July 23, 2014

Ana Briongos @ La Paloma, BCN, or el mundo es un pañuelo!

It seems another one of my life cycles has gone full circle recently. I have written in previous entries how persons, places and events of different periods of my life have been resurfacing for the last three or four years from times as much as 60 years ago and from locations as divergent as Europe, Asia, Mexico and San Francisco.

Although this account starts in Berkeley, it began somewhere else a long time ago. This last weekend was one of those events coming full cycle. Week before last, I was invited to a friend's house for dinner. I knew several of the people attending but some were strangers to me. It was a wonderful dinner during which I took photos of everyone present (typical). I emailed the photos I'd taken to the people who had been there, including the ones I didn't know.

Ana Briongos, right,
her daughter, Anna, & son-in-law, Nick
Berkeley, CA
photo by Styrous®


During the dinner one of the women, Ana, mentioned she had written books about Afghanistan and Iran and when I got home I went online and checked her out; after reading about her books, they sounded pretty interesting so I ordered a copy of one of them, Black on Black; Iran Revisited, from Amazon.


Black on Black; Iran Revisited
photo by Styrous®


A couple of days later, Ana, replied by email to thank me for the photos and said when she showed my photos from the dinner to her husband, who had not been there, he recognized me from her birthday party which had taken place at La Paloma in Barcelona; other than the name of the place, she gave no other clue but the second I read her words I instantly recalled the exact night of the party, December 29, 2006, because it was one of those nights one never forgets.


I was totally blown away!


At the time I did not know her but a friend who lives in Barcelona had invited us to go to a party being held at the La Paloma nightclub. I had been to it a few months earlier and was delighted to go back again as the night I had been there, they would not let me take photos because it was a public event. As this was a private party, I figured this was my opportunity to take the photos I wanted. To be honest, there were dozens of people there and the place is enormous, so other than to wish her happy birthday, I didn't get a chance to talk to her very much.

Since that dinner in Berkeley, we have gotten to know each other a little more and I have met her husband, Toni Alsina, and her son, Quico, while we spent a couple of hours exploring the Oakland gardens of Marcia Donahue (more on her to come) who creates other-world sculptures.

 
 Toni, Ana, Marcia and Quico
photo by Styrous®






Black on Black; Iran Revisited
back cover detail & title page
photo by Styrous®



Black on Black is a memoir of Ana's studies in Iran in the 1960's and her travels there and in Afghanistan in the 1970's and after. The tales she weaves of her adventures during the times before and after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 are absolutely spellbinding. The book is not a very big one but it is packed with the richness of the culture and the beauty of the countries; however, it does show another side of both countries and also recounts some of the not so pretty things as well. I learned much about the Muslim world and what it means to the people who follow it. I feel more informed after reading it and that's a nice feeling to have at the end of a book. Also, it is about life cycles unexpectedly coming full circle.

The book is published by the Australian publishing company, Lonely Planet, which is famous for its travel books but this is not a travel book. It is a look into a world most people never experience. It was originally written in Spanish; the translation by Chris Andrews is excellent. Andrews has also translated work by Roberto Bolaño, the Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet and essayist.



Black on Black; Iran Revisited
title page dedication
detail photo by Styrous®




I have an article on the Art Nouveau night club, La Paloma, here on the Viewfinder, if you'd care to know about it. It's a fascinating subject: La Paloma, Barcelona.

Incidentally, Ana's daughter, Anna, had her baby, a boy, since the dinner. Congratulations to the proud parents and grand parents. As Ana said to me in the email about the La Paloma event in 2006:


¡El mundo es un pañuelo!

Gracias, Ana

La Paloma, Barcelona


Styrous® ~ Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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