It’s been a good long while since I’ve written anything in French, so I thought I’d better take a stab at it and flex the puny French writing muscles that I might still have. This time, I’m diving in with a short write-up and vocab list about, you guessed it, hockey.
Je vous l’avoue, je connais presque rien du hockey. La plupart que je connais viennent directement du film« Jeu de puissance », que j’ai regardé il y a des ans. Pour ces qui viennent des États-Unis, je veux dire le film « The Mighty Ducks ». J’adore la culture québécoise, c’est vrai, mais le hockey, ça ne m’intéressait pas. J’essaie de lire des livres d’ici (ok, ouais, souvent des livres pour la jeunesse), manger des produits d’ici et écouter les films et séries d’ici. Mais jusqu’à cette semaine, j’avais évité le hockey. C’était la seule chose que je n’arrivais pas à comprendre. C’était bien comme ça.
Mais, nous nous trouvons en pleine série éliminatoire ici au Québec. Les Canadiens jouent contre les Rangers du New York. Mardi soir, en fin, j’ai regardé mon premier match de hockey. Je suis allée au bar afin de m’entourer des amis qui savent plus que moi sur le sujet. Ce match a été le cinquième de la finale de l’Est. Le Canadien a gagné, mais il suive le Ranger 2 à 3. L’ambiance était électrique, mais pour moi, c’était plus amusant de regarder les partisans que le match soi-même.
Même si je suis un peu perdu avec les règles et les noms des joueurs, j’ai beaucoup appris quand même. Par exemple, savez-vous que les Canadiens ont deux surnoms ?
Oui, Les Habs (pour habitants) et Le Tricolore.
En plus d’apprendre les surnoms de l’équipe, j’ai dû apprendre les expressions de hockey en français et en anglais pour comprendre ce que se passait autour de moi. Puisque j’ai été obligée de faire un effort, j’ai pensé vous gagner le temps et partager ma liste des expressions J La voilà !
En ce qui concerne ma grammaire et le hockey, je suis toujours un peu confuse si je devrais dire « Les Canadiens » ou « Le Canadien ». Par exemple, j’ai lu un article de Radio-Canada dans lequel j’ai trouvé la phrase suivante :
Le gardien du Canadien s’est remis d’un début de match couci-couça et a sauvé les meubles en troisième période.
Il y a plus qu’un Canadien ! Je ne comprends pas. Si quelqu’un peut me l’expliquer, je serai très reconnaissante.
Si vous voulez apprendre plus sur le vocabulaire de hockey, voici quelques articles et liens que j’ai trouvé intéressants :
This month’s movie list has officially come to an end. My total list of Iranian/Persian-themed movies amounts to only four movies. I know, not an extensive list by any means. More like a light scratching of the surface, but interesting nevertheless. It seems like I’m always watching movies, but then when I make a list of movies to watch within a month, it takes effort to actually check them off the list.
I tried to vary my list a little bit, not only watching educational movies, but not only watching fiction either. I ended up with two true, two fiction. I’ve embedded the trailers so that you can get a feel for each movie, but also included my thoughts about the movies. (You can click the titles to link to the Amazon profiles and reviews as well).
If you’re not familiar with the ancient past of Persia, this documentary is a good start. I found myself scribbling down some notes about things I wanted to Wikipedia look up later. There’s a lot about Cyrus the Great, Zoroastrianism, and Darius. That said, it’s definitely not a movie you want to watch when you’re feeling sleepy. It’s a history class sort of documentary, and there is an obvious slant toward focusing on the good in the Achaemenid and the Sassanid Empires. But if you’re in the dark about any of the things I just mentioned, you’ll definitely learn. For those of you in the US, it’s available for streaming on Netflix.
All right, you’ll hear a lot more about this story in the forthcoming book list, because this animated movie is based on the book. And the book is based on the real life of a woman who grew up in Iran during the late ’70s and early ’80s, went to Austria to study, returned to Iran, and then left again. It teaches a lot of recent Iranian history, humanizes it, makes you see events and situations as solemn and meaningful, but somehow you’ll be laughing because Marjane Satrapi, the author of the book and co-director of the film, has an amazing way of not taking herself seriously. The complete film can be found on Youtube in French, but the English versions are not available (even if the link looks promising). You can also find it on Amazon for Instant Viewing (or iTunes).
Makes for a great movie night. Highly recommended.
