them from us. And secondly because it is golden. Golden taps, golden doors frames, mirros, golden lamps, golden handles. I walk in the solemn rooms and I hear the echo of my breath. First you will walk in a filthy room, torn carpets, coffee-like stains in the walls, old scrapped marble, to be fingerprinted and photographed. They say something, you don’t get it, right-left-thumbs, tapping on the camera, you look. Flash! No smile. You don’t give it and they don’t expect it. Cross the borders.  McDonalds.

I open the cupboards one by one. Five packages of cereals, all at 375grams. One box of chocolates, at convenient sizes of 30 grams. One box of sneakers. One box of kitkat. Coffee, tea bags, instant cappuccino. Two kilos of sugar. Six tins of baked beans. Six tins of tuna. Two kilos of Danish cookies, six boxes of springles chips, two paprika, onion-sour cream, cheese. Fridge. Three liters of milk, five jars of marmalade, two loafs of fake toast bread, two packages of fake cheddar cheese slices, four yoghurts, four liters of juice. Six packages of instant noodles. Soft drinks. Fruit bowl on a small table in a vastly barren echoing kitchen. Water bottles. Steel door.

Door after door, sealed with more steel doors, I enter the panic room on the first floor to check the supplies. Tins, rope. Turn your mobile in silent mode if they come. The possibility of something happening during this period is minimal; we are all friends currently. Airco. Everywhere.

Posted Thursday, 14 May, 2009 by piperi in Uncategorized

Go Betsy, go!   1 comment

On my nameday, I met Betsy. She is about 22 years old or so did the two Irishmen told me, and they know her pretty well. They have been on the road with her for more than a year, this time more than 4 months in a row, and they still had 10 to go. They must be getting along pretty well then; after all, they quitted their jobs to travel with her. She was treating them well, and I was of the lucky few to witness her charms and talents. Additionally she is pretty low maintenance, given what she is offering. The perfect girlfriend; only that she is running on diesel.

Des and Kev, are my heroes of the day. Two cute Irishmen in their late 20s (?), bought Betsy, quitted their jobs, and are currently driving a super van with a super sound system and a super home cinema-GPS-DVD-coffee maker, all the way from Dublin (as Des pronounced “dobln“) to Australia, with expected date of arrival Sept 2009, just to check the Coriolis force -Des is sceptical, he is considering an international scientific conspiracy.

Yesterday, the two of them, together with Guillome (a frenchman that arrived in Yazd on his way to Pakistan and who will continue with the guys) and myself, hopped on Betsy, trying to find Chak Chak, the Zoroastrian temple and Kharanaq’s mud-brick ruined old city. The landscapes we crossed, only minutes from the boring highway, nicely and securely tucked among impressive mountains of 4000m, desert and snow are preciously incomparable. They are the sort of landscape where you stop your car, pull out a chair or two, you sit, shut up and admire. And you wait. And you wait for ever, absorbing every sun ray reflected on them. And somehow, equally marvellously, the perfect music was coming from the speakers, ah, the perfect music is always the tip of the culinary side of an image, just like the most precious stimulant to fill up every little brain cell left untouched by the shear beauty of the landscape. Or maybe it was the joint. I am not sure. I will certainly listen again to the Thee Silver Mt. Zion Orchestra & Tra-la-la Band. Or maybe you get to listen to it yourself first. And after you do, why not try looking for the album of Camille, Le Fil. And yes, there was travelling and politics and emancipation and cars and living and everything. I learned about Adam Curtis. I got new ideas for thinking, listening and dreaming. Isn’t this what travelling is all about?

In the meantime, Des and Kev, trusted me with an once-in-a-lifetime short movie, a single continuous shot of ~32 minutes, of pure deep philosophical thinking, coming in the form of a waterfall of direct questions from a 60+ iranian taxi driver about ethics, moral guidance, Life, Universe and Everything. You should see it, and pay a full movie ticket so that Des and Kev will keep on giving thirsty Betsy the diesel she desires! 🙂

The three of them left yesterday night for Kerman (buhuhuuuu!). They should have driven through Baluchistan today; a pretty dangerous place full of thieves and monsters and sorcerers and witches and a few kidnappings in its recent history. With some luck they must have made it to Pakistan as we speak. Their immediate next target is celebrating New Year’s Eve in Goa with friends (I should be sincere and say they want to get pissed drunk, but it would act as potential defamation, so yeah cultural touch, they want to celebrate New Year’s Eve, drink a pint of Guiness, a glass of whisky, and whatever the irish do anyway -huf, even this one looks like they are gonna get drunk!)

So long guys, and thanks a bunch!

