Dr. Siamak Shahriari studied chemistry, then medicine, and discovered that living for others was the secret to his happiness.
Shahriari, 79, retired in 2019 and spent nearly 40 years taking patient calls day and night in the Bryceville area, having a baby, and then three years as a professor and physician at the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. . Little Rock Science.
He doesn’t regret all of his off-hours conversations and visits.
“People who live for themselves have a limited life. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor they are,” he says. “Everyone should expand their abilities and live for other people. That’s what medicine came to me and I really enjoyed it.”
Now that his time is his own, he has found other ways to connect with people.
“I’m focused on a few things, mostly writing and painting. Ultimately, I’m just doing what I love to do,” he says.
One of his watercolors captures the scene of a Chilean dinner party in Bryceville. One woman is scooping chili out of a large stainless steel pan and another of hers is having a conversation with someone outside the frame. The images are detailed, down to the labels on his bottles of ketchup and the hand gestures of the people chatting in the background. Other paintings feature empty ornate cowboy boots, stiletto-toed piercings of a woman with bright red toenails, and an eagle staring at a robin perched on a wooden privacy fence.Shahriari’s wife , Mahnaz – whom he calls “boss lady” and jokingly “she who must obey” – is also often his muse.
Shahriari has a Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry and began her career studying small particles in the atmosphere in Laura, Missouri.
“You know, contaminants and things like that,” he says. “I worked there for about a year and a half, but I woke up in the morning and said I wanted to do something else. I went to medical school.”
After graduating from medical school at the University of Missouri in Columbia, he stayed in California. There he met and married Marnaz. From her home in Germany, we visited her sister and her brother-in-law, a friend of Shariari.
Shahriari and his wife left California’s traffic jams for rural Arkansas and settled in Bryceville.
“It took me about five minutes to drive from my home to the office,” he says. “It turned out to be a very good small town. George Bush Sr. talked about a kinder, kinder America, and I found that kinder, kinder America in Bryceville, Ark.”
In Bryceville, I volunteered to read in the classroom and sponsored an essay contest for the public school district. After his retirement, he writes down stories about his life.
“It’s for my kids. I feel like a lot of kids don’t know their parents and a lot of parents don’t know their kids enough. I think that connection is important,” he says. I’m writing about what I did when I was a kid, and I hope they say, ‘OK, that’s my father.’ First, this omnipotent man, what I want them to know that parents and children are always human.”
Shahriari was born in Iran but has never been there since leaving Iran with her family in 1960.
His father worked at the American Embassy.
“I think he was the liaison between the two governments,” says Shahriari. “He was at the embassy and had a lot of American friends.”
Shahriari was in high school when the family moved to New York. She needed time to adjust to the new culture and become fluent in her native language.
“I’m very good at math and science, and they taught me an advanced science class,” he says. “I was not good at English, but when I started reading books and dictionaries, it really made a difference.”
He had an uncle who was a doctor, but he was not the one who inspired him to study medicine. It was a big, burly Irish surgeon who had repaired an injured back while working as a PhD scientist.
“I had a good month in pain,” he says. I really felt like a new person…more than any other recommendation or suggestion.”
He says it was the right choice for him.
“Medicine has been very rewarding. I’ve been in a specialty where I can see the most excitement in parents when a baby is born, but unfortunately I’ve seen people die.” I was on the cusp of joy and love, and I was on the cusp of tragedy,” he says. “I’ve lived a full life and I’ve enjoyed most of it. If I had to, I’d do it all over again if the good Lord wanted me to do it all over again.”
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