I’ve heard so much about this movie that I kept putting it off, thinking it couldn’t live up to its reputation. But, alas, it really was that good. The story doesn’t necessarily focus on teaching you about Iran, but simply takes place within its setting (meaning you’ll likely learn something along the way). A normal couple is going through a separation (the wife wants the family to leave the country, but the husband wants to stay because of his ailing father), and a family crisis snowballs. The story is believable, the acting is spot-on, and the characters are multidimensional (no good guy versus bad guy simplicity). So. Good. Available for streaming on Canadian Netflix.
A Must. If you watch one of these, make it this one. (But you should watch two, and follow it up with Persepolis!)
I first became interested in its culture about four years ago when we met up with Jordan’s advisor and his wife at a geography conference. They mentioned that Persian food was one of their favorite cuisines. We heard about the barberries for the first time, complex dishes with lamb, and crunchy rice. This was the first time I really heard about the culture in Iran. Since I majored in political science in undergrad, I knew a bit about the country, but honestly not much more than the basic CIA World Factbook highlights. When we returned, I followed recipes for Jewelled Persian rice and dove into House of Sand and Fog (I still haven’t seen the movie!). Since then, I casually read things about the country and would browse some of the lovely photos of architecture and landscapes.
Fast forward to our time in Montreal. In my French conversation group at the library, I made a good friend from Iran. And one of my other friends introduced me to her Iranian friend. And then we went on a weekend trip to New Hampshire where we met an Iranian couple and the wife’s parents. And then in a Tim Horton’s, my neighbor struck up a conversation with me. All of sudden the number of people from Iran in my social circle jumped from zero to over ten. Okay, no, I don’t talk to most of them on even a weekly basis, except my pal from the library class. Still, I have loved hearing their opinions, stories, and memories from their home country.
To dig a little bit deeper, and since I already turned one week into Persian Week, I declared May 2014 the Month of Iran in our apartment. Jordan is no longer surprised when I do things of this nature. What the Month of Iran really means for us is that I’ve been reading a few books about Persia/Iran, am having a couple movie nights, and cooking a Persian recipe on a weekly basis. What husband would object, anyway? Certainly not one of the geo ilk.
I’ve already learned an incredible amount. Sure, I knew some of it before and probably should have already known even more of it. Still, I thought it might be nice to help any other armchair geographers out there by sharing what I learned. The post is broken into a few specific sections:
Why is it important to learn about Iran? My thoughts on it anyway…
Save Face Facts: Things you really ought to know to avoid feeling silly
Dazzling Dinner Conversation: Topics that are typically safe to broach with people you don’t know well
Tread Lightly, Neo Geo: Touchy subjects that you might want to wait for others to bring up or approach very delicately
Why is it important to know more about Iran?
Yep, there are obvious political reasons why we should want to better understand this country. Tensions have been high for decades, particularly during the Ahmadinejad years. If collectively learning something more about the country helps our foreign policy, that’s not bad. And in the last year, things have been looking more hopeful on this front. But there’s more than that…
All that political tension seriously overshadows the people, the culture, the history of Iran. Many people are surprised to learn how well-educated young Iranians are, how trendy the women are, and how amazing the architecture is. Once we clear out some of our misconceptions created due to political rhetoric, we’ll find a lot to appreciate. You’ll be fascinated.
Beyond fascination at a distance, travel in Iran has been increasing dramatically in the past year. See for yourself:
There’s also the fact that you could bump into an Iranian on the street. Over five million Iranians have left the country since 1979. A lot of these emigrants may have left the country because of the revolution, but many younger people are traveling or moving for education or work opportunities.
Save Face Facts
I’m constantly surrounded with brainy geographers, and it’s not always easy to know everything I ought to to not look like a clueless outsider. I find myself asking many questions, which I hope they see as a sign of my honesty and not as a sign of my ignorance. Still, there are a few basic things I like to brush up on to avoid asking stupid questions (because yes, we all know they do exist).
Here are some save face facts (in case you didn’t want to follow that CIA Factbook link)!
Save Face Fact #1: This is where it is.
Save Face Fact #2: Persia and Iran can mean the same thing.
Until the 1930s, the country we know today as Iran was often known as Persia in many English-speaking countries. When referring to the current government of this country, Iran is the more popular term in modern times.
Save Face Fact #3: The official language is Persian. Farsi and Persian are the same language.
Iran is diverse and is home to speakers of many languages, but Persian is the official and most widely-spoken language. Nope, not Arabic. But they do use the Arabic alphabet. And nope, they don’t speak Iranian. That’s like asking if people in the United States speak American. (And if you do say that, well, stop. There’s another save face tip for you).
Save Face Fact #4: It is predominantly Shia Muslim….however…
So, you don’t really want to just get by in a conversation, right? You’re going to want a few conversation topics to expand upon. Obviously, there is way, way more to know than one nonprofessional is going to put in her blog, but I’ll give you a starting point.
