Amongst Iranian dot comers


by LalehGillani

Over the weekend, I traveled to San Francisco to attend’s first music festival. Although I previously lived in the Bay Area for many years and still am in touch with several old friends, no one knew that I was coming. “The trip was unexpected,” I planned to explain should I run into a surprised, brooding friend. This one was for me, a quiet and private journey, a lonely pilgrimage to immerse into a sea of strangers bearing a striking resemblance to what I crave…

The flight to California was uneventful. I arrived late Friday night and planned to leave early Sunday morning. On the other hand, my Saturday was full of anticipation. I stayed in my hotel room, watching the digital clock standing still, mocking me with every remaining hour. The food brought in by the room service sat untouched on the dinning table. Having no intention of eating, I sipped on the drink occasionally as I paced up and down the suite. The cell phone on the coffee table kept vibrating relentlessly. Someone needed me but wasn’t going to have me… Not that time… That day was mine…

I fell asleep in the afternoon and woke up to the sound of an alarm precisely at 5:00pm. A quick shower, a hasty make-over, and a last minute glance around the room. “Do I have everything?” I worried. “Uh, the map!” Without it, the dream would never materialize. The maze of one way streets together with the twists and turns of the big city insultingly baffle this country girl… Purposefully I left the hotel at 6:00pm; it was too early for a 45 minute drive to the heart of San Francisco but not enough time for the allotted “what ifs.”

The drive was tedious but uneventful. “How did I ever survive in the big city without MapQuest?” I smiled while parking the car around the corner from the Palace of Fine Arts. The parking lot was nearly full. As I watched Iranians run towards the building shivering in cold, I remembered what I had forgotten: A warm shawl still draped over the love seat in my hotel room…

As I stepped into the lobby, I felt as if I had crossed through a threshold separating the intangible world of the cyberspace from reality, a gateway into a home that has been mine for nearly seven months, a refuge into the realm of those who dare to dream. The faces of strangers were warm and welcoming. I felt at ease at the first sight…

It was 7:35pm. My Will-Call ticket lay restfully on an empty table, awaiting my arrival. All other guests had already claimed their pre purchased tickets and were lining up to enter the auditorium. A few stragglers were negotiating at the Box Office for the possibility of a better seat; procrastinators were buying tickets late, hoping for a miracle to sit exactly where they had intended to sit for nearly two months: “Are you sure there is nothing open in the front row?”

I found my seat in the first row next to an Iranian couple affectionately holding hands. The man still had his wool coat and cap on, probably shivering from the bitter cold like me. The lady glanced at me several times perhaps hoping for an acknowledgement, a friendly smile, or the face of a long lost friend, but it was only me: An introverted and shy stranger! Not knowing what to do, I shoved my face into my handbag, hoping to stay there for the entire duration of the show, just the next three and half hours… But I had to emerge back up soon for air, holding a camera in dire need of an imaginary adjustment. “I miss my laptop; I wish I could hide behind the Internet for ever!” I whined to myself quietly.

By 8:00pm, the audience hall was full, buzzing with Farsi and English conversation. The two seats to my left were still empty, seductively inviting the couple to claim them as their own. A few minutes after the Master of Ceremonies, Elham Jazab, had greeted the audience, that’s exactly what the couple did: They grabbed those seats, not knowing with that simple act they had set in motion a series of events that will forever change my life…

While the charming and funny Elham Jazab was entertaining the audience, two young Iranian ladies arrived late and sat in the couple’s empty seats next to me. Soon they were hooting and hollering with laughter similar to the rest of us. The young lady sitting immediately to my right was strikingly uninhibited, at ease with herself, expressing her thoughts, her pleasures, and disappointments without reservation. She commanded my attention. So I turned slightly and looked. “Where have I seen that face?” I asked myself but regretfully could not remember.

Throughout the show, we exchanged a few words politely and warmly. In a couple of occasions, she even reached to hold my hands in hers, sharing a human touch that conveys friendship when words fail. I found her unreserved touch reassuring and returned it while marveling at the strength of her character. “Where has she learned such confidence intertwined with elegance and aura?” I kept asking myself time and again…

All the entertainers and artists at the music festival were, without a doubt, extraordinary and phenomenal. The lovely Ziba Shirazi simply took my breath away and left me at awe of her talent. Faramarz Aslani brought back memories of my mother singing Ageh Ye Rooz in the empty hammam. The blossoming pianist, Sahba Aminikia, left me thunderstruck with his compositions and at the end dumbfounded when he asked the audience to accompany him by singing the words to a supposedly “famous and well-known” song. I neither recognized the song nor knew the lyrics…

The young lady sitting next to me joined the audience and muttered a few words, but before long, even she resorted to humming “la la la la” without any prohibition. I leaned over to ask her whether she knew the words or the original artist’s name. She shrugged with a mischievous smile and continued her playfulness.

