Features

November 2005

FAN
Googoosh groupie

Following the diva to almost any destination. But why?
Mehrnaz Tadjbakhsh

I mean why do we have to leave our jobs and take leaves just to go to another city to see her and watch her and smell the air of Googoosh? What brings all these thousands of dedicated fans who keep going to her concerts over and over again? What does this woman have to offer to us which is so novel yet so old that has kept generations loyal to her for half a century? Witnessing the huge number of Iranian-American of all ages that attended these last few concerts made me even more confused and bewildered? Who is this woman and why an entire nation love her so much? The story of my own love-affair with Googoosh goes back to over 35 years ago. I would like to share it all with you.

FICTION
The little man

A novel based on a true story
Abbas Kazerooni

It was a typically hot day in Tehran as I finished my homework in my somewhat spacious bedroom. It was almost too big, but with very few contents. I just had my small bed in one corner, next to the radiator. I loved it there for the winters, where I could squeeze my toes in between the rails. Above my bed was a huge window, which looked out onto our back garden, if you could call it that. It was more like a garden attached to an orchard. I loved looking out of it on hot summer days when the sun was too strong to play outside. In the opposite corner was my little desk with its matching stool.

SHORTS
The seventh day

I break a rose bud and slip it in my pocket while trying to justify "everything happens for a reason" in my mind
Shadi Bahar

"Salam azizam." She is all smiles and her frail body wraps itself around mine, as we try to restrain the tears that don't know their time or place. She whispers to me, calmly and rationally, trying to pace my sadness and her own. When tragedy strikes, amidst the shock and delirium that follows, someone must keep the troops standing and strong. Someone must push the broken soldiers onward. I recognize the signs of the leader of the wounded in her eyes.

TRAVELERS
The state of civil society

Smoldering in Tehran, Part 7
Sima Nahan

Some time in the 1990s, “civil society” -- jame’e-ye madani -- entered popular and official parlance.  Loosely connected to Khatami’s “dialogue of civilizations,” nongovernmental organizations popped up everywhere and NGO became a familiar word. Over 2000 registered NGOs were listed in a resource publication by the end of the decade. While religious charities and “G-NGOs” -- governmental non-governmental organizations -- comprised a great many of the listed organizations, many impressive grassroots efforts were also made. Having contacts in a number of old and new civic organizations in Iran, I started my own nonprofit in the U.S. to mobilize international support for the terrific work that these organizations did.

WOMEN
A man and women's rights

CIelebrating the writings and research of Hammed Shahidian who had a laconic commitment to women's rights
Samira Mohyeddin

On November 26, 2005, colleagues, friends, family, and admirers came together at the University of Toronto to honour the memory and legacy of scholar, professor, and activist, Dr. Hammed Shahidian. Organized by friends and colleagues of Shahidian's, Dr. Shahrzad Mojab and Dr. Haideh Moghissi, the memorial had a very charged atmosphere. Meaning, there was an overwhelming awareness of the loss that both academics and activists of social justice have encountered. Charged, because the memorial was a testimonial of how Shahidian's writings on the oppression of women in Iran have contributed and paved paths to area's of inquiry that have gone against the dominant narratives in the academy.

TRAVELERS
Reaching India

Photo essay: India is not a country. India is an idea
Reza Zia-Ebrahimi

MUSIC
Ahmadinejad song

Herfeh-am avaam faribi, pisheh-am raees jomhoori...
Ashkan G.

POLITICS
Setiz va modaaraa

Book: Understanding and opposing the Islamic Republic
Ramin Kamran

ART
Target

Ghassem Hajizadeh's paintings
Parima Shahin Moghaddam

COMEDY
Bittersweet

I laughed and laughed until I reached a point where all I wanted to do was cry
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

Last Saturday, a good friend invited us to attend the performance of Hadi Khorsandi. Those who had seen his other programs said he was at his best and I laughed as hard as anyone in that packed auditorium. However, for the first time, I left a comedy with a deep melancholy. How ironic that, of all the Iranian programs, I would choose this one simply for the fact that it promised an amusing, happy evening. Having enjoyed Khorsandi’s humor in the past, the sad feeling his words left me with surprised even me.

IDEAS
Nothing short of idolatry

Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a neo-Islamist who cross-fertilized Third-Worldist rants on Nativism and Imperialism with Heidegger's rage against Machinism
Kia Atri

On any reflective reading of Jalal Al-e-Ahmad it would actually be hard not to in some way hold him responsible for the calamity of 79. I would personally hold him and Shariati as the two arch demons who through their unenlightened teachings sullied the minds of a whole generation of people. My trouble with him, and as I will argue below, is that his bequest to posterity is nothing short of idolatry. I am certain he would not have seen it in these terms and I am even more certain that this was not his original intention. Idolatrous though he most certainly was or rather his way of thought was idolatrous-like.

FAREWELL
Momayez burial

Photo essay: Funeral for top graphic artist Morteza Momayez
Amirali Ghasemi

POETRY
Daad nazan

Selected poems from "Daad nazan: Dar een ayneh kasi neest" ("Don't shout! There's nobody in this mirror")
Verya Mazhar Airu

FICTION
Across the border

Short story
Afsan Azadi

The small caravan, traveling across the dry and arid desert, consisted of eight people-seven of whom were desperate people who, at the moment, were living in fear and despair. They were all riding on four mules, headed by the horseman or the dealer who was leading them towards the border. They each had paid him a hefty amount of money to be taken across the desert and then be transferred across it to the neighboring country. They were leaving their lives, families, memories, but most importantly, their homeland behind in search of freedom and a more emancipated life˜something that was scarce in their own homeland after the revolution. 

MUSIC
Yaadhaa va khaaterehaa

"Dar fekr to boodam" & more classics
Azam Nemati

LIFE
Ey doost

What hope is there, with this tired heart of mine, without you?
Hamid Bakhsheshi

It's another one of those late nights. Nostalgia has taken over my entire being, it seems. I am listening to a heavenly voice, a gem of a singer. I'm talking about Mohammad Esfahani, one of the most wonderful new voices coming from Iran in perhaps decades. His song, "Maro ey doost", (Don't go, friend), hits so many cords within my friend-loving personality that I cannot help but listen to it over and over again. I write these words and send it to Bahram, my cousin in Iran. We were born a month apart and spent most of our childhood like brothers. His eyes begged me not to go when I was leaving Iran, but he knew it had to be done.

ADVICE
Please see your doctor!

