Babooshka dolls and Franz Kafka in Prague

You would think Prague is all about Kafka, Mucha and Dvorak but it’s really about these dolls – the Babooshka dolls are everywhere in Praha:

michele roohani babooshka dolls Matryoshka prague

I would like to share my last trip to this beautiful city with you. I stayed in this fabulous hotel where everything but the view to the river was red (my favorite color)

michele roohani prague red steps

these exquisite chandeliers are the pride and joy of the Czech Republic.

michele roohani prague crystal chandelier bohemia


this is the view from my room:

michele roohani prague room with a view

and this one

michele roohani prague room with a view sunny

Just look at Frank Gehry‘s edifice in the middle of these gorgeous buildings set on the shore of a shallow branch of the Vltava river – these tiny pictures are really not doing it justice.

First the sun was shining,

michele roohani prague gehry building Vltava river

 then it was raining like hell,

michele roohani prague under rain Vltava river

and then this amazing double rainbow; talking about a room with a view…

double rainbow michele roohani prague

Prague is a city of posters,

michele roohani prague posters communism museum

and the capital of caryatids! Paris will never get close to these gorgeous men and women.

michele roohani caryatides prague honey colored

these two weren’t talking to each other:

michele roohani caryatids prague bank

but these two were – for an eternity.

michele roohani caryatids prague balcony

I woke up at 6 in the morning and took the tramway to Charles bridge – the only time in the day that it’s a bit quiet. Cities are majestic in the morning blue hour.

michele roohani charles bridge prague early morning

The astronomical  clock is the main tourist attraction.

astronomical clock prague michele roohani early morning sun

Speaking of Kafka, he’s omnipresent:

michele roohani prague cafe franz kafka moody

and here and everywhere…

michele roohani prague franz kafka mucha

Beautiful  city/people/pastries/absinthe (I brought some mean ones back to L.A.)

All and all, the Czech republic has shown gargantuan progress in a few years since the fall of communism – if only it stayed as inexpensive as the first time I visited…

“A book must be the ax for the frozen sea inside us” Franz Kafka

A night with some dry drunk Persians

I got drunk on music at Frank Gehry’s last night along with two thousand other people. Even though independence day usually is accompanied by the two Adamses – Samuel (the beer),  and John (the second president) –  this year was different.

beer café michele roohani

It was amazing : an Iranian music ensemble called “Mastan” or the drunks, with its  director/vocalist, Parvaz Homaye, performed at Walt Disney music hall. The astonishing thing is that this group lives and performs in Iran and has chosen a name and lyrics laced with wine/intoxication/breaking repentance/dissent/hope… The young vocalist actually played on two big jugs – khomreh – that begged to be full of wine like Jesus’ in the marriage of cana!

Zal embracing Rudabeh british library 1576 michele roohani

How the mullahs managed to asphyxiate 70 million people by depriving them of music and wine is beyond my comprehension… Just look at these paintings: where there is music, there is wine. The concert last night proved that if you take the wine out of a Persian’s life, he’ll continue to sing about it! Move your mouse on the images to see a description of the paintings and the year they  were created.

Siavash and Farigis are married Metroplitan 1520 michele roohani

These instruments have not changed in centuries but the music has evolved. I love this painting of Kamancheh (upright fiddle), tar and daf:

Shah Abbas and ambassador(detail) agha khan colllection ca 1790 michele roohani

This gorgeous painting in a palace in Isfahan from around 1670:

persian musicians hasht behesht 1669 michele roohani

Last but not least is this funny looking dude playing a lute:

Robab player british museum 1530 michele roohani

Passionate improvisation is the basis of Persian classical music. Watch this clip to see some hard core first-rate Persian musicians – Kayhan Kalhor on kemancheh (spike fiddle), Hussein Alizadeh on tar (lute), Shajarian on vocals, and his son on tombak (hand drum) – warning to the uninitiate: there is heavy duty yodeling! I couldn’t resist adding these pictures of the great Kalhor playing and Yo-Yo Ma watching – they collaborated on the Silk Road Project:

keyhan kalhor yo-yo ma kamancheh michele roohani

Watch the Mastan here – they will be performing in San Francisco, San Diego and Washington D.C. this July.

صبح است ساقیا قدحی پرشراب کن
دور فلک درنگ ندارد شتاب کن
زان پیشتر که عالم فانی شود خراب
ما را ز جام باده گلگون خراب کن


Red suede shoes

It’s been a busy tough week so that’s all I have to share:

red suede shoes michele roohani

The card is from yet another under-represented French artist: Cécile Veilhan. This particular work of hers is called un printemps abricot or an apricot spring. I have most of her work but she’s still a second to my favorite, Gaelle Boissonnard

Exploration of the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty.

Gerd Muller…Where are you?

Gerd Muller…Where are you? Beckenbauer, Pelé, Jairzinho, Eusébio, George Best, Gordon Banks, the Charlton brothers and captain Cruijff…These were my childhood heroes and I miss them; I got hooked watching the 1970 anf 1974 world cups with my dad in Tehran like most soccer crazy Persians (well maybe not the mullahs). Number 13, 10 and 7 were sacred numbers…


gerd mueller michele roohani

Watching Euro 2008,  I am constantly reminded of these great champions I admired as a little girl. I felt nostalgic today and put together these images  just to have these guys in the same place one more time – even if it’s only in my blog.


franz beckenbauer michele roohani

I knew der Kaiser since he was a mere prinz  beckenbauer (above)!

I don’t understand/like baseball and American football is only tolerated when USC is playing but soccer stays close to my heart…There is a hierarchy of course like in any sport: we have princes and kings, Brazilian Gods and black pearls and panthers,  even a black spider (the Russian Yashin)!


There is  hand of God (Maradona) and real God (Pele):

pele michele roohani

There was Jairzinho,


jairzinho michele roohani

The Charlton brothers,


charlton brothers michele roohani

The beatle George best,


george best michele roohani



eusebio michele roohani

The great Platini (aka the sun king in cleats):


michel platini michele roohani

Watching today’s players is exciting but they come and go or become media’s pretty boys while bending it like you know who…

My favorite team is Germany (after Brazil of course) – I don’t like the cheating Italians/Argentines – the British exasperate me with great national clubs but poor national teams and the French are annoying with their inconsistencies – I like great soccer and whoever plays best is my champion.


kaiser and the prinze michele roohani

Beckenbauer and Muller  are mere children in the above  picture. It took hours to put these images together but it was a labor of love…

Delahaye, Hispano Suiza, Kurtis 500, Bentley, Ferrari, Bugatti

With these shameless gas prices, it’s less painful to look at cars than driving them. I went to an auto show today and two hours and 100 pictures later, I was about to over-dose on beautiful antique cars, gorgeous vintage sports cars and even the vulgar Ferraris and Maseratis…

race cars michele roohani

I’ve never seen so many shades of red outside the cosmetic counter’s lipstick section! A good name for a shade of lipstick would be a “Ferrari red” – a “Corvette carmine” for a nail polish:

corvette carmine michele roohani

Amazing tires:

car tires michele roohani

Lovely 1956 Chevrolet Bel Airs:

blue chevrolet belair michele roohani

Great interiors and fins:

red chevrolet belair michele roohani

It was Rolls Royce galore in Rodeo Drive today but that will be for another post.

This 1938 Dubonnet Hispano Suiza is out of this world:

hispano suiza michele roohani

or this Delahaye:

Delahaye michele roohani

To see more about fast cars, go here. Happy Father’s Day!

haute wheels hat michele roohani

May means purple rain in Los Angeles

It rains purple in Los Angeles every May.

cars under jacarandas michele roohani

Beautiful Jacarandas in full bloom line some streets in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires.

three blue jacarandas michele roohani

The streets are quiet on sunday afternoons so I went out to take some pictures of the Jacarandas in full bloom.

purple rain beverly hills michele roohani

In some streets (like Whittier in Beverly Hills), they line both sides of the road and their branches meet making a beautiful violet tunnel.

lamppost and jacarandas michele roohani

You can enjoy these trees in their full purple glory for a couple of months provided you never park your car in the purple rain of blossoms under the trees; it gets pretty sticky…

purple rain jacaranda michele roohani

Of course these are not the only stunning purples. There are zillions of Bougainvilleas (paper flower):

michele roohani bougainvillea

or these gorgeous purple wreath bushes:

banafsh michele roohani

Their deep lavender color is breathtaking to look at.

michele roohani banafsh

Of course all I wanted to do today was to talk about a picture I really like: Obama’s tattered shoes but the purple rain kept falling…

obama tattered shoes micheleroohani

Do you think he would want to march on Iran like McCain and Clinton promised to do? with these shoes?

Thanks to Evelyn, Ali and Jim’s comments, we know that this is not the first time that we are seeing the soles of a presidential candidate.

Adlai E. Stevenson

A Persian in Venice

My smile got bigger and bigger as I continued listening to Professor Riccardo Zipoli talking about Iran in his near perfect Persian; but then I got a bit frustrated remembering that in spite of speaking three languages myself, I have to applaud every non-Persian who can say 4 words in my mother tongue! Listen to him talk here to see what I mean by Zipoli’s flawless Persian.

zipoli kohguilouyeh

These two pictures are from the Professor’s huge archive. He has a soft spot for the rural landscape/people of Iran.

zipoli tchador

Born near Florence, teaching in Venice, reciting Sohrab Sepehri better than most of the natives has endeared Zipoli to Persians. I particularly like his Tree series. You can find more of his pictures on his site.

zipoli tak-derakht

Looking at these images made me nostalgic so I went to look for some pictures from my last trip to Iran about 14 years ago. Here is one of my favorites from the Shah’s Mosque in Isfahan, a marvel of Safavid art. I still remember my awe in front of all these magnificent architectural wonders.

michele roohani turquoise mosque

“If you come to visit me
Come gently and slowly lest the fragile china
Of my solitude cracks”
به سراغ من اگر مي‌آييد،
نرم و آهسته بياييد، مبادا كه ترك بردارد
چيني نازك تنهايي من
“Si vous venez m’y chercher,
Venez-vous-en donc lentement et doucement
De crainte que ne se raye
La porcelaine de ma solitude.” Sohrab Sepehri

And for all of you people who are still looking for a Persian in Venice, I am sharing this picture I took some years ago.

michele roohani venice gondolas

Warm, sunny nights – cool, cloudy days

I love California’s warm summer nights and winter days. If I could have a custom made climate, I would ask for warm summer nights of Los Angeles infused with the scent of jasmine and orange blossoms and cool, cloudy winter days.

hotel window michele roohani

In other words I would take the best of both seasons. With the way the “custom made” world is progressing, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days my wish comes true.

hotel window shadow michele roohani

I took these pictures in a small hotel in Paris with these typical windows with fake Parisian balconies and cheap curtains. It was magical though – something in the quiet of a curtain’s movement in the breeze reminds us of less noisy times, less hurried lives, less superficial connections…

Marie-ancolie Romanet’s angel

It’s highly unusual for me to add something to a post once it’s been published but Marie-ancolie romanet, my photographer friend, asked me to add this picture of hers that goes with her comments. Check out her site, she has superb images…

Beautiful naked bodies

I saw these naked bodies last week in the science museum. I’ve been trying to see this exhibition for a long time. Gunther von Hagens‘ lifetime work is awe inspiring to say the least.

Gunther von Hagens lovers closeup michele roohani

It’s all about real human bodies preserved through Plastination. It takes more than 1500 hours of work to transform a corps into a plastinate – the near perfect representation of a once living human body. It’s interesting to see  how each body has it own unique features, even on the inside.

Gunther von Hagens lovers michele roohani

We usually forget that beneath even the most beautiful bodys’ skin lies a skeleton, muscles, several feet of intestines and lots of other goodies!

joey house michele roohani celestial bodies

This whole experience reminded me of a great rainy day last year when I visited the small Dupuytren museum in the school of medicine in Paris. Just look at the skull of this man hit by a rifle stick in 1807 – he died after two days.

Dupuytren skull michele roohani

And if you are (unlike me) into mythology, you may enjoy seeing a real Kyklōps (cyclops). After being exposed to all of the above, I listened today to my favorite podcast about the history of Brain.

Dupuytren cyclops michele roohani

I am not all flowers and poetry after all, am I?

To see more of the beautiful Joey House go to my post sex, sex, sex here.

added on September 15th 2009:

I have thousands of visitors to this post; can somebody please let me know, who/what is sending you here aside the hunt for beautiful naked bodies?

Rufus Cappadocia, not your father’s cellist.

Listening to Rufus Cappadocia the other day on NPR, I almost had an accident! I seldom get excited about “fusion/cross-cultural music” but the more I listened to it, the bigger the smile got on my face. Just watch this clip to see what I got all excited about.

rufus cappadocia micheleroohani violoncellist

I liked what I heard so much that I made several images out of the few pictures I could find of him online. Rufus is a New York-based cellist and composer, a multilingual musician, a world music traveler, having studied and performed in a variety of traditions from American blues, folk and jazz to Spanish flamenco, Haitian vodou drumming and various styles from the Balkans, the Middle East and India. Reminding me that his last name, Cappadocia, is where Rumi lived, Rufus told me about his work with Rumi’s poetry and Vishal Vaid, the extraordinary Ghazal vocalist.

rufus cappadocia micheleroohani rumi

His CD sold out after the NPR piece but it will be in stock this week – it’s also available on iTunes. A modified cello has given him the flexibility to play in many settings with other musicians. Rufus is playing on May 18th in Oakland with Stellamara. Check it out if you live in the area.

Rufus Cappadocia stellamara

The real magician is the one who puts Jimmy Hendrix and classical Persian music together…