5 Reasons to Learn the Persian Language

5 Reasons to Learn the Persian Language

If you find learning Persian a rewarding hobby, I can teach you as a native speaker and experienced teacher.
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Persian is a language of so many wonders. It is a language of literature and beauty. It is a language as long as history. And it bears the trace of human progress and civilization more than many languages you may know. Since the first Empire of the world, The Achaemenid Empire, up until less than 400 years ago and the beginning of Western colonialism, Persian language has been the main linguistic vehicle of science, technology, literature, arts and most of the things of which we are proud as the human race. We are talking about the language that provided the world with the first human rights declaration.

Persian today is the official language of Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Some may know this language by the name of Farsi which is an endonym of the language mostly in today’s Southwestern Iran. In fact, Farsi can be considered as only one of the main three dialects of the Persian language: the Iranian Persian or Farsi (), the Afghanistani Persian or Dari (دری), and the Tajikistani Persian or Tajiki (тоҷикӣ).

The term Persian is an English derivation of Latin Persiānus, the adjectival form of Persia, itself deriving from Greek Persís (Περσίς), a Hellenized form of Old Persian Pārsa (𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿), which means “Persia” (a region in southwestern Iran, corresponding to modern-day Fars). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term Persian as a language name is first attested in English in the mid-16th century.


The Academy of Persian Language and Literature has maintained that the endonym Farsi is to be avoided in foreign languages, and that Persian is the appropriate designation of the language in English, as it has the longer tradition in western languages and better expresses the role of the language as a mark of cultural and national continuity.

(From Wikipedia)

But why on earth one might want to learn Persian as a language? Well, amongst countless reasons, I will give you five:

1. It Works As the Best Bridge Language

Persian is much easier than you think. It may sound as distant and exotic at first to you, specifically because of its different alphabet, but once you start learning, you’ll see it is much more familiar than you had thought. The most important thing about it is that it is an Indo-European language. So it shares its roots with English, German, Spanish, French, and many other languages that you may know as your native or second language. You will quickly notice the similarity of grammar and vocabulary. But at the same time that it is very easy to learn, it opens up the door for learning many other Eastern languages. From one side, it is closely related to Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and many other Indo-Iranian languages (Hindi alone has more than 300 million native speakers); this kinship helps you learn those languages, later, while they are harder than Persian, since Persian is one of the most simplified offspring of Indo-Iranian language group (For example you do not have to deal with noun cases or gendered words in Persian, they do not exist). From the other side, Persian alphabet is a modified version of Arabic alphabet, and about 30% of the vocabulary of Modern Persian are Arabic loan-words; Thus, it also paves your way for learning Arabic (one of the six official languages of the UN) and related languages, while at the beginning you do not have to deal with difficult grammar of Arabic (which is from Afro-Semitic language Family).

Indo-European language family has become the first language of about 45% of the world population.

2. It Has an Unbelievably Rich Literature

The quotes by Rumi are becoming viral in social media these days. Many who like poetry know Omar Khayyam. Everyone who has studied Goethe knows that he was immensely influenced by Hafez, and Shahnameh is the second longest poem in the history of the world after Mahabharata, and it is almost 4 times longer than Homers Illiad and Oddyssey combined. But it is not only the classical Persian literature that is interesting. Many Tajik, Afghan and Persian speaking Indian poets and writers have influenced the whole literature of Asia with their work. Figures like Forough Farrokhzad, the first woman who wrote about femininity and pleasure in Persian, and Houshang Golshiri, who revolutionalised the native fiction writing, have been translated into many different languages. Sadegh Hedayat’s “The Blind Owl”, a surrealistic novel, is one of the most famous originally Persian works known all around the world. Even Persian speakers who write in other languages have the trace of Persian literature in their work, like Azar Nafisi, Marjan Satrapi, Shahrnoosh Parsipour or Reza Baraheni (who was the president of Pen Canada Association). If by any chance you are a reader, and if you are anything like me and believe many things will be lost in translation, learning Persian gives a huge corpus of texts to explore.

Not Only Literature Written In Persian, But Literature Written in English by Persian Speakers Has The Trace of That Poetic Culture.