Shokooh's couch
Shokooh Miry

Maryamn writes: I am a 32-year old woman.  I have never had any psychological problems until this past month. All of the sudden, I am feeling very anxious. I never had anxiety before but I am now overwhelmed with it. It happened overnight, without any warning. Nothing bad has happened to me and my life is otherwise very good. I am truly a happy person except for this sudden anxiety. I don’t have any reason to be anxious! But I have all the symptoms: upset stomach, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and “del shooreh.” Can someone develop an anxiety disorder for no reason, out of the blue this way?  I am very frustrated and scared.

LIFE
The street

It wouldn't be good to have walked down the street for years and then finally see that it was a place itself
Siamak Vossoughi

For some the street is a way to get to a place and for some it is a place. But it is a place. All it takes for a place is for a man to stop. The question is, who stops on a street. Where I lived it was beggars and writers. They were both stopping to ask for something, and what they were asking for was similar. Sometimes a beggar would ask a writer, and the writer would look at him because he was interested in a fellow asker. Sometimes a writer would ask a beggar, only with less directness. Or more directness, depending. It didn't seem like there could be anything more direct than an empty stomach, but sometimes it could seem like there was. Nothing was as good as food for an empty stomach, but that wasn't always the only emptiness.

POKER
High stakes

Poker as could only be imagined or seen in a movie
M & M

Last Friday I recieved a call from a friend who invited me to a high stakes poker "home game" in Encino, southern California. We both drove to an office building on West Wilshire and stood in front waiting for our "limo" ride. After a few minutes, a 2004 long wheel based Maybach (the $350,000 Benz) stopped and a very attractive young woman invited us to get in. We got in the car and very shortly she asked us to put on blind folds!! I started getting a bit worried. My heart rate was definitely over 100.

TRAVELERS
Elementary schools in Kunduz

Photo essay: Village schools in northern Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan
Roozbeh Shirazi

MUSIC
Dutch Dariush

Best rapper in Holland :o)
Ali Aivani

MUSIC
Parthian wedding dance

Sample from "Summer in Samarkand"
Sepehr Haddad

POETRY
Sooreh Tamaashaa

Missing verses from one of Sohrab Sepehri's famous poems
Majid Roshangar

ONLINE
A game of backgammon

Or clash of cultures?
Saeed Tavakkol

A few nights ago, I was in the mood for playing a relaxing game of backgammon on the Internet, the game I learned from masters in my childhood. There are a few advantages in playing backgammon on the Internet. Cheating is impossible and Korkory (bragging) is optional. As soon as I opened a table, a player beeped and the game started.  Right at the very beginning, my opponent raised the stakes and challenged me to do so.  I doubled only when I was ahead. What you are about to read is based on actual comments communicated between us.

LEFT
Chapiye saabegh

Observations of a former leftist
Rama Fayaz

ARTS
Persian invasion

Photo essay: Persian Family Day arts & crafts at the British Museum
Parima Shahin Moghadam

LANGUAGE
Stretching it

Giving thanks to the "kesh"
Guive Mirfendereski

In Persian, kesh is a simple word and yet without it a huge part of Farsi will shut down. Okay, may be that is stretching it a bit too far. To comprehend its ubiquity however requires no great stretch of either imagination or research. It is everywhere in one’s daily speech. In a most ordinary sense, the word means a rubber band or elastic. When I unfold the newspaper every morning or unbundle the mail every afternoon, I do so by removing the kesh that surrounds it. When I kesh-o-qos, I stretch and arch myself as if afflicted with a spell of yawn or ennui, restlessness, really.

LITERATURE
Feminist ink

The “boom” in prose writing by Iranian women authors in the 1990s within the context of the situation of women in contemporary Iran
Golbarg Bashi

In this essay a history of Iranian women’s social and literary developments as well as their struggle for emancipation will be discussed. This is done firstly, in order to give an evident picture of their restrictions and progresses, which are matters that go hand in hand with discovering the reasons behind women’s flourishment in prose writing in post-Khomeini Iran. Secondly, a presentation of the historical background is necessary to consider, for a better understanding of the present developments in women’s literature. Thus, I believe it is useful to take a deeper look at Iran’s historical background where these literary developments are in-rooted.

IDEAS
Arid thoughts

To beat the desert and grow a garden that is aesthetically pleasing there is a fundamental cycle, which is also observed in human affairs
Iqbal Latif

Considering my considerably limited knowledge about botany, plants or gardens and or even life-cycle I still think it's an apt analogy for Islam. The garden is the Islamic world whereas its collective health, opinions and state of mind is personified by its gardener. In the century past, perhaps dating back to the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and the stimulus of Western ideas on the Muslim consciousness, there has been a period of fertilisation. Blogosphere argues that there is no debate in the Islamic world I would beg to disagree. The great issues of the day have been analysed, talked about and thoroughly discussed, indeed Muslims rank amongst the politically engaged people in the world (in Middle Eastern cafes or Cairo dinners the discussion will inevitably drift to politics) and are keenly aware of the political events.

EULOGY
Zinat Khanoom

Taa meetooni benevis
Setareh Sabety

It was Ordibehesht in Shiraz. The most beautiful time of the year to visit the place. We stayed in the home that belonged to her and her husband on Khoocheh Bagh Safa. It was a beautiful house surrounded by a walled garden that looked like it had seen better days. You could smell the honeysuckle by day and listen to the nightingales by night.

TRAVELERS
Scuba salvation

Confessions (and photo essay) of a scuba fundamentalist
Ahmad Sadri

TRAVELERS
Young people

Smoldering in Tehran, Part 6
Sima Nahan

For an encore at an outdoor concert at Niavaran Palace, the singer sang a popular song: Tehran Nights. The balmy night with a full moon, the majestic old trees of the garden, and the twinkling lights of the elegant old palace of Ahmad Shah reverberated with the song’s lyrics: “Tehran nights, concealing many melodies…” This is an old song whose revival has reached Iran from the exiled Iranian community in Los Angeles. It evokes not just the nostalgia of the exiled community but the lamentation for stolen life that Iranians inside and outside the border share. It is the stealing of their lives that young people now resist with a vengeance. This resistance has given the old “concealed melodies” of Tehran nights an increasingly shrill edge.

NOTES
Where credit is due

From Ahmadinejad to breast cancer
Hamid Boroumand

You have got to give it to the man (credit that is), Ahmadinejad's campaign against corruption is creating screams of pain (much to my delight) from corners in Iran who long considered themselves immune from both investigation and prosecution for ill-gotten loot and thievery. I would not be surprised if some of the more powerful/influential elements within these gang of theives made an attempt on Ahmadinejad's life to relieve the immense pressure and scrutiny focused on them. And in the same spirit: yes, my offer to safeguard/invest Iran's oil-windfall (to pre-empt having a handful of crooks and thieves do the same) remains on the table.

