Features

>>> Archive
January 2007

 

AIDS

Making a difference

Photo essay: Dr. Kamiar Alaei and his team's revolutionary effort in Iran to try to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS
Talieh Shahrokhi

Have you dreamed of going to Iran and actually making a difference? I mean we all try to go in the summers and visit our families, visit all the historical sties, and eat lots of delicious homemade food; but haven't you wondered what it would be like to actually be a part of the society there and observe things up close? ... Well here is your chance... Read on! >>>

POETRY
There is no room for us in heaven

We've committed not a wanton act
Tara Shirani

IDEAS
Aya moosighiye Irani beearzesh ast?

Is Iranian music worthless?
Houshang Pirnazar

WAR
Even if we lose this battle
Omid Parsi

As of late, I have been reading quite a bit of emotional "Vaaveila" from our fellow iranian.com contributors regarding the increasing likelihood of an imminent US military attack on the IRI. While I think (and hope) that this threat will never go beyond heated rhetorical muscle-flexing between the USA and IRI and will most likely end in some sort of cop-out, here are three analgesic thoughts and reflections in case I turn out to be wrong >>>

LUNCH
Kateh-Maast
Layla Khamoushian

It's 12:15 p.m. and I rush downstairs to the small cafeteria owned by this Koran man, known as "Charlie". The safe foods to eat off of his menu are cold sandwiches normally. But today, I have a stomachache and some sort of nausea, caused most likely by simple anxiety. You know... the every day stress. I ask him for just "white rice". I already have maast, or plain yogurt, in the fridge at the office upstairs, which I had bought one day recently from Ralph's when I had my first "Kateh-Maast" attack. This is the third time I am getting just white rice from Charlie this month and he is clearly getting annoyed since "just white rice" is not exactly doing business for him >>>

ART

Disappearing

Photo essay: Latest works by Ali Dadgar
Jahanshah Javid

TASOOA
Holy cow
Mohammad R. Khaneghahi

Today is Tasooa. I went for a walk, the whole god damn city was closed, but there were people everywhere, mostly walking. There was light traffic and at least three dastehs on the march. People were giving free food and drink everywhere. I even saw some goddesses with make-up and latest fashionable clothes as well. My observation: this is far in North Tehran where rich and educated people live. Now if they are like this, holy cow... what is going on in deep in the south? Which one came first? Chicken or the egg? Did government indoctrination cause this degree of religiousness? Or are these people basically religious and the currnet government is the government of the people by the people for the people?

SIGNS
Get off your chair

I hear the footsteps of an imminent attack
Nazy Kaviani

I am sick. I have all the physical symptoms of a large scale food poisoning. I double over in pain and sit down like that. What did I eat? Where did I pick up this virus? I haven’t eaten anything, and I haven’t left my apartment for 24 hours. What is wrong with me? I slowly begin to realize that I’m not physically ill. Something sinister and powerful is eating away at me, making me feel this way. What is it? It downs on me swiftly and irrevocably. I am sick because I think. I am sick because I feel, I worry, I fear. This is the plight of all Iranians who have a conscience and mediocre sensibilities. Something really serious and ominous is taking shape and happening and there is nothing we can do; or is there? I live in a state of schizophrenia, swinging between the deep feelings of love and responsibility for Iran, feeling indignant and angry at anyone contemplating attacking Iran, or keeping it from growing and prospering, and yet, feeling helpless and angry at a regime that has made Iran both the ghoul and the laughing stock of the world >>>

YOUR LETTERS
If Bush decides to invade, my ticket is ready

In response to Daniel M Pourkesali's "Poking into a far larger hornet's nest": THANKS FOR YOUR BRIGHT ARTICLE. YOU ARE RIGHT BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT THIS TIME THE POKER WILL NOT SURVIVE. I AM AN IRANIAN AMERICAN. A 51 YEAR OLD FEMALE. IF BUSH DECIDES TO INVADE IRAN MY TICKET IS READY. I WILL DIE FOR MY HOME COUNTRY NO MATTER WHAT. SO HE BETTER THINK TWICE >>> More letters

SIGNS
Get off your chair

I hear the footsteps of an imminent attack
Nazy Kaviani

I am sick.  I have all the physical symptoms of a large scale food poisoning.  I double over in pain and sit down like that.  What did I eat?  Where did I pick up this virus?  I haven’t eaten anything, and I haven’t left my apartment for 24 hours.  What is wrong with me?  I slowly begin to realize that I’m not physically ill.  Something sinister and powerful is eating away at me, making me feel this way.  What is it?  It downs on me swiftly and irrevocably.  I am sick because I think.  I am sick because I feel, I worry, I fear.  This is the plight of all Iranians who have a conscience and mediocre sensibilities.  Something really serious and ominous is taking shape and happening and there is nothing we can do; or is there? I live in a state of schizophrenia, swinging between the deep feelings of love and responsibility for Iran, feeling indignant and angry at anyone contemplating attacking Iran, or keeping it from growing and prospering, and yet, feeling helpless and angry at a regime that has made Iran both the ghoul and the laughing stock of the world >>>

LIFE
Count the moments

You won't find me under the clothing
Sheema Kalbasi

What is there to confess? That I love you like my land? That you are my land? That I want to take you in, to take me in? That I love you and I see the right from the wrong? That I am a misplaced name in your notebook? That I am afraid of feeling this dependency, that I miss you because I do miss you. I am afraid of finishing my journal and leaving you in between my letters, and my words. I ask myself what is this joy, this suffering, this longing for you. A person who will not come to pick me up from the station, who has no idea who I am even if he came, how I don't dress up, how I don't sit in an armchair, how I express myself, how I never remember birthdays, and anniversaries, how I find valentine's day a money wasting celebration, how I drive in a highway, how I clean the kitchen, and the bathrooms in my home every day, how is the taste of my cooking, how my fingers peel in spring sometimes, and how easy it is for me to arrive >>>

REVIEW
Reconciliation

Sheema Kalbasi incorporates the Iranian understanding that poems should express and contain the unity of the mind, the body, and the soul
Roger Hume

Every culture and its arts have their strengths; however, within those strengths can also stir the seeds of weakness. One the strengths of Western culture has been the growth of a secular consciousness. The mindset has opened an exploration and questioning of existence that can offset limits that more dogmatic views of life can create. Artistically, this can be seen at its best in the works of T.S. Eliot that are perhaps the height of poetry within the realms of the secular rational perspective. In many ways, we have spent the decades since Eliot attempting to approach the levels of his creations. In consequence, there has been new limitations placed on serious Western poetry, ones in which the mind is acknowledged but often seen as alienated from its surroundings, the body is denigrated, and the soul is ignored. This inability to reconcile the soul and body with the mind is one of the reasons Western verse in many cases tends to be flat and sere with more concern in how it is constructed than in what it is saying >>>

HERITAGE

Komiteh Javaher

Documents: How crown jewels came to be the property of the NATION trhough the efforts of Iranian modernists -- and an American
Amir Rostam Begli Beigie

The question of the crown jewels is reminder of a little known yet very significant episode in Iranian history. It is gratifying to know that despite western propaganda about how we owe everything to the Greeks we 'barbarians' (as Greek tourist guides describe Persians) protected our crown jewels in law long before (just under a 100 years) thanks only to a bunch of young Iranian modernists. Yet their memory and devotion to duty has been villified by recent generations because of envy, lack of understanding of history and perhaps blind ambition >>>

DAMAVAND

Proud mountain

Photo essay: I have climbed many mountains, and though I find them all beautiful, big or small, this one has a special place in my heart
Behzad Compani

Damavand towers magnificently 50km North east of Tehran, and as a child I would gaze endlessly at it’s mesmerizing permanent snow-capped peak, whether it be from the slopes of Dizin, the drive down to Shomal. If I was lucky, I would be treated with a glimpse of its beauty whilst in Tehran, although, unfortunately that has become a thing of the past, thanks to pollution >>>

ARABS
Biases in historical enquiry

Nomad-sedentary relations and pre-Islamic Arabs
Khodadad Rezakhani

It is interesting that people like Mr. Nooriala are making the effort to research and find new explanations for the age old question of “Why did the mighty Sasanian Empire fall to the Arab Armies?”. The attempt to break the already established paradigms (such as “Eslaamiyun” explanations that he seems to have set up to refute) are also much appreciated. However, the whole argument suffers from fallacies in using secondary sources and sweeping disregard for primary ones, and starting the argument from a defensive position, in effect asking for refutation. However, these are not the reasons I have decided to write these few lines. The matter of the fall of the Sasanian Empire is not a simple one and surely cannot be answered by short essays and spiteful commentaries. Much like the “Fall of the Roman Empire” on which Mr. Nooriala bases his argument, the fall of the Sasanian Empire has tens of explanations, and unlike what he presents, the most accepted version is not the Eslamiyn version, in “preparation and falsification for 1400 years” >>>

PROTEST

Hands off Iran

Iranian expatriate community answers the call to action against war with Iran in unprecedented numbers
Daniel M Pourkesali

PROTEST

Bow to the people

Photo essay: Anti-war rally in Washington DC
Sasan Afsoosi

PROTEST

Sunday church

Photo essay: Iraq war memorial
Arash Mozaffari

DIPLOMACY
Let's talk jobs not attacks

Engaging in diplomacy with Iran will affect its internal politics, in a way that the current US Administration has failed to understand
Tala Dowlatshahi

The other night, over dinner in a cozy little tavern, I was engaged in a maddening discussion with my colleague from Norway on a recent Time magazine cover headlined "What war with Iran would look like." Even with the recent Democratic Party victory sweeping the nation, I argued there is still talk that Bush may have time to get his invasion plans for Iran in before his presidential timeline expires. If this proves true, then for this hyphenated-American, it's a hard thing to stomach. I will admit that I am frightened to think of the consequences. If we all buy into Seymour Hersh's concepts of Iran as the next Iraq, then what about my aunts and cousins who still live in Tehran and can't get out in time? For many months now, Mr Hersh has filed ongoing reports on the Bush Administration's purported plans for an air strike within Iran. The Bush administration repudiated and cited Hersh's reportage as "wild speculation". But the potency of this argument has lingered around like a wet, stench odor >>>

STRATEGY
Outsourcing terrorism

This is President Bush’s call to war on Iran -- Operation Galio or false flag at work
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

It would be naive to think that ‘outsourcing’ is a new phenomenon; at least the kind we see in Iraq today can be traced back to the 1940’s. In 1947, the National Security Act created the CIA. Little known or discussed is the fact that one of the fist acts of the National Security Council was the subversion of Italian democracy. In 1948, Italy was leaning towards a leftist government. Washington spent millions of dollars on propaganda to ensure that the election results were consistent with US desires. While the US bullied its way without resorting to violence, it later came to light that the CIA had organized a secret paramilitary army of 15,000 troops in Italy called ‘Operation Gladio (derived from the Latin gladius meaning sword) with hidden stockpiles of weapons and explosives ready to resort to violence in the event that the elections did not go Washington’s way >>>

ACTION
Why this silence?

