As often happens when I’m in school, the days bleed into one another, leaving only a few splotches distinguishable here and there. In the past week or so I was finally ‘inducted’ into the research centre at which I won a small grant, and the people seem quite nice. I arrived 15 minutes early to the event, somehow, despite getting lost twice, and got teased a lot for it. From now on I will aim to be fashionably late, as that seems to genuinely be a thing that people do here, rather than using it as an excuse when feeling insecure about a lack of punctuality, like in the US. They have tea, and I wonder what they know about me that I don’t. The perils of meeting people who have read rec letters about you. The fellow student researchers and other research affiliates seem quite helpful and friendly enough, so hopefully this will end up being a place where I feel safe. For some reason my department doesn’t feel like a safe space yet. Maybe because I haven’t found a good place to sit, the water kettle is gross (public water kettles are a threat to national welfare), and there are too many intimidating people.
Besides that, what else has happened? My Hindi class has begun, and so far it’s been fine. I’m still mourning over the fact that I couldn’t take Urdu, but I just have to deal with it. It’s going to take a lot of self-directed study to actually improve in this class, though, because it only meets for 3 hours per week and it’s not exactly complementary to my existing needs and skills in the language, so far. Perhaps that will change; after all it’s only been a week since we started.
It’s been a great few days on the music front, to end on a high note. This week I ”””discovered”””the artist Mohsen Namjoo, who makes this incredible Iranian-folk-blues-jazz fusion music. I’m not well versed in Iranian traditional music, but I’ve listened to a fair amount and can recognize the broad contours of his influences, which makes listening a really exciting experience. It could get weird for someone not acquainted with Iranian traditional music though, I imagine. Why? Well, for one thing, there can be a lot of. . . wailing. I guess it’s the Persianate variant of the yodel. But it’s a yodel of existential despair.
Here is a long interview with Namjoo on the theory and practice behind his work, about poetry, living in Iran and in exile, and protest. http://bombmagazine.org/article/6433/mohsen-namjoo
and a couple of songs: