Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

I saw a mention of this book in an referral as a book I might like, and was almost set to order it when something said “go check the stack of books Little Diamond left for you” and sure enough, I already had the book.


I use books as an incentive to get me through life’s inevitable tasks I don’t like – like “if I finish this project on time, I get to read this book as a reward.” It works for me.

When I first started reading Marsha Mehran’s book about three Persian sisters starting up a cafe in a small Irish town after fleeing Iran, I found it sour. The author has a critical point of view, and generally speaking, I don’t like hanging around with people who criticize others and judge them harshly. At the beginning of the book, Mehran introduces a lot of people, many of whom we are not meant to like.

Even the sisters are not all that sympathetic – at the beginning. But also, near the beginning, she discusses Persian cooking, the idea of balance in a meal, hot and cold, spicy and bland, so you kind of get the idea that if there is sour, then there will also be sweet. In addition, at the end of each chapter there is a wonderful recipe, a wonderful, fairly easy-to-follow recipe, and she included one, Fesanjan, that is my all-time favorite Iranian dish and now, I know how to make it, Wooo HOOOO!

Three sisters, orphaned by fate, held together by love and duty, start a cafe, which, against all odds, becomes a raging success. Raging success does not heal all the old wounds, however, nor the hearts that bear them, and we learn through the book what the sisters have borne and overcome.

It turns out to be a sweet book, one well worth reading. And oh! the recipes! In each chapter, there are also hints that make them even better, so you can’t just copy out the recipes and use them, you really have to read the book. 🙂

It’s a pity that two of the most wonderful countries in the world – Syria and Iran – are off limits. We’ve been back to Syria, and it was everything we remembered (see the Walking Old Damascus blog entries) but oh, how we would love to explore Iran. Sigh. The world turns, and we can only hope to be able to get there in our lifetime. Stranger things have happened.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fiction, Food, Iran, Ireland, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Poetry/Literature | Leave a comment

Halloween and Your Pet

I got these reminders today from Pet Food Direct who sends the Qatteri Cat’s special diet food every month or so. These are great things to keep in mind, especially shutting your pet away when a thousand strangely dressed creatures are coming to the door!


Keep your pet in a safe, secure, and quiet area of your home during trick-or-treating. Many pets can be scared of kids dressed in costume, the constant ringing of the doorbell, or traffic in and out of the house. Keeping your pet in a secure area away from all of the action will help keep your pet relaxed and will help prevent escape. Be sure all pets are wearing collars and ID tags just in case!

Keep your pets indoors during Halloween eve and leading up to Halloween. Cats – black ones in particular – often fall victim to pranksters. Keep cats safely indoors. Visit for more information.

Try to avoid taking your dog trick-or-treating because this can be very stressful to your pet. If you do decide to take your pet out on Halloween eve, make sure they are properly restrained with a reflective collar and leash and make sure they are well supervised.

When decorating your home for Halloween, keep loose wires, open flames, decorations, and Jack-o-lanterns out of your pets’ reach. Pets are curious creatures by nature so these materials can attract their attention and potentially cause harm to them.

Keeping candy out of reach from your pet is very important, too. Chocolate can be poisonous to a dog or cat and candy wrappers can cause choking or intestinal obstruction if ingested. If you think your pet has ingested candy, call your veterinarian immediately and/or contact ASPCA poison control. Poison control charges a $60 fee, but it is well spent should your pet get into trouble. Instead of chocolate, have your pets’ favorite treats handy for them to enjoy!!!

I hope all your family members – including your pets — have a fun, safe, and happy Halloween!

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Halloween, Health Issues, Humor, Pets, Safety | 7 Comments


On my way home, driving along the wall of our compound where they recently installed bright shiny new NO PARKING signs – not one or two, but like twenty; one every thirty feet – there are a whole brigade of big huge trucks, you know, the kind that accompany beginning construction? I am not even sure I can get through, there are so many, like six or seven or eight (it is a small street).

But one of the trucks is orange, and I am hoping hoping hoping, so I grab my camera out of my bag as I inch by, and yes! yes! he has parked right next to one of the signs. I take my shot and keep inching by, and just beyond the last truck on the left is a gaggle of truck drivers, I guess they are trying to figure out what to do about something.


When I get to our gate, I tell them, “there are many trucks parked by the compound wall” (here I point in the direction) “can’t you see them on the security cameras??” and the gate guy says there is a man fixing the camera input right now, but did I get the truck number?

(Did I get the truck number I am thinking??? GO DO YOUR JOB! YOUR JOB IS SECURITY! GO TELL THEM NOT TO PARK THERE!)

I smiled and said “you need to tell them to move their trucks, and not to park right by the compound wall, it is a security risk.” I am a nice lady, yes I am, and so I say this nicely, with a smile, but there is a hint of steel in my voice.

He says “we have people working out there! They will tell them!”

The people out there working are the gardening crew.

I said “No. Your people are about 400 feet away from the trucks, and they are gardeners. They are not going to tell Pakistani truck drivers to move their big trucks.” (The smile is still there, but there is a hardness in my eyes.)

He doesn’t want to go. “Did you get his number?” he asks again. “I say no,” but then I pull out my camera and show him the photo. His eyes widen. The security man comes, and the gate guard shows him and his eyes widen. He assures me they will call the Bolice immediately.

Did they? I don’t know. Honestly, you do what you can. Sometimes it is like knocking your head against a wall, it just feels so good when you stop.

October 25, 2009 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Civility, Community, Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Humor, Law and Order, Living Conditions | 3 Comments