We tend to wait and see what happens. I highly recommend we stop waiting.
Amir Nasiri

It is three in the morning. I woke up in sweats in the middle of the night and I can't go back to sleep. Why? Because I am worried that my motherland is going to be attacked and I sit here in my comfort home and watch while my relatives, my country man are savagely killed under bomb attacks? I said to myself I am not going to be silenced about this. But that is just me one voice. What about the one million Iranian living in North America and almost over half million living here in United States? I have no statistical figure on hand but I can assume that the total combination of Iranian assets here in United States is over a trillion, with a purchasing power of over billions. But do we have a lobby group or state representative? Do we have special interest group? Haven't you noticed after living so many years in here that United States is ran and controlled by special interest group as well as lobbyists? >>>

OBSERVER

This is Kurdistan

Photo essay: Northern Iraq
Saman

EMPIRE
Biyaabaangardaan chegooneh pirooz mishavand?

Empires and nomads
Esmail Nooriala

PSYCHO
Tavahome pishravandeh

Ahmadinejad's deteriorating nuttyness
Massoud Noghrekar

DOCTORS
Proctologists Without Borders
Jeesh Daram

How many times have you asked a child, "sweetheart what do you want to be when you grow up?" Most kids answer an astronaut, firefighter, policeman or a doctor, but do you ever hear a child say, "I want to become a urologist" or even worse a "proctologist?" Don't take me wrong I know how important this field is, but what is it that triggers someone to pursue such career? These are the morbid thoughts that keep me awake during the day. While we are at it let's have an illustration: How does a proctologist respond on his first blind date with a beautiful girl in a fancy restaurant, while the dinner is being served she asks: "so what do you exactly do for living?" and he has to hesitantly reply: "I am a proctologist!" Mother of Jesus, that puts shiver into your spine just to think about itt >>>

ART

That sinking feeling

Painting + Photography
Farhad Nabipour

SOPRANOS

Tony would be proud of me

Video blog: Today I thought I'd do a piece to the camera for you instead of an article
Siamack Salari

HOME
Calling on America

The significance of finding a home in diaspora
Faye Farhang

America maybe the world's last remaining super power, but she could still greatly benefit from Iranian-American influence and leadership. The United States census data indicates that Iranian-Americans are among the most highly educated people in the country. With their high level of educational accomplishment and a median family income that is twenty percent higher than the national average, Iranian-Americans contribute substantially to the U.S. economy. It is now only realistic for us to recognize that our contribution to a country that has given us a second chance to pursue our dreams is not in vain. Iranian-Americans must believe that they belong to America without having to compromise their background, and culture >>>

NUCLEAR
Ayatollah Strangelove

Would Iran's mullahs use the Bomb?
Amil Imani

Perhaps the most compelling dismissive argument is that the Mullahs would never dare to use the bomb, since it would be suicidal to do so. This argument is just as flawed as the rest. The "mutual deterrence" argument may work in state-to-state confrontations. It apparently has worked in the past and the hope is that it will work in the future. However, the mutual deterrence argument fails when a non-state entity is the adversary. The Mullahs don't have to lob a bomb at Israel or at anyone else to inflict huge harm. They can pursue their cause of death and destruction by simply providing their killers with dirty bombs in a suitcase. Given the Mullahs' fanaticism and Machiavellian nature, they would come up with a myriad of clever schemes to achieve their objectives >>>

LIFE
Fresh water

I see you as my supply of shoes to amble through my own memories
Sheema Kalbasi

I want to forget about the heartaches in the world. I want to think of you, just now, just this minute of writing to you, for you. Let me. As if nothing existed before knowing you and nothing will come after. Between my hands and my heart is a drop of dew. Hold it. Don't spill it. Take it into your mouth. Drink it. It's my longing for you. Now I feel fortunate. You haven't let the distance of coasts twist my devotion to your presence. I want to believe it is a fruitful season. A season when I can sleep next to you and dismiss all rationalizations, the insanity, and displaced relationships. I love your insights, your outlook, your not restricting yourself to places, to people, to earth, to life. I am unlike you. I restrict my self to places and that make me journey beyond time. I restrict myself to people and that makes me leave or want to break free. I restrict myself to earth, that is why I don't drink wine >>>

DESIRE
Infinite love

Lessons from three temporary lovers
Laleh Banoo

You spent three days with me, my legs and yours entwined, your tongue against my neck to start and every iteration of pleasure to follow. Something about it being finite made it hotter. Of course it did, as neither of us could stand to stand still and there's something so still about infinity. Just that it goes on forever makes it depressing. And so is love depressing, love in the traditions of longevity and monogamy and matrimony. I much preferred you to love, I preferred the desperation that comes of only three days together. Ironic that we chose the desert as our meeting point; the choice of such vast, open space may have been a sublimation of our true desire for each other, a geographical manifestation of a physical impossibility >>>

TRAVELERS

Soghati

Photo essay: Gifts from Iran
Talieh Shahrokhi

THE BAND

HAMEH say "Abjeez"!

New video & songs proves this sister act is making history and sweet, kick-ass music
Selections from long-awaited CD

ANALYSIS
Ahmadinejad’s Achilles Heel

The Iranian economy
Abbas Bakhtiar

What a difference a year makes. It was in mid 2005 that Ahmadinejad won a land-slide victory (62%) in the presidential election. As a presidential candidate he had promised to improve the lives of the poor and the lower classes by “putting petroleum income on people’s tables”. His campaign motto was “it is possible and we can do it”. Son of a blacksmith, Ahmadinejad was the fourth child of a working class family with seven children. He was brought up in the rough and poor neighbourhoods of south Tehran. He is therefore familiar with the problems facing the poor families and has tried to fulfil his election promises to them by increasing the minimum wage (under pressure was later reversed), the pensions, consumer loans for low-income families, loans for small enterprises in underdeveloped regions, and other popular projects. He has also been travelling around the country approving construction projects and distributing largesse >>>

MUSIC
A composer in a new key

Interview with composer Reza Vali
Maryam Pirnazar

It is a rare pleasure that you encounter the realization of a potential you had only imagined possible. Hearing Reza Vali’s Nayshaboorak (Calligraphy No. 6) was one such pleasure. For all the hype about “celebration” of cultures and “dialogue” between this and that, those of us who spend our lives commuting between cultures know that works that are grounded in real knowledge of different artistic traditions are still quite rare. In music, what is generically called “world music,” while certainly not wanting in raw talent and freestyle thrill, lacks the formal cohesiveness that one associates with classical traditions. It is the exploration of the wide open area afforded by the rigor and nuance of the highly developed musical traditions of Iran and the west that Reza Vali undertakes. The result is not only novel but a delight >>>

HUMOR
Dear Mack

Iranian Men: User Manual
Siamack Baniameri

Throughout years of writing for iranian.com and other publications, I have received enormous amount of emails from women married to Iranian men with a wide range of questions about their husbands. And just about all emails follow the same theme: why does my Iranian man do the things he does? For some reason American wives of Iranian men, who read my book or articles, have got it in their heads that I somehow have access to the only copy of "Iranian Men: User Manual!" The questions are often entertaining and sometimes plain weird. The most compelling questions come from women who date Iranian men >>>

HUMOR

2500 BC

Cartoons
Ali, 2500 BC

BUSH
Poking into a far larger hornet's nest

President Bush is ignoring the tragic lessons in Iraq
Daniel M. Pourkesali

Three years ago my then 5-year old son learned a valuable lesson about life which he still vividly remembers to this day. On a hot summer afternoon, he along with a couple of other boys came upon a hornet's nest hidden inside the hedges lining the perimeter of our residential neighborhood. Not long after poking and hitting it with wooden sticks, the boys were attacked by a swarm of angry hornets that chased and stung them in multiple places. After tending to his injuries and calming him down with some antihistamines, we spent the rest of that evening talking about respect for other species. One could argue that the positive outcome of that awful incident was that the boys gained some valuable lesson and are much wiser for it. But after listening to Mr. Bush's 'State of the Union' address last night, I'm not sure the same can be said about our commander-in-chief >>>

BLOGGERS
Freedom columns

"We are Iran" reinforces the impression of a vibrant civil society chafing at the bit and ready to jump and flourish
Fariba Amini

In recent years, we have seen the publication of a large number of books on Iran, whether memoirs or historical, literary and political studies. "We are Iran" is different from any of those. This is a book about ordinary Iranians as seen through the eyes of the country’s many bloggers, mainly young people who are voicing their hopes and anxieties through their writings. Its editor and (skillful) translator, Nasrin Alavi, has compiled a sample of their blogs in such a way that readers can come to their own conclusions about the fabric of the Iranian society based on the opinions of those who were either very young or not yet born during the turbulent days of the Islamic Revolution >>>

QUESTION
Who will fight for Iran?

There is no easy answer
Ali Mostofi

Who: At the moment, Seyyeds run Iran, propagating their Empire. Their self-acclaimed moral prerogative, is that they are related to Halabi Qureshi (aka Mohammed), who himself was brought to world attention, thanks to the abdication of the High Priest of Iran in the 7th Century AD to Christianity and then eventually to Halabi Qureshi. Ancient Iranian mythology (referred to by Christian historians as Zoroastrianism), speaks of an Iranian traitor; that creates a new revolution and overthrows the Iranian Empire; but much later is overthrown by a true Iranian. Will: The next word in the question is "will". The word "will" immediately links ones mind to "will power". The inspiration behind will power has to be Iranian, and there we see the Iranian nation reading Ferdowsi to be inspired with Iranian nationality >>>

WINE

Cheers!

Photo essay: Weekend trip in Sonoma and Napa, California's wine country
Farah Ravon

LIFE
Remain my burning bush

You are not a casual affair
Sheema Kalbasi

I want to wear you like a pair of earrings so that your touch leaves me short breathed, so that when I brush my hair aside and look at myself in the mirror, you smile back at me, with your lips upon my ears. I am not your jealous lover. I am not your keeper. I am not your fragments, fractions, your feelings; I am not your relentless answer to be alive. I am not your other half. You are complete without me. Your hands are kind without holding mine. Your eyes are bright without the need to absorb the light in mine. You don't need to read my letters to see my reflection. You make my blood simmer without undressing me. Hundreds of thousands of people have crossed my path, hundreds of thousands of texts have been read by my eyes, hundreds of thousands of times, rain has washed my body, yet I want your smell to drop me on my feet >>>

TRAVELERS

Warm feeling

Photo essay: Monbéliard, southeastern France
Fatemeh Farajmandi

LIFE
Let me...

