Iran through two books

Books are akin to travelling. It is through this that i’m able to see past the iron curtain that is Tehran. Laughing without an accent by Firoozeh Dumas(frequently pronounced as Dumb Ass) is a delightful read. Quickly followed it with The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik. I picked up these books in a quest to learn more about Iran(not I-ran). These were the first I read with Lipstick Jihad and Reading Lolita in Tehran awaiting my magic touch.

It would be suffice to say that there are many instances which Firoozeh narrates eloquently to which I laughed out loud. That is a sign of a good book. She defines the frugal immigrant in her father with respect and her mother who bears resemblances to a Jewish mother with honesty. I don’t think Firoozeh would be surprised to know that her parents bear shocking similarities to my South Indian parents. She knows her Indians, she is from California after all.

The Ten things you should know which she advocates to graduates must be the list that all of us should know. When she contrasts women in a hijab or a burqa to Paris Hilton she won my applause. Her anecdotes about being a foodie makes you more cautious about exploring cuisine. Television should definitely be kicked from our homes, I have one more person who agrees to that.

Laughing without an accent takes you through Iran and America through the eyes of an immigrant turned citizen. She details both sides of her hyphenated life with equal aplomb, which is a rare breed.

The Good Daughter is more intense. The story is mostly set in Iran and travels through many generations. Lili married off at thirteen, bearing a child and domestic violence, finding solace in German soil, deaths of many, marrying a European, becoming a mid wife and finally immigrating to America. Jasmin takes you through this with excellent penmanship and you can almost smell the rose essence and cardamom tea. Stories come alive and her narrations are poetic.

Although you get disappointed in the end when Jasmin fails to visit Iran, the book finishes in a honest manner. It takes a lot of courage to return to your roots when you are trying to establish yourself in a foreign country and when your past is shrouded in shame and escape, you find it impossible to trace back. It would have been exhilarating to see Sara and Jasmin meet and share stories but that would have to wait.

When the world is brimming with war and animosity, we almost dislike Iran and think of it as nothing but a nuclear nation. These books open our eyes to the people, the food and the culture that is so rich and poignant. They are people after all with love, flesh and blood. Both Firoozeh and Jasmin make it easy for us to understand why there is still war. If only people would learn to get along.