PLAY
Shakespeare in the Islamic Republic and Sa’edi in Ohio

Performing Ghlamhossein Sa'edi's "Othello in Wonderland" in Ohio
Ali Akbar Mahdi and Elane Denny-Todd

Twenty years ago on this day (23 November 1985), Iranians lost one of their brightest and most productive fiction writers and playwrights of the 20th century, Gholamhossein Sa'edi (1935-1985). In his last year of living in Iran, Sa’edi crafted the outline of a play he could not write in Iran. After fleeing into exile, he developed the idea into a play later called Othello in Wonderland. Now, twenty years later, this play has been staged by an American cast, in the English language. The play was offered at Ohio Wesleyan University...

DIASPORA
27 years ago

... on November 25, 1978, my family left Iran
Saman Ahmadi

1978 was the year Iran made it to the World Cup in Argentina.  We had just gotten a color TV and I remember watching some of the games.  A lot has happened in the world...  I've lost several family members, gained a few and watched the remainder scatter across the world with some still in Iran. I miss eating chelo kabob on Friday noons - we used get a take-out order from Chelo Kababiyeh Melli on the former Pahlavi Boulevard.  My sister and I used to fight over who'd get the last loghmeh of rice from the bottom of the pot wrapped in fresh sangak. 

IDEAS
Rejecting all

Rejecting the Islamic Republic of Iran in its entirety
Jahanshah Rashidian

The Islamic Republic of Iran, including all its relics of faction is the same wine in different bottles; it is not worth to change the bottle or the faction, because in contrast to this complaisant proposal it is in all its development the same wine, made of the same material. In fact in the course of the last century, the bottle has been renewed by Islamic political movements, new form of Islam arose, one that now has alleged legitimate appeal for power.

ART
Fertile ground

Illustrations
Meisam Ashari

MUSIC
(Extra) ordinary Rock

A conversation with "Kiosk" band leader Arash Sobhani
Parham Nik-Eteghad

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the pages of Orkut, the very popular social networking web site on the net, when I noticed that there was no community dedicated to the new Iranian rock band Kiosk. Now, it’s not in my habit of creating communities here and there on the web, but I seriously felt that this was an aberration. After all, it wasn’t long after I downloaded their album “Adame Mamooli” from the iTunes music store, that they grew on me as one of my favorite music bands. I think Kiosk is the turning point in modern Iranian music in that the lyrics of their songs are, contrary to the work of most other Iranian rock bands, quite unpretentious, actual, and heartfelt; not to mention the humor you can sense in them.

OBSERVATIONS
Subtle differences

... between Iranians and Ameircans
Nahid Rachlin

With the concept of happiness for all goes the idea of privacy. In Iran it seems strange if someone wants to be alone or live alone. That concept of privacy in the U.S. and togetherness in Iran also lead to the issue of loneliness. America seems like a lonely place to Iranians who come here, particularly the older ones. When my aunt was visiting my mother who was living in Ohio, to be near one of my brothers, she always complained about how quiet and lonely America was. No one walked on the streets, everyone was locked inside of cars, unreachable. People didn’t drop in all day long for a friendly talk, everyone was so busy working. She cut her trip short because being in Ohio, even with her sister, was unbearably lonely.

FICTION
Dr. Spock

Short Story
Namdar Nasser

EXPERIMENTAL
Napoleon mon amour

Part 3: The Libertines’ Club in Nice
Sarvenaz

Napoleon called me in the morning and told me that he would call me the minute his plane landed in Nice so we could take a taxi to town together. At the airport I was walking on air, I was so happy. I love airports: so filled with hustle and bustle and so full of possibilities. I like the fact that I am anonymous there, just another traveler going from point A to point B. I had gone to the hairdresser and the wax lady, and was wearing my best lingerie and clothes. I don’t know about other women but when I groom I almost have to bed someone otherwise I feel like I have wasted my money.

DIASPORA
Beheshte Los Angeles

Photo essay: Zinat Javid's burial in the outskirts of Los Angeles
Jahanshah Javid

NUCLEAR
An unnecessary crisis

Iranian government's position
in the nuclear standoff

In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners. Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapon program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies. In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted representation of the developments over the past 25 years. Before the international community is lead to another “crisis of choice”, it is imperative that the public knows all the facts and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe.

THANKSGIVING
Shokr

I desperately need to find me a reason to be thankful before Thanksgiving arrives
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

My grandmother, Nanjoon, an aging diabetic with bad joints and high blood pressure, used to constantly say prayers under her breath to thank God for her good health. “Dear God, ‘shokr’ for the bounties you have bestowed on me, for my good children, grandchildren, and above all, for my good health and the ability to do for myself.” She lived to be ninety-five, but as a child, I considered her gratitude ludicrous. Each time I visited that lonely widow in her humble home, especially when it took her forever to climb the stairs, I felt sorry she didn’t have much else to be thankful for. Now approaching the flock of “senior citizens” myself, I begin to appreciate the immeasurable resources Nanjoon spoke of.

STORY
The put-put boat

No moving parts but lots of smoke, noise and angry neighbors
A.S. Mostafanejd

The black Austin taxi coursed its way through the downtown Tehran traffic. Inside with the smell of the old leather and gasoline I sat next to my mother with anticipation. In 1958 most daily shopping was done in the neighborhood stores or at the door from various vendors on donkeys, bicycles and wagons, but the trip to the Bazaar was always for special items such as cloth, rugs, jewelry, house wares, etc. I knew there would also be special treats of candy, food, drinks and perhaps even a toy.

POETRY
A World Cup winning formula

And three other poems
Sasan Seifikar

POETRY
I am from...

I am from un-made beds and clothes everywhere except for my closet
Ranna Khorram

POETRY
Heech chiz moqadas neest

Nothing is sacred, other than...
Massoud Vatankhahi

POETRY
Lies

The truth was poison
Kimya Sarayloo

MEMOIR
A man of many worlds

Ghasem Ghani's diaries and memoirs
Excerpt

Dr. Ghani's reflective writings offer a profoundly civilized insight into the great changes that took place inside Iran during the first half of the 20th century. Ghani was born and brought among the educated elite of Sabezevar. a remote, traditional, even medieval city on the edge of the desert. His lifelong quest for useful knowledge and understanding let him into the heart of the continuing political and social turmloil in Tehran, where he became a lifetime friend and advisor to the leaders of Iran from Reza Shah to Mossadegh.