... bring a piece of heaven and paradise into this dark and gloomy world
Cameron Batmanghlich

Let me rip my heart out of my chest with my bare hands, and offer it to you as a gift of love...a gift of our union. Let me find my way to my place of power ... .on a reef ... in the middle of the transparent waters of the ocean ... then stretch my arms out and shout ... I LONG FOR YOU ... having the angels as my witness, bringing out the word to the Lord and making him aware of my passion. Let me touch my own face ... touch my lips ... wet my lips ... in search of your taste. Let me approach insanity by consuming each tone and rhythm in a savage Tango ... losing the air in my lungs in an absolute state of yearning. Let me go mad in my loneliness ... when imaging you ... >>>

OPEN LETTER
Liberation without warfare

Freedom-loving countries must unite and assist Iranian people to end this embarrassment to humanity
Hashem Hakimi

The Honorable George W. Bush President Of United States, As one of the remaining senior Iranian Imperial Ambassadors with many years of service in his majesty's Foreign Office I unequivocally and unconditionally am in favor of regime change in Iran without classic warfare, I further believe by adopting the correct strategy this could effectively be achieved by United States Government stepping up its support of the Iranian Opposition Groups within Iran and outside Iran, together with a complete blockade of Iranian ports and economic routes combined with total economic sanctions, and targeting the Islamic Republics' heirarchy. I support and respect the aspiration of Iranian people for a free secular democracy and human rights. I further declare that: >>>

ACTION
It will be too late -- after the bombs fall
Cyrus Mossaddegh

At the start of last week many Iranians were working towards preventing war between Iran and America. However, given the events of the past week it is no longer prevention of war but the stopping of war that we have to start working on. It is now a whole different ballgame. For those of you that are deluded into thinking that this will lead to regime change for a better Iran you on the wrong side and need to think hard about what being Iranian means to you. Many of you hold American passports and when you got that passport it was required that you pledge allegiance to the American flag and be prepared to take up arms to defend America, which also means taking up arms when America conducts military operations that are not defense in nature >>>

POETRY
1/1/2007

On the hanging of Hussein, and the death of countless of  Iraqis citizens and 3,000 American soldiers
David McCoy

POETRY
Simple geometry

Becoming a shy circle
Farhad Zaltash

POETRY
Solemn

So, so solitary soliloquy
Tina Ehrami

POETRY
The needle of your pain

Your absence takes over all other reality
Baharak Sedigh

PEOPLE

Washed away

Photo essay: Public baths in Tehran
Sasan Afsoosi

These are some photographs from Tehran public baths. I'm not sure if all of them still exist. Also, not sure if after a US military attack, any of these locations will be available again >>>

U.S.-IRAN
A bridge too far

A new coordinated policy approach against Iran
Gary Sick

It is commonly said that the United States has no Middle East strategy. That may not be true much longer. The United States has begun to establish the framework of a new coalition strategy in the Middle East that could rebuild tattered alliances, shift attention away from the Iraqi catastrophe, and provide a touchstone for policymaking that could appeal across party lines. The organizing principle of the new strategy is confrontation with and containment of Shia influence -- and specifically Iranian influence -- wherever it appears in the region. US allies in this endeavor are Israel and the traditional (and authoritarian) governments of predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. One unique feature of this otherwise unremarkable set of long-standing friendly governments is the possibility that the Arab states may subordinate their hostility to Israel at least temporarily out of their even greater fear of Iranian/Shia dominance of the region >>>

STORY
Sag-e Mr. Tate

You-know-who's dog
Mohammad Hossainzadeh

LIFE
The blue apple at five

They planted me, watered me, and yet I came out blue
Sheema Kalbasi

Do you read my story, the story of my love, a love so deep that it is needless of your physical presence? Has there ever been a lover who has traced your essence in the air and kissed your lettering every chance she gets. Have you ever had a lover who sits patiently for you to take her in your dreams if not in reality, who wears you like a bangle, and to whom she is like a devotee to Lal Shahbaz Qalandar? Today is not as quiet as yesterday. It is five in the morning. The lights reflect the loss of energy. The city has written its dreams, wake up and reveal to me what items form your place of peace but before that, do know I don't tremble from the pain of not having you. I tremble from the thought of having you and losing. I don't want to be just another woman you direct your days next to. No, I don't want to add Sheema to your days. I need this constant presence, your presence, learning you >>>

THANK YOU
Hands without salt

Could it be that Iranians are such a helpful nation, that most of us expect others to offer help when help is needed, and that we consider it, not a favor, but indeed their duty?
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

There’s a peculiar phrase in Persian, “My hands have no salt,” which refers to having done much for others without receiving the due gratitude. This old cliché may have originated from the times when the best favor you could do others was to feed them, be it the sick, the poor, or anyone else in need of attention. But, if you forgot the salt, not only would your efforts be unappreciated, but also you might hear them complain that you are indeed a bad cook. My grandmother strongly believed that her hands had absolutely no salt and even went so far to say, “Every time I do something for others, not only is there no gratitude, but they throw stones at me,” I thought she was being melodramatic, after all, there must be someone who had shown her the appreciation she deserved. As I grew older, and in my pursuit of happiness for all, the pleasure I drew from helping others prevented me from evaluating the responses I received. In fact, if it weren’t for a comment my husband made, I might have never noticed what was missing or make the connection to my grandmother’s phrase >>>

COUSINS

Iran A.

Photo essay: Davar Ardalan's bookreading in Palo Alto takes me to Abadan
Jahanshah Javid

OPINION
Regime change -- for dummies

Why a military attack, a revolution or invasion will not cause Iranians to greet you with open arms
Tina Ehrami

Regime Change -- this term has been heavily assaulted by the neocons, thank you for putting yet another word on the politically incorrect blacklist! -- has to have some kind of acceptable and human-friendly tool. And no, in this case the saying "all means justify the goal" does not count. So an external military intervention should remain far away from our list of options. Back to the feasible tools or means to achieve political change in a human-friendly and enduring way. A lesson in Public Policy that I always find useful is: social change -- thus including political change -- is a process and not a project! Dear reader, remember what I wrote earlier about letting the words rain on you, this would be a good time to do just that. Process, NOT Project! The reason why I emphasize so much on this is nothing more than a reaction after hearing and reading these words hundreds and hundreds of times spoken/written by politically engaged Iranians: >>>

NATIONS
Color me green

I found out that 87 nations of the world have some green color in their national flag
Jeesh Daram

For decades historians and economist and political scientists have been trying to pinpoint the cause(s) of what makes some nations of the world successful in many ways and others to be struggling. One thing we know is that being a rich country does not guarantee democracy or economic success, take Iran or Saudi Arabia or Iraq as prime examples. So if wealth of a nation does not bring democracy and happiness then what does? Some believe that theocracy is the cause of a national failure while others blame geographic location and some blame foreign interference as the cause of their misery. Regardless of how true or false any of the above factors might be however none of those reasons can be taken as one major common denominator that would make such nations of the world to be categorized either as a success or failures >>>

DEMOCRACY
A matter of time

Democracy takes a very long time to be built and democracies are not necessarily supposed to be the same
Ben Madadi

The first attempts on democracy in Iran were made more than a century ago. Ever since Iran has failed to establish itself as a democracy and pro-democracy movements have been busy talking, not so much being able of anything else. Recently there were talks of Khamenei being seriously ill, or even dead. Seriously ill he may be but it turned out that dead he is not. Any eventual death of Khamenei would probably mean his swift replacement by someone else within the Islamist circles. The Islamic regime has become quite old and experienced. The regime has evolved and entered into new stages. Enemies within have been skilfully decapitated or neutralised. The Islamic regime has become able to focus almost exclusively on external threats, being confident of its internal dominance. They are not wrong >>>

CAMPAIGN
Take a stand

Against imperialist war, for Iran workers
Yassamine Mather

Irrespective of the outcome of this latest stage in the US-Iran conflict, the events of the last few days stress once more the urgency of building a principled campaign - not only against the threat of war, but in defence of Iranian workers, women, students and national minorities. Of course, in the UK, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI) is not the first campaign to oppose war against Iran, nor is it the only one acting in solidarity with the struggles of the long-suffering peoples of Iran against the theocratic regime. However, it is the only campaign stressing that these two aspects (against war, against the regime) must be inseparable parts of a single campaign. In October 2006, Action Iran, Iran Solidarity and the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII UK) merged to form a single organisation, called Campaign Iran. Totally missing from their material - as it is from Campaign Iran’s statements - is any criticism of the Islamic Republic >>>

LIFE
The dawn

In the morning, I reveal secrets to my readers, study politics of peace, and at night I read bedtime stories, kiss goodnight in one room and make love in another before solving mysteries in my dreams
Sheema Kalbasi

I am truthful to you, to my pen, to my readers. You can call these pieces part of my autobiography, a fiction, horridly remembering the past for the future, or study of self. I don't think I am leaving a scent out of my memory. You are more than an invented literary character to me. You mysterious in your soft blue are leaving an impression hard to not notice. You know, I think I have daily rendezvous with you. One that you never arrive at, one where I find my reflection winging away in the wind, one that I try to let its aromatic fragrance flow through my body when I write to you. Maybe I write not to lose my memory or when I am older and losing the memories, to look at these writings and wonder who was this great presence whose name hasn't promised of love, and my pictures, frames, home-made videos, and journals don't show his face, don't reveal his name >>>

POETRY
Father's touch

I had forgotten the way it felt to be lifted
Tara Shirani

POETRY
On the bus

The newspaper on her long green skirt, and 176 people in Iraq
Nilofar Shidmehr

POETRY
Remembering a childhood

Inspired by Moshiri’s “Soghateh Yad”
Mahsa Meshki

POETRY
Zaadeh shodam

I was born
Homayoun Abghari

POETRY
For Ona Tzar, wherever you are

I know the odds of lost to found
Tarssa Yazdani

POETRY
Marizkhaaneh

Taraaneye penhaan
Shahrokh Setoudeh Foumani

POETRY
Love police

Where is YOUR heart-belt?
Farinaz Aryanfar

POETRY
Living dead

I saw these pictures and I paused for a moment
Hedieh Sajadi

POETRY
Drifter

Flying into the sky of your mesmerizing thoughts
Reza Eslami

POETRY
This bridge

Neither direction is mine
Kathy Koupai

POETRY
You built your house

(for Mahmoud Darwish)
Roger Humes

EDUCATION

First day of school

2nd grade Persian textbook from 1960
Illustrations by Parviz Kalantari

SATIRE
U.S. turns focus to Iran missile systems
Florian Riahi

NEWS ANALYSIS: Washington DC -- The head of US Naval forces, Admiral James Glenstone acknowledged that an unusual war game with Iran exposed the vulnerability of the Patriot missile interceptors systems, claimed to be the best in the world. In a rare gesture of engagement last month, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Forces proposed to conduct a test run of Iranian Shahab missiles against the world renowned Patriot anti-missile batteries in the gulf region. After heated diplomatic debates, US agreed to conduct a non-binding indirect engagement "aimed at US show of force and lowering potential loss of human life" on the side of the Iranians as a result of a possible confrontation. US military officials confirmed that the test took place in the morning of January 8, 2007 in international waters of the Persian Gulf >>>

HERITAGE
Khadamaate Eslam beh Iran?

