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Shahin & Sepehr

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Advertise with The Iranian


    May 18, 1999

    One of many reflections

Babak jan,

I read your note, and understand your perspective. I do differ with your conclusions, although I think you are correct in many of your observations. The Iranian is not a reflection of Iran - or Iranians that have exclusively kept their links (cultural, or other) to the country. The Iranian, whether by design or by default, has become a representative of the new Iranian-American. Most, if not all, of the authors you mention have been either born or raised here in the U.S. They associate closely with the Iranian culture, its dichotomies and through that association critique/comment the culture from their perspective.

To judge them as qarb-zadeh is not correct (if not overtly simplistic), they are qarbi - and if anything Iran-zadeh. And, this is not a bad thing - it is the reality of over a million people who are as American as the Irish who migrated a century ago to this country.

I also appreciate your frustration (if I may call it that) in interpreting the qarbi bias of The Iranian. The reality is that The Iranian is only one of many reflections of Iran on a background and realities of the West. To expect otherwise and to address your desire to have an Iranian perspective (whatever that may be - and if there is only one, or a pure one) we all need to go back there and assimilate (or better re-assimilate). In the end we will just add another hue to the spectrum - the issue is where to find the golden pot at the end of the rainbow.

Not a day goes by that I wish I could go back, without immediately knowing that I will be a fish out of water in a country that has evolved far beyond my imagination. I don't understand the ideological fundamentalism (although I spend most of my time reading and analyzing the whole spectrum), I don't understand (or fully appreciate) the nuances of the reformist wave and its realities. I am cynical of the demagogues and their pedigree, and struggle to be a realist. For that matter and more importantly, I don't even understand how people survive and manage their daily lives. I ask friends and relatives, read the papers - but I don't have a "feel" for what is going on. Year after year has gone by, and now I have been here for most of my adult life, while everyday consciously and subconsciously tries to simulate being an "Iranian".

So what am I? I know I am an Iranian who is living here, amongst other Iranians who have evolved in a new environment with all its own dichotomies. So let's not blame The Iranian, or the writers of the letters - let's put the blame on the forces that don't allow the free exchange of ideas and the divergent living styles and biases. Let's hope we can all day congregate with all of our differences in Iran where we can enjoy and learn from those differences.


Nader Pakdaman

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