Zara Noruzi: Surfing in Exile

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.

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.

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.


Listen with us.

All photos Stephanie Teixeira 

Sound Engineer: Shannon Sol Carroll 

Join the conversation: @Waterpeoplepodcast

Follow Zara in Instagram

Some reviews of Zara’s memoir:

“Chilling… Riveting… Like the best-selling graphic novel series PersepolisMy Life as a Traitor is compelling for its seemingly unvarnished glimpse at the experiences of an ordinary young woman in post-1979 Iran…. The memoir illuminates truths about inflexible and dictatorial regimes.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

“Married and now living in Australia, Ghahramani has had time to reflect. In this memoir, she does so, evoking both the beauty of her culture and the horror of its regime.” ―New York Daily News

“We think something like that could never happen to us. But it happened to Zarah Ghahramani just a few years ago in Iran.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer

2 Thoughts

Leave a Reply