Most Iranians are Muslim. But being Iranian is more than that.
Esmail Nooriala

LIFE
Intimacy in the universe

They wanted to see him dream a little
Siamak Vossoughi

Three generations of women sat him down and with a concern on their faces that could only come from being women and from caring a lot about love, told him that he was going to have to pay attention to the possibility of intimacy. The way he was going, he was not leaving any room for that. A woman was going to want him to share of himself. He was a young man, they told him, and he ought to be in the middle of it, in the middle of all the things he could do only when he was young. He could see the young man they were talking about, and he wanted to tell them that he also liked him. He had a very soft spot for him, and he was sure that whatever young woman he was in the middle of it with liked him very much and that their time together was meaningful. He wanted to tell them that he was looking at that young man and young woman from high above >>>

SIDE EFECTS
I'm not making this up

Let’s look at few common medications and their side effects
Sholeh Ja

Working in health care and pharmaceutical environment for over 2 decades, listening to the commercials about new drugs and medications, I wonder if these new drugs are beneficial or more harmful to human body. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a physician but I have enough common sense to analyze the effects and side effects. Just look at TV commercials and you be the judge. Oh yes, if you think I am making these up, just log into drugs.com and see for your self. Now and days people are caught in the middle. Should they stay with old remedies and have a life span of 40 or should they take these medications and deal with more problems? So the question is: To take or not to take? >>>

VISITOR
The Requiem

I find myself in my old neighborhood, in front of the old house
Shahriar Zahedi

As the plane makes its approach toward Mehrabad I realize I have no feelings what so ever, at least not on a conscious level. There's nobody waiting for me here, nobody I want to see. Tehran smells of petroleum and earth, dry earth. It's early in the morning and as the taxi drives me to my destination, I look at the empty streets and read the store signs and billboards. Sweepers in their Gitmo-colored uniforms spread the street dust into the air with their long brooms. The driver looks tired. Fortunately he is quiet too. No curiosity as to where I'm coming from, and how long I've been there, or other bullshit like that. Thank God >>>

MARTYRS

Eyes of Shohada

Photo essay
Reza Mazaheri

LIFE

Forbidden love is in the air

Poem & photo essay: London sky
Parima Shahin Moghaddam

WARMONGERING
Like a gorgeous woman

Using the same illegal tactics to justify a war against Iran
Sanaz K

Has anyone told you or Bush that it's the year 2007? And that with this course of action we are only taking steps backwards on our evolutionary path and regressing? If you are so patriotic about this lovely country then you should respect and maintain what the forefathers of this country implemented by sacrificing their lives for you and your God-fearing yet war-promoting clique to live in, with freedom. But know this, by reading your rhetoric you have brought many Iranians closer. In fact, I thank you, as you have enlightened us as to what your people think, this gives us more reason to unite and unity is something that we as Iranians lack. See? We try to learn and better ourselves from each experience. To counter the inactivity of brains like yours, we will use our peaceful method of communication through the web considering we don't have a true voice in the mainstream media still >>>

LIFE
All too soon

You walk and my feet hurt
Sheema Kalbasi

Do you think I will lose interest in you? Or you will have enough of me writing our story, enough of my sensualist mind? The truth is I don't want to keep you, or my love for your incredible presence will turn into an obsession or will fade away. You consist of three things to me, soul, clarity, and dry skin and I to you am an average, in the form of an effectively stereotyped Middle Eastern woman. You don't realize when I turned fifteen my purity of conduct abounded me like my region. Emotional attachment to me is like an unsuspecting mating selection in the streets of Tehran. I choose you. I study you because you have wounded my poetry, a subject that had brought the most charge and energy into my life. Now you are my subject and I encourage you into my intellectual pursuit, and into shaping, forming as many types of clay as I want. You haven't fathered my child. I can leave you, or love you on my terms without hesitation >>>

IRANICONS
Sit and have a shot of vodka

You present yourself as a proud Iranian, yet you parrot the same kind of hateful and racist rhetoric that comes from the likes of Pat Robertson and Daniel Pipes
Maziar Shirazi

You actually have the nerve to identify yourself as someone who has “been writing and speaking out for the struggling people... of Iran”, and in the same breath, you recommend the “effective inculcation of a religious software” for the majority of Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world. I find it funny (and frightening) that you say that, because this ‘solution’ that you are endorsing isn’t all that different from the efforts of the mullahs you denounce, or the fascists and Nazis of Europe, or the assholes currently in power in the US, for that matter. The Islamic Republic has been attempting to create model Muslim citizens for the past few decades with the educational system, and unless kilid parties and the hymen reconstruction industry are signs of progress, then the children of the Revolution haven’t quite had all components of that religious software installed yet. The unashamed lack of subtlety in your hypocrisy genuinely impresses me >>>

TRAVELERS

Paradise

Photo essay
Fereshteh Saheli

DISCRIMINATION
Chizi ke avaz daareh geleh nadaareh
Faramarz Fateh

As I was looking at a cartoon by Hossein Hajiagha titled "Born Muslim, living in North America" I could not help but to remember comments and complaints from a bunch of Muslim Iranians living in Los Angeles. I had the misfortune of being born in a Muslim family. But since moving to the States, I at least can declare myself a non Muslim who only believes in God and tries to be a decent human. There is no question that there is overt and covert racism at play against people of Middle Eastern origins, Muslims, Arabs and Iranians in the U.S. However, this racism and its effects are minimal... I am married to a Bahai. Her dad was put in prison for 12 years because he was a Bahai. He died a week or so after he was released from jail. His entire body had badly healed flesh wounds due to severe beatings while in jail >>>

VISITOR
I went back to Tehran after 9 years

The moment we entered Mamani's (Grandma's) place we smelled our childhood
Bita Ria

Hello to my darling Torben, I've written you a very long email, because I was so excited and it everything is so different from Melbourne. Here everything is pretty much the same. Fashion is the same if not more advanced. I really like the hairstyles here. The young people look really good. I see couples hand in hand, some hugging and touching each other on the train. Nine years ago you couldn't do any of this without getting harassed by morality police on the streets. Technology is also advanced. Everyone is got the latest mobile phone, even my grandpa's phone is better than mine! Sometimes I feel out of place here -- actually a lot of the time. I feel like a tourist, it doesn't really feel like home. I can see myself coming here and visiting every year or so but not living. I always say to Miss N and parents that we could have a lot of fun together here. I would be safe with you and we would go exploring the country together >>>

DREAMLAND
The end of Atal Matal?

The World of Atal Matal drifts in the aroma of rice fields, clouds in the sky of very young dreams, and the endlessness of unconditional love – even if only momentary
Bahar Mirhosseini

In the World of Atal Matal, there are no wars, bombs, prisons, or disease.  There are rules that govern the game, but there is neither anarchy nor police.  Atal Matal is a borderland, between a riddle of make-believe and a ready-to-play row of legs and feet.  There are neither passports nor checkpoints.  Entry requires neither state authorization nor monetary compensation.  The World of Atal Matal stretches across the earth’s continents, serenades the moon innocently, and spills into the Caspian Sea.  Atal Matal lives and breathes in the pockets of Diaspora hiding under mounds of Swiss and Gouda cheese, valleys of grape leaves, and barrels of fermented barley.  It seeks cover under Hollywood’s hills, on New York’s city streets, and in the shade of Abadan’s date trees.  Atal Matal finds joy in a Park of Tulips, the taste of Kerman’s fresh ice cream, and in the bazaar of ancient cities.  Atal Matal lives in homes of satellite T.V. and freshly boiled leaves of tea.  Atal Matal is wrapped in newspapers around fresh sabzi, a cream puff pastry, the sound of cows in the morning >>>

ESSPELLING
Anti-Western worshippers of the West
Nahid Shafiei

Your quiz question on misspelled words at Tehran airport reminded me of all the misspelled words that you see everywhere in Tehran, on store signs, cars, billboards, even on banners when they are demonstrating (and they are university students!)... I think (for whatever my two cents is worth!) this stems from that wonderful "ostentatious" and "pretentious" Iranian characteristic (see I am doing it right now with my choice of words, I want to show off my knowledge of English!!!!). The other reason is the other wonderful Iranian characteristic of "westoxication" or "gharb zadegi" as Jalal-e Al-e Ahmad put it. They HAVE to show off that they know English because knowing Enligh means you are "modern" and "civilized"!!!! We keep saying we are proud of our language and heritage and yet we have always been "gharb parast", even at the peak of our nationalistic and Islamic revivals and revolutions >>>

POETRY
My mother told me... ...

"Among all flowers, pick the white lily," but...
Farhad Zaltash

POETRY
From the turquoise depth of despair

I don't want my home burned to the ground
Jam Hamidi

POETRY
Misoozad

I don't know why I feel sorry for Saddam
Nilofar Shidmehr

ART

In praise of purple
Paintings
Azadeh Azad

IRAN
Wobbly mosaics

Ethnicity and crisis of identity
Majid KhosraviNik

Quite predictably, in recent years after a long history of mainly two authoritarian systems of Pahlavi shahs and the current Islamic theocracy and the historical processes of the society in moving from a strictly rural, uneducated population to mainly urbanised, educated one the diversity and disharmonious nature of the ‘Iranian Identity’ is becoming increasingly salient in social and political make up of the society inside and outside Iran. Decades of one-dimensional and intrinsically suppressive grand policies imposed on the diverse groups of Iranian society and the hegemonic central government rule in promoting a unique “identity” devoid of any room for any multicultural models, has not become the main source of discontent and protest in various levels of society in Iran >>>

OPINION
Mistaken insanity

The U.S. may not win in Iraq, but the Mullahs are making a great mistake by believing that it will vacate the region for them to rule
Amil Imani

When people hear the word "insanity," they conjure up the image of someone out of touch with reality and out of control; a dysfunctional person fit to be tied. Yet, insanity comes in numerous types as well as degrees. It is also widely prevalent in groups, even in nations as a whole. One common and troubling form of insanity is, "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," warned Albert Einstein. When individuals make mistakes, the consequences are limited. But when nations make mistakes, the results can be catastrophic. It is disheartening to see the world's best hope for freedom and democracy, the United States of America, repeatedly making the same mistake at crucial junctures. Once again, America is at a critical point and facing troubles in several hotspots of the world >>>

RELIGION
Holy problems

Differences or contradictions in the Koran, nevertheless, reveal the doubt on the divine origin of Holy Books
Jahanshah Rashidian

Islam, as a social order, is what distinguishes reality from other religions. In this article, considering Islam as a functional political system, I propose a democratic discussion about its authenticity and divinity, as expected by many secular Iranians. Islam is a composite of beliefs and traditions from divergent monotheist prophets, of those who would teach the belief in God. But Muhammad, in his further career, abandoned spiritual teachings. He demanded social and moral principles with strict adherence to certain religious practices. To see how Islam grew into such a politically and socially important phenomenon, let us take an unbiased look on the development of Islam, initially alleged as a religion >>>

ART

Pride & prejudice

Paintings
Mashallah Mohammadi

LIFE
A Friday in Zahir-od-doleh

Just for a brief break from our daily reality shows!
Behzad Alvai

One of the attractions in Tehran is Bagh eh "Zahir-od-doleh". He was a Prince of Ghajars! -- who wasn't? -- Anyway, apparently this Prince was indeed married to a daughter of Nasser eddin Shah. Then he became a "Darvish", and followed a Morshed of his time (I forget the name). After his Morshed's passing away, I think the Prince became a Morshed to his fellowship. But all that aside, (again I think) his Morshed was burried in one of his properties, situated north of Tehran, just minutes from Darband, is the lot that is subject of our story. It is called Bagh eh Zahir-od-doleh. To get there, you follow Darband Road from Maydoon eh Shemroon (Now called Ghodss, not Tajrish which is still called the same) towards Darband. About one (1) KM from Maydoon, there is a Zahir-od-doleh (Khiyaboon? Koocheh?), where you turn Right. The second lot to your left will be Bagh eh Zahir-od-doleh (with no more than about 50-60 trees) >>>

