Saturday, 14 January 2012

Stories from the 1001 nights

Have you ever felt inexplicably drawn to a culture or place, or felt that you belonged somewhere other than where you lived? For me, I can't quite explain it, but that place is the Middle East.

I think I mentioned before that, as a child, I loved the stories from the 1001 nights. And the story of the Persian rug weavers that my mum used to tell me captivated me completely. Despite being blonde haired and blue eyed, the Disney Princess I have always most associated with wasn't Aurora or Cinderella, but Jasmine. Even at the not-so tender age of 17,  I genuinely could not have been more thrilled when I got to play Princess Scheherezade in the musical 'Tin Pan Ali': finally I got to be a real princess, if only for a few nights. It all seemed so, so romantic and steeped in the kind of history and ancient tradition that only the most epic of stories are made of.
So I guess it's no surprise then that in choosing a spouse, I chose my very own Persian prince, the lovely Mr. B, who has a vast middle-Eastern heritage! He can trace his (birth) family back, via London and India, to Persia and Iraq. I feel so lucky that I have somehow appropriated some of this heritage by being married to him and certainly, all things being well, our children will one day share in the genetic lineage that I can only stake a marital link to. In fact, it feels like such an integral part of my identity, that even the food is some of my favourite international cuisine - I'd happily choose a tagine or humous and pitta over an English roast any day!
I find everything about the literature and culture
of the middle East enthralling
I think it's so sad that the issue of land and religion in this area of the world is so contentious that it makes it almost impossible to visit for fear of war and terrorism, but one day I vow to visit all of the beautiful places that I have read about. Maybe then I will understand why I feel so incredibly drawn to this area of the world.

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