3. It Has a Very Vibrant Contemporary Culture

Persian speaking community are amongst the most educated people in the world. Iranians are one of the most modernized and progressive communities in the Middle East, along with Turkish and Egyptian people; Tajikistan has some of the best universities, museums and cultural centres in central Asia; and the only reason Afghan community has not thrived as much as the other two countries was the long history of war and extremism inside the country, not lack of talent or cultural background, as it is obvious in very successful Afghan expatriates (like Annet Mahendru or Khalid Hosseini). Tajik people have kept the Iranic culture in its purest form, and their country is both culturally and economically a successful nation and a point of pride for its people. Iranians, were the people who started the first women-led revolution of the history of mankind in 2022, they are very open minded and proponents of ground breaking changes. The Afghan writer and director, Atiq Rahimi, showed one of the first nude scenes in a Persian speaking movie in his masterpiece, “The Patience Stone” (2012), just a year after Asghar Farhadi won the first Oscar for a Persian speaking movie for his film “The Seperation” (2011). In many countries of the world, there are Persian speaker diasporic people who are engaged in the global trends. Jila Mossaed the Iranian poet, is the first non-Swedish member of Nobel Academy, while Abbas Kiarostami the Iranian Director is the first Middle Eastern winner of Akira Kurosawa Award. You may as well have a Persian speaker as your co-worker or neighbour if you are living in North America, Europe, Oceania or East Asia. Persian culture, architecture and music has been recognized by the UN (including many cultural events, like Nowrouz). Learning Persian opens up a lot of cultural and artistic doors which are at the highest levels of the world to you, and you can communicate with these masterpieces without the need of a translator, or visit these beautiful countries like Tajikistan.

The Salesman Was The Second Movie by Asghar Farhadi Which Won An Academy Award.

4. It’s Not as Impractical and Rare as You May Think

Persian Language can be practical in many respects, of which I mention three. The first one is what I already mentioned, it is the language of some of the best artistic and cultural works of the Middle East, and one of the most beautiful travel destinations of central Asia. The second practical aspect of it is its usefulness in the historical context. As mentioned again, this languages bears the majority of human race’s advancements until the 17th century. Not only it has been the language of Persian Empire (which used to rule from Mesopotamia to Indus River for most of the History), but also it has been the official language of many dynasties in India, and also in Ottoman Empire. Given the fact that before the enlightenment in early 18th century, most human developments and advancements were being done in these three regions (in addition to the Islamic Empire in Arabian peninsula and Northern Africa, of which many thinkers were also fluent in Persian), Persian has been the Lingua Franca of the most important region of the world from the fall of Roman Empire until the beginning of Enlightenment and its bastard offspring colonialism. Persian played the same role in central and western Asia, as did Latin in Europe. So, in any study of the culture and history of the region whether as a hobby or as a profession, knowing Persian is an asset. The third practical aspect is the current Geopolitics of the Middle East, and the important role of Iran (and the threat of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan). Knowing Persian actually can secure a lot of jobs, related to foreign affairs, and cultural studies, as well as governmental administrative work, or even charity work (I personally volunteer for interpreting for Afghan refugees in Canada). Persian is not rare either. Not only it has more than 130 million speakers (as either first or second language speaker) in the region, there is an estimated 20-25 million Persian speakers scattered around the world. The U.S. itself has about 1 million native Persian speakers citizens (meaning that this number does not include non-citizens like refugees, international students, or foreign workers). Therefore, at least 150 million people speak Persian fluently as their first or second language around the world, which is about 2% of the world population (to understand the greatness of this number, I should say that the speakers of a famous language like Italian as a first or second language, are less than 1% of the world population). Thus, knowing Persian is both practical and useful for communicating with a large audience.

Map of Persia (Yellow), Ottoman Empire (Red) and Arabian Territories drawn in 1753 C.E.