During the intermission, together with her companion, she disappeared into the crowd, leaving me with my thoughts and a looming desperation. I have come all this way to meet Jahanshah Javid but had no prospects of finding him anywhere amongst the tidal wave of unknown faces engulfing me. “Do something! Anything! Find him!” I ordered myself while looking around aimlessly.

At the start of the next show, she bounced back beside me, holding a CD she had just purchased in the hallway. I asked what it was and she replied that it was one of Ziba Shirazi’s albums. Anxious to own the same treasure, I headed outside the audience hall to find the vendor. When I came back, she inquired, “How did it go?”

“I bought two CDs,” I boasted and showed her the new additions to my library of songs.

Before settling down into my seat, I noticed that I had arrived late, and a comedian was already performing on the stage, referring to Jahanshah Javid occasionally in good humor. I suddenly had a brilliant idea:

“Do you know where I can find Jahanshah Javid?” I asked the young lady sitting next to me.

“Yes. He is my father. He is standing there!” she replied, pointing to a dark corner.

“Could you do me a favor? Could you tell him that Laleh is looking for him? I would love to meet him if it isn’t too much trouble for you,” I pleaded desperately, adding a few customary Iranian tarofs.

“Yes, of course. I will,” she assured me with a bright, mesmerizing smile.

Relieved and thankful, I turned my attention to the stage and enjoyed the rest of the program but as the hour of departure loomed closer and closer, I knew what I had to do: I introduced myself to the young lady and asked for her name. “Mahdiyeh,” she replied.

“I have seen your pictures,” I said sheepishly, stuttering and stammering through a few other words which were barely audible.

At last, because of Mahdiyeh’s grace and kindness, I met Jahanshah before leaving San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts at 11:45pm, making a promise to myself to cherish the gift of and its presence in my life forever.

Next time, I might even build up the courage to meet some of you…


more from LalehGillani


by Contributor (not verified) on

What is your problem?! Yes, JJ did meet several contributors for the first time and he was very warm and kind to all of us. We went over and introduced ourselves and he did recognize us and thank us for coming. He pulled this event together, brought all those wonderful artists on stage and paid attention to the guests. It was an unforgettable night. The parade took place with flying colors and you can't rain on it now!


JJ yes shame on you! Next

by Kablammad (not verified) on

JJ yes shame on you! Next time someone approach you in one of these events and says hi I am so and so from Borazjaan or somewhere else, you should ask him/her if s/he is a contributor. Then you can carry on with the conversation.

Of course if you don't want to know that is another story. On Saturday did you even meet a contributor whom you had not met before?

Azarin Sadegh

Thank you!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Laleh,

Thank you so much for your lovely piece! It really made me feel to be there with you and the rest of the crowd!  Excellent blog!




سلام دوباره به همگی‌


میگم ها، خوب همه جمع هستند، فقط آقای یساری کم هستند.

حاضر غایب کردیم، همه اونهایی که بودند بودند، آنها هم که رفتند
برگشتند، ولی‌ طفلی آقای یساری ما که این همه زحمت کشیده بود واسه این
جشن، انگاری گم شده!

کسی‌ خبری ازش نداره؟ ایشون چند روز پیش رفت سفر و تا کنون از نامبرده اثری در دست نیست.

هر کجا هست خدایا بسلامت دارش!


I Am Humbled and Honored

by LalehGillani on

Dear Readers: The connection that we share on transcends time and space. We are Iranians bonded together by a motherland that calls us to unity. We will bow to her in this time of need…

Thank you for your compliments and comments.



by capt_ayhab on

I missed the actual gathering but thanks to your masterful writing skills I feel though I was there.

Thanks beautiful lady, excellent job.



P/S: If the young ones NAZ in giving [much o boss] do what we used to do, Zoraki boos begeer. and don't forget the gaaz[bite] from the loops[cheeks]  hal mideh   ;-)


Dear IRANdokht

by LalehGillani on

You can “rub” into me anytime next year when we will meet at the festival. I yearn for that human touch! I don’t get enough of it in my personal life. My boys are growing up fast and have instructed me not to kiss and hug them in public: “It isn’t cool, Mamman!”

Longing to see you…


evaa...I would've loved to meet YOU!

by Monda on

Laleh jan, you are one of my favorite writers here and I am sorry that I missed your presence Saturday night. I do second IRANdokht's suggestion: nametags!


Anonymous Observer

The Real Question is

by Anonymous Observer on

Why was JJ hiding in a "dark corner"?  I know he's been in Mexico for a while...perhaps he has been to this joint:




Darius Kadivar

In Absentia : Love Letter to All Iranian dot comers ... ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

In Absentia : Love Letter to All Iranian dot comers ...

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology

Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took

But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

Don't know much about geography
Don't know much trigonometry
Don't know much about algebra
Don't know what a slide rule is for.

But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be.

Now i don't claim to be an "A" student,
But I'm trying to be.
So maybe by being an "A" student baby
I can win your love for me.

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took.

But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be.