Posted Monday, 8 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Right(s)   1 comment

Arash, my mysterious and fractal iranian friend says: “I told you, where I come from, it is everyday Halloween! Probably in 50 years, we’ll manage to reach Stone Age”. I remembered this, when I saw this picture at a photo exhibition about Shiraz’s past.

1934: Removing the veil ceremony

2008: Buying vegetables

Posted Saturday, 6 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Can I have a glass of Shiraz, please?   Leave a comment

Shiraz is a famous -and it so happens, my favorite- grape variety and, mmm, I so much wanted a glass right now. The variety comes from -guess where- Shiraz, thanks to the revolution the wine is not produced anymore, commercially at least. My wishes for a glass of illegal juice did not materialise, but that was not the only thing that disappointed me in Shiraz. I did not quite fancy the city, too much traffic, too much pollution, too much “hallo, I love you”. Just a bit too much.

Persepolis, however, did worth the effort and although my fingers are almost frozen now, it also worths the effort of telling you. We met a German couple that was travelling together with their 4-month old son, on a backpacker style travelling, really admiring people. The little one, little did he care about Persepolis, Necropolis, or any other -polis the ancient greeks burnt, tortured or actively aided in its demise one way or another. The school that was visiting, though (girls) were thoroughly amused, seeing the father, with a marsupial profile, keeping the baby warm inside his fleece. He looked quite odd, indeed a bit as pregnant man, and I only wish I will live to see this coming true. In any case, Persepolis was great. And naturally, many of the pieces are in Louvre and British Museum to be “protected and preserved”. The Arabs had attacked the palaces and the mullahs had send soldiers to destroy the site, believing it was temple of worship on multiple deities. Thus most of the faces of the Persian and Median soldiers depicted are thoroughly scrapped. Which reminds me of the ancient greek statues, most of them breastless and dickless, since they were insulting the morals of the early (and not only) christians, or the two huge Buddhas in Afganistan. Ah well, what’s the point of teaching history if you don’t learn from it?

Yes, traveling, if not a soul cleansing experience, is a the way of getting inspired and meeting inspiring people. I met these two Germans, who, themselves, they met on the way, one on a BMW from Sweden, the other on a Yamaha from Germany. Final destination, India. They drove all the way, excluding the ferry Italy-Greece, and they advise it. No problem, the carnet de passage worked fine and they were traveling with a tent, although it wasn’t much of use because they’ve been sleeping in cheap hotels. They were picked by a bunch of schoolgirls, all with the same jacket -although with different fake brands- who were insisting on taking pictures all together and one-by-one and in every possible configuration. If nothing else, their popularity this time brought the girls; the BMW guy commented on mostly having to tolerate toothless smelling old men for those moments of immortality.

Back to Shiraz, we decided to visit the bazaar, which was nice, and the carpets are quite different from Esfahan, because they are more focused in the nomadic patterns. And the gardens. Ah the gardens, are so nice. Unfortunately, the tired traveler will soon find out that there are not many teahouses or coffeeshops, thanks -again- to the revolution that is not so keen on seeing people socialising in confined spaces. Who knows, you might ends up discussing something without the presence of agents. We were happy to find the signposted teahouse in the centre of the bazaar, with pretty western atmosphere, although it was full of locals. Very gezellig place, as the dutch would say.

But it doesn’t only take the lack of coffeechops, the lack of coziness, the lack of westernized manners, the subtly constant harrassement, the cold, the pollution, the queue jumping, the taxi drivers, the traffic, the endless kebabs, the need for checking the bills before paying or the obvious segregation to exhaust you physically and naturally, psychologically. It also takes a long and rushed bus drive from Shiraz to Yazd, in a packed Volvo bus, with ultra loud live music on the screens and a sleeping beauty for travel companion. I managed to become popular when I requested for the music volume to be lowered. It was snowing outside, the bus was driving against the thick snowflakes, and the mountains were already white. It was nice and warm inside,with this bit of stale air of the unanimous breathing, all together, known-unknowns, breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. And after some 1500km I missed home. It was getting dark outside, Laia was sleeping, often jumping awake, thinking that her headscarf had revealed here hair and the police would either whip her or deport her, the TV screens were showing a post-revolution movie, where the woman would tight the shoe-laces of her husband as a sign of love and the bus was devouring kilometers. It was still a long way to Yazd. A long and cold way. A long and cold and long and cold way.

