Wow. A year is a long time to not update a blog. It’s not that this blog or indeed its wider topic is unimportant to me or far from my mind. On the contrary; it is so important that I don’t want to fill it with fluff or trivial posts just to hit certain targets or improve SEO ratings. I’d rather post when I think of something that really means something to me, or I am truly inspired to share my thoughts and feelings. Which is the position I find myself in at this moment.
This is because last weekend, I found myself right back in Iran. Not actually, but stay with me here. I spent the weekend with a group of (primarily) Iranians at a birthday celebration event and retreat. And although it’s coming onto six years (WHAT?!) since I lived there, and life has taken me on all sorts of twists, turns and somersaults since, during the retreat I kept feeling as though I had never left. More than that, the weekend put me right back in touch with the essential reasons why I wanted to share my experiences from Iran and start this blog in the first place. I had a magical time over those couple of days, which for many reasons I can’t describe in words, but one that will stay in my mind forever more. And the integral component of this was the company. Not since I was living in Iran have I felt so strongly how close our cultures are and how much we share between us, especially within younger generations. This is in terms of humour, values, music, dance, aspects of our food, cultural and behavioural traits like hospitality, joviality and profound warmth, and more.
Now, our region certainly doesn’t need any more stereotypes; we are multidimensional and multifaceted peoples, not to be lumped together whether in a negative or positive light – and I’m not suggesting that what I have described above is the case across the board for all Saudis and all Iranians. Nonetheless, there is so much common ground between us, so much that we already share and even more that we could – under different circumstances – potentially share: jokes, recipes, our respective cultural experiences, good times, travel buddies, bloodlines (don’t @ me, it’s the 21st century this should not be a taboo) – you name it. And it just seems like such a bizarre reality, and frankly a shame, that we instead are induced to focus on what divides us. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it endlessly: this “deep-rooted” and “eternal” rivalry that the mainstream media love to talk about is just a construct, and it’s up to us to step over the invisible line and say no more.
Back to that weekend. I don’t want to suggest that it was only due to this group’s Iranian-ness that it was so special; as I mentioned, there were a couple of awesome souls of a different background, and it was everyone’s unique characters and vibes that contributed to the whole enchanted experience. But still, because of all that exists in the form of arguments and tropes claiming that we are star-crossed and destined for mutual hatred, I feel it is important to emphasise and exaggerate this fact: that I had the weekend of all weekends, supposedly surrounded by a bunch of my enemies. And I would do it over again, and again, and again!