NEWS: There was controversy in the news yesterday - that Polo the clothing company, who has issued the official US Olympic opening ceremony outfits, has had them all manufactured in China. US team parading out proudly in Chinese outfits, essentially. The company at this stage is promising not to do this for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
POLO and ISFAHAN: As a lover of Isfahan, the story took me to the Maidan-eh Naghsh-eh Jahan (image of the world) square - one of the largest urban squares in the world. A majestic place. Designed in the 1600s under Shah Abbas's reign. The Maidan/square is also one of the oldest Polo fields in history. 4 monuments are located on each side of this public square, one being the Shah's palace (Ali Qapu) - from which polo matches would be watched. The marble goal posts still stand on either side of the Maidan. In the photo collage I've tried to include a beautiful miniature I recently came across, that has players on horses playing Polo in Maidan-eh Naghsh-eh Jahan.
Polo is a national Persian sport - at least 2500 years old - and women as well as men played the sports all the way back to Cyrus's era. I've often wondered if Ralph Lauren knows this. Or whether he knows the oldest Polo field, that doubles as a beautiful urban square, is situated in Isfahan, Iran. I think of this each time the Polo logo flashes in front of my eyes. Of course, I also think of how good we as Iranians are at PR (public relations) - that the world knows all that is awful about us, with so little that is so incredible? (And I don't blame any political this or that. I actually blame ourselves for falling victim to the 24/7 negative narratives)
HAFEZ, COOPERATION and POLO: Of course, this is a HAFEZ blog, and I wanted to share with you a Beyt (couplet) where Hafez also transports us to the Polo field. Again, it was a national sport. Here - the Beyt belongs to a poem that is all about friendship and cooperation having been lost in society. It made me think of the greed that also makes cooperating with the American factory worker, history - while proudly having US athletes wear a "US" brand. Cooperation has a multi faceted sense to it, and when reading of the news yesterday - my mind went to Hafez.
گوی توفیق و کرامت در میان افکنده اند
کس به میدان در نمی آید سواران را چه شد
The ball/sphere of benevolence and cooperation is rolling out on the pitch
But no one comes to play - riders have all but disappeared
Conditions for life are a given in life. It's humanity that chooses to "cooperate" in those conditions or not. The ball is right there on the pitch, but no one comes out to play. It's humanity that has chosen not to - that chooses to put greed before benevolence. The poem was written during a possible Mongol invasion in 14th century Iran. But 700 years later, a factory worker in the US who lost his job to China - while the product is all about being "American" - might be uttering the same dialogue in his head.
Link to "Learning from Hafez in Washington, DC":
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