"Ferdowsi: from NASA to Paradise"
Congratulations to Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director of NASA, and all at NASA on their Mars rover Curiosity landing this week! What a week for people of Iranian heritage. Iran wins Gold for "Strongest Olympian" at the London 2012 Olympics (thank you Salimi) - and then, a young, Iranian-American, Bobak Ferdowsi, catapults many of our hopes and aspirations!
"Ferdowsi": If NASA wanted a Persian name in Space - could you get more honorable than "Ferdowsi"? That was so serendipitous to me, and that fact alone, had me thrilled - add to that the joy I felt for NASA and their Mars landing, and it was overwhelming.
"Hair": Most of you will know by now that Bobak Ferdowsi swiftly went on to become an internet sensation!!!! The guy who made NASA cool again - with that haircut! From kids aspiring to be scientists - to thousands of marriage proposals etc. When reading through the fans' words, I realized that it was also something in the warmth of Bobak's smile, as well as the tears he shed when Curiosity landed, that had captivated them, together with that "hair"!!
HAFEZ: For today's post, I wanted to include "Ferdowsi." First - a little tid bit on the word. Most reporters this past week had no idea that Ferdowsi is the same word as Paradise. "Paradise" and the Mars landing!! What an incredible juxtaposition. F replaced P in Persian after the Arab invasion - so you get "Perdowsi" which is essentially the same word as Paradise, which in Iran was a "walled garden." Iran did produce the world's first gardens of Paradise, after all. (Penelope Hobhouse's book - "Gardens of Persia" outlines this history magnificently. I highly recommend it.)
Today's Beyt/Couplet not only contains the concept of "Ferdowsi" but takes it further. A peacock comes into it - Are you kidding me, Hafez joon? With all the talk of Bobak's hair? Yes! Hafez threw in a Peaccok!! The Beyt is a celebration of a beloved that Hafez is physically describing, her hair, her rosey cheeks. He then wants to compare the image of the beloved's hair crowing her face to the image of a Peacock landing in heaven. Peacock's were consdiered heavenly birds - "morgheh beheshti." Hafez draws a parallel between the beautiful hair of his beloved, perched atop her rosey cheeks, and the concept of a heavenly Peacock landing in the gardens of Paradise.
زلف مشکین تو در گلشن فردوس عذار
چیست٫ طاووس که در باغ نعیم افتادست
Zolfeh meshkin-eh to dar golshan-eh Ferdows-eh ezar
Chist? Tavoos keh dar bagh-eh na'im oftadast
Your musky jet-black hair perched atop the rosebed of the garden of thy cheek
Is what? A heavenly Peacock that into the garden of Paradise has falllen
Bobak Ferdowsi too, "has fallen" and landed in the gardens of NASA, proudly wearing his fabulous hair. Bobak then went on to add his heavenly touch and land NASA's rover on Mars. Like the Peacock in the garden of Heaven - Curiosity has also landed on the red, dusty surface of planet Mars. via our own Bobak Ferdowsi. Congratulations!
I write this as I'm getting ready for our Saturday "Learning from Hafez in DC" gatherings, in Washington. These classes are taught in cycles of 6-8 Saturdays and last month, we reached our 100th Hafez student. 100 Iranians, either too young to know Hafez, or having forgotten him, coming to savor the wisdom of a national treasure. PAAIA has a proper feature on this class - but below, a YouTube clip for you:
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