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Iran’s Shiraz, Poets, and Dinner with Iranian Friends

Shiraz, Iran

The sophisticated city of Shiraz is the home of beloved Persian poets: the romantic Hafez (14th century) and the more eclectic Saadi (13th century). Their tombs still attract admirers. We visit a family home for a hearty dinner and Iranian hospitality.

Complete Video Script

A couple more hours to the southwest is Shiraz — a booming city of over a million people. Another center of Persian culture, Shiraz is a sophisticated city. Its impressive citadel, with fine brick work, survives from when this was the capital of Persia 200 years ago.

Shiraz is famous as the home of beloved Persian poets. Perhaps the two greatest were Hafez and Saadi, who lived here centuries ago. Gardens sprawl out from the poets' tombs with tranquil corners provided to ponder the mystical brilliance of these prophets of love. Even in our rushed modern world, Iranians take time to slow down and be meditative. Friends and families gather here to share their poetry.

Hafez who lived in the early fourteenth century is entombed beneath this ornate canopy in this peaceful garden. His lyrical poems are noted for their beauty. They draw upon themes of love, mysticism, and early Sufi teachings. He is revered and his poetry is still enormously influential on the Iranian people.

The tomb of sheikh Saadi has a similar impact on people from all levels of Iranian society. Writing in the 13th century he drew from his extensive travels and interactions with people from all walks of life. His words still stir the souls of Iranians.

[Woman reading poem in Farsi (translation below)]

The links of the beloved's hair form a chain of suffering
the man, not thus bound, remains unaware of this tale.
As for myself, strike me by the sword in her full view
a sidelong glance from those eyes will full ransom make.
And should I give up life in pursuit of her favor
no pity at all; I love the beloved more than my life…

Guide: This is Rick.
Man: Salaam.
Rick: Nice to meet you.

Visitors are welcomed into Iranian homes as honored guests. We've been invited into a fairly wealthy family's home for dinner and a look at the modern domestic scene. Their home is as contemporary and up to date as you'd find anywhere.

Because we're here with our camera the women are dressed more conservatively than they would be if they were just here with their family and friends. Time and time again we experienced how, in Islam, visitors are considered a "gift of God" and treated as such with generous hospitality — and tonight, that includes a wonderful meal.

Guide: This is called Iranian kebab. This is the chicken.
Rick: So this would be lamb mostly.
Guide: Yeah, mostly lamb, mostly lamb.
Rick: Do you say bon appétit? Is there any word like that?
Guide: Nooshe jan.
Other man: Yeah, nooshe jan.
Rick: Nooshe jan, nooshe jan.
Guide: The same as bon appétit.

Before I know it my plate is filled with fish, kebabs, two kinds of rice, eggplant and tomatoes…the conversation is as lively as at any home I've visited in Europe.

Rick: That's what people say: if you want to eat well in Iran, make some friends.

And dessert came with a surprise…..

Rick: Hey, look at this!
Everyone singing: Happy Birthday to you…
Rick: Ohhh, thank you… oh you guys!
Man: Puff your candles.
Rick: Puff em' out…yoooo! Ohh…mamnūnam, mamnūnam very much.