April 30, 2001
Salam. I am a 26-year-old Iranian male living and studying in Europe.
I have been in a same-sex relationship with an Iranian male partner for
more than one year. My friend lives in the U.S. and we met online in an
Iranian chatroom. Obviously life is not very easy as an Iranian, having
to be closeted, and needing to keep secret, your life and partner. Despite
all of these obstacles, we have been able to spend a considerable amount
of time together in the past year, to get to know each other more and to
see if it could work. We spent so much energy and money, and now after 15
months we have built a very strong relationship and we both want to keep
it. Unfortunately, since my visa applications to the U.S. have been refused
every time I have applied, he is the only one who has been travelling to
Europe (over 10 times) to visit me. So the next option for us is that I
give up my studies here and somehow move to U.S. What do you think we should
Fifteen months may seem a long time to you. In a long distance relationship,
where the initial passion is kept alive by seperation, fifteen months is
more like three. So visa problems and all that aside, I wouldn't be in a
great rush to up and move continents and disrupt studies because of any
beloved -- yet.
If he has been able to visit you in Europe then let him continue to do
so. Meanwhile concentrate on finishing your studies. Do not be in a hurry
to play house on a permenant basis. You are still young and have an education
to get. I do not know at what stage you are in your studies but if you are
getting your undergraduate degree then finish and try to go to the U.S as
a graduate student. If you can get into a good graduate program you may
be able to get a visa and funding.
If your relationship is strong, and meant to be it, can wait. That way,
when you do get to the U.S. you will be on your own feet and not dependent
solely on him! If you are at the graduate level then finish and try to get
into the U.S on a job visa. That could be difficult, unless you are in the
You could have your partner contact his U.S. congressman's office and
enquire about how he can get you in; maybe sponsor you even. I know that
it is hard to live far away from the one you love, but sometimes we have
to take osbtacles as blessings which, by making us endure hardship, help
So be patient, see him when you can, and do not be afraid that your love
will be any weaker because of it. Do not forget your studies in these heady
spring days. An education will be your most loyal companion.
April 27, 2001
In reponse to the 31year-old woman
who recently wrote to you about being lonely, I would like to say that I
too, am very much in the same boat and am no longer sure what to do. I am
30 and have not found "Mr. Right" especially in the Iranian crowd
as I feel that most Iranian men (especially those under 40) do not really
want the "responsibility" associated with a family. You are right
in that we should not have extremely high expectations, but certainly most
women who are educated are interested in meeting men with similar attributes.
What do you suggest? Where should we go to meet nice Iranian men who have
no baggage (i.e. divorced with/without children) with good intentions? Or
should we begin to look more amongst non-Iranians?
I do not mean that you should not look for educated men. Just lower the
material and physical expectations a little. I would suggest traveling more.
This opens up your field a bit.
Also, certainly do not limit yourself to Iranian men. Think how biggoted
you would find an American who only went out with Americans. You will find
that you may have a lot in common with someone who is not Iranian. In general
Western men can handle successful women better. Don't feel offended; I said
Anyway neither country of origin nor wealth and success should be the
sole criteria for meeting "Mr. Right". Give up that idea. Open
yourself to meeting a potential soulmate instead. Embrace your lonliness
and do not be ashamed of it. Men smell neediness and flee from it.
April 26, 2001
I haven't had "cot-let" (cutlet?) for ages. Do you know
how to make some? I'm not a good cook.
Ingrediants: One pound ground meat, two large onions, one or tw large
potatoes, bread crumbs.
Chop onions finely and drain out the water. Mix meat and cooked potatoes
with onion, salt and pepper. Kneed till it is all mixed. Then shape them
into patties and cover with bread crumbs. Cook the patties in a frying pan
in hot oil. Enjoy.
April 25, 2001
I am 28, male and single, living in Tehran. I lost my fiance a few
months ago. Now, I hate girls and I am not going to get engaged again. It's
Okay. No problem. But the very problem is money. I cannot rely on any girl.