LIFE
Clues
Hooman Golshan

it was three in the morning... he was still awake, staring up at the ceiling... as always he was deep in thought, thinking about her... they had been writing to each other for over five years now... five years... a very long time.... he was thinking back to how it all starte.... he would sometimes go to a little secluded coffee-shop... a little hole in the wall tucked away securely by the beachfront... it had a live-let-live atmosphere... you saw all types there... students, yuppies, shipwrecked youth, older men, homeless people... everyone... they all came there to let down their guard, and let the masks fall from their faces... if only for a short while... on that fateful day, he ordered the usual... a mocha with no whipped cream... >>>

FILM
Cold warish
Leslie Lyshkov

When I saw a trailer for Warner Brother's movie "300", I was curious to see how Iranian-Americans would react to it. Much of what Siamack Baniameri says of the trailer, I agree too, although I have no doubt that the battle of Thermopylae did occur because the Greek historian Herodotus documented it soon after it was fought. Much of propaganda of the first "Spartan 300" film will remain in the newer remake. This time though the Persian horde need not serve as a metaphor for the Russian horde; this time there can be a literal Persian horde without the metaphor. What is most disturbing about "The 300 Spartans" though was not the foreign horde. The comic book bravery and strength of the "300" Spartans will prove to be more than a match for the horde. What in the end will defeat the "300" will be those Greeks who attempt to negotiate and compromise with the horde. It is they and not the foreigners who are "300's" true villains >>>

IRAQ
Commander in grief
Hussein Sharifi

I saw a broken, failed, and defeated commander-in-chief on Wednesday night on TV. I saw President Bush's "troop surge" speech in Iraq on Wednesday on television. I carefully watched his moves and gestures and listened to his half an hour address to the American people. I really was shocked at the end. I had never seen President Bush in such a pathetic and miserable state. There are reports in medical journals that he has been taking tranquilizers during the day and sleeping pills at night over the last few months. I told my wife perhaps he has missed a few pills, but later I thought it must be more than that >>>

ART

Head games

Paintings
Davar Yousefi

GUEST
The dogs went nuts

I went to see what all the commotion was about
Fereshteh Saheli

LIFE
Everyday

When will you arrive at my door?
Sheema Kalbasi

Am I physical to you? Undeniably I am. I am a woman. Everything in my eternal existence is physical. I have been born of a woman. A woman who was born of a woman, women that have been physical in order to survive the obstacles of history, race, religion, migrations, and men. I am physical because I am fervent about life, and want to live. After all no one has ever returned to tell me there is a life after life. I want you to write to me everyday. Everyday so that I know you still are questioning me, a woman who wants to be the subject of your writings, writings that drive me into a rapturous journey. I love every inch of your truth. Sometimes I think I wouldn't be here if it weren't for reading you, drinking your words. You maybe are my Tao of Tantra >>>

LIFE
Touched by an angel

It was just like a new rider on a stallion insisting to obey his former jockey
Cameron Batmanghlich

The silky -- soft, pearl white feathers of the giant angel, arranged in a way not letting the slightest volume of air through, took the little child to the border of suffocation in hugging him; erasing the destiny's map hidden deep inside of his soul showing the path of his life, without leaving the slightest trace. The direct transmission of life -- power from the angel's wings to the little boy's being, giving him a new life and destiny, marked him forever. Having already been on this earth for a few years, the new life, the new divine energy, felt like a heavy meal on his being, in need of time to be digested and absorbed. From the point of receiving the new life, the little boy's original life and destiny began to fade away bit by bit, making room for the new life given to him through the touch of the angel's wings >>>

DAUGHTER
My mad mum

What if my mum was to be the next president of Iran?
Bita Ria

I’ve thought this many times, what if my mum was to be the next president of Iran? Then again I bite my tongue and thank God that she is as far away as she can be from politics and political decisions that are made for the future of Iran. If my mum was to be the next president of Iran, Iran would definitely be in a more serious condition than it is now. She would arrest anyone who didn’t agree with her, if someone complained about her, they would definitely get prosecuted and if they spoke up to defend their rights they would be hung or exiled. The first thing she would do would be to make her religion the compulsory or the religion that is given priority in Iran. Of course her faith is respectable but she would force people into converting and all sorts of things we have so far seen from the Islamic Republic >>>

TANZ
Pompous Persian

Can you imagine where Aryans would have been if there were no Turkic occupiers? Just kidding.
Ben Madadi

There is a problem with the Turks in Iran. They have always been a problem for a very long time. They have ruled over Persians and other pure Aryans with no shame for such a long time. They have separated the Persian people. Persians have been separated into Western Persians, in Iran, and Eastern Persians, in Afghanistan, because some Turks, specifically Shah Ismail Ardebili and his Qizilbash followers, made the western ones Shia and left the eastern ones Sunni. Turks have tainted the pure Aryan race of the Aryan land, Iran (Aarian), by mixing with them, taking their women, turning blue blood into blue-grayish Mongolish-Asiatic blood. Turks have also converted so many of the Aryans making the Aryan land into a partially Aryan land. How can a proud Aryan tolerate this? >>>

WAR
Attack on Iran is inevitable
Faramarz Fateh

An attack on Iran, by U.S. or Israel is inevitable. It may happen tomorrow, in October of this year or sometime next year. One thing is certain; the attack will happen before Bush leaves office. Combination of impending U.N. sanctions and an outright military attack on Iran will further devastate the condition of Iranian people. No matter where the attack is launched from, Iran will retaliate by firing missiles towards Israel and you can envisage the rest. A lot of dead Iranians, a fully collapsed economy and basically another decade or so of misery for majority of Iran's 70 million people. What would be the effect on us Iranians living in the U.S. The minor effect is a big jump in the price of gas, inflation and surge in unemployment. And guess what, if your boss needs to layoff an employee, the Iranian employee is the first to go because when the U.S. is at war with Iran, most American would not give a damn about you >>>

FILM
The Spartans are coming... to a theater near you
Siamack Baniameri

On March 9th 2007, Warner Brothers will screen "300" in a theater near you. "300" is based on epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City) about ancient battle of Thermopylae in which 300 Spartans fought to death against Xerxes and his million-man-army. "300" depicts King Xerxes as a fat homosexual and Persians as deformed and stupid monsters similar to what the Orcs looked like in "The Lord of the Rings". Spartans on the other hand are revealed as rocket scientists trapped in bodies of Greek gods with comic book bravery and constant worry of losing their beloved and hard-earned "freedom and democracy" to the damn Middle Easterners >>>

ZILLIONS OF LETTERS
I can hear God saying to America, "You're too arrogant!"

In response to Jason King's "Letter from America": You are absolutely right Iranians like everyone else in the world want to live in peace and harmony. However, I find it most appropriate to respond to your article by quoting one of the greatest men of our time, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. 'Ye shall know the truth,' says Jesus, 'and the truth shall set you free.'" This seems quite applicable to you sir, and the President of this country, and the rest of the warmongers who are pressing for greater violence and expansion of war into Iran and Syria >>>
LETTERS PART (3) (2) (1)

COMEDIAN
Too much to ask?

With the politest objection to Pedram Moallemian's recent review with Maz Jobrani, "The Iranian knight"
Bruce Bahmani

Through his brilliant and dedicated efforts behind the "Axis of Evil" comedy tours, and the latest incarnation "The Sultans of Satire", Maz Jobrani has been the brightly shining and hilarious beacon for, to use marketing terminology, "educating and informing the target audience of the benefits, features, and value of our brand." That's the "It" he brings. As I am a fan of Maz, you can start to see the dilemma forming. Wednesdays, around 9pm, on ABC, the new show, "The Knights of Prosperity" has cast yet another shadow through what I am calling the retarded mis-placement of the stereotypical "quirky Indian fellow", using of all people Maz! So allow me to let you get this straight >>>

MOMENTS
Momentary philosopher
Rana Rabei

The secret to invincibility lies in the moment. Life in its entirety is unarguably limited. It comes with an expiration date, today a digital timer, yesterday an hour glass. A moment, like the distance between two points is infinite. You can fit a happily ever after inside each little increment. Segmentation is nature's way of maximizing the use of its resources. A moment is undefined, it is up to your nature to make one last a life-time or live a billion infinities up to your death. The best is when moments overlap. In those transitory times where infinite dimensions of possibilities merge into one reality; you can burn a lot of calories by weighting your options. And if our ultimate goal is essentially to eventually fall into everlasting sleep; I suggest we tire ourselves out with life, so we can have an effortless death

TRAVELERS

A family affair

Photo essay: Spending time with family during Iran visit
Sheila Dadvar

BLUE
That morning
Sheema Kalbasi

I write to you so that you will not leave, so that maybe you will find a way to return, so that perhaps becomes reality. That morning you left at dawn, I was awake, I didn't stop you. I was exhausted beyond words. I asked you to leave, and you left forever. I didn't know I would miss you, that I would wait for your return at 4:30 every afternoon, that you would not return and I would not come to seek. I still have the ring you bought me. The ring you put on my finger to hope in blue >>>

POINT
Reading Bush

The U.S. has declared war
Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Mr. Bush is calling to his friends in the region, all of whom happen to be ruled by dictators, to cooperate in the war against Iran, the next war he has planned for the region. The stability of Iraq has never been his concern, nor the death of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Did he have these thoughts as the Mother Of All Bombs (MOAB) were sent to Iraq as part of the arsenal? Iraqis are irrelevant. Mr. Bush now needs the cooperation of Saudi Arabia. A country which due to its authoritarian rule and relationship with the United States gave birth to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden’s hatred of the West. Is Mr. Bush’s love of Saudi Arabia simply the oil or is it the fact that the Sunni insurgents killing American soldiers, the al- Qaeda network that is spread over 60 countries, stemmed from Saudi Arabia and need to be controlled by Mr. Bush’s Saudi allies? Maybe it is their hatred of and rivalry with Iranians or simply it’s their fondness of democracy! >>>

SANCTIONS
Spreading a sheer fallacy

Portraying Iran as a threat and the duplicity of the UN Security Council
Ardeshir Ommani

As if all those restrictions were not enough, the U.S. plans for strangulation of Iran go far beyond the formal decisions of the UN Security Council. Immediately after the Council’s votes, U.S. Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns impatiently said, “We’re certainly not going to put all our eggs in the UN basket ... We’d like to see countries stop doing business as usual with Iran ... We would like countries to stop selling arms to Iran. We would like countries to try to limit export credits to Iran.” On a self-congratulatory note, he boasted that the U.S. already has in place “full-scope sanctions on Iran in every conceivable area” since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Finally, Mr. Burns showed his hand and clearly stated that the United States’ differences with Iran go far beyond its nuclear issue >>>

