Persian New Year as a new immigrant to Alhambra, and 30 years later an adult US citizen

Tuesday is Persian New Year. We're reposting about an Iranian immigrant to Alhambra's memories of celebrating the holiday upon arriving in the city as a child.*

"My mother, all curves and decorum in her uptight Chanel suit, and my father, all stutter, glasses and advanced degrees, walked into an Alhambra, Calif., apartment: two bedrooms, one bathroom, furnished, $450 a month," Porochista Khakpour writes in the New York Times. "It’s not nice — it’s not Paris of the last several months, no Tehran of the ’70s — but they took it."

The year was 1981 and Khakpour's family had just settled in Los Angeles. Shortly thereafter the family celebrated their first Persian New Year, or Nowruz, in the apartment, with family coming from around Southern California. In an Op-Ed essay, Khakpour reflects on how that holiday, which was Sunday, celebrates the balance between change and continuity. 

"Nowruz — more about the call of the new, I see now, than the pull of the old — has come to seem like the perfect holiday for Iran’s still-pulsing-even-if-we’re-not-watching Green Revolution. After all, it was just weeks after Islamic New Year in December that the Tunisian revolution began what Egypt, Libya and several other Middle Eastern countries have carried on," she writes. 

Thirty years after a revolution had brought her parents to Alhambra, she writes, "I was ready to be a card-carrying member of this world of hot dogs and strawberries; but by the time I got that card — citizenship, 20 years later — I found that I had joined my parents in the clumsy yet hopeful adulthood of immigrants. And in this moment of upheaval and transformation, in yet another season of renewal and rebirth, I finally understand that existing in the temporary and embracing impermanence might not be a dishonest way to accept life."

Originally posted 03/20/2012

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