Fuck them all. (Excuse me for being so rude. I am very angry.) I think I
will no longer be able to find anybody else to believe in. My finace left
me, though she claimed to love me. For what? She thought she could not tolerate
my small income. She thought she would not be able to overcome the problems
of life without enough money. Okay. She can go to hell. I am going to start
a tourism agency. But starting a new business is frigtening. And I cannot
trust my friends when it comes to things related to money. Kobra Khanom,
sinam por-e dardeh. Ageh begam masnavi haftaad man misheh. YEH KHOORDEH
I hear your pain. It is hard to be dumped. It is also hard to trust again.
But you are, my son, only 28! I know that it does not seem that way right
now but you have your whole life ahead of you. Anyway, you do not want someone
who wants you for your money and if you were rich you would end up with
that woman and would never really know about her true character. Now at
least you can be sure whoever wants you, will want you for yourself.
Be optimistic about your work. A travel agency will work well. You are
right not to trust people with money though. But try to learn to like your
friends without necessarily trusting them. It is possible. Likable theives
do exist. Do not take things so seriously, keep a sense of humor and take
things a bit more lightly. I know that it seems impossible to do right now,
but in time you will see that I am right.
Go out, take a hike in those beautiful mountains till you reach the level
above the pollution -- take a deep breath and look beneath at the smoggy
city sprawling below, and tell yourself that you WILL and CAN climb above
it all. You are capable of rising above the smog of betrayal and corruption
that blankets the city below: chenaan ghahdsaali shod dar dameshgh keh yaaraan
faraamoosh kardand esgh! Beh omid-e behboodi-ye harcheh zoodtar-e del-e
I am a single guy! Thanks for responding to my
email. I appreciate the comments you made. But you didn't comment about
my difficulty in finding a woman! I am very much "moshgel pasand".
Being hard to please or, moshgel pasand, is not very good attitude if
you are lonely. It also limits your choices because of what is often a superficial
criteria. A plainer looking person may be a better company in the long run.
Or someone who does not look or act like your "type" may surprise
you by being in fact more understanding or interesting.
Humility and openness are the best characteristics for both learning
and socializing. Remember you have nothing to lose by giving everyone a
chance -- and you may realize you are less lonely if you do.
April 24, 2001
I am a 31-year-old woman searching for love. Because of past experiences
I have become quite efficient in dating and do not waste any time at all;
and as a consequence I am usually alone and loveless. Although I am very
busy with my professional and personal life, the emptiness along with loneliness
is always there. How can I endure or overcome this? What is your advice
regarding finding the right person?
I do not know what you mean by being "efficient" at dating.
But if your problem is loneliness then cut back on your work. Here in the
U.S. it is easy to be "sucessful" and extremely lonely. Work takes
such a big chunk of people's time and energy that by the time you get to
your short little weekends there is no energy left for having a good time
or meeting a new person.
So what I would recommend is cutting back on work. caring less about
your "career", and more about your time off. Take your leasure
time seriously having a good time is like medicine for the soul; it is necessary.
Plan interesting trips, see an old friend, pick up a new hobby.
Do not be picky or "moshgel passand" -- see the good in individuals
and, above all, keep your sense of humor. Do not treat a "date"
as potential suitor who has to meet difficult criteria. People have different
ways of entering the heart -- just give them a chance. Be open to "types"
that you might think are not suited for you. You may be surprised at how
they grow on you.
Often successful women end up alone because of their standards are too
high. Women are achieving more and more but they still expect their "man"
to be more successful than them. This leaves fewer options as women become
more successful professionally.
However, if you start realizing that part of the "liberation"
form patriarchal values should include being able to accept a man who makes
less money or is less successful than you, then you will feel truly liberated.
This liberated attitude would then open up your field of choices quite a
Above all, do not be afraid of your loneliness. People can smell fear
and keep away from it. Embrace your loneliness as a positive character builder,
while working to change it.
April 23, 2001
I am an art teacher in the an American state university system. My
students take art as an elective; there are no art majors. They all disagree
with Webster's dictionary's definition of art which implies skill, and experience.
You can't blame them. You look at any art magazine and all you see is junk.