CHILDREN
Khane-ye Kudak-e Nasser Khosrow

The hours that I have spent in this school were some of the sweetest I have experienced since I left the country many years ago >>> Photos
Samineh Baghcheban

For many years now I have regretted the fact that you can't see Mount Damavand from the city any more. Pollution is unrelenting. But on this trip I did not waste my time searching for the old Damavand view. I looked for what was there. And I was happy to visit Khane-ye Kudak-e Nasser Khosrow, which was one of the highlights of my trip. Khane-ye Kudak-e Nasser Khosrow is a center run by Society for the Protection of Children's Rights. It provides education and other services for Afghan and Indian immigrant children, and for undocumented Iranian children. The latter group are called bacheha-ye khiyabani who do not have birth certificates (shenasnameh) and cannot enroll in regular schools.

TRAVELERS
Smoldering in Tehran

Part 5: The rumor mill
Sima Nahan

Word of mouth still plays an important role in Tehran. People rely on it for many things -- from finding the best doctors or schools or the way to get something done, to receiving and passing on news that does not make it to the media. A taxi driver, for instance, will carry a first-hand account of the vigil in front of Tehran University for student Mohammadi who is on hunger strike at Evin. The next day you can learn of a women’s demonstration in front of the university. If you ask, you will be informed.

SATIRE
It's good to be gay!

Part 3: The Islamic government is looking for my ass and I mean literarily... they are looking for my ass. Give me political asylum!
Siamack Baniameri

Sohrab drove his Nissan Patrol to the Canadian embassy, blasting his new Reggaeton CD, cussing Tehran's traffic, swearing at pedestrians, coughing, chocking and cursing at his bad luck for being born in this county. His tight pants didn't help much since his testicals were crushed, blood circulation to his brain was cut off and his left leg was completely numb. Walking from his car to the embassy, Sohrab found himself repeatedly violated by male pedestrians ... slaps on the ass, groping, verbal abuse, whistling, pinching, prostate exams and a lot more. Easily distracted and jobless Iranian youth found Sohrab a good early morning source of entertainment.

LETTERS
Angry for a reason

On Shahriar Zahedi's critique of Jalal Ale Ahmad:
Shahriar Zahedi's critique of Al-e-Ahmad does not give enough credit to the man. Al-e-Ahmad's arguments against the supremacy of technology and consumerism at the expense of self-determination and national dignity are not as immature as Zahedi makes them, nor are they evidence of some sort of unique Iranian pathology. In fact, Al-e-Ahmad's sophisticated arguments predate a great deal of similar critiques of European and North American orientalism and imperial intent by much respected and credible scholarly figures as Anouar AbdelMalek, Edward Said and others >>> Full text

 

AMERICA
Missing by a foot

Thanksgiving: my anniversary of coming to America
Shahrokh Nikfar

Once I took off my brand new shirt and pants which were all muddied, and gave them to grandma to throw in the washer, Daryl, one of my new found cousins brought me a set of overalls to wear and motioned me to follow him into the woods. Of course I didn't think anything of this as being strange or the fact that he was carrying a rifle with him. Ten minutes or so later, we arrived at a hill site where a bunch of people were shooting their rifles at coke cans and bottles that were set on a hill for target practice. I was so excited! This was just the way I had imagined America to be like, minus the horses. Once Daryl introduced me, everyone there seemed very pleased to meet me. I guess not having any fear of these good ol boys and having a constant smile on my face made me less of a stranger to them. Or maybe it was the overalls!

IDEAS
Friendly fire

A letter to Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran"
Brian Appleton

I have always bought your premise that imagination is the salvation of humanity and that artistic creativity saves us when all of the rest of our humanity is stripped from us. The part about empathy was the same message the Dalai Lama delivered to scientists at Stanford U last month and also your comments about no amount of PC being able to replace empathy. The tools of the totalitarian regimes are always the same as Laurens Van Der Post and Michael Parenti have each written about in their own way. The propaganda of demonizing the enemy by making an entire people nameless and faceless and devoid of human qualities the easier to bomb them and take their resources and destroy their culture...

ADVICE
The other Iraqi war veterans

Shokooh's couch
Shokooh Miry

Anonymous writes: I am one of those “other” Iraqi War veterans. I was drafted into the Iranian Army during our 8 year war with Iraq. I was only in the Iranian military for a few short months before becoming injured and returning home. In the years after my service, I got married, moved to the United States, and finished my education. I haven’t really thought much about the war until recently. I have suddenly found myself having intense nightmares about my experiences in the war. I can’t watch the news for fear of catching scenes that will remind me of my experiences.

HERITAGE
Persia reinstated

Scholastic Inc. reverses decision to exclude Persia from Ancient Civilization section of "The New Book of Knowledge"
David N. Rahni

In response to concerns expressed by the academic, scholarly and Iranian communities worldwide, the majority of which were from the U.S., Scholastic, Inc. has revised the article Ancient Civilizations in its 2006 twenty volume, The New Book of Knowledge so as to ensure that the Ancient Persia (Iran) is included both in its text, its chronological pictorial Timeline and map, in addition to the existing coverage under Persia in Volume P. This outcome is the result of a dialogue between a few community leaders, and Scholastic, Inc. representatives.

PHOTOGRAPHY
The beautiful city

Photo essay: San Francisco through loving eyes
Salim Madjd

LIFE
My two mothers

My aunt and I continued to think of each other as mother and child
Nahid Rachlin

Once a year, my real mother came to Tehran to visit her relatives there. But she paid me no particular attention. I called my aunt Mother and my own mother Aunt Mohtaram or nothing at all. I had met my father only once. I was afraid of him, of his rights to claim me, a fear I caught from my aunt. I lived with a sense of foreboding as you do if you know you have a lot to lose. I stayed close to my aunt, came home right after school, invited my friends to our house rather than going to theirs. One day, when I was nine, I was playing with friends in the yard of our elementary school when I saw a man approach.

INTELLECTUAL
Naghdchehee bar Ale Ahmad

A critique of Jalal Ale Ahmad
Shahriar Zahedi

SHORTS
Good morning Iran

Day 3
Shadi Bahar

EXPERIMENTAL
Napoleon mon amour

Part II: I am old enough to know that a little of something that gives you so much joy is better than none at all
Sarvenaz

I arrived in Florence tired from the six-hour drive.  I checked into  Hotel Ortho de Medici, on the narrow stoned paved, via SanGallo, near Piazza San Marco.  It was a beautiful 18th century building with high ceilinged rooms and marble baths.  He met me as I was checking in.  He was wearing a purple sweater and shawl and jeans.  I loved his eyes: huge and watery, protected by a set of upturned lashes so thick it looked like he was wearing mascara.  We kissed and I wondered what the prim and proper, button-down-sweater- wearing, receptionist was thinking of our age difference.  In Italy they are used to this kind of thing: a lady with a gigolo. Nothing is worse, than feeling so old that you have to pay for sex, for a woman’s sense of self!

