Excerpt from Chapter I: Now we lay in the back of the truck in the desert – now we were free. Only now, we were on the other side and could no longer know what awaited those we left back home. Now, I was my grandmother praying for those I had left behind.
Keating’s “Legions (Aftermath)” & “Exurgency” accompanied me through much of the desert passages in Iran and Pakistan. Yet it was “Frozen Angels” which brought to life the wait for the border guard’s tea break.. the murmur plans of the men leading up to the moment of escape.. my head spinning with doubts.. the final minutes in Iran.. becoming another shadow of the night.. the border.. entering Pakistan.. ‘freedom’..
Thank you Zoe.
Excerpt from Chapter I: “Those three days set in motion the five turbulent days of going into hiding, in preparation for our escape.
Our first hiding spot was set about at the home of one of my father’s colleagues. Like us they also lived in one of the outskirts of Tehran. His wife, Shiva, was pregnant, beautiful, and a lover of Barbra Streisand. We prepared meals together, ate together, and listened to ‘Woman In Love’ more than seven times a day. Her passion for her song grew on me and I found myself humming the melody during our breaks from listening to the LP. Everything in their home had taken on Streisand’s voice for me, their dark brown leather couches, their glass tables, and the white wall to wall carpets throughout their two story house.”
My mother can’t listen to “Woman in Love”. It brings back Shiva’s living room, the sleepless nights, the final days.. I love listening to it, ‘over and over again’, as we did then, and as I needed to do when writing about our temporary haven.
Thank you Barbra.
Excerpt from Chapter 1: “I didn’t know where my father was. He had been speaking to Hamid when we first heard the helicopter and I hoped that he was well hidden. Though my heart was pounding, I was happy that Joubin was near me. This was not the first time we were huddled together, taking refuge. We were familiar with huddling underneath something, like the dining table, together with our playmates during a bomb raid. We spent hours playing under that table with pillows and cushions, dolls and cars, food and water. And now we lay in the open desert and wished we were under a table.”
In “Transfiguration No. 2”, the emerging sound of a helicopter drowned by the reflective piano piece that follows, beautifully captures the invisible bird of prey, the need to become one with the pebbles and hills.
Thank you M.
“Legions (Aftermath)” transporting me through the journey towards the desert. Each haunting note, a mirror of memories trickling down on paper or screen..
The pebbles, the hut, the truck, the guard, Zahedan, becoming villagers..
“My new name is Golbakht — ‘Flowered Fortune’. I’m a Baluch girl from Afghanistan.”
Thank you Zoe.
Excerpt from Chapter 1: A glimpse of my mother at dawn… “It’s time,” she had whispered. I had been waiting for this time. Time to be another person, to leave those I love. To leave Iran.
Zoe Keating’s “Exurgency” brings to life the reality of my mother’s whisper to me: “It’s time”.
Now we leave..everyone, everything–the bombs and my grandparents. I became addicted to this track as Chapter 1 was forming, perfectly articulating the various layers at work: the implications, the urgency, the loss, the gain, the betrayal, ..
Thank you Zoe.
Trying to see behind closed lids, smelling NIVEA cream, tasting sand, sitting on the floor until my tailbone screams, … and traveling in time through music to write “The People With No Camel”.
Riding on the haunting music of Zoe Keating through the desert and beyond, navigating through my fears with M.Ward’s “Transfiguration, No. 2”, and stepping into a dream world that is just as real as the one we call ‘real-life’ through Moby’s hypnotic music.. clearly I would not have been able to make this journey without their artistry. Nor without the work of Eva Maria Rauter, TaliaSafa and Luke Slott, which transported me through the drifting days in Islamabad and the long waits at the airports from Amristar to Düsseldorf.
“I need to read this in a blog!” says Mehr to me, after I share a story about the role music played in my writing process. “A little each day, but you really need to share this!” So here I go..
From the unwanted memories to the search for freedom: A journey through music
Today Columbia – tomorrow “From the unwanted memories to the search for freedom: a journey through music”
Today I’m focusing on my reading at Columbia University.. tomorrow I will begin a series of blogs called “From the unwanted memories to the search for freedom: a journey through music”, which highlights the vital role music played in the writing of “The People With No Camel”. Immense thanks to Zoe Keating, Moby, M.Ward, Eva Maria Rauter, Luke Slott & TaliaSafa.