SECTARIAN
Sokhanaane tafraghe-angize Khamenei

Sectarian intonations of Khamenei's call for Moslem unity
Esmail Nooriala

POETRY
Civility

I value diversity and dissent
Sasan Seifikar

TENDER
A day
Sheema Kalbasi

Night arrives, sun rises, and we live the sealed envelope. Snow flocks but then spring drives the reaming sighs to their tender homes. Your coast has brought grace to the mute words of the present and the future. It is unfortunate that I can't visit your heart, and you can't visit mine. You are not my known place of peace. You make me nervous beyond words. You may think I am a rebellion against my own kind, the poets. That I find loneliness in poetry and I reach an existence in your words. What you don't know is you are glazing on my day-end and you are through me teaching me a new fate. You are the evening delight, the star's twilight, and through you I discover a new language to understand the world. You relieve me to want to relive the pain and to come to know your inspirations that now spread in my soul >>>

PHOTOGRAPHY

Timeless portraits

19th century Iran photographs
Antoin Sevruguin

FILM
The good (domestic) woman

In Kambuzia Partovi's "Café Transit", feminism lies in his expanding the traditional concept of home, not in expanding the traditional concept of woman
Ari Siletz

Having already won best screenplay at Iran's Fajr Film Festival, Café Transit is now that country's official entry for the Oscars. How did director/screenwriter Kambuzia Partovi go from having his works banned in Iran to becoming the artistic pride of his country? The answer is that Café Transit is cleverly written so that its domestic message says one thing while its foreign message says the opposite. The Western audience sees a romance between a sensuously forthright European truck driver and an enterprising Iranian widow. We are heartbroken as their love is made impossible by a nightmarish, apparently Islamic custom. Native Iranian audiences, on the other hand, know that the practice of widows having to marry their dead husband's brother isn't particularly Islamic or Iranian >>>

THREATS
Letter from America

We the American people will stop at nothing to stop madmen from obtaining nuclear weapons
Jason King

I know most Iranians are like everyone else in the world.  They just want to raise a family and live in peace.  It is the small percentage of radicals in Iran that will cause all the hardships to the normal citizens.  God gives all humans the free will to choose which god they serve even if it is not him.  Only God will judge each and every person that has ever lived.  Although no one likes war, I believe it is just. I will pray for the innocent Iranians as the US takes care of individuals, organizations and countries that support terrorism.  President Bush has warned Iran and Syria and I hope they do not take his threats lightly.  Ask Saddam Hussein what happens when you do that.  War in Iran would be a bloodbath for all involved, but don't ever underestimate the will of the American people.  Some may not agree with the government and the war, but one thing is for sure.  If you mess with our country, you will live to regret it >>>

DEATH PENALITY
Aspiring to higher moral standards

Is capital punishment justified?
Babak Eskandari

The execution of Saddam Hussein on Saturday, December 30th, 2006, once again brings to light the old debate about the effectiveness of capital punishment. The reasons why he was executed in such haste and the secrets he might have taken to grave is the subject of another article. But is capital punishment an effective tool and is it a moral approach in deterring crime? Advocates of capital punishment argue that by executing criminals others will think twice about committing the same crime. That it can be a public lesson in the consequences for violent or immoral behavior.   Hence the extreme example of public executions in some countries around the world. But, is it effective? Many reports by international organizations such as the United Nations, Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Watch have indicated that in countries such China or the United States, crime rates have not been affected by capital punishment whether the executions were public or not >>>

PARENTING
Vive la difference

Iranians are loving parents, but love has nothing to do with spanking
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

My American friend and I are talking about kids. She’s upset over her son’s body piercing and is shocked to hear me mention the value of good spanking. “I’ve never raised a hand to him,” she says. “That would be a violation of his rights.” “I’ve heard of that,” I say, but am unable to sympathize. “My daughter tells me none of her friends have experienced physical punishment, either.” Now, there’s the mother of all cultural shocks! Since when did parenthood and spanking stop going hand in hand? You mean to tell me there are parents who’ve never even slapped a kid, not to mention beating the hell out of him? Next we’re going to be told kids have a right to select their careers, move out before being married, and choose just whom they’re going to marry! I’m telling you, the world is indeed coming to an end >>>

IDEAS
Kolonializm va Imperializm

To achieve peace and security, people have no choice but to confront colonialism and imperialism
Houshang Pirnazar

FASHION

East kisses West

New York City's underground fashion scene and Iran's young movie stars
Nima Behnoud

IDEAS
Dar setaayeshe tanhaaie

In praise of solitude
Peyman Vahabzadeh

USA
A new nation

Something seems missing both in internal and foreign policy of the Bush government
Seed Shirazi

How can the United States of America who upholds fundamental values such as pursuit of happiness and individualism be entangled with killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis inside their country? Wasn't The United States built entirely on the solid plateau of equality of man and free market? The confederate United States was born in recent history through the mighty power of the American people. It all began after October 12, 1492 when Christopher Columbus accidentally landed on the Caribbean island of San Salvador. His plan was to reach the Indies and to bring into Europe the spices of the Indies and also help his sponsors’ wish of converting these new people into Christianity >>>

POETRY
Morality

Try to do good
Kathy Koupai

STREAM
Eternity
Sheema Kalbasi

Knowing you, the keel-man who slides against time and doesn't keep his promise of return, where will the river take me? Will there be a draft, necklaces made of leaves, benders and bows, realms of virgin rocks, or these waves are the awakening before merging with a stream, surrounded by the highlands to form a lake, or perhaps flow into an ocean? Everything about you makes me conscious. You withhold, vanish, gasp, appear then disappear. Let me hold your hand. Spirits understand thirst. Dreams pave out shadows and nature is taking away my veil. Vanity, and dignity are the source of every unity. Upon your hands I deliver the mist. Sip >>>

SATIRE
Google God

Google proves the importance of working
Bruce Bahmani

Google was recently named the top company to work for in the US. Most of the news Google released in order to emphasize this by releasing this news, has emphasized this. Google makes one thing that it charges money for, namely that tiny Google text ad that you are ignoring while you are reading this fake news story. As a result and apparently, most of the employees at Google don't actually do anything, hopefully and including getting the attempt at satire here. While the actual contribution of Google employees towards keeping Google the juggernaut it has become, or exactly what makes the company so successful, is largely unknown, it hasn't stopped the company from continually hiring more and more people, who in turn do not know what Google does. Thereby ensuring it's continued success >>>

COMEDIAN
The Iranian knight

Our very own Maz Jobrani stars in a new national network sitcom
Pedram Moallemian

Last July 23rd, a friend asked us to join him at a party in a trendy West Hollywood restaurant. Since we had already committed to another event, I apologized. But then he said that it was a Good-Bye Party for Maz Jobrani. Good-Bye Party? Oh No! Where is he going? In our own small universe, we had just “discovered” the man and even exchanged pleasantries about our common hairstylist at a couple of events. Now he’s leaving? Fast forward to last Wednesday and we are invited by Namak magazine to a semi-private party organized by Maz’ agent Ray Moheet to watch the premier of the new sitcom, now called The Knights of Prosperity with two of the show’s stars Kevin Michael Richardson and Maz Jobrani in attendance >>>

TRAVELERS

Island hopping

Photo essay: The expanse of sky is almost heart-stopping. The expanse of ocean stops it.
Fereshteh Saheli

TRAVELERS

For better or worse

Photo essay: Yazd
Afshin Deyhimpanah

MUSEUMS

Home sweet home

Photo essay & video clips: Visiting the Guggenheim and MoMA in New York City
Jahanshah Javid

FICTION
Conversation in the park

Short story
Saeed Tavakkol

The entire week I worried about the tasks I planned to do on my day off, Friday. Chores I’d postponed for months. The gutter was falling off the wall, letting rain to seep under the foundation. The worse were our lack luster antique dining chairs. I’d already bought sandpaper, a paintbrush, thinner and varnish to tackle them. And Friday was the assigned day. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything. I debated which was more urgent, the gutter or the chairs? A broken gutter could cost us dearly as the rainy season was approaching. I even tried to clear my head by doing a crossword puzzle but the name of Napoleon’s lover crashed my hope all together. The entire morning wasted! All I had done was smoke and monitor the time >>>

STORY
Enshallah

As I pulled the scarf back on my head, I felt the black and bleak circumstances once again cover me from the outside in
Mahtab Gibbs

The day after I graduated from New York University, I decided I would go to Iran. I wasn't sure exactly how I would pay for the ticket, nor of the logistics involved in getting my passport, but I knew that I wanted to go visit the land where I was born. I called my father and asked him what to do. He informed me that I had to go to Washington DC and get a passport there. We no longer had an American embassy, for obvious reasons, but the Islamic Republic had established a small office within the Embassy of Pakistan. So on a Tuesday evening, I loaded up my rental car and drove the four hours from New York to Washington DC. I arrived outside the embassy at midnight. I had three hours to go before they opened the doors to give out numbers -- then we'd have to line up at six a.m. to wait our turns. It was a nasty process, but I was well-prepared. I had my hijab in my knapsack and all my papers indicating that I would be traveling to visit my aunt and to do a bit of writing >>>

SELF
The only age
Sheema Kalbasi

I had an incident yesterday. I was a pulse away but I pass through these senses without strangeness. I like familiarity. Having a bite from a green apple, a cup that I have bought in Musée olympique de Lausanne for limiting the pen and pencils on my desk, or a plant that was my mother's. To have a cold shower, a conditioner to smoothen out the hair, or when you touch my hair to smell it unpredictably. To hear your voice, the laughter, and my heart each time recognizing its weakness. The pleasure is worth a life view >>>

FILM
Beh bahaaneye "Atashbas"

Tahmineh Milani's "Cease-Fire" is is riddled with cliches
Afsaneh Najmabadi

TRAVELERS

The royal shack

Photo essay: Niavaran Palace
Afshin Deyhimpanah

ADVICE
Take control of your future

Women and retirement
Bianca Zahrai

I have known Bita and Afshin for over twenty years. We all went to high school together. Bita and Afshin were childhood friends and started dating in high school. They went to college together and got married shortly after graduation. The other day though, I got an email from Bita telling me that she and Afshin are getting a divorce and it’s anything but amiable. There are many issues of contention, among which is Afshin’s retirement accounts. Although equally educated, because of their children, the couple had decided from the onset that they could live on Afshin’s salary alone. Bita’s email got me thinking, how many other couples out there are going through this exact same thing,  and that got me thinking about writing this article. After all, how many of us generation “X-ers”, “Y-ers”, both better known as the  “Boomerang” generation are even thinking about retirement?  >>>

MIDDLE EAST
Jurasic Park

The horrific extent of Shia-Sunni brutality is evidence of the opening of historic rifts
Esmail Nooriala

OUR IMAGE
Mutual respect

We are loosing to the Western media that continuously portray us as their bad “others”
Farid Adibhashemi

A few days ago while I was helping an elderly American lady in a drug store in a wealthy city in the United States, she asked me “where did you get this German accent?” I replied “In Germany!” However, her surprised facial expressions were telling me that “this black hair and dark skin can’t be from Germany?” I immediately corrected myself and said: “Mam, I was kidding, I’m an Iranian”. She said: “Iran ... You should say Persian instead; Iran is not good these days”. And when I explained that Iranians are good people and Iran is a good country with a very rich culture and ancient history, she replied: “I know that Iranians are good people ... I have some Persian Rugs in my home ... but they have bad leaders!” Well, we know that the “image war” between the East and the West has a long history that has contributed to the concept of “us” versus “them” >>>

SADDAM
Common fallacy
Sara Z.

