Monday, April 28, 2014

"The Familiar Stranger: A Page From My Life"; by Payman Akhlaghi (2014)

A Page From My Life: The Familiar Stranger
By Payman Akhlaghi (Draft 4)

(*) First published on Monday, April 28th, 2014, at, under The Familiar Stranger...

I took the bus today, the third time in years, the first time mostly for the sake of it. I felt strangely related, reconnected, if not necessarily reunited, with my environment, an experience that I had missed through the past many years of driving in Los Angeles. Yet, somehow, the ride also made me feel like a tourist. I saw things, on that very familiar crowded road, on those very familiar streets, that I had not noticed before. In a way, I was taking a vacation for an afternoon to a place where everyone in the world goes to spend their holidays: my very city.

Of course, I could not have been just a tourist. If anything, the sheer contrast of the ride underscored how much I had grown into an extension of the city, even as an outsider, if not a stranger. I could see this in the way I was driven to ask the drivers some basic questions, which I could have indeed answered by myself from the posted signs and brochures; and the shame of it afterwards. The dependence of a wandering tourist had momentarily silenced the confidence of the resident.

I notice that such existential juxtapositions have been a common element of my life so far, as a Jew growing up in Iran, as an Iranian Jew developing in America, as an Iranian American Jew living in LA. Whether I'll ever lose that multiplicity of identities, it seems to afford me readily a more unique perspective on society and the world. Perhaps, it was always the same for many a Jew before me, those eternal outsiders within, with a burning desire to belong, whose dual status was revealed in their comprehensive thoughts and cosmopolitan stands.

Sunday, April 27th, 2014, Los Angeles

© 2014, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a composer, pianist and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. His repertoire covers Classical music, as well as Persian (Iranian) Music, Pop Music, and Film Music. For information on the lessons in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Encino, Brentwood, etc. please call: 310-208-2927. Thank you.

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