ART
Ash

Paintings
Afshin Naghouni

LANGUAGE
Farewell, Dehkhoda!

A few days ago, I repacked the 50-volume collection into my car and drove it to Sabatico’s house. Letting go was hard to do...
Guive Mirfendereski

One summer morning we drove to the customs clearance office on the wharf and began loading the crates into my hatchback. Among them, a few boxes were particularly heavy and upon examination I learned that they comprised a 50-volume collection known as the Loghat-Nameh, the encyclopaedia of the Farsi language. It was begun by Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and finished years later by a cast of notable Iranian literati, lexicologists and linguists. As parts of the Loghat-Nameh were being printed and published in fascicles, Sabatico’s father had them bound into volumes. The result was a magnificent and ornate series. As Sabatico’s one-bed room rental apartment at the time was too tight for the new cargo from Europe, he had rented a storage space in town. I shuddered at the thought of the Loghat-Nameh ending up in that damp and dark environment. So, I offered to house the tomes at my house until Sabatico could find a more suitable space for them.

BOOK
History in short

New book: A Concise History Of Iran
Saeed Shirazi

Persian history and mythology form a fundamental identity of Iranians. It is imperative for our younger Iranian generation to know about Iran’s historic strong points and weaknesses. Our newer generations outside of Iran can hopefully benefit from history books that can give them most of this information. Living among different cultures, children of Iranian descent have the chance to become positively better human beings by first knowing East before appreciating West.

RADIO
LA radio

Video clips: Iranian radio in Los Angeles
Jahanshah Javid

Javaneh and I drove to Los Angeles last weekend to see my ailing grandmother, Zinat Javid. She's nearly 100-years old. In the past two weeks she has suffered multiple strokes and heart attacks and on top of that she's been hit with pneumonia. She's now mostly unconscious and doctors are not hopeful... Listening to KIRN Radio 670 AM as we drove in and out of Santa Monica reminded me how she listened to Iranian radio and TV stations, all day, every day...

ART
Down to earth fantasies

Paintings
Davood Zandian

TRAVELERS
Smoldering in Tehran

Part 4: Traffic conversations
Sima Nahan

There are two kinds of cabs in Tehran, those who take you door to door and those you hail for specific distances as you incrementally approach your destination. The latter you share with other passengers, generally three in the back seat and one or two in the front.I noticed a change in the tenor of conversations in these taxis. In the early days of the revolution and war, conversation was much livelier. Back then, these random assemblies were used by drivers and passengers to vent anger at the way things were. Inevitably someone would find opportunity to hiss the old threat that someday a mullah would hang from every chenar tree on former Pahlavi Avenue. People seemed to get energized by taking strangers into political confidence and to derive solace from the camaraderie.

IDEAS
Disband or change

Islamic society of Rutgers University does disservice to Muslim community
Maziar Shirazi

Everyone in the U.S., at least on paper, is entitled to their own worldview, as long as it does not impinge upon the guaranteed freedoms of others. Thus, the recently elected Asher Hussain and his colleagues, of the Islamic Society of Rutgers University (ISRU), have the right to view Islam the way they do, regardless of the fact that many feel their views are hostile to women as well as Muslims of Shi'a and Sufi persuasion. However, with the fraudulent election of Hussain and his ideological counterparts to the governing board, the majority of Muslim students at Rutgers University may find the atmosphere at ISRU becoming disturbingly intolerant, more so than it has already been. I have only been to one ISRU meeting (the 2005 officer election); suffice to say, however, that the observations I took from that meeting were motivation enough for me to speak out about them.

DEBATE
Ideological tyranny in Iranian women’s studies

A response to Shahrzad Mojab
Golbarg Bashi

Feminist research or women’s studies is a methodological perspective that criticises societal inequalities, with an emphasis on gender disparities. As a secular feminist I initiated a re-debate over the crisis in Iranian women’s studies/activism (intertwined) so that our scholarship and activism embraces more lives inside Iran. I did not in any way offer a fixed agenda for achieving a gender-equal state in Iran. As someone who has spent most of her life outside Iran, it perplexes me still that some senior Iranian intellectuals deconstruct one’s arguments as if it was a clear-cut programme to overthrow a whole government and create a revolution.

FLASHBACK
Aqa Ne'mat

1997 concert in Washington, DC
Aref Erfani

POETRY
Yaadash behkheyr fardaa

... keh hamisheh taazeh shoroo mishavad...
Habib Shokati

MUSIC
Eyvallah...

Tracks from "Eyvallah" and "Ameneh" CDs
Azam Nemati

I saw the pictures of Aghasi's funeral late yesterday. I burst into tears and cried all the way home and all night. He was one of my heroes for having defied the odds and becoming an overnight success. He proved me and people like me right that he would not be a "on hit wonder". He was the embodiment of a kind, sweet and extremely charming person. I saw him perform in a small tent in 1978 at Cabaret Khorram (and will tell the story about that night). I was amazed at how humble yet funny he was and his voice was even more beautiful in person.

POETRY
Behrouz

Two poems
Zheila Nahvipour

POETRY
Our gardener Mash Mammad

I loved his roses...they smelled of the dreams I had yet to dream up
Baharak Sedigh

POETRY
Choices

Moving forward or looking backward
Lee Howard Hodges

POETRY
Jang, jang taa proozi

Saayeh enghelaab
Mandana Zandian

POETRY
Do you know how old I am?

I am as old as rain
kissing the lips of the earth
Hedieh Sajadi

COVERS
How to kill your inner-mullah

Books we'd like to send in circulation
Anonymous

IDEAS
The sacred

The tendency to reach decisions without considering the facts and interests of people
Jahanshah Rashidian

Sacred is a holy person, animal, object, or idea, whose rationality and originality cannot be proved. Therefore religions, sects, cults, and even dictatorial systems abundantly use the concept of sacred to compensate for their irrationality. From this point of view, the concept has root in very primitive human behaviours. It has been a justification of many acts, ideas, and relations whose rationality could not be explained, and people were not aware and did not feel free to ask.

