It’s been a big week here in the depths of New Zealand’s South Island. My latest book was launched and, much to my surprise (well, you never know do you? There might have been something gripping on TV!), more than 80 people turned up.
Two Wings of A Nightingale - Persian Soul, Islamic Heart is a road trip through Iran. Along with the 8000 kilometres plus that I travelled through the country before I wrote the book, it’s felt like I’ve trudged another few thousand kilometres to see the manuscript transformed into a book that’s actually now for sale!
This is my first time working with Exisle and I am so delighted with the beautiful book they’ve produced from my manuscript. Not everyone ‘gets’ the aesthetic essence, the soul of Iran, but Exisle has. I wanted to write a book that reflected the Persian love of poetry, gardens, good food, and beauty in general - I hope I’ve achieved that but certainly the look and the feel of the book does.
I’ve travelled through Iran seven times now - I love it. So, as my attachment to Iran grew with each visit so too did that compulsion that urges all travel writers to head for their laptop. Of course, it pays to do some research first before one inflicts a manuscript on an unsuspecting world. What I discovered was that it seemed that the majority of books on Iran were weighty tomes covering history, architecture and politics. There are some fantastic books out there, but where were the road trips, the depictions of the regions of Iran far removed from political and religious hotspots, the snapshots of daily life?
Two Wings of A Nightingale - Persian Soul, Islamic Heart
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There was also another largely untold tale from Iran: the reminders of the passage of the silk roads that linked China and Europe. So much has been said and written about these historic trade links through China and Central Asia, but not so much about Iran. Yet, scattered throughout the country are hundreds of caravanserai, the fortified equivalent of a modern-day motor inns where traders, travellers, pilgrims and their camels loaded with precious cargo would find shelter from the searing heat or biting cold and the threat of bandits. During our epic 8000-kilometre journey around Iran, my traveling companion Reza and I visited many of these caravanserai where the romance of their origins still seems to seep from their walls.
When people ask me if Iran is dangerous, I tell them that the biggest risks they run in the country are eating too much food and drinking too many cups of tea! I never cease to be impressed with how genuinely friendly and hospital Iranians are ... I’ve never had so many impromptu invitations to tea, to dinner, to stay overnight, from people I’ve only just met!
But, thanks to the perception we often have of Iran, even I was nervous the first time I visited, despite how much I’d always wanted to go there! I didn’t arrive in a very conventional way but came overland from Turkmenistan in the north-east and actually had to hitch over no man’s land in an old truck. When I arrived at the first border crossing an official took my passport away and then my truck driver drove off without it, despite my cries of protestation! He then dropped me at the main immigration office and then promptly left with my bag still on the truck. It wasn’t a great start really but once in the building I met Reza, with whom I have forged a great friendship, and my fascination with Iran began.
I hope you enjoy the resulting story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
... Payvand News - 06/18/11 ... --