I hate to be the one to stop the show but let's quit wishful thinking. The truth is this is not how dictators end, not at least in the last few centuries and certainly not in the Middle East. The majority of dictators have died in peace. More than often they have died in bed with enough care and medicine provided so they have a painless departure. Dictators have had access to the best medical facilities provided by western governments and have had enough financial resources to but any expensive service. In fact, all things considered more than often, this is the ending for democrat and non-dictator leaders ruling in Middle East. I can't think of a single democrat leader in Middle East who has had a happy life >>>

SADDAM
Revenge does not mean justice

Iraqi Shias took their first major step NOT toward a future of tolerance or justice, but toward vengeance and brutality
Ben Madadi

The execution of Saddam was one pf the most disturbing videos I had ever seen in my life. It was so disturbing I felt almost like losing my balance and vomiting. Maybe I am just a more sensitive type of person, but that was how I felt. Is this the justice the Iraqi people longed for while Saddam was in power? As far as I know they didn't need to get rid of his regime to have this sort of justice. The only thing that seems to have changed is that Sunni justice has turned Shia justice. Saddam's regime used to have executions just like the one Saddam himself suffered. Did he deserve it? This execution was not about what Saddam, the man, deserved. I think death was what Saddam was praying for, just second to a miracle to escape. Saddam would have suffered far more if he had stayed in prison for life. Afterall unless there was hell waiting for Saddam in afterlife there was hell lived by Saddam in life. And if there is no hell in afterlife, or there is no afterlife, then the conclusion is that Saddam actually evaded a living hell. He just got away >>>

CLEFT LIP
Chance to smile

Let these children’s suffering touch your heart; help us help them
Masoud Saman

Normally, long before a child is born, the right and left sides of the lip and the roof of the mouth fuse. Occasionally, those sections do not completely come together. In such cases, the child is born with a disconnection in the upper lip called a Cleft Lip. A related congenital defect in the palate is referred to as Cleft Palate. Since the development of lip and the palate are separate entities, some children can develop, or mal-develop, with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or variations of both. One out of every 700 child is born with a cleft. In addition to the facial deformities, early in life these children have to deal with many psychosocial issues such as social anxiety, loneliness, depression, and alienation from their peers >>>

POETRY
Rambrandt

Noor kam ast
Mahasti Shahrokhi

TEEN

Seema's room

Photo essay: An Iranian-American teenager's room in Santa Monica, southern California
Jahanshah Javid

NUCLEAR
Media deception and the coming nuclear holocaust
Daniel M Pourkesali

Forty five years ago in October 1962, people watched in horror as the superpowers went to the brink of a global nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the Soviets attempted to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, to match U.S. deployments in Europe near the Soviet border. What followed next was nearly 30 years of constant fear of a nuclear holocaust. But 15 years after the fall of the Soviet Union the threat of a new nuclear disaster still remains. The recent report by the Sunday Times that 'Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons' may have come as little surprise to those closely following these reports first hint of which surfaced during an MSNBC Interview with U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney in January 2005 when he literally gave U.S. approval of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran: >>>

VELAYATE FAGHIH
The face of moderation?
Shahriar Azadmanesh

Now that the UN Scurity Counsel has unanimously passed resolution 1737 to sanction Iran, the "moderate" sect of the IRI is becoming prominent again and talking about defusing tensions by putting on hold, Uranium enrichment. This crafty game of cat and mouse has deceived the world previously and will undoubtedly manage to win more longevity for the Islamic Republic. But in the end, as long as the governing body is under the dictates and mandates of one man with the dogma and the religious mindset of a medieval tyrant, then any rejoicing in the so called elections, or the moderate appearance of the serving body, is the false and compromising feeling of safety that the proverbial servant felt, sitting on the ledge >>>

RESOLUTIONS
All set for 2007
Jeesh Daram

Recall the nostalgia of homeland, when Christmas was only an Armenian celebration and the rest of us were just distant admirers of the glittering decorations on the shop windows in downtown Tehran? All things considered I like the way the communists give each other New Year gifts -- everyone gives a roll of toilet tissue and receives one. They, however, express their emotions by the choice of color, some give white, some blue and some with flowers printed on the roll. Simple and utilitarian, nobody has to get up and go to the mall to return some of the stupid gifts hoping to get some cash in exchange. As for the returning items, I think Costco will eventually discontinue the leniency on their return policy, because most Iranians think that Costco is only there so that they buy items and return in six months with their innocent look saying "Eye espeek wery wery leetle Ingeeleesh!" while I know for fact that most of them hold at least a doctorate degree in something >>>

NEIGHBORHOOD

And life goes on

Photo essay: Taking a walk in Tehran's Niavaran district
Fathali Ghahremani Ghajar

ME
Sheitoon bala

I am still as mischievous and naughty
Azam Nemati

I have been fortunate because writing for the site has brought me in contact with some people who knew of me or where my acquaintances in my younger days. Being the incurably romantic I am always looking for someone or something which reminds me of my life as a young, rebellious and in everyone's face female. Hearing from these people that "you have not changed" lights up my heart and I am reminded that I may have packed over 60 pounds and have acquired wrinkles and some of the "middle-age" characteristics but the spirit is still that of Soulmaz (flower that does not wither) vividly remember that in 2003 I got an e-mail from someone who had grown up in Khormahsar and played on the basketball team. I was really mad at myself because I did not remember him but remembered all the other ones he knew. Once he sent pictures of the basketball team (black and whites) I cried non-stop for hours >>>

LIFE
Hitman

God is my contractor and the angels are the ones who deliver the assignments to me
Cameron Batmanghlich

I am a hitman. I mark only a few. I mark a few by brushing shoulders with those who are in need of help, and ready to make a move ... to take a step ... to heal a heart or to break the chains of slavery, but yet are not aware of their readiness. I am their enabler. I am a hitman. I hit only a few. I hit a few who must be nullified, in order to be removed from the path of the ones who need to proceed on their roads of their destinies. I am their worst nightmare >>>

CHEF
I need an endless hour
Sheema Kalbasi

There should, I think, be an endless hour for me to write about cooking stew, and literature at the same time. It is a heroic struggle. Rushing toward you without knowing what are the richest colors you have ever had on or what you think of the products of the educational system at your work place. I don't like this presence of silence on your part. My words are your guide. I know you have a great deal to tell me. I know you have a complex nature. I know you know we share the same frequency for environment as well as human lives. I know you think of the central beauty, daring, changing, boundless energy, and are aware of the periods in your life, of appreciating grace, gaining or danger of losing. I believe every once in generations someone like you emerge in literature. You are irresistible. What can justify this missing page from your life? >>>

LIFE
Sketches of a war, still

It is not only an affair of geopolitics, but also a matter of personal history, sometimes even a theological puzzle which brings into question God’s will and man’s ways
Laleh Khalili

When Forugh married my uncle, nearly forty years ago, he had a thick black “leftist revolutionary” mustache, his eyes twinkled with the mischief of some secret knowledge, his thick wavy black hair was irrepressible, he wore his shirt open at the neck to show the vulnerable brown skin under his throat, and he didn’t carry the permanent dark seal of prayer on his tall broad brow. She was fair-skinned, fair-haired, and green-eyed. She had high cheekbones, long lashes and winged eyebrows. She was the most beautiful person we knew in our childhood. The old black and white photo from the early 60s shows them on their honeymoon, at the tomb of Hafez in Shiraz: Forugh looks shy and luminous with her hair falling on her shoulders and her short miniskirt giving a peep of the top of her stocking; my uncle appears handsome and proud in a white shirt open at the neck. When we were young, we always thought he should have been proud, standing next to Forugh. She was so beautiful, he so handsome, that we always wanted to know the fairytale story of how they met -- though now, twenty-something years after our childhood I realize that their meeting was less of a fairytale and more of a small-town romance >>>

ART

Pleasure & pain

Drawings & watercolors
Rana Rabei

SADDAM
How to make a martyr out of a monster

Iraq: A lesson in abject political failure
Hossein Bagher Zadeh

Revolutions happen when reforms are ineffective.  Violence breaks out when reasoning is weak.  Wars occur as a result of failure of diplomacy.  And when the state kills, it only demonstrates the poverty of its political leadership or legitimacy. Saddam Hussein was a monster and responsible for countless crimes against humanity.  Justice demanded that he be tried and punished accordingly.  But killing him was only an act of revenge, and had nothing to do with justice.  And like all revenge killings, it can only lead to more hatred and division, and to calls for more blood.  Those who made the political decision (yes, it was a political decision) to kill him have shown how poor politicians they are >>>

VIEW
It's 1938

Netanyahu hopes to build enough public pressure to justify bombing Iran
Qurmars Bolourchian

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making the rounds in the media with his "new" slogan designed to scare American Jews and Christians into supporting the bombing of Iran. Netanyahu has a simple message consisting of three reductionist falsehoods: 1) 2006 = 1938, 2) Iran = Nazi Germany, therefore: 3) Ahmadinejad = Hitler. So, as the man says whenever he gets a chance, 2006 is 1938 and Iran is Nazi Germany. Except that 2003 was 1938, when Natanyahu said the same thing about Iraq. And before that 2002, 1999 and 1996 were 1938. And while he's currently calling Ahmadinjead Hitler, in the past he's bestowed that honor on Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat >>>

MINDSET
Moral matters

There is no way Iran's traditional and religion-obssesed society is going to forget the Amir-Ebrahimi sex video
Hooman Parsi

Growing up watching programmes like Narges in state-run Iranian TV, that few episodes were more than enough for me to grasp the atmosphere and mentality of Narges: bunch of stock characters, stereotyped emotions, black and white worldview, preschool idealism, traditional religious spiritualit , and of course a bit of not-so-subtle political propaganda (this time Iranian nuclear issues). The huge success of the tearjerker series, which in my opinion its artistic quality at most triumphant moments barely came close to mediocre, proved to be a genuine opportunity for me to comprehend the taste of isolated, self-opinionated, and somehow grandiose modern Iran. But the real-life tragedy stroke a couple of months later, when a private footage showing one of the leading actresses of the soap having sex, started circulating viraly in the underground market and websites >>>

OPINION
What to do about Iran

The most promising solution is in the free world's united support of the Iranian opposition groups to the rule of the Mullahs
Amil Imani

What can the world do is the huge question. Some advocate military solutions of various types, ranging from surgical bombings of Iran's nuclear facilities, to military occupation of its oil-producing regions along the Persian Gulf to a full occupation of the country. Each and every one of these trigger-happy solutions is doomed to failure, since they will play directly into the hands of the Mullahs. Any military action against Iran will encounter Iranians' fierce sense of national pride that would rally the people to the support of the regime. Military actions would compound the problem by creating a greater worldwide Islamic solidarity against the perceived "Crusaders-Zionists" conspiracy >>>

POETRY
Hich o hast

In response -- or in "estegbal" of -- Sheema Kalbasi's poem "Astan az mast"
Hooman Parsi

POETRY
Ghost of a suicide note

Here I die in a place of no meaning
Azadeh Azad

POETRY
Gonaah?