FAREWELL
Aghassi laid to rest

Photos
Pullniro

TRAVELERS
Night train to Tabriz

So I knew as the train whistled past in the dark something of what I was missing, but the darkness engulfed everything from the flat snow to the sharpest mountain peaks.  Who knew what could be lurking within those depths?
Sara Nobari

Public Iranian spaces can be intimidating--crowds of dark-skinned, heavily-bearded men and clusters of veiled women all staring, or seeming to stare--intimidating, at least, to a lone fair-skinned American.  Airports are, to my mind, the worst of these spaces.  Waiting at airports is always a bore but made worse when the bureaucracy is foreign.  In Iran, men and women undergo separate security checks.  On our first conjugal trip to that country (my husband, Farshan’s, birth land), I was whisked away from him and ushered into a curtained-off area, then hand-searched by a group of women who eyed me relentlessly through the black veils of their chadour.   Immigration authorities confiscated my passport on our second visit (later redeemed by my father-in-law after two all-day excursions to a bureaucratic hole-in-the-wall).  On our most recent trip to Iran, complete with two young sons, I had had enough of airports and flying and voted whole-heartedly in favor of taking an overnight train for our annual pilgrimage from Tehran to Tabriz. 

RIGHTS
Terrorizme "mehrvarz"

Ahmadinjead, Akbar Ganji & terrorism
Massoud Noghrekar

POLITICS
Hokoomate eslami: Moazzal va raahe hal

On Ramin Kamran's book "Setiz va Modaaraaa"
Hassan Behgar

SHORTS
Good morning Iran

Day 2
Shadi Bahar

IRI
We know: he's a maniac

The people of Iran are quite aware of their predicament
Samira Mohyeddin

Heads of state and foreign ministries were all making reference to Iran's nuclear ambitions in the same breath as Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, the fear and paranoia of a nuclear-equipped Iran swept through the front pages of the world press, with Britain's Daily Express newspaper, running with the cover "MANIAC PLOTS WORLD WAR III." The Islamic Republic of Iran has been calling for the obliteration of the Israeli state since its inception twenty-six years ago. So what's all the clamoring about? The Iranian president's comments, however reprehensible, do not signify a major shift in Iranian policy towards Israel, and should not be portrayed as a break or departure from the ideology of the government.

POLITICS
Pas az yekdast shodan

After Ahmadinejad, what now?
Madjid Zarbakhch

NEW YORK
The Met

Photo essay: New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art
>>> Ancient Persia/Near East

Jahanshah Javid

NUCLEAR
Bohraani keh dar raah ast

Ahmadinejad is dangerous -- even to the Islamic Republic itself
Ramin Kamran

RIGHTS
Leaders not martyrs

Why we should care about Akbar Ganji
Nema Milaninia

It has been four months since Ganji stopped his hunger strike. In those four months, there have been numerous reports indicating that Ganji is continuously being tortured. Nevertheless, the world's elite and intellectuals continue to remain passive on his release and the release of other political prisoners. In fact, America's major newspapers contain little to nothing about Ganji's plight, but play day-to-day predictions on Iran's nuclear activities. Like Ganji, hundreds of writers and journalists have been detained in Iran's prisons for their political writings. Cooperation with the Iranian government and rapprochement should not be conditioned on Iran's nuclear and terrorism record. It should begin once the Iranian government begins taking sincere steps to promote and protect human rights for all its citizens.

LANGUAGE
Persian plus

Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it
Guive Mirfendereski

A few weeks back my hometown newspaper reported a story by the Associated Press that King Tutankhamen was a red wine drinker. In the same story one Patrick McGovern, an American molecular archeologist, was cited as saying that he has discovered grape residue in northern Iran that dates winemaking to 5400 BC. I do not know what the ancient Iranians inhabiting the north of the country may have called this elixir. If they called it by the Persian may is mostly irrelevant because in today’s Farsi the commonly known word for the term is sharab, a word from the Arabic root sharb, to drink. I am writing today, however, to make the case for Farsi, our national language, being a sort of Persian plus – Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it.

OPINION
Dividing Iran

Israel’s response to Ahmadinejad
Jalil Bahar

Since invading Iran is not an option any more (after America’s debacle in Iraq), perhaps the next best strategy is to get Iran’s ethnic groups to fight the battle for them. Several, simultaneous ‘battles for liberation’ from different directions (Kurdistan, Baluchestan, Azerbaijan, etc) would topple Iran’s central government, and create a number of weak client states which would pose no threat to anyone. If you think this is a remote possibility, think again. All the seeds have been planted to implement this strategy.

NEW YORK
Times Square

Photo essay: New York's Times Square, 11pm last Thursday
Jahanshah Javid

HERITAGE
Wine good and fine

The art of wine in ancient Persia
Touraj Daryaee

The history of wine making and wine drinking is an old one in Persia, and today the Darioush vineyard in the Napa Valley which has become renowned in the art of wine making, is attempting to revive this tradition in the United States. Wine connoisseurs today may be familiar with the word Shiraz, the name of a town in southwest Persia famed for its grapes.

FRANCE
The Republic vs. religion

If France is facing tremors in its urban structure it is precisely because its inherent secular Republican values were not adhered to
Kia Atri

At the time of writing this article Paris and many other cities brace themselves for a thirteenth night of violence (even as Dominique de Villepin was doing his 'I have heard the voice of your revolution' special) there is a certain issue that is being overlooked or rather carelessly treated. The issue of secularity must not be sacrificed at the alter of political expediency. The sounds are mixed and there is some evidence that the French might succumb to that pressure to affect some accommodation. This as I argue below will be disastrous for all concerned.

TRAVELERS
Smoldering in Tehran

Part 3: Greater Tehran
Sima Nahan

Since my last visit in 1992 Tehran had changed almost unrecognizably. Back then the country was still jang-zadeh-war-stricken. The walls were plastered with war propaganda and death-to-America slogans. Food and consumer goods were in short supply. It was long enough after the revolution that cars and buildings had aged, unmaintained. New buildings were scarce and the better buildings tucked away inside old leafy gardens. Apart from the few and far-between billboards advertising rice-cookers and blenders, advertising was refreshingly absent.

FRANCE
Rage without a cause

A policy of appeasement will not ensure peaceful co-habitation in Europe's multi-ethnic cosmopolitan community
Iqbal Latif

The French have so far said the right things, and done the right things. They have stood up to "American Imperialism tooth and nail" beyond the call of duty, for them war in Iraq has created more intolerance and frustration within European community immigrants, undoubtedly "one nation" these North African immigrants should really be grateful too is "France." But militants have no friends, the weakest link and most opportune one for them is the one that is going to give in. Paris sounds to them the weakest link; it is where they have made their first stand. It is in this city we should nail them down, let's say a loud 'no' to their medieval practices.