Latatatatatatahuwaah (history)
Oehwoewoe (biology)
Latatatatatatahuwaah (science book)
Oehwoewoe (French I took)

But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be.


Laleh jan

by IRANdokht on

I made a comment earlier and my iPhone auto-corrected it in the wrong place. I meant to say I wish we had run into each other! not "rub" (even though it was SF and all...  LOL) 

You sure can write girl! :o)


Orang Gholikhani

May be

by Orang Gholikhani on

You are lucky Laleh,

May be one day I'll be enough lucky to attend Party.

Take care.



Very sweet

by IRANdokht @SFO (not verified) on

Laleh jan
What a great way to sum up the night, the wonderfully talented artists and our dear Mahdieh, isn't she beautiful!
I wish we had a way to meet each other too, it was just by chance that I met a few of our friends, we should wear nametags next time!
Our plane finally arrived and we're boarding soon. I just had to say hello and I wish we had rub into one another. Hopefully next time more of our dear friends would be there too.
I enjoyed reading this highly emotional piece, just beautiful


Before I go to sleep

by Souri on

Laleh jan: We are honored having you among us. If you like to keep your anonymity, it's your right and we do understand it. Either way, we love you!

Ali agha: Don't worry. Next time I'll be in MD, we will have a great & big party, you, ebi, Mahdieh and myself. We will organize a fund rising, for helping people who can't afford the trip to San Cisco next year!!

Where's Irandokht BTW? I haven't heard from her since she left for the event.

See you tomorrow everybody

Good night

Ali P.


by Ali P. on

Baaz hameh boodan o maa naboodeem...! :-(


Dear Souri:

by LalehGillani on

Thank you for honoring me with your kind words and comment. I have been meaning to introduce myself for a long time but have found an excuse or two to weasel out of that introduction time and again. Please attribute my behavior to bashfulness not rudeness.


The Loss is Mine!

by LalehGillani on

Dear Nazy: I too wanted to meet you and IRANdokht but didn’t know how to make it happen (short of jumping on the stage and hollering your names…)

Until next time!


Very Nice...

by KHAR777 (not verified) on

Laleh Khanoum, you've succeeded on taking me with you to the show that night through your writing. Thanks!

BTW, you really met Jahanshah? He really exists?! WOW! I always thought he was a sophisticated XML algorithm running on a shiny multi clustered SAN connected Web server somewhere in a distant Data Center. :o)


I'm just jealous of you guys....

by Souri on

Thanks Laleh jaan for sending us those waves of passion. You are a great writer (but that you knew it already:-))

Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez

Wonderful story...

by Natalia Alvarado-Alvarez on

Thank you for such a vivid and lovely story. I must say what a relief that I too can escape into the crowd, if I had been there.

Yes, I think that I will make plans to attend next years festivities. It sounds like a great time was had by all there.


Anahid Hojjati

JJ and Volunteers, thanks for all your hard work

by Anahid Hojjati on

I had a great time in the concert and enjoyed all performances.  For me, highlight of the program and the one which I liked the best was "Ziba Shirazi" 's performance.   It was nice to meet some of the IranianDotCom writers and commentators.  I got to meet my favorite satire writer on the site and the one whose Persian Food recipes, I read.  Jahanshah and volunteers, thanks for all your hard work.




by SamSamIIII on

 The way you dumped the story on me is so refreshing . you gave such a 3 dimensional view of you & the event . Creative writing .





Nazy Kaviani

Oh No!

by Nazy Kaviani on

How did this happen? How did I miss you, Laleh?! I really wanted to meet you! What a big loss for me! It was truly a fantastic evening and there were so many writers and readers in attendance. It would have been wonderful to know you in person, sweet Laleh, and to introduce you to others, but I see that you were in good hands in the crowd. Maybe next time we will meet in person!


Finally .......

by sbglobe on

I have been waiting for a blog or something about Saturday night – sure worth waiting for this very nicely written piece! Having met Mahdiyeh, you did an awesome job describing her - Sweet!


thank you

by Mahdiyeh (not verified) on

Dear Laleh,

Thank you very much for your kind words. you surely made me sound much more charming than i really am : )

It was a lovely piece. you write beautifully

Masoud Kazemzadeh

You Go Kor

by Masoud Kazemzadeh on

Dear Laleh,

This is a truly beautiful essay.  Thanks.

Ti jana ghorban,



(in Gilaki, "kor" means "girl.")

anonymous fish

the sweetest story...

by anonymous fish on

without a doubt.  how touchingly humble.  your lovely spirit is so evident in your words.

YOU are the person everyone wishes they sat next to! 


Dear laleh I wish I could be there .

by Tahirih on

And I wish I could be sitting beside you.May be someday. Tahirih

Jahanshah Javid

Shame on me!

by Jahanshah Javid on

What a lovely piece!

I had no idea you were YOU. All you said was I'm "Laleh from Denver" and ran off! Chera nagofti?!!

I'm glad you enjoyed the program. Very relieved :o)

Beh omideh didar