5. It’s an Adventure

Let’s face it: In the modern world with Google translate and many other AI-based language tools, learning languages are becoming more of a hobby than a necessity. And learning any language is an adventure. None is by no means better than the other. Persian language, however, has its own specificities which give it its own adventurous qualities. It is a very poetic language in nature. There is a reason that it has one of the richest literatures in the world. Even its everyday conversations are full of metonymy and metaphor and are poetic and flowery; not that people put any effort into making it like that, that’s just an attribute of the language. It has been chosen as one of the top 10 best-sounding languages of the world in two different public surveys. It is very dreamy and imaginative, as well as beautifully sounded and smooth. Personally, as a native Persian speaker, find only one language more musical than Persian, and that is Italian (although I do not understand a word, I still enjoy listening to their music or poetry recitations). It has also a long and interesting history, going back at least three thousand years, which gives you a lot to explore. Another interesting quality is that it hasn’t had any major change in the last millennia, and you can understand the poetry of Ferdowsi, written in the 11th century, just as well as you can understand young adult fiction of the 21st century. While Old English refers to English before the Norman conquest of 1066, the Persian of 1066 is considered Modern Persian. While Old Persian is referred to as the language of the Achaemenid Empire of about 2500 ago, Modern English is believed to be the English used after the 16th century, including works of William Shakespeare, which many native English speakers cannot read today. This aspect of Persian has made many texts (Essentially anything written in the 10th century) available to the modern reader. Learning Persian is also an adventure because the culture has always been a point of curiosity for people around the world. The mention of this curiosity can be found in many travel writings and even historical and philosophical works written in many different languages. It may go back to the curiosity of Greeks during the Greco-Persian Wars and the writings of people like Herodotus. By learning this language, you can get closer to this unique culture, study one of the oldest religions of the world (Zoroastrianism), and in addition to Tajikistan that you can visit safely right now, with crossed fingers, soon enough Iran and Afghanistan will become free and safe countries again, and you can travel and communicate with the people first-handedly.

Middle Persian (Pahlavi) writing (Top) compared to Modern Persian writing (Bottom)

I hope you have found this post useful. Let me know what you think in the comment section. Do you have any experience with or interest in the Persian language? Do you like to learn this language someday?

Five “Genderless” Persian Names That Sound Great for Your Future Baby

Five “Genderless” Persian Names That Sound Great for Your Future Baby

People these days are trying to use diverse names and use the beautiful qualities of different languages to their benefit. As a native Persian, as long as it does not get the form of appropriation, I do not see anything wrong with it. Also, there are many second-generation Persian Emigrés in the West or mixed-raced people with Persian blood, who can have a Persian name without the risk of appropriation. In my post “Five Reasons to Learn the Persian Language” I mentioned that it is a completely genderless language. While there are gendered names in Persian which are either historically gendered (Old Persian used to have gender, but it lost this attribute 2000 years ago in its transition into Middle Persian) or they are conventionally gendered (people just decided to strictly use one name for one gender despite the genderless quality of the name itself), yet still there are names that are genderless, and I want to introduce some of them here, which I believe have both beautiful meaning and beautiful sound and can be used for Persian Emigrés, mixed-raced people, Persians in their original homeland, and even by foreigners who are a bit more adventurous. There is also this concern these days, with more awareness about trans people, that the gender assigned at birth will turn out to be the wrong gender, and by using a genderless name, parents can save the hardship of changing names in the possibility of their children turns out to be transgender.

1. Ashi/Ershiya (Ashu/Asha)

This name is used for both people who are assigned male and female at birth in Persian-speaking countries (or at least in my country: Iran). It comes from Asha (mostly female) or Ashu (mostly male) words in Old Persian and Avestan languages (which are very close to Sanskrit, so you may also see similar or identical words in Sanskrit). Ashi or Ershiya (as a derivation) means “truthful and honest human” while Asha & Ashu, more specifically, mean “Being in Harmony With the Truth of the World”.

2. Mantre (Mantra/Mantro)

The exact same story, while the old versions have a female (Mantra) and a Male (Mantro) version, this new form of the name which is pronounced with a long “a” and short “e” is genderless (IPA: /mɑtrɛ/). Mantre means “Soothing Words” in Persian. You may have heard Mantra (the female form) as it is a loanword in European languages either from their encounters with Persians, or Indians (who also have a similar word with a close meaning). In English, it tends to have the meaning of “a spiritual slogan” which is not far from its Persian meaning.

