The morning was still young, a text message arrives from Kuala Lumpur, do you have time to talk? it said
It was KO, the former Malaysian ambassador to Cuba. We became friends in Havana and had been able to continue our friendship with chats and also brief visits while I was in KL, pre-covid.
I was so excited about the news he had to tell me .
Cuba and Malaysia have been close friends ever since Malaysia became an independent country from the British rule.
the long term PM of Malaysia, Mahathir, did not kowtow to USA demands and that earned him the respect of Fidel.
The previous ambassador was Mr J S a very pleasant representative of Malaysia who currently is its ambassador in Thailand.
The Cuba connection had also led me to become friends with three consecutive Cuban ambassadors to Malaysia with whom I could share some light moments during my visits to Malaysia. Pedro is in Sao Paolo, Carlos in Washington DC and Ibete, I am not sure where is her new posting.
So Cuba and Malaysia strengthened each other in my heart, two countries so different but with a belief in friendship. I am also lucky that my circle of friends in KL began to grow as well.
Ho, champion GO player, a connoisseur of Films and ex-President of Mahler Society of Malaysia
My closest friend who recently graduated with a PhD from Monash Malaysia Yong Mun Ching
and the entertaining Mr A with a load of talent in the world of Media.
An Old love was kindled , in KL, that of PERSIA which had begun in childhood when my father returning from Abadan said: Persian is a most beautiful language, there are 32 ways to express Smile in that language. I was smitten ..
YMC who was to become a very close friend, not only introduced me to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali but also rekindled a love for Persian Literature .. she gave me a copy of Shanameh and we talked about Rumi.
When Mr A cooked us an AWADI dinner I realized that this prince of a man was descended from actual princes of the Moghul Court, Pesians who ruled India for 500 years..
NM came from Karaj to KL bringing poems of Shamlou, Farough F, Soheil Nafisi and the movies of so many excellent directors..
She also brought Hafez.. to our consciousness, the most widely consulted book in Iran much to the dismay of the Mullahs.
So Kuala Lumpur was bringing me closer to Iran which was a magical mystical dream from childhood.
2011 was a good year .. Ashgar Farhadi and The Separation ..
Mr Ho started traveling to Tehran to pick up Iranian movies for Malaysian audiences. Makhmalbouf. Panahi (his White Baloon was the first Iranian movie that I consciously watched and absorbed).
In KL, my love for Iran strengthened. I really have to thank NM..
( i am listening to Mohsen Yeganeh ..Behet Ghol Midam)
Just a day or two ago, I was thinking of Ambassador OK, whom I have not seen 2019. American Indians say, things do not happen without a reason, it is just that we are not smart enough to figure it out.
Do you have time to talk, Dr S ?
I am never too busy for my friends
He then teased me , just guess where I am being posted, starting mid- September?
Dont tell me where but give me just one clue.. He did and I said:
Dont tell me you are going to IRAN
He said, yes , I am going to Iran and I wanted you to know because i know you love Iran . I hope you will help me promote Malaysia in a good way in Iran
I was so so excited
Iran one step closer to my heart. Even if I cannot visit that beautiful country under the current circumstances here is a chance for me to play a small part in Malaysia-Iran relationship, considered a very important one (historically and diplomatically)
Immediately i got to work, Few years years earlier, Dr Tan of the Cheng Ho society had asked me whether I could lead an expedition to Hormuz island where the indefatigable Chinese Admiral had stayed on his voyages to the Persian Gulf and East Africa. (Long before Europeans "discovered" sea routes to the East). There must be some connection, trade wise and also the common religion (interesting to note that both Iranians and Malays are converted Muslims as noted by VS Naipaul in his book Among the Believers)
The search opened up a wealth of information which would forward to Ambassador KO
I had fun telling KO about the Persian influence on the "Indian food" as we know it in the west and also in India and East, such as Biryani and many of the Moghul dishes and also the Awadi cuisine of the courtiers of the Moghul emperors.
I am truly excited to know that a friend of mine would be the next ambassador from Malaysia to Iran. Iranian post graduate students are eager for knowledge and Malaysia has many temples of knowledge and Iranians are warmly welcomed in Malaysia.
There used to be three daily flights from Tehran to Kuala Lumpur before the Toman took a nose dive. Currently there is only once a week flight by Mahan Air, the pariah airline of the Aviation world which would cease its operations to KL as of next week.
Good ways of flying between KL and Iran (Tehran or Mashhad)
Qatar Airways and any of the other Gulf airlines including Oman Air, Etihad, Emirates as well as Turkish airlines.
I personally would prefer Qatar Airways .. but the time has not arrived yet for me to fly to Iran,
Thank you for this good news, KO.
I will end this blog with yet another photo of Mahathir with the new ambassador of Malaysia to IRAN.