In 1960 the Irish American Mr. Ward came to Iran on a mission in the oil section to settle in Velenjak, northern Tehran. They would hire Hassan as the culinary servant, who would settle in the house with his family.
The two families grew increasingly intimate. Hassan would tell the young Wards stories from the Shahnameh, Arabian Nights, and other Old Iranian literature, in which they would grow avid interest.
Mr. Ward’s mission then was over in the fifth year and they went back to their homeland. The events of the Iran of the 70s and 80s kept the two families in dark to each other. The Wards would worry for Hassan and his family amid the tumultuous currents.
After nearly three decades they decided to find Hassan in a blind odyssey back to Iran, while all they could rely on was an old photo and the name of Hassan’s birth place which they only knew to sound something like "Tudeshk”.
First they started by searching online maps and they found the place somewhere around Isfahan. But as they decided to make their journey to Iran, they had already been disheartened by folks who had warned them of an allegedly unfavorable atmosphere in the post-Hostage Crisis country. Gathering their sons each busy working in a different country, the Wards headed for Iran.
Having searched much and grown exhausted as they did not find any trace of Hassan, the Wards would decide to go back, only for Mrs. Ward who would demand the family keep searching some more. It happened so then that they found a descendent of Hassan. After that they found Hassan’s mother-in-law, Khorshid, in Tudeshg quite hale and kicking. So it was that they found Hassan and his family in Isfahan in 1998.
The Wards’ second son, Terence, would then decide to write a book in which he would relate the story of Hassan and their search for him, a book which came to be titled Searching for Hassan and translated into Italian, French, German, Indonesian, and Persian.
Knowing himself indebted to the stories Hassan would tell him when young, Terence gave the old master a sum of money he had made from his book.
"We had been given a gift as young children, by Hassan Ghasemi, our cook and master storyteller in the extraordinary country of Iran. My three brothers and I wept when we said our goodbyes to him on our last day in 1969. Aftera long separation of almost 30 years, manyquestions haunted us: the chaos of the Revolution, the brutal Iraq War. So, our journeyback to find Hassan, who had injected so much love into our lives, was a complete miracle for us all.Searching for Hassan is an attempt to repay, maybe that’s not the right word, I am trying to honor the gift that we have been given. My wife and I are writers. We do not seek stories, they find us,” Terence had told Iranian in 2005.
"At a time when Islamic culture and Muslim societies have never seemed more forbiddingly mysterious or more important to understand, Terence Ward’s informative and touching new memoir provides a marvelously nuanced portrait of Iran-its landscape, its rich history, and, most important, its people. As we strain to see beyond generalizations and abstractions about this enigmatic and fascinating culture, Ward's book yields telling details, revealing incidents, and deeply personal experiences, and he introduces us to men and women who are more complex and sympathetic - and more like us - than we might have imagined…. Eventually, and against all odds, they find Hassan and his family. Their reunion is a heartening testament to the enduring power of friendship and human connection, and to how bounds of loyalty and love can survive the ravages of history and time, and can bridge the deepest and most perilous divides created by politics, culture and religion,” has commented Francine Prose in Elle Magazine, quoted along with a set of other critical observations.