Total Pageviews

Friday, 3 February 2012


It often seems like time escapes me and I cannot catch up.  The month of January sped by quickly and suddenly I realize February is here and I missed writing about the dropping of the New Year's ball at Time Square amidst the sea of Nivea's blue balloons and foam hats. 

I had the intention to make a comparison between the movie New Year's Eve by Hillary Swank and the actual New Year's Eve festivities at Time Square that I watched on TV lounging on the couch alone. But now it’s too late to write about all that.  I'll save it for next year (-: It is now February, and the theme is love. 

Did you know that February, besides being the month of LOVE, is also curiously the month of Cat appreciation?  My guest blogger this month will share her love affair with her cats and I will share my thoughts on love and marriage.

This February 6 will be our 40th wedding anniversary.  Ask me why we chose to marry in the dead of the winter with two feet of snow in the streets of Tehran. I don’t have a good answer. 

If I’m not wrong, we wanted to get married before the Easter Lent (the Armenian church doesn't conduct marriage ceremony during the Lent) so we could leave the country for a trip to Europe during the Persian New Year’s holiday that starts in late March. Since that trip never happened, I am not absolutely sure about the reason we chose February.

Like many other marriages, ours started with a great courtship and love. Also like many others, contrary to the fairy tales, it didn’t last “happily ever after.” We drifted away from each other, lost our intimacy and separated.

At our daughter’s wedding, three years ago, my husband toasted and in front of everybody thanked me for raising good children. At that moment I realized that still there might be hope to renew our marriage and find the footing to get back together.  Now we’re in the process of getting back together.  In the mean time I’d like to share with you the way we met 41 years ago.

Strangers in the night” 

     “Wear your sunglasses while you are visiting Dubrovnik, because the sun’s reflection off the marble may damage your eyes,” the cruise activities director told us.  I thought it was a joke: “… sun’s reflection off the white marble... hah!!”  But the moment we entered the gates of that fairy-tale city, I realized why they call Dubrovnik “the Pearl of the Adriatic." It seemed that all the buildings and pavement were made of the same light-colored stone. The city, with its shiny white marble buildings dating back to the fifteenth century, was so beautiful it looked unreal. It was the most seductive place I have ever visited. And yes we really needed sunglasses

     Our tour guide, a chubby middle-aged Croatian who spoke English with an accent, told us of the city's fascinating past.  I hate to admit that I previously knew very little about that history, or about its artistic expressions appropriated by modern culture.  I was standing by the altar of a cathedral when our tour guide explained that Frank Sinatra’s famous song, "Strangers in the Night," is actually an adaptation of a Croatian song.  In that serene moment, I realized that the lyrics of the song fit perfectly the way I had met my husband.  In a split second all the memories – from the moment I'd met him through the moment we'd found ourselves at the altar of St. Mary’s Church in Tehran saying our marital vows, to the present – rushed to my mind.

Strangers in the night exchanging glances
Wondering in the night
What were the chances

    Our courtship: October 26, 1970 was a national holiday in Iran it was the birthday of the Shah.  On that day my friend Zizik had thrown a casual gathering at her family’s summer home, twenty-five miles outside of Tehran, in Karadj – a rural retreat then and a thriving city today.  Zizik, my best friend up to sixth grade, was the skinniest girl at a time when all were skinny.  She and I were inseparable.  We sat next to each other in class, we kept each other company at recess and when having lunch over long tables set in a dingy corridor at the rectory side of the school. We nibbled on our food and talked about which kinds of food we liked or didn’t and how food was prepared in our household and who packed our lunch-boxes that were a stack of three pots, secured by metal hooks from two sides. Mine was made of yellowish enamel with green borders. The best treat was to find a banana in the stack.  Back then, bananas were very special and when we were given one we tried to eat it 
s-l-o-w-l-y, so the taste would last and last.

My ties with Zizik go back earlier than elementary school.  My mother had grown up with her parents in Tabriz, a northern city in Iran. Her father represented all foreign magazines in Iran.  It was of course fun to have Zizik as a best friend because through her I could get many foreign books, magazines and comics. 

Zizik’s party in Karadj was in the evening, and she had arranged for food, music and dancing. Twenty or thirty of us gathered in a cottage-like room, and we were using its fireplace to barbeque, taking turns making our own hotdogs. My memory of this is much like the scene in “The Pink Panther,” the original movie from the 1960s, when Peter Sellers, Capucine, David Niven, and their friends are gathered in a cottage at a ski resort, dancing around a fireplace, while Angela Antonelli in her black, sexy bodysuit sings the Italian song “Meglio Stasera” (“It Had Better Be Tonight”) – one of my favorites.

Parties with dancing to European tunes was a staple in our young lives.  A month did not pass without a gathering at someone’s home or attending a “thé dansant,” (tea-dance) at a hotel or a club.  Dating and dancing were regular features of our lives, and disco style clubs were emerging.  Cheminé (“fireplace” in French) was the most expensive and classiest of all.  It had a huge fireplace, the kind you see in old castles.  The wealthiest families were its clientele.  You needed a connection to get in.  I was lucky enough to mingle with the crowd a few times.  Another famous club was “Underground,” and of course it was in the basement of a building with a chic and trendy interior.  It was there my future husband and I had our first “embracing” dance.  You may think that I am romanticizing the past but I truly believe that the 70s were the golden age of Iran – the halcyon days.

