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Friday, 14 November 2008

Iranian Girls Choose Books as a Beauty Makeover

November 14, 2008

by Suzan Abrams

The Los Angeles Times reports today on a truly beautiful and inspirational 2-page human interest story, written by journalist Borzou Daragahi from Tehran. And it involves literature.

Nazanin Gohari (pictured right) was once a hairdresser before playing the role of a community activist. The change of occupation came about in the course of 10 minutes when one of Gohari's friends succumbed to breast cancer, soon after she herself thought a breast examination to be unnecessary. Gohari would never again see things the same way.

As she settled into her new calling in her poor Tehran district, she first ventured into educating her rural neighbours and community on health issues. It was when she saw how young girls were too impecunious to afford books they so badly wanted to read, that Gohari decided on the most unusual thing.

Far away from the hair dryers, this mother -of-two and wife of a civil servant, transformed her somewhat bedraggled apartment into a library for women seeking to better themselves with a higher articulation and sophistication. At first, Gohari lined her lounge with the usual fare that made up for familiar secondhand reads. These included cheap, crummy novels, poetry, self-help and DIY articles.

But her interested visitors were having none of it. So this wife of a civil servant and mother -of-two, turned her variety to cuisine, needlework, college matriculation books as well as literature. This as per popular demand. Overnight, Gohari would become a heroine for Iran's destitute even as she tirelessly pursued the city for all kinds of interesting books, to spill over from her makeshift bookshelves.

Daragahi writes of how in the last three decades, Iranian women of different status have been slowly pushing away the suppresion thrown upon them by diligently manouvering their thirst for knowledge into higher advances of power.

She writes of the library visitors who borrow books from Gohari. For instance, the 18-year old married mother with her sharp desire to infuse knowledge. Or otherwise, the timid and uneducated plumpish housewife who has started to discover new worlds through the pursuit of literature that lights her visions of daily slums in southern Iran. Thanks to Gohari, the lady is now reading
Feodor Dostoevski and Jean-Paul Sartre. Then there are the high school students.

You may read more of this glorious piece over Here.

Credit: Nazanin Gohari was photographed by Newsha Tavakolian for The Times.

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