Madi Jahangir – I love the evenings of Laleh Park. A mere 10 minute walk from Vali Asr square into green Keshavarz boulevard, The bustles of impatient cab drivers shouting for customers, motorbikes speeding dangerously between the small spaces of traffic, rushing people in the queue of a fast food restaurant, pedestrians at the bus stops waiting for the next BRT bus to arrive, the malls, shops and bargains – all fade away as I pass through the two lines of plane trees with the afternoon sun which is blinking through the green leaves.
Laleh Park was named after the Persian word for tulip, one of the national flowers of Iran, as all-in-one-tulip-crescent on Iran’s flag is, a martyr symbol. As one of the 800 public parks in Tehran, it is said to be similar to New York’s Central Park and the design of the spiral water canals has been inspired by Japanese gardens that create miniature idealized landscapes. However, the narrow passageway between the Iranian pines planted almost half a century ago and the sounds of water falling off the chanting fountains is more Iranian than everything.
The shadow of dancing willow trees is a scape from the scorching sun in the summer evenings as is the nice breeze forever cuddling the exhausted faces. In a hot afternoon of Tehran, that most of the time has the taste of a saffron ice cream, walking in the garden is a runaway from the noise and the traffic that is a typical scene of the nearby area. So is the sitting under the willow trees a good leisure for students to carry their heavy school books all the way on the refreshing grass and study the courses of tomorrow.
Laleh park reminds me of my days in China. As is the tradition in People’s garden of Shanghai, Laleh park is also a popular meeting place for friends in Tehran. After the sermons of the Friday prayer, families cross the Kargar street to have a lunch at the park in a lazy Friday afternoon. As a relaxing place for our elders, a quiet refuge for reading the newspaper, the pollution and madness of Tehran ‘s traffic seems so distant. City workers may stop by and lay on a wooden bench to take a nap and a visitor may stand for prayer under the shadow of tall trees that seem would never struggle with fall season.
Laleh is well-kept. It has beautiful green areas adjacent to The Ministry of Agriculture in the east, Iran’s National Carpet Gallery to the northwest, and the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in the west. Even though named after tulip, it is full of Acacia trees, the symbol of immortality. And that is what the Iranian gardens are all about. As everything has a season, when there is a time to blossom, there is a time to wither, and when there is a time to be born, there is a time to die, Iranian garden is an exceptional example of immortal beauty. It is not seasonal but for all seasons like the garden of Eden. A place for relaxation of people in a variety of manners, leisurely for a picnic with family and friends and spiritual for flow with an unrestrained easygoing breeze, as is the idea of a paradise on the earth.