NEW YORK
Statue of Liberty

Photo essay: A few hours with Lady Liberty
Jahanshah Javid

MUSIC
Bulbul

Music of Azerbaijan
Fakhteh Luna Zamani

When we were kids (as young as 4 or 5), my father would kind of make us to listen to him and most of Uzeyir Hajibeyov's musicals and operas. How ironic now I start my weekends with listening to bulbul and I am sure will be torturing my kids with this until they, like myself, learn to love his voice. once my sister and I were brave enough to plan to tape over his Koroqlou and Leyli and Majnun Opera tapes, thank God we didn't go through with our plan.

FRANCE
Lord of the flies

I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France
Tala Dowlatshahi

Riots have taken place all over France since the incident and over 1,200 vehicles have been torched. On Sunday evening, a sixty-one year old man attempting to protect his car from being set ablaze was killed by youths who beat him to death.  This current state of unrest has been compared to the worst in France since World War II. William Golding's thought-provoking novel Lord of the Flies written in 1954, describes in detail the horrific exploits of a group of youth who turn from upwardly civilized to downright barbaric. The underscoring theme being that man is inherently tied to society, and without it, we would all become savages. I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France.

EXPERIMENTAL
Napoleon mon amour

That is how much I love him. I rather see him with her more often than less without.
Sarvenaz

He is short and has a baby face.  He is not good looking but has a sweet face and is incredibly skinny.  Some times it feels like he weighs as much as one of my thighs.  He has a bit of a Napoleon complex which makes him a better lover.  It is as though each time he makes love he grows a few inches taller.  What he lacks in physique he makes up for in skill.  That is why he loves sex. He is so good at it that it makes him feel taller.   But so does his girlfriend.  She is tall and skinny and blond. When they are together they seem very much in love.  He calls her ‘amour’ among other terms of endearment, which sound, so much more endearing in French!  He does it even in front of me.  I die each time I see him be nice to her.  But I rather see more of him than not.  That is how much I love him.

NEW YORK
MoMA

Photo essay: New York's Museum of Modern Art
Jahanshah Javid

DIASPORA
United we might not fall

Stand up for yourself because no one will for your culture, for your traditions and for your ancestors
Farzaneh Fouladi Bearman

My generation is torn compared to those who came to the United States as teenagers and those who were born and raised in the States. We do not know if we offend our cultural heritage by acting fully American or do we simply ignore our ancestry as a whole. A part of me felt awful that I almost disowned my faith and patriarchal patriotism toward Iran by marrying an American. But I have come to the realization that I do not lose myself unless I want too. I can stop celebrating Nor Roz and "13-bedar" events. I can stop speaking Persian and only listen to Americanized music. I can choose not to expose my future child to the wonderful culture that Iranians have built for centuries. Yet, I know children who come from two Iranian parents and couldn't tell you where Iran is located on the map.

ANALYSIS
The Vietnam model

Ahmadinejad's remarks help cement the alliance with radicals in the Islamic world who in time of war would mobilize and attack the U.S., Israel, as well as any government that sided with the U.S.
Masoud Kazemzadeh

Unlike the Supreme Leader and many in the hard-line camp, it appears that Ahmadinejad and Young Conservatives wish to follow the "Vietnam model." Some believe that the U.S. is on the verge of collapse similar to what occurred in the former Soviet Union. Many of them believe that the U.S. is overstretched in Afghanistan, and Iraq and in a stand-off in the Korean peninsula and thus unable to impose its wish on the fundamentalist regime. However, America's weakness may not last another year or two. Considering the above factors, it is to the advantage of the regime to confront the U.S. and the West at the time of its weakest rather than wait until they solve their problems and regain strength and choose the time at which to put pressure on the regime.

MUSIC
Disappointing Deev

The only difference between the rap offered by Sandy and Deev is that the latter has political, violent and racist lyrics
Nassir Mashkouri

Rap music is one of the biggest and an important part of Afro American subculture called Hip-Hop culture, which is also comprised of graffiti art, break dancing, fashion, attitude, and basically the lifestyle of the people who subscribe to its' mores and traditions. Rap is a musical art form that has been growing ever more popular since it first appeared on the radar around 20 or so years ago in the United States. With its popularity, the Hip-Hop culture has spread all over the world to a point where it even entered the Iranian music scene around 10 years ago by a commercial band called Sandy.

NEW YORK
Central Park

Video clips & photo essay: New York on a glorious day
Jahanshah Javid

TRAVELERS
Colorful but unstable

Beneath all the struggles, specially economically, people still strive to push the boundaries
A Friend

The same sub-cultures that exist in the west, like the druggies, the snobs, the intellects, the hippies, the artists, the virgins and the experienced, the gays are also existent in Iran but the difference is that now you can easily set them apart on the streets by their dress-code and their encounter. Iran as a result of all this change has become much more colorful, but yet unstable... and MY GOD so many beautiful girls and guys, of course the ratio of the girls to guys in Iran is now four to one, as you know, so this has created a huge problem for the girls who want a proper relationship...

OPINION
(Hard) reality check

Iranian people will regrettably be FORCED to see the importance of regime change exactly as they were FORCED into realising that Economic Globalisation
Kia Atri

I am sure you have all heard the phrase 'Useful Idiots' rightly or wrongly attributed to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (a.k.a. Lenin). The phrase is used to describe the naïve souls in the Capitalist West who- though decent people- are by and large the best spokesmen for Soviet misinformation in the West. The misinformation which chooses to turn a blind eye to the otherwise suspicious quarantining of a whole nation on promise of an unattainable and idealistic utopia. Which utopia is rich in intellectual justification with elaborate theories but weak in putting bread on the table of its inmates known as Soviet citizenry. Which misery they (the U.I.) will be loathed to understand for fear and hatred that they have of the Liberal Democracies they live in.

TRAVELERS
Smoldering in Tehran

Part 2: Who voted for Ahmadinejad?
Sima Nahan

Akram is quite a woman. As a single mother she raised her son with hard work through the very difficult years of revolution and war. She is a strong and athletic woman who has climbed the 18,000-feet Mount Damavand a number of times. Her passion is mountaineering and, as a woman, she is a novelty and quite popular in the predominantly male climbing community. Over the years she has picked her boyfriends by testing their endurance in the mountains first. She tells funny stories of how she wears down lightweight men who can’t keep up with her.

