Spotlight on Narges Tabatabai

by Susannah Grant

posted on September 11, 2020

Newcomer Madrid Susannah Grant author

Today we speak to one of our bubbliest members, Iranian-born Narges Tabatabai, selfie professional and INC photographer extraordinaire and former translator and beautician. Impressively resilient, Narges talks to us frankly about growing up in the Iranian Revolution, the War with Iraq and why she talks to the moon.

What are your early memories of Iran like before the 1979 Revolution?

Prior to 1979 Iran was an idyllic place, a haven of ancient culture where people were highly educated and had a good standard of living.

Happy family times in 1977

What impact did the 1979 Revolution have on you and your family?

Everything changed. I had to switch from a prestigious mixed private school to a public school for girls only. We had to wear a headscarf and a long tunic, in certain drab colours. Nail varnish was banned, and girls’ lives were very restricted. Then, the following year, the long war with Iraq broke out and we spent 8 traumatic years running to bomb shelters every time the sirens sounded. It was terrifying as many houses very near ours were bombarded.

40 years later, many restrictions have been lifted and women are freer to wear more variety of colour.

Narges carries off Iranian attire with her usual flare

You are a natural with children and looked after your baby nephew from the age of 14 following your sister´s death. What was that like?

I have a natural nurturing spirit and have always cherished children. My two sons are hugely important to me and this is why I came to Madrid in 2017, to give them a better opportunity in life. To compensate for the choices I never had at their age.

You have always been fiercely independent, what was it like working as a maths and Arabic tutor from the age of 15?

Times were hard in Iran at the time and I had to earn my keep, this has made me very resilient and enabled me to stand on my own two feet despite it not being very common for Iranian women to work back in those days; it has changed a lot since then. There are a lot more women in the workforce, in all different sectors.

Narges and her two sons

Where have you lived before?

My original idea, before coming to Spain, was to emigrate to Italy to offer my sons a better quality of life but after 4 years of commuting backwards and forward between Tehran and Rome I returned to Iran for good as moving there with my sons looked impossible.

What significance has meditation and the moon in your life?

Since I was very little, I have always loved gazing at the moon since I was a child and I enjoy being present in the moment, connecting with the cosmos and expressing gratitude for all that God has blessed us with. One of the main reasons I enjoy the moon more than God’s other blessings is because it’s at night, and while it shines in the darkness, it makes it even more beautiful. Another reason why I enjoy looking at the moon is because of its different shapes. For example, how it changes from a crescent to a full moon. I always try to pray towards the moon in order to send it to my loved ones.

Narges has the moon in her hand

Tell us about your special energy

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always possessed lots of energy and I was always advised to cultivate this vitality. Currently I am doing a Reiki course, which will allow me to cure people with my energy from long distances.

Your ability to capture the atmosphere on camera is legendary, what is it about photography that draws you to it?

I have always loved taking pictures, especially of portraits and nature. Encapsulating a memory in a photograph preserves it for life.

Do the Spanish people share any similarities with Iranian people?

Yes, the bars and restaurants in both countries are always full! However, I feel that the Spaniards enjoy a slower pace of life, whereas Iranians seem to live their life on fast-forward.

Narges is the life and soul of any INC gathering

If you were shipped off to confinement in a desert island what 3 items (apart from a phone) would you take?

My camera, my favourite speaker so I can listen to some music (I also love dancing in any mood), and my make-up.

You have worked as a tutor, a translator and a beautician, if you could wave a magic wand what would you do next?

I always wanted to become a model, or an actress, or a professional dancer. But among my previous experiences, I would definitely go with becoming a beautician. I actually would like to pass the industry-specific courses in order to work in this profession.

Narges applies some artistic license to our interview during lockdown