Vernal Equinox


Here at smallholdingdreams we celebrate the Persian New Year (Nev-ruz) otherwise known as the vernal equinox with a review of the past year’s activities (see here and here). However, as seems eminently appropriate I am currently overly busy writing about cultural historicisations used in the Iranian revolution, the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, and the pro-democracy Iranian Green Movement.

So instead of looking through my blog posts and photos for things of note I am sitting with my Persian dictionary on my knee (the dictionary that my mum and dad gave me as an Easter present pretty much 20 years ago, days before my mum died) trying to translate the various captions and slogans on the posters.


My Persian is not very good – I was told this officially by a Persian expert at a job interview I went to an Oxford University a long time ago. The post was for someone who could teach Ottoman history and language – not you will note Persian! It was a part-time position, but they said they wanted whoever was chosen to work full time. I had to translate a section of the Ottoman historian Naima’s work and say how I would teach not only the grammar but position the text historically. I did an OK job I reckon.

Maran chick

Now Ottoman does have some Persian vocabulary and grammar in it. I identified these elements in the extract. Then the rather elderly Persian expert, a person who had dedicated their entire life to the Persian language, asked me some other tricky questions about Persian grammar. My answers weren’t adequate it seems and I added that the Persian language wasn’t a strong point of mine – they readily agreed.

I didn’t get the job – I didn’t mind, it was a close escape if you ask me. They wanted someone who knew Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and Arabic; who could teach; who also was an expert on Ottoman history and who was publishing academic articles – all for a salary of £9000 a year.

chick and James.jpg

I digress, I am busy writing, so the official nev-ruz post might have to wait a few days, but in the meantime I give you spring chicks. Some heritage breed Maran and Ixworth chicks that have just hatched out in the incubator from our own little breeding flocks …..

chicks in basket.jpg

N.B. Yes, the egg collection basket does double as a chick transportation system when not otherwise engaged!

N.B. The book by Chelkowski and Dabashi is one of those books that has had a profound influence on my life. I went to a talk by Chelkowski some years ago and was so impressed I bought his book and started teaching the art of the Iranian revolution in my Art and Power class. This then spread to an interest in how contemporary historicisations in visual culture are produced and consumed in various east and south Mediterranean states and communities which I am currently writing a lot about and which I think I might develop further in the future …. I digress again … sorry


N.B. The writer’s block seems to have gone …. thank goodness

8 responses to “Vernal Equinox

    • You are so right – it must be chick power – luckily another batched hatched last night so today I will be super productive 🙂

  1. I can’t believe the salary offer compared to the requirements demanded… hmmm… All I can say is that I am glad I have a different profession.. it seems that there is never pay equity in that field.

    I have an Iranian co-worker that brought in “Iranian cookies”to celebrate the new year. (I don’t know what they were called but they were delicious) I asked him how to say “happy new year” in Persian… I tried to repeat back what he said but gave up after three attempts… (you know you are saying it bad when they immediately repeat it back to you and each time they are adding emphasis to every word not just one or two)

    • It was a ridiculous situation – they were basically trying to exploit people at the beginning of their career who wanted to put on their cv that they had worked at Oxford – I often wish I had become a plumber instead – pay is much better than being an academic and I would have been able to fix the plumbing in my house. Oh Iranian cookies – now I am intrigued and want to make some.

  2. Those chicks are adorable! And if you ask me, you were really lucky to have not been hired… next thing you know, they’ll want someone who can do all of what you mentioned, plus juggle and walk on a tightrope!

    Happy Spring! I’ve only recently heard of the Persian tradition but it’s interesting how I’ve already read three times about it since 🙂

    • I think the person who was hired only lasted a year. The chicks are super cute – only beaten in the cuteness stakes by ducklings. Off to practice walking on a tightrope 🙂

  3. Really really hoping to see you on the first weekend of April to set up the ‘van!! Thank you for providing some chicken chicks for me to coo over and can you please tell the ducklings to hatch in time for me to see them 🙂
    Can’t wait to see Kai and meet his little brother xx

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