Drinking Arak Off an Ayatollah's Beard: A Journey Through the Inside-Out Worlds of Iran and Afghanistan
ReadHowYouWant.com, Oct 8, 2010 - 496 pages
An engrossing blend of travel writing and history, Drinking Arak off an Ayatollah's Beard traces one man's adventure-filled journey through today's Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and describes his remarkable attempt to make sense of the present by delving into the past. Setting out to gain insight into the lives of Iranians and Afghans today, Nicholas Jubber is surprised to uncover the legacy of a vibrant pre-Islamic Persian culture that has endured even in times of the most fanatic religious fundamentalism. Everywhere-from underground dance parties to religious shrines to opium dens-he finds powerful and unbreakable connections to a time when both Iran and Afghanistan were part of the same mighty empire, when the flame of Persian culture lit up the world. Whether through his encounters with poets and cab drivers or run-ins with ''pleasure daughters'' and mujahideen, again and again Jubber is drawn back to the eleventh-century Persian epic, the Shahnameh (''Book of Kings''). The poem becomes not only his window into the region's past, but also his link to its tumultuous present, and through it Jubber gains access to an Iran and Afghanistan seldom revealed or depicted: inside-out worlds in which he has tea with a warlord, is taught how to walk like an Afghan, and even discovers, on a night full of bootleg alcohol and dancing, what it means to drink arak off an Ayatollah's beard.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - KrisR - LibraryThing
I loved the premise of this book -- Nicholas Jubber explores ethnic, national, and religious identity in Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia through the lens of the Shahnameh, or the Book of Kings ... Read full review
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Afghan Afghanistan ancient Ansari Arabs Aryan ashoura asked Ayatollah Bakhtiari beard Biruni Bukhara caliph called Central Asia century country’s door drink epic exclaimed eyes face father Ferdowsi fingers friends front Ghazni girl hair Hajji hand head Herat hero Ibn Sina Imam Hossain Imam Reza Iran Iran’s Iranian Islamic journey Kabul Kalashnikov Khanom Khomeini king look Mashhad medieval Mohammed mosque mud-brick mujahideen mullahs Muslim Nasrullah Nicholas nodding painted Pashtun Persepolis Persian culture Persian-speaking poem poet poet’s poetry prayer pre-Islamic Professor Quran reciting Reza Reza’s Rostam Rudaki Russians Samanid scholar shah Shahnameh Shahnameh-khwans Shahrooz shalwar qameez Shia shirt shoulder shrine side Sina’s sitting Siyavash smile Sohrab story streets Sufi Sultan Mahmud Tahmineh Tajik Taliban talking teahouse Tehran tell tenth-century there’s tomb turban turned Uzbeks verses walls whispered women words Zahhak Zoroastrian