RECOGNITION
Etaaye neshaane melli faraanseh beh Deghati

Reza Deghati receives French national medal for artistic excellence
Vida Samai

POLITICS
Our worst

Ahmadinejad and Bush
Manesh

The two men could not be more different in almost all respects. But they do have a thing or two in common. For example, they both represent the worst of their country's nature. Under President Bush, America has become known as an international bully, a nation engaged in torture and humiliation, a friend of the powerful, and an enemy of the weak- hardly the stuff America was founded on, and has been known around the world for. We can wonder the same way about the people who elected Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This man is completely un-Iranian. The policies he stands for, and the underlying values they represent, are foreign to Iran and Iranians.

OPINION
Deliberate mistake?

Why did Iran's president demand that Israel be "wiped off the map"?
Yassamine Mather

One explanation of Ahmadinejad's comments is that, following its victory of seeing a Shia state established in Iraq (the main component of the occupation government being pro-Iran Shias), the Iranian regime's image is tainted by its support for the US-UK-imposed government in Iraq. As the only country that has directly benefited from imperialist military action in the region, Iran does feel isolated. That is why, in the words of a Palestinian official, the Iranian president's comments reflect Iran's weakness in the region, and represents an attempt to regain some credibility as an anti-Zionist, anti-US regime.

ART
Seeing light

Modern art not seen since 1979
Babak Nassirian

VOLUNTEER
Helping hand

An Iranian perspective on Hurricane Katrina
Behrouz Bahmani

Fardad Jamali is my best friend. He is also a Safety Engineer. Actually he is one of the top safety experts in the US. And that’s not just a best friend bragging. When Katrina hit the gulf coast, Fardad was pacing back and forth in his office like a caged tiger, for days. Finally when he couldn’t stand it any longer, he made the calls to his contacts at the American Red Cross and put his name and credentials onto the volunteer list. After a couple of days and the prerequisite training class (which he could have taught), he was notified that he was to report to Mississippi, where the eye of the storm came ashore, the scene of some of the worst destruction.

SATIRE
It's good to be gay!

Part 2: "Yeah, baby. I'm a homosexual Bahai and I love it."
Siamack Baniameri

I don't have to tell you how awkward I felt at that moment. I mean, what do you say when your cousin who is the national symbol of heterosexuality and doesn't know the first thing about his own religion, let alone Bahai religion, confesses to you that he's now gay seems to be extremely open about it. Sohrab used to take extra pleasure in beating up gay guys back home and he especially made certain that gay men did not cut his hair, shave his back, or massage him in the public bath houses.

MUSIC
Pouya

"Vatan", "Baavaram Nemisheh" and more...
Azam Nemati

SHORTS
Am I really here?

Shadi Bahar writes: The plane glides across the Tehran night and I unclench my teeth, peek outside and a tiny smile blossoms on my weary face as I touch the oval face of the window. How I love this landing, how I love the tangerine colored lights of the Tehran skyline.

I draw in the musty air as I sway from side to side in the bus that takes me from the plane to the terminal. The terminal that is a few short steps from where eager smiles and loving grips await me in this god forsaken hour of the morning.

I take in the night and this land that I love no matter what. I take Iran without a facelift and dressed as it is, morning, noon and night. Isn't that how we love our mothers? Isn't that how we wish to be loved?

I settle into the car, curl against the glass and prepare for the familiar ride home. The Willow trees in the Bozorgh-rah have grown taller, and fuller. Cars weave in and out. So much dust, so many sounds; people, so many people. My mind is restless, my eyes heavy and tired. I have been awake for 36 hours -- the entire trip over. My travel mate, the hazel eyed Hungarian grandmother with the ready smile and the bag full of snacks, announced seconds after we met that "she likes to talk and never sleeps on plane rides". She was good company for my fatigued nerves and anxious mind.

I crack the window open and touch the still groggy morning air. I can hardly believe it. I am here, at last. I don't know how I arranged everything to be here at this moment. All I know is that, the tomatoes don't need dressing. And the persimmons are winking at me from their high perch upon the tree. I have not been in Iran in the autumn for 18 years. How do I love thee, let me count the ways.

JOY
Last night

Photo essay: Halloween in San Francisco's Casrto district
Salim Madjd

CHANGE
13 Aban dar 11 Aban

The children of the revolution have changed
Amir Azar

TRAVELERS
Smoldering in Tehran

Part 1 of 12
Sima Nahan

My trip to Iran lsat summer was a personal one. It was short and heavily booked with seeing family and friends I had not seen since my last visit there, thirteen years ago. My contact with people outside my personal circle would be limited to chance encounters and random conversations. I had no plans to interview anyone or engage in political discussions, the way we used to in the early years of the revolution. But one can no sooner get away from politics than avoid the exhaust fumes in Tehran. Politics permeates everything from family life to random encounters. Observations are acute.

MUSICAL
Back in Berkeley

Photo essay: "Shaparak Khanoom" returns to the stage
Mansour Taeed

HEALTH
Negligence is not an option

Time for preventive mobilization on bird flu
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

I am not a medical doctor, but several of my cousins who are uniformly tell me that we must take this one seriously, but are we? In the US, compared to Europe or Canada, so far only one percent of the population are pre-covered with medication and vaccine, if there is any against this deadly, catastrophic would-be plague, and in Iran? Scanning through the Tehran dailies, I fail to see a national strategy on how to deal with the global pandemic if, god forbid, it breaks out soon. It is not enough to order a halt in hunting migratory birds and so on, or to stockpile medicine, a lot more is needed, and very urgently, following the footsteps of other governments.

PARTY
White mask

Photo essay: Three women throw a Halloween party
Jahanshah Javid

ANALYSIS
Old policy, new fears

Ahmadinejad's comments about Israel are nothing new. But the international outrage reflects concerns about where Iran's nucler program may be heading.
Masoud Kazemzadeh

In this article, I present evidence which proves that the dominant explanation is false. I show that Ahmadinejad's words are the expression of the actual consensus of the ruling faction of the regime. In other words, Ahmadinejad's words are not the mere utterance of one inexperienced person. Rather, Ahmadinejad expressed the views of the Young Conservative sub-faction and the consensus of the hard-line faction which control virtually all the main levers of power in Iran. This is not mere academic exercise. If the dominant explanation is correct, one may not be too concerned about the off-the-cuff remarks of one man. However, if my analysis is correct, we should expect a more confrontational foreign policy by the regime.

MUSIC
Gozar az koocheh Golestan

Fusion of Iranian and Hungarian folk music
Nazila Keshavarz

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