I remember very well the moment I “exchanged a glance” with my future husband.  I was standing by the fireplace at Zizik’s party, making my own hotdog. I heard someone from behind say: "My mom won't believe I'm actually making hotdogs."  This meant, of course, that he'd never cooked and had no idea how food was prepared. The honesty of the statement tickled me, and I glanced back over my shoulder. There he was – the owner of the voice – smiling and wearing a yellow pullover. He said, "Hello,” and I smiled back.  I was wearing tight-fitting, corduroy bell-bottom pants, very à-la-mode. They were mustard-yellow, a popular color at the time, and a black turtleneck as a top.  I was also wearing a heavy silver choker necklace. I was size zero.  He followed up “I like your outfit," and that’s how we connected.   

We were strangers in the night
Up to the moment
When we said our first hello.
Little did we know
Love was just a glance away,
A warm embracing dance away

After dinner, we talked a little bit more and danced once or twice. Then, with a sigh, I told him I needed to leave because I had to be at work early the next morning.  He offered to take me home, and of course I accepted.  He had a white Peykan – an Iranian-made car, similar to a Toyota. I have preserved in my mind the details of how, during that hour-long drive from Karadj to Tehran, we went tête-à-têteWe touched many layers – from his work to mine, to our parents’ relations, to our goals and more.  He said he liked me for my spontaneity and the way I mixed socially.  In turn, I liked his intelligence – he seemed so mature.  The connection and the chemistry created between us in the stillness of the night was amazing.

Growing up as an observer of my parent’s relationship, and witnessing their fights, I had concluded that the key to a happy marriage was accepting your spouse just as they are.  In my innocent mind, I thought I had found the key to the intricate relationship between a man and a woman and had resolved the mystery of marriage – Hah! I shared my point of view with him.  He said: “I can’t agree more…” Little did I know that for the next thirty years, until we got separated, he would indeed keep criticizing me, and try to change my ways, even the very traits (the bubbly personality and the way I dressed) that had attracted him to me.  Well, that's married life… I am still hoping to iron out our differences.  Somebody said: “Love is blind, but marriage is an eye opener.” It eases my heart to see that it’s not only “moi” who has problems adjusting to married life. 

On the way back from the party, I also learned that he'd started an advertising company.  I was definitely impressed:  A 22-year-old having his own company! We also realized that my job was a short walking distance from his office. He invited me to meet him the following day at his office during lunchtime.  It was well past midnight when I arrived home.  My parents were already sleeping, but I knew Mom would be still awake as she always was, to make sure I arrived home in one piece.  I tiptoed to Mom and whispered:  “Mama, I think I’ve met my future husband.”

The following day, I was debating whether to meet him or not. It didn't feel right to meet a total stranger at his office at lunchtime.  But adventurous as I am, I decided to explore.  I left my work and walked to his office, a few blocks away.  I was climbing the stairs and asking myself. "Is this okay?” or “What am I doing here?" I got to his office and rang the bell.  He opened the door with a big smile.  
I recall many details from that encounter.  I was wearing a pleated white skirt and a turquoise-blue, long sleeve, turtle-neck, top.  He worked in a two-bedroom, 1200 sq ft apartment converted into an office.  The long, narrow living- and dining-room were used as a workshop.  The bedroom overlooking Fisher-Abad, a main artery in Tehran, was his office. He led me into that room.  There was a dark mahogany executive desk right by the window and in the other corner there was a small white leather loveseat and a coffee-table. Albums with the artwork of his clients were on the table. I sat on the loveseat. He sat at the opposite chair and showed me the advertisements and the artwork he had done for clients.  He explained all with such passion that I decided, then and there, to be with him for the rest of my life.  I could tell anyone with that kind of passion would make great strides.  And he did.

Ever since that night we’ve been together.
Lovers at first sight, in love forever.

It turned out so right,
For strangers in the night.

The bloom of our romance faded and the intensity of the initial thrill settled down when real life challenges surfaced. As we had promised at our wedding ceremony, we stayed together through thick and thin; and even though, today, we live in separate homes, as strangers would, we still date and take trips together to explore new horizons and possibly come to a maturity that I thought my parents were missing. Yes, unfortunately our union “…didn’t turn out so right,” because, like most marriages, we buried emotions and lost intimacy.  Although there are times that I feel we're still strangers, trying to get to know each other, but during that drive from Karadj to Tehran there was enough “dopamine” produced to create a desire to get married within fifteen months.  I was 23, as was he.  I wonder, if I were to taste the life again, even knowing what was to come, would I take the same path and marry him?  The answer is: YES! 
Doobe-doo-bee-doo  da-da-da-da-da   strangers in the night

The following pictures are taken in Yerevan on February 7 of this year.  Isn't that crazy to get married in the dead of the winter??


  1. =) "Lovers at first sight, in love forever." It's such a beautiful story~

  2. Thank you for your very truthfull story about love. I hope you have a wonderful love month ahead of you too!

    Chic & Boutique Wedding Venues