3. Mazda

A Japanese car company completely ruined it for us, and no, it is not a coincidence. The founder of the car company admitted that they have chosen the name from Iranic Mythology. Mazda was one of the ancient gods of Indo-Iranians, who turned out to be the main deity of the monotheistic faction of Zoroastrianism. The name, like all ancient Iranian gods, bears no gender in and of itself, although later, probably under the patriarchal influences of Abrahamic religions, it was more conventionally used for boys. Mazda is from Old Persian and Avestan roots, meaning “Immense Wisdom”, and is actually from the same Indo-European roots as the English word “Mind” and it is pronounced quite close to the name of that car company (IPA: /mæzdɑ:/).

4. Hurshid

It is a word constructed of “Hur” meaning the sun and “Shid” meaning the glow and it literally means “Sunshine”. In Contemporary Persian, in most but not all regions, it is pronounced as Khurshid and the meaning has changed to “the sun” in general, yet the older pronunciation shall be easier for non-Persian speakers. Hurshid is a name used conventionally for girls in central Iran, but for boys between Kurds, Bakhtiaris and some people of Northern Afghanistan. This very inconsistency shows that the name itself bears no gender, and social conventions aside, it can be used for both.

5. Paitisha (Patish)

As my last choice, we have a purely “Avestan” word. Avestan is not genderless, but it has “Neuter” as a gender, and this word is a “Neuter” adjective, so it can be used for both sexes. Paitisha (transformed as Patish in some Persian or New Avestan texts) means “encouraged” and “excited” which is not only a beautiful and positive meaning, but also something you rarely find in the meaning of the names around the word.

And so, I finish this post by pointing out that the most (and maybe one of the few) beautiful things about our 21st-century global world, is the possibility of cultural exchange. It is an era for coming out of the shell of our own culture and discovering others as well. And also. it is the age in which we have to get rid of many old notions, and “gender”, hopefully, is going to be one of them.

Remember if you are curious about the Persian Language, there are online classes available with a first free trial session.


Movie Review – The Red Balloon: Imagination, Isolation and How Not to Be Another Brick in the Wall

“… as happy as a boy:

The pleasant season did my heart employ:

My old remembrances went from me wholly;

And all the ways of men, so vain and melancholy.”

(Resolution and Independence, by William Wordsoworth)

I can clearly remember the first time my father gave me his own old copy of the storybook “The Red Balloon”, with its beauteous pictures. It was like walking in the streets of Paris, wondrous and whimsical. Until a while ago, I didn’t know that this children’s book of mine, is based on a 1956 short 34-minute movie by the same name. A movie that to my sight was just as beauteous, wondrous and poetic. As a young boy, I followed the story of the balloon in the book and walked through the gaudy presence of enjoyment in the pale streets of Paris. As a young man, I followed the character of the boy in the movie and delved into the psychological absence of enjoyment in the symbolism of post-war Europe. None of these two perspectives are neither superior nor inferior; after all, it is a children’s story, but created out of the seasoned genius of an artist named Albert Lamorisse. And as for me, I think it is the most that anyone can get from this story: that the world is a depressing place full of sophisticated implications, but if you see it through the eyes of a child, it’s a cheerful play full of giddy delights.

The movie begins in the grey streets of Paris in the 1950s, just a decade after the devastation of the second world war, and right at the beginning of the post-modern era in art and culture. A young boy – whose school uniform is also grey – finds a bright red balloon in the colourless world of adults. To my understanding, from the beginning, the theme of this story is about innocence, imagination, and individuality. It can be inferred from the story, that the innocence (and the child-like state of mind), is a source of imagination, to find the red balloon to which no one pays any attention, in the street. This very imagination can be a source of individuality, an internal armour against the strike of nihility in the post-modern era. In this chain, individuality itself may lead to redemption and emancipation from the yoke of trivial affairs of humans and their civilization. This theme of innocence, imagination and independence has a romantic mindset to it and alludes to the kind of ideas about the redemptive power of childhood, like the one in the quotation provided at the beginning of this essay from Wordsworth. Loneliness can also be considered a thematic concept in the movie, given that the main character, Pascal, is almost always seen alone and isolated from society. In fact, it may be one of the implications of the story that loneliness is a source of imagination and a platform for individuality to be flourished. The very redemptive conclusion at the end of the movie comes from sheer loneliness when Pascal loses the only friend, he has known: the red balloon.

