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Fridays Are Art Days in Tehran

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran

Fridays are supposed to be the day of rest here in Tehran. However, last Friday we were fully busy. After a late night at my in-laws the night before, we started the day much later than usual. Once we managed to get ready, we headed home to mother for lunch. They served the usual 'chelo-kabab' and it tasted real good.

They had made rice at home and had ordered the kabab from their local kababi which is not only very good, but it is also very close to their home. The meat was tender and juicy and they had barbecued tomatoes which I am very fond of. We were so hungry that we almost devoured our lunch, along with a great deal of 'sazbi-khordan' (fresh greens) and 'somagh' that my young niece calls sour-pepper. In any case "jaye shoma khali" (we missed you)!

Afterwards we sat and chatted as the tea was being brewed to be served with some baklava which someone had brought from Yazd. Then, we watched an Iranian film on video. There are plenty of almost-recent films which are released on video and it has become a pleasant pass-time especially by those like my mum to sit and enjoy watching them.

At a quarter past four we left to go to the first art exhibition that we had planned to go to that day. These days many art galleries have their openings on Friday afternoons, and many art lovers and friends of artists go there with lovely flower baskets to say hello, wish them luck and/or buy some of the art works. This time we went to see the work of a lady painter at a gallery in the center of town. It was o.k. but a little unsure, or one could say about some of them, a little unfinished. But this is modern art and who am I to judge. The gallery was well lit and the works were beautifully displayed. It was such a lovely feeling and sense of freedom to move about.

We were served tea and small cakes. This is very common in galleries on the opening day here. After about half an hour we said goodbye and went to our next gallery not very far from this one - this time a photo exhibition. Here we saw many pictures of nature which were all taken with natural light. It was not bad, although we hoped that the next one that we were going to go to next week would be more interesting and enterprising.

Finally we headed north of Tehran to go to our last arty activity of the day. We went to this lovely cozy gallery where silver & stone jewelry works were on display. This exhibition was supposed to open at 5:00 and we were there before 6:00 p.m.

Whenever people are extremely fond of works of an artist, or particular work, they try to be there very early, at times before the official opening, so that they could have a chance to get the piece they like before some other art lover buys it. This, of course, also depends on the price being right. These days we only go to look.

Anyway, when we got there almost all the works had been sold. This dear artist is a wonderful lady with great taste and fantastic sense of delicacy and modernity. She makes only one set of each item for her annual exhibitions. I really like her works and treat myself once a year to one of them. This time I managed to have a pair of earrings for myself and for my sister who likes her works too. We got a beautiful brooch with flower leave in a dark blue stone and matching silver plate of the flower pattern at the top, all as one piece.

The gallery was so busy with lovely looking ladies, all dressed up to the sixes although following the dress code at the same time. There are many regular clients to such art centers and depending on whose work is being displayed you can see many middle-aged men and women and/or very young people around, chatting, looking at the works and exchanging views. At times you can hear great laughs or even screams as friends who have not seen each other for a long time meet again, because of their common love for art and the pleasure of looking at new works. Next week we plan to go to at least two shows again, both painting exhibitions.

We had hoped to go to a guitar concert afterwards, but the tickets were sold out for all the performances and so we had accepted the dinner invitation of a friend who had invited us the day before.

After a short break and changing our attire, we started off. Tehran traffic has never been good, but in the past few months it has been absolutely horrible. You must add at least half an hour extra time no matter where you go and what time you go, compared to, say, July. Somehow it seems there are 50% more cars on the roads, and Tehran drivers were never famous for their patience or tact.

Somehow we got there in one piece and joined our friend who had invited a couple of poets among the guests. The poets later on read out some of their work or had it read for them, which I actually preferred. But I guess it is a matter of taste, as well as hearing.

There were many candles burning and giving the place a very friendly and warm atmosphere, as well as a great, lovely light. People were talking about the exhibitions they had seen or put on that week, or discussing the books or articles they had read. Some were arguing about the difference between the elements of post-modernism and post-post-modernism in our daily lives. When they started to serve dinner, it was just like an interruption.

We managed to be courageous and say farewell to our friends and our host and leave about 1:00 a.m. as Saturday was another normal day, whatever normal means here in Tehran!

About the author:
Syma Sayyah is a retired business executive and marketing manager who worked for an international business in Iran. She has an MBA from Edinburgh University.

... Payvand News - 1/9/03 ... --

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