Zendeh zendeh kabab shavim
Laleh Irani

POETRY
White dove

Time has come to spread your wings
Tina Ehrami

ART

Heart to heart

Paintings
Amir Gandomany

IRAQ
Your Baghdad is in ruins

It is time to leave Iraq
Ali Rabi

There was a time in history when Baghdad was the heart of the Islamic Empire and when things were fine in Baghdad the entire world was fine and vice versa. There is a well known ancient saying still frequently echoed throughout the Middle-East to imply that the situation is hopeless: “your Baghdad is in ruins.”  No other phrase can better describe the current situation of the US involvement in Iraq and the Middle East. Staying the course is no longer tenable. A surge in military strength may be hard to sell to the new US congress or counter productive at the end. Externalization of the problem by moving the theatre to Iran may be the last face saving option Proposals by many Democrats “to re-deploy US forces” may prove to be an attempt to free up the forces for possible attack on Iran. Implementation of such a plan will have far worse repercussions than the outcome of US military occupation of Iraq >>>

http://iranian.com/rabei.htmlDIVE
The present
Sheema Kalbasi

People ask if you are one of my past loves. I wonder if there is such a thing as past. Everything is a present, even a boundaryless woman to this world, a green jeweled four-leaf clover, or a heart wrapped in silver silk. I have been tired. Life has an essential degree of cold where noon comes after morning and night follows plumless. This doesn't mean I am not busy. Ah! I am so busy that I want to dive into an eternal safety, a place I cease to know beyond limits. I take one breath and I think of you. I take the next and I count you as an outsider who cares not to know me. Like a hair plucked out of the eyebrow, a smile half tranquil, a lover across the sea, or a figure half sketched and left in a basement >>>

http://iranian.com/rabei.htmlPOPULARITY
If death is too high of a price
Rana Rabei

I'm not afraid of seeming out-there, because if there's anything I've learned about life, is that every idiotic action of yours suddenly acquires a positive spin once you're dead. Think of James Brown "He wore suits everywhere and demanded that everyone calls him 'Sir'." If he was alive, I would say "what an uptight A-hole." But now that he's dead the words "revolutionary" and "remarkable" come to mind, "way ahead of his time" you might even say. But standing in a line for a day to look at someone's casket who has golfed his presidency away is defiinitely cutting it. To be honest I much rather wait in line for playstation 3 and sell it on eBay. On the topic of busy presidents, imagine what it would be like if Clinton came out with his own brand of cars. I bet they'd all come with automatic wife holders >>>

SNOW

Grab your skis

Photo essay: Dizin resort
Shahrokh Setoudeh Foumani

FIL

Elephants roaming around in Iran?

Why not?
Fathali Ghahremani Ghajar

Recently I read an article from an associate that got me all riled up about preconceptions and misconceptions of our world-view. So, I decided to take on a preconception: the idea that elephants were not native to the Middle East in historic times and were all imported from India. While it is quite apparent that there are no elephants in the Middle East today, was it always so? Were the elephants discussed in the literature of the area and shown in ancient artwork and documents of the Middle East all imported from India? Is this “common historical knowledge” accurate? Or is this a case of “… what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” >>>

REPLY
Pure Persian fantasy

Roya Hakakian poses no challenge to the hegemonic narrations of nationalist Iranian history
Choob Dosar-Gohi

My grim account of the holidays was inspired by another narrative that ends with dreams of democracy in the Middle East and Iraq, but has a markedly different beginning than mine. Roya Hakakian's "Persian ... or Iranian?" (Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2006) begins with describing the heterosexual flirtation scene between the "Western" man and the sophisticated (read unveiled) Iranian woman. Although an unintended mistake at the bottom of the article introduces the author as "Mr. Hakakian," thus giving a fleeting hope to the reader that an account of a homoerotic encounter is about to unsettle the usual erasure of homoeroticism in the Iranian history, Ms. Hakakian's article poses no challenge to the hegemonic narrations of the nationalist Iranian history. Indeed, despite her attempts to challenge the "Westerner" to rethink his stereotypes (and the Westerner in Hakakian's narration is constructed as male), Hakakian repeats the usual historical narratives of the Iranian exilic subject, nostalgic for a pre-Islamic past and adamant about disavowing any relationship with Arabs and Islam >>>

VIEW
Force-feeding Persian

It is saddening for me to see so many Iranians, especially Persians, still think that what they think is right is right for others too
Ben Madadi

It took me a very long time, probably until I was 12 at least, before I truly realised that Turki was also a language, beside Persian. When I realised this (I don’t quite remember exactly when) it was the starting point from which I started to realise, in time, what it meant to be a Turk and what it meant to be a Fars. I was a curious type of person and as a little teenager I wanted to know more, so I searched for writings and literature in Turki. It was very difficult to find much and I could not ask about anything like this at school because even as a child I had started to notice that some things were not tolerated. I had started to understand that arguing about religion and the Persian language were the two most sacred untouchables of the society and if I wanted to stay out of trouble I had to keep quiet about my personal ponderings about Mohammad, God, and the reasons behind the reverence of the Persian language. Even small children who live in oppressive societies can understand the invisible lines that shall not be crossed >>>

TRAVELERS

A sight to behold

Photo essay: Sadabad Palace
Afshin Deyhim

NEW YEAR
Flashback

When it comes to validating us, there’s nothing like seeing a forgotten face
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

When I hear terms such as “New Year”, it sends my mind into the past to revisit the years that I have left behind. That may indeed explain the melancholy that follows this holiday because, no matter how grand one’s life has been, the mere remembrance of what once was, brings deep sorrow to the heart. On holidays, I try to gather my friends and what is left of family, work too hard to prepare a feast, and even exchange well-thought gifts, in hopes of spreading some cheer. But as soon as the holidays are over, most people are left with a heavy heart that is impossible to explain, a sorrow we can’t admit, one that we choose to mask in order to proceed with our daily lives. This year, just as the holidays were coming to an end, I received a gift I intend to keep, a gift that I had needed for years, though I was not conscious of such a need >>>

NUCLEAR
What are the options for Iran?

The first half of 2007 will be a deciding factor for the Bush Administration in dealing with Iran’s nuclear technology
Nader Bagherzadeh

Since the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1737, which was unanimously passed on Saturday Dec 23rd, has a specified 60 day deadline for Iran’s response, ignoring it will force the Security Council to revisit the issue and increase the level of sanctions against Iran. Although, experts believe that tougher economic sanctions will be hard to approve given the reluctance of China, Russia, and some European countries, but it will be wishful thinking for Iran to assume that it is unlikely to happen. Therefore, there are three options that Iran can consider for its uranium enrichment fuel cycle aspirations in light of last week’s UNSC Resolution 1737. The least confrontational approach is to accept the position that US has always wanted in the past two decades and most likely will be the hardened position of the new administration for 2008 and beyond >>>

IRAQ
Saddam was right

... and Bush was wrong
Michael Boldin

The reality of the situation is that the US Government - from Bush Sr., to Bill Clinton, to G.W. - decided on its own that Saddam should no longer be the president of Iraq. This is the very thing that the Constitution and International Law were designed to prevent. America was never threatened by Saddam Hussein. Iraq had absolutely no capability to attack the United States, and never was there indicated a desire to do so. In short, American "freedom" was never threatened by Iraq, or Saddam Hussein. So how can anyone consider an unprovoked attack on another nation as "defending freedom"? The absurdity of such lies will ring on for centuries >>>

DESIRE
Cat in the sack

I took off my boots and crawled onto the bed with my head facing the window
Laleh Banboo

I received a late Christmas present today, from a friend with a good sense of humor: a silent, fully submersible, German-enginered vibrator. I think she is worried about my increasing sexual malaise and knows I act stupid when I feel lonely. Unfortunately I don't have the tiny batteries my new "boyfriend" requires, so the test-drive will have to wait a day or so. Thankfully my fingers don't require batteries. My drought was over shortly after I wrote my last piece. I did it with Mark. He wasn't so bad in the sack, and actually a little better than I expected. He was good at following directions, which is supremely important. It's nice to have an improviser but they're so rare, and a guy who will rub right when you show him how will do just fine >>>

NEW YEAR

Jaaye shomaa khaali

Photo essay: New Year's Eve party in northern California
Farah Ravon

TRAVELERS

The Green Zone

Photo essay: Masooleh & more in Gilan Province
Afshin Deyhim

FICTION
Rocky goes up

Chronicles of Fredrick D. Sauma, Part 5
Farid Parsa

The name Rocky stuck with him ever since he impersonated Sylvester Stallone at the college party. He was expelled from all of his exclusive private schools across Europe for not passing his exams. A few years ago he was expelled from his last educational institution, an international private college that promised to motivate the most idle student to strive for academic excellence and utilize his full potential. Rocky was neither stupid or lazy. Whether he was dyslectic with ADHD and God knows what else, it was never clear to me. But nothing could stop Rocky from having fun or obscured his good nature. Rocky spoke four languages, not by reading but only listening. He was also a great detector of moods in social situations. He didn't want to come across clever, he simply wanted to be who he was, a lusty young man fully in his present >>>

LIFE
If I had a heart

If I had a hometown, a country, I would long for it when being far from it
Cameron Batmanghlich

If I had a heart, I would give it to my family. But I no longer possess a heart. I have now mastered my heart and it is me who dictates whom, how, when and where my heart should love. That is why my heart has lost its independence and no longer manages to be playful, throwing me yet here and yet there, and no longer is it commanded by my mind, ordering him to function according to the skewed rules of this world and the norms invented in it. If I had a family, I would give them my heart. But I no longer have one. I have now cleansed the last fibers hanging in there after having cut my umbilical cord, connecting me to the people who once brought me to this world and the people with whom I grew up >>>

BOOK
Art is truth

A new book captures the best of Iranian contemporary art
Behrouz Bahmani

Recently Colleen, a noted American designer, gave me a book for Christmas. The note read, "Hope you like this, this is really good stuff and is getting a lot of attention here". Of course anytime we are noted by the noted, it makes sense to see what the hell they are talking about. The "Oh God, what have we done this time?", kicks in pretty quickly nowadays. The book, New Visual Culture of Modern Iran by Reza Abedini and Hans Wolbers (Mark Batty Publisher 2006) is a recent incarnation of what began in the seventies during the Pahlavi era. It is a collection of posters, graphic design, and mixed art; a seemingly random yet right on the real surface view into the hidden chambers of modern day Iran's sub-conscious. I was glad to find that now, as then, the secret messages of resistance, objection, and truth were still alive and well within the psyche of the contemporary Iranian artist >>>

POPULISM
Diktaatoriye avaamaaneh

The dangerous pitfalls of the dictatorship of the masses
Esmail Nooriala

SATIRE
God, what a year

Thoughts I couldn't get out of my head in 2006
Siamack Baniameri

* At a party, you can always spot a woman with small breasts but you can never tell which man has a small penis. Another indication that God is a man.
* While watching Sadam's hanging, I couldn't help but wonder if he was wearing a G-string and a bra under his clothes... just to piss-off the Shia undertakers.
* A Jihadist website claims that suicide bombers experience massive orgasm seconds before blowing themselves up. That's all good, but imagine how silly you would look if the bomb malfunctions >>>

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