When I started to watch this short film, it immediately reminded me of the childhood scenes of the 1982 Allan Parker movie: The Wall; a symbolic movie based on Pink Floyd’s conceptual album by the same name. Although it is not impossible that Allen Parker was influenced by The Red Balloon, I believe the similarities mostly come from having the same theme and worldview. Bedevilling the schoolmaster in The Wall, synchronized with the iconic song (“We don’t need no education …”) parallels the demonic role of the headmaster in The Red Balloon, both of whom are depicted as critics of childhood imagination. The themes of loneliness and individuality are also present in both movies. Befriending a balloon by Pascal is quite similar to the friendship of Pink with a sick rat. The mothers of both characters are against these friendships, and they don’t let these friends in their houses, symbolising the alienation of the individual from society. In the end, the redemption Pink gets, by lying on his deathbed (with the music singing: “mother am I really dying?”) is a result of his friendship with an unsanitary rat, just as Pascal’s ascendance to the heavenly sky is an answer to his companionship with the red balloon. Both characters, not by choice but by the virtue of their imagination, are revolting against being “another brick in the wall”, and both through the merit of loneliness, “have become comfortably numb”.

From The Movie “Pink Floyd: The Wall” (1982)

This isolation stemming from innocence is quite obvious from the very beginning of the movie. Pascal walks the streets alone, he finds the balloon (which can be a symbol of imagination) alone, and he continues to be alone in almost every other scene. This imagination itself can be a cause of loneliness, as well as a result of it. He, literally, cannot get on the same bus with other people. It is not he who is not allowed in the bus, but the balloon that is forbidden in post-modern society. If we take this interpretation that the balloon is a symbol of innocence and imagination, then it seems so fitting that Pascal must leave the balloon outside the classroom of his school; It is not permitted inside this construction of civilization, nor is it welcomed by the headmaster, who is the director of this social institution. Education is not the only cultural institution that detests the balloon, family (and “Mother” as the prominent figure in it) forbids it as well. In the later scenes, we even see the church – hence the institution of religion – that expels the balloon. The adult world, by no means, is able to tolerate the innocent visionary outlook of this child. The love and care the boy bears for this balloon (protecting it against rain under an umbrella), is incomprehensible to the civilized people, and in a very iconic scene, the balloon disappears completely in the smoke of a train; a plain symbol of post-industrial revolution development and technology.

Is this balloon of individuality even real? Or is it just an imaginary friend to a lonely boy? This is definitely the question you would ask when you see the balloon starts to act like it has a level of consciousness. However, the subjective or objective nature of this existence doesn’t really change the role that balloon is playing in the world of this child. It wouldn’t change our encounter with the movie either. In fact, in a Heideggerian sense, this transposition of the balloon, from an “available” (or “hands-on”) state of being to an “occurant” (or “focus-on”) state, is actually transcending our encounter with it (and also the boy’s) by amalgamating the subject/object duality. Therefore, regardless of the subjective or objective quality of balloon’s existence, it definitely is something of importance for the universe we are dealing with. The very ambiguity of its objective being can be an agitation against “subjectivism” and “instrumentalism” of the early post-modern time of the 1950s. The interactions between the boy and the balloon, are mirrored by the balloon later with the other children. The balloon is not only conscious, but it is also learning. Pascal gets punished because of the balloon, both in school, the house, and society as a whole. His life is heavily affected by this encounter irrespective of its nature of it. Even if the balloon is imaginary, it is grown out of the same imagination it is representing; A feature in the boy which throughout the movie, the whole society tries hard to attack, every time unsuccessful, and in the end when they destroy this imagination, quite phoenix-like, it blooms out of its ashes, greater and more marvellous.

Pascal, like any of us would do, tries to fit himself into this disagreeing society. When he wants to take the bus on the second day, he lets the balloon go – taking the risk of it never coming back again – to conform to the rules of this transportation technology. In a very pivotal scene, in a place which seems like a street fair, his eyes catch the objects in the market, the materiality of human life, and he gets separated from his balloon. While he is looking at a painting of a young child playing with a toy, the balloon is facing a mirror, and as if it is seeing its incongruity with the world around it for the first time, he starts to leave this world. But at the same time, in a moment of realization, the boy finds himself enframed inside the painting, still and emotionless, and through a revelatory decision, he leaves this material world again to look for his balloon. This again has certain similarities to the tunnel scene in the movie The Wall, where after trying to play along with other kids, the main character suddenly realizes that he is sacrificing his individuality, and becoming an enframed member of the imposing system: Another brick in the wall.