It’s really, really, really old
Sure, the land is as old as the rest of the Earth, but Persian empire was established in 550 B.C. Its history is long, its culture is deep and often considered as one of the most influential in the history of the planet. Iran is home to the world’s oldest standing column and other hella cool ruins. This most famous is Persepolis, seen below.
In my opinion, the guy was the coolest king ruler in our history books. Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, the first Persian empire. Okay, that’s already cool, but then consider how ahead of his time he was. While he conquered, he repatriated the Jews, provided funding for the temple to be rebuilt, allowed diverse nations under his rule to speak their own languages and practice their own religions. He was well-respected by many peoples and cultures, and has influenced everyone from Alexander the Great–a bit of irony if you follow the story later–to the founding fathers of the US. Also, his wife’s name was Cassandane, which makes this Cassandra very happy.
For many of you, when I say Persian, you think rug. There’s a good reason for that. The patterns are beautiful. Each region in Iran has its own style of rug. The video below has some nice images in the first minute or so, and then is followed up with a bit more of rug-making history and some suggestions for choosing a rug.
Anyone who wasn’t thinking rug above was thinking food.
Unless you live in LA or NYC, or Iran, obviously, you probably don’t find yourself surrounded by plenty of Persian food options. Because I love food, I’ll be writing a post on the recipes that I try throughout the month of May. This post will give you a better idea of what Persian food is. But to be honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it too. It’s a Mediterranean diet, with lots of herbs, pickled relishes, kabobs and rice–good rice. Until I get my post up, enjoy this article:
Norwuz is the Persian New Year. You’ll see various spellings so don’t be confused if the word looks close but isn’t the same. Persian New Year begins on the first day of spring. Table settings are extremely important and the ten-day period of Norwuz is typically filled with picnics and family. I love the animation below which does a great job of explaining the holiday. It’s in French, but you’ll be able to see enough images to understand what’s happening.
Poetry and Literature
Persian poetry and literature are very important and woven into the culture in Iran. Much of the literature that was written before the Arabic takeover in the 700s has been destroyed, however much has remained, and poetry continues to be important even for the generations of today. One of my friends assures me that it’s much more moving in Farsi, and I’d like to take a stab at learning the language if only for its poetry.* The following poem was written by in the 13th Century, but could have been written yesterday.
A moment of happiness, you and I sitting on the verandah, apparently two, but one in soul, you and I. We feel the flowing water of life here, you and I, with the garden’s beauty and the birds singing. The stars will be watching us, and we will show them what it is to be a thin crescent moon. You and I unselfed, will be together, indifferent to idle speculation, you and I. The parrots of heaven will be cracking sugar as we laugh together, you and I. In one form upon this earth, and in another form in a timeless sweet land.
Another relatively safe subject to bring up in conversation is the state of education for young adults in Iran. 97% of young adults are literate, and the best part is that this rate is the same for men and women. No gender disparity here. Women are also ahead of men for university graduation rates. Iran has some great engineering and science programs, particularly at Sharif University. Almost all of the Iranians you meet outside of Iran will be well-educated. Although Iran is churning out a lot of graduates, it does suffer from brain drain, as young adults may choose to go abroad for work or continued education.
You guessed it, things that are normally uncomfortable to talk about will be: politics and personal religious beliefs. But here are some more specific topics that may be controversial or sensitive depending on the person:
The overthrown monarchy
The Islamic revolution in general
Wearing a veil/scarf
The Iraq-Iran War and war martyrs
Nuclear programs and rights to it
Where can I find out more?
During the rest of this month, I’m going to be sharing some posts. My posts will be recaps of the movies I’ve watched, reviews of the books I’ve read, and one awesome food recipe and resource post.
Besides these upcoming posts and resources, feel free to check out the following:
I’ve been Pinteresting pretty Iran photos on my blog account.
Alright, folks, I hope something in here taught you something new or peaked your interest. Do any real experts have comments on what I missed or may have not explained accurately?
I’m so looking forward to sharing my books, movies, and food with you in a week or two.
*Full disclosure: I did have one Farsi lesson and used Mango languages for a total of two hours. I haven’t really practiced much, though, so my conversational skills are limited to hello, goodbye, how are you?, good afternoon, thank you, and water.
All photos not sourced are my own and are subject to copyright regulations.
Look at this beautiful shade of green! I did say I was checking this tree every single day. I didn’t exaggerate. For the longest time (and by the longest time I mean since March 20, i.e. Spring Equinox), I have been waiting for our tree to suddenly explode into green. Other trees in the park or on the block are probably one week ahead of ours. I was green with envy (pretty please pardon the pun once again).