Posted Saturday, 6 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized

Mafi khanoum, miss!   1 comment

Following the (in)accurate Lonely Planet (ok, let’s be fair, there is a disclaimer), we took the bus to Shahr-e Kord, an ex-soviet-like radioactive little town, in the Zagros, with the idea we’d catch a minibus the day after to go through the mountains and enjoy the view on the way to Shiraz, instead of a monotonous grey highway. So we reached there. It was a memorable first touch. The place, I am telling you, dead radioactive, with some super friendly taxi drivers (miracle!) at the terminal. We did not know what we wanted: continue to Shiraz? It was late. Continue to next village? It was uncertain we’d find somewhere to stay. Continue to Chelgerd, which is supposed to be a marvellouis place to see the mountains and snow? The first quotations from the taxi drivers seemed insane. Then can Leyla, who decided for us; we would stay there, in Shahr-e Kord, and we’d sleep at what Lonely Planet quotes as the best available hotle in town (read 3 hotels/guesthouse). So that was it, she took us with the taxi, we were left like babies, in the wisdom of the beautiful Leyla (me study medicine) to go to Azadi hotel.

Azadi hotel, had definitely seen better days, only that must have happende in the prehistoric era. This is one of the hotels that my father used to describe for the ex-eastern block; great from a distance and incredible fucked-up details from close. Azadi was no exception, but yeah, given the circumstances. We played poor and tired girls, the receptionist gave the nomial discount, we asked without breakfast for extra discount (we are lame, yes), and then he said “it is ok, you can have breakfast”. How nice…

So we decided to hit the “center”, and the recepitonist freaked out when we said we’d walk. “It is cold, no walk. Taxi. No walk”, yeas well, whateva, we will walk. It had already become tiring having to negotiate with taxis. On the way a lady that we asked for directions, offered dar baste which mean to share a taxi, so we went for it, mainly for her, she was with a flimsy chador, freezing, while we were with fleece and GORE-TEX (R), albeit not muslim-compliant long, but urban-muslim acceptable. We would go to what LP quoted as “one of the most atmospheric teahouses in Iran”. We asked another girl, a rounded-face sweet radiant girl, who pointed us to the right direction. We started walkng, supposedly we were 20m from the target, until we heard “khanoum! miss-miss!” and the chubby-cheek young girl was calling us, there is the teahouse but mafi khanoum in there. Ah yes, the authors of LP were men; probably they forgot to check this detail. Ok, no chay. Chay? Come to my house! We have been frequently getting invites for tea, but never to a house. Did I mention they spoke no english whatsoever? And of course we went. She called called “blahblhablha, yunnani khanoum blahblah espanya” and there we were in the car of her boyfrend, with her 16-year-old sister. We reached home, where a big mamma was expecting us, they draw the curtain from the official sitting room, chay? chay!, there appeared brother Ali (30) and soon after the father, some 60 years old, all of them sat around to… talk to us. Ali could speak some english, that is mainly 10 words, we strated drawing things on paper, there came a dictionary, and we discussed about everything. Everything. And one of the first questions: where is your husband. Ah no husband. NO HUSBAND???? Travel alone???

Ok, you can remove the headscarf, no problem. Chay? Chay!

After the first shock, I mentioned the Bachtyari nomads, and Ali said “we are Bachtyari”, so the mom and the older daughter (Oliya) decided to dress me up, you see the resutl in the photo, I know you like it, I also have a special hairstyle, and three skirts. And Ali is next to me with the Bachtyari men’s clothing. Then, musik? Bale! Musik! Chay? Chay!

We talked about everything, don’t ask how. They are Shia. You 9mom Zahra made the sign of the cross). Yes, christian. My experience with Middle East has taught me that it is simpler for these encounters to admit faith to the Book. Easier. Zahra said “brothers”. Yes. Chay? Chay!

The young daughter wants to be architect. Ah, Laia is architect! She brought free drawing to show. Then the magic word was mentioned: Internet! Internet? Bale. Chay? Internet! Bale, bale Internet. Chay? Chay!!!

We went to the monitor and kicked dad out who was playing solitaire. We found an online translator, from english to farsi, sort of altavista. INTERNEEEEET! Then we really talked about everything! Family, children, houses, work, politics, visa, distances, travels, dreams everything. It was a super night. They asked us to go back, we said inshallah. The youngest has MSN, she gave it to me. Ali said, next year, spring or summer to visit the tribes and the nomads. Then Zagros is beautiful. Now “germ” (cold).

We got up, in order to leave. It was already 23:00. They hugged us and it was really touching. It was so nice, I can’t really type it in. They were our family in a little god-forsaken ex-soviet like radioactive village. They took us to the hotel, laughing and music in the car, the car would not start, Olyia admitted the driver was her boyfriend and blushed when I asked her. We took the last photos all together in front of the Azadi hotel (4 stars) and as they were ready to leave the manager came out.

Your friends?


He showed his watch, tapped on it two-three times, looked down on us in a dismissive yet paternal way as in “what time is this you are coming back? This is a hotel, it’s not your house!”

I instantly thought of my father who used to say the exact opposite.


Posted Thursday, 4 December, 2008 by piperi in Uncategorized