A day with Ziba

Sacramento is a crap city like Professor M said it would be. No offense to Sacramento born readers. The roads are all one-way streets and getting to the stupid Fairfield Marriott on Exposition street or avenue (whichever) requires getting lost first.
There are no people. The city is dead. No birds. Nothing. Everything is pretty. There are churches and blossoms and orange trees. Classic, natural beauty. Just dead, really dead.
And there is Starbucks! Thank God. This morning we ordered a couple of drinks and the girl asked us how our day was going. The people here are very friendly.
So Maman just told me that the reason why we came to stay two nights here was because of Ziba, a relative of Mamanbozorg’s. Ziba means beautiful in Farsi.
Ziba’s in-laws are Afghans. Walking into their home was like walking straight into Iran and Afghanistan. Persian rug, Afghan/Persian food: rich, oily rice, chicken polo and meat, middle-eastern décor and art. They are very generous and kind, bringing us dish after dish, multiple trays of tea, fruits, cake, begging and pleading as the tradition goes to eat. “Please eat something” or “But you didn’t eat anything (even if you just had a full plate)” Or when you say no to tea, “But why?”
Ziba’s sister-in-law reminds me of Aishwarya Rai, the gorgeous Bollywood actress and once crowned Miss World. She runs a hair salon and is engaged to an Iranian. She complains of America that has no culture. She values her Afghan traditions and heritage.
They don’t talk much of politics. This is a first. My father mentions at one point that he never wants to go back to Iran. He was never a patriot, never a nationalist. Never will be. He came here to escape the past. He came here to stay. Forever.
I am not important in these conversations. R is eagerly asked about her nursing career, her choice of residence and so on. No one asks what I do or what I want. Nevisande, writer, I was prepared to say proudly, but no one asked.
Grandma did her long prayer upstairs, drank her third tea, stuffed a pear into her purse, and then we left. We kissed Ziba and her mother and sister-in-law three times on the cheek (kissing the air in reality), shook hands with the men and prepared to leave, but as tradition with us Persians goes, we stood for another 15 minutes, talking some more. Parting is never easy for us. We like company.
And then there was grandma’s camera. She had to have a picture so I went to get her camera from the car. The camera which we are not even sure takes photos; the number never changes from a zero. Weird.
We briefly get lost again before we find Fairfield. But at least we know we are about to be lost. After a series of curses, a few big laughs, a couple of oh-oh’s and a trip to our dear old Safeway (the only open supermarket on this very dead Sunday), we retreat to our rooms.
It’s packing time now. Tomorrow morning we are headed to San Francisco. I will finally be permitted to sit behind the wheel of our rented, white Chevy that has automatic locks and buttons (our little Echo back home is a little behind in technology). I will have the road. 65 Miles per hour. Sweet…

One Comment, RSS

  1. hairofthedawg March 12, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

    If I were you I would turn right on I-5 and drive north until you get tired of the beauty. It start around Red Bluff and doesn’t stop. Well, at least as far as I know but I’ve only been as far north as Vancouver BC. Other alternatives are a flight to Seattle on a clear day, with the splendor of the Cascade mountains beneath you, or, if you really want to go to SF, make a right when you hit the Pacific and follow the coastline. I like north, but a left turn and south is nice for awhile as well.
    I didn’t like Sacramento much either during the month I was there, but if you head toward the hills, it does get better. good luck with 65 mph… 😉

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