So, art is "subjective" and the por-roo students all expect to
receive an "A" for their grade. My response to them is: if everything
is indeed art, then every time we go to the bathroom, we make art. And if
it is so subjective, and there is no skill involved, then what is my job?
I have taught art in other countries, and have NEVER had to contend with
such arrogance. Any advice?
You are absoutely right that this rampant promotion of subjectivity has
reached vulgar porpotions. Think of yourself as a soldier in the war to
defend "culture". Force them to learn.
Teaching can be either rewarding or stressfull depending on the qaulity
of the teacher and the students. A good teacher would try to to teach those
who want to be taught and try to ignore the rest. A great teacher, when
confronted with a bunch of flaky teenagers, can take control and teach them
I would suggest some structural change in your course plan and a behavioral
trick that might jolt them into learning. For example, you could try to
include an art history section in the syllabus (structural change). Assign
readings and quiz them to make sure they've done it (behavioral jolt).
You see, the insight that you require of them comes with knowledge. Art
history will provide them with that. You could make a good half of the course
on that. Then make them read the theory of esthetics. Have them make interpretations
based on so and so's theory of art.
All of this can be done in varying degree's of simplicity. But the best
policy is to start the semester with high expectations of your students.
People have a way of rising to the occasion.
April 19, 2001
I have a question for you. I don't know if it's apprpriate for your
column or not. But I'd like to know where you would recommend I do for my
boyfriend on his birthday, which is coming up next week? He's 31, Iranian,
and a real gentleman (but fun, too, at the right moment, if you know what
I mean). We've been together for about two years now. What do you recommend?
It is hard to recommend activities when I do not know where you live.
But if your boyfriend is into sports, take him to his favorite team's ball
game and, if possible, followed by a romantic dinner.
The point is to do something with him that you normally don't as a way
of giving him special treatment on his special day. In my opinion whatever
you do, end or begin with a romantic dinner -- it is an important feature
of any good birthday.
If he is a very sociable type then throw him a surprise party with his
friends. Most people love surprise birthdays.
Whatever you do, remember it should be a day that is all about HIM. Make
sure to wear your hair the way he likes. And dress to his taste. Enjoy.
Moshgel ziyaad daaram! avalan, 42 saalameh va mojaradam va kheyli
sakht az kasi khosham miyaad. chaaram chiyeh?!
Agha yaa Khanom-e aziz,
Avalan mojarad boodan nangi neest. Balkeh shaayad ham neshaaneh-ye aghl
baashad. Pass ghabl az hameh cheez az del sookhtan dar baareh-ye mojaradi
khod beeroon beyaaeed. Heechkass inroozhaa az kessi keh del soozy bekhaad
khoshesh nemeeyaad. baraaye jalb fard-e mored alaagheh behtareen kaar in
ast keh shomaa khaili tanhaaeetoon raa neshaan nadahid. Usulan mardom az
kessaani ke khaili beheshaan ehtiaaj daarand faraaree hastand. agar nasihat-e
bishtary meekhaaheed lotfan begooid mard yaa zan hasteed?
April 17, 2001
Dear Kobra Khanom,
I have been in Australia for 11 years now. I love it here. But I feel
I'm never going to feel anything but Iranian - EVER. What do I do? Do I
go back to Iran (I have made enough money to live comfortably there)? Or
should I stay and enjoy the many freedoms here?
You should work on being comfortable being an Iranian in any setting.
that way you can stay and enjoy the "freedoms" your country of
residence has to offer without feeling some how "un-Iranian".
Remember it is very Iranian to want to enjoy freedoms. Indeed it is very
human. It is just that since we can not exercise these freedoms in our country
we have to live abroad to be free. No sense in feeling guilty about that.
I would suggest staying where you are but working on your own sense of
self. Come to terms with your own duality and accept it as a gift that bestows
depth. This does not mean for you not to enjoy trips back to the mother
country. In fact if you can go back once in a while you should in order
to quench your nostalgia and feed your soul.
But, do not feel any less Iranian simply because you live far away. Iran
is in our soul. Read some poetry, cook some rice and khoresht, listen to
some music and search for it inside the nooks and crannies of your selfhood.