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WaterPeople Podcast: Surfing in Exile – Episode 7

Words by Lauren Hill: 

Can you imagine the heartache of leaving your home and knowing that you can never return?  Iranian Zara Noruzi (formerly Ghahramani ) knows this feeling intimately.

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

I met Zara through mutual friends and often saw her in the surf. I finally got the courage to ask her her story. I was not prepared. How often we paddle right past people who have experiences beyond what most of us can imagine. That put our incredible privilege into perspective…

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

Zara was born an upper middle class girl with political subversion in her blood. She lived through the devastating war between Iraq and Iran. At university, she wrote feminist articles and participated in student protests, begging for answers about why women were being denied basic human rights after the regime change.

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

Photo: Stephanie Teixeira

Zara was subsequently kidnapped and imprisoned by the government for her activism. She was tortured, starved and held in solitary confinement. She was struggling with the trauma she’d experienced, until she discovered an outlet that allowed her to rest in the power of forces much greater than herself. Surfing found her.

Zara detailed her experiences in her memoir My Life As a Traitor. 

In Episode 7 of The Waterpeople Podcast, she picks up where her memoir left off — with discovering surfing and how it has subsequently shaped her life. Zara’s is a story of youthful idealism, no-apologies activism, and the power of surfing to whisk us into the present moment. It is a story about the pure and enduring power of the ocean to heal.

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