But now that things are finally starting to come around, I quite like seeing the itty bitty day-to-day changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still prefer having large leaves camouflaging our balcony breakfasts from the passersby on the street. Still, the buds on the trees do remind me how ephemeral the actual season of spring is. It helps me live in the present. Cheesy? Maybe. But still true.
I’ve only got a month and a half left in Montreal. And it’s finally nice. We’re going to milk the balcony for all it’s worth. Yep, we’ve been having Pit Caribous over chips and salsa (made with our lovely Lufa Farm tomatoes, by the way). Oh, yeah, and making pitchers of panakam with our meals. There may be some creeping on our senior citizens neighbors across the way involved. And often, I find myself doing some reading of paper books. Those iPads are pretty horrible in the sun, huh?
This spring frenzy extends far beyond Jordan and I. When 60 degrees finally rolls around, this city starts to go crazy. The terrasses are filled, the buses are empty, the bike lanes are wheel-to-wheel. Picnickers are scattered along the hillside. The sand volleyball courts are even put to use by pale-bodied, bikini-clad women.
People often talk about how Montreal is a completely different city between the winter and the rest of the year. You know, we hear all of that “There’s no where else I’d rather be than Montreal in the summer” stuff. You hear it so much that you start to feel blasé about it. Especially when you hear it in the thick of the awful month of March here. But, you know, gol-ly, now that spring is here, it does feel like a different city. I almost forgot between last year and this year.
Ahhh, the skirts are back. Sandals are [almost] back. Green is back. Spring is back. The city is back.
Hey everyone, how were your weekends? I’m hoping yours were a bit sunnier than ours in Montreal. The whole weekend has been rain or threat of rain. At the moment, the rain doesn’t seem worth it, as the trees are nowhere near the green we’re all longing for at this point. The weekend was drearier than I hoped, but still many good things came out of it. I almost finished an editing project I’ve been working on, started a new writing project (or rather, starting researching for it), and got a run in.
More importantly, though, the husband returned this weekend! He got in around 1 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning. Wait, did I mention he was gone? Jordan was in D.C. for a week giving a workshop on some of his geo-stuff. He slept in late Saturday morning, had a cup of coffee, and then filled me in on some details with a good amount of enthusiasm. It’s safe to say he enjoyed his time at the workshop.
And finally, we joined some friends for a Sunday evening meal. In the words of my friend, “You’ve had a really Persian week this week!” It’s true, really. I met my friend earlier in the week for a tea at a cafe with a Persian twist, have been reading a book about life in Tehran, watched a movie based on an amazing book by a Persian author (I adored the book!), bought a Persian cookbook, and finally capped the week off by going out with our friends, Mahsa and Benham, to Byblos, a Persian cafe on the Plateau.
In particular, we went for Le Dizzy (or the Dizi, or Abgoosht) on the recommendation of our friends. Continuing with my week-long theme, we ordered a Shiraz to go along with our meal.
This dish actually contains two dishes in one–your soup and your sandwich. It’s served in the clay pot above, along with an empty bowl. The broth/soup is poured into the bowl, while the lamb, chickpeas, and beans (plus any other solids) are held in the pot. The server demonstrated the pouring technique for the newbies at the table, using my dish. I was relieved, since it seemed a bit tricky and I can be a bit clumsy now and again.
The soup itself is tasty and eaten with crunchy pita, but the real fun starts after the soup is finished. You get to take out all your built-up aggression on your meal by grinding the remainder of the food in your dizi pot into a purée. This is also the best part of the meal. The purée is then used to make sandwiches or be eaten with bread, a type of relish, and fresh herbs. All ingredients were good separately, but when you put the combination together, it’s really complex and interesting. I vote for the mint combo!
And don’t forget to finish the meal with tea and dates. Jordan tried to head out before the tea because he had to meet a friend, but our server told him he had to stay persuaded him to stay for a quick tea. I had to giggle at this. Wish he listened to my pleas so easily!
For those in Montreal, I definitely recommend the dish and cafe for the food and ambiance. The service, well…thankfully it wasn’t the reason we went. For those of you outside of Montreal, if you have the opportunity to try the dish, I highly recommend it.
Did anyone do anything fun this weekend? Or do you have any plans for this fine week? We’ve got one more day of rain, but then a forecast of sun and 60s for three days in a row. Come on, leaves, grow!
I never remember watching the trees as intently as I am this year. I check “my” tree every morning and evening to see what progress has been made. To my disMay [get it? May Day?], nothing ever seemed to change. Finally, today, I spotted some green! Spring is coming! It’s really coming!