Although this loneliness brings about imagination, and this imagination causes isolation, the movie explicitly clarifies that it is not a call for solitude. When Pascal is walking the street, he passes a lonely girl with a blue balloon, another individual, and both balloons obviously long for each other in that short scene. The loneliness and isolation ensure the individuality of the person. However, when the person unifies with their individuality, then every other individual is an option for camaraderie. While other kids are attacking Pascal, and enviously trying to steal his balloon, the lonely girl, is just helping him take his balloon back. When the group is trying to release Pascal of his individuality, the other individual is enforcing his very being. But these attacks never stop, and finally, the other kids steal the balloon. They don’t want to have it; they just want to destroy it. This is the picture of society many of us are closely familiar with; the society that doesn’t want our personal imaginative individuality, the society that is afraid of difference, and does everything in its power to abolish anything different. Although Pascal tries to save his balloon, during a 3-minute chasing scene inside the whimsical streets of Paris, the group of kids finally catch him. This is when he pleads his balloon to leave him and fly off to freedom, which the balloon refuses. This is the moment that the person no longer can endure the peer-pressure, and let his individuality go. And it is exactly here that those kids finally succeed in terminating the balloon.

The death of the balloon is probably the most impressive scene of the whole movie; exactly one minute of absolute silence. This slow decay of the balloon, and this silence, is the mourning of Pascal’s whole universe. From the beginning of this movie, music has been an important element in storytelling. The naughty minor scale melodies accompany every aspect of the emotional interrelations of the whole story. Thus, the absolute silence of the death scene illustrates an absolute absence of any feeling, an emotional demise. But this is also a liberation. A spiritual transcendence which in later scenes takes the literal form of an ascendance. What happens after this demise is an ontological epiphany because even if individuality is demolished, it was a part of the boy’s existence; the balloon had lost its equipmentality long ago; it was a transcendental presence. The redemption of this lonely boy emerges with all the balloons, from all over the city coming together to ascend him, take him away, from this unfriendly society. Redemption is an outcome of transcendence which itself was a result of the imaginative individuality. The boy soars up to the sky, where he gradually gets further away from the city, the big symbol of civilized life, the musical theme of the movie is being played, and he gets complete freedom from the institutionalised society.

Last Scene of The Movie “The Red Balloon” (1956)

Imagination is a dangerous thing. If you don’t have it, it haunts you when you see others do. Just like the balloon haunting the headmaster in this movie. It is a result of loneliness and a cause for isolation. Society looks down on it, and the adult world doesn’t understand it, and if it chases you (then again, like the red balloon chased the headmaster), society will judge you. If you let it go, you are entrapped in conformity, but if you keep it and accept the isolation, then you can reach individuality, which in the end redeems you to a state of transcendence. The more we move from our childhood to our adulthood in personal life, and from primitivism to technology in our civilization, the more we lose all these advantages. The ultimate question this short film poses is as simple as this: Are you ready to have the innocence of a child and pay the price for it, or are you just “another brick in the wall”?

“Thou little child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being’s height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife?”

(Ode on Intimation of Morality, by William Wordsworth)

Different Means for Buying My English Chapbook.

1. Buying the Paperback:

At the moment, the paperback version is only accessible Here.

2. Buying the Ebook:

The Ebook is purchasable through the website of the publisher for less than half the price of the paperback version.

3. Buying the book in Iran:

You can buy the Ebook in Iran through the same method if you have a PayPal account. If you don’t have a PayPal account or you are interested in buying the paperback version, you should Email me at contact@sohrabmosahebi.com and place your order. I will contact you with payment methods and details.

It should also be mentioned that while the availability of the paperback version in Iran cannot always be guaranteed, in case it is available, it would be sold at the same price as the Ebook (less than half the actual price) to compensate for the huge exchange rate between Iranian Rial and other currencies.

In my path towards greatness!

The sole purpose of this website is to have a personal portfolio to document my different activities, in my personal path towards my goal in life. It is more of a personal project than a published announcement. However, I appreciate it if you join me on this journey and support me in the different academic and artistic activities I am doing.

Sohrab Mosahebi