September 30, 1999
* Memory lane
What a wonderful collection from Abadan.
Your photos bring back lots of memories. Only now one realizes how special Abadan
and its community was. I left Abadan for England in 1972 and I haven't been back
Although I never lived in Tehran, I still had a shock when I returned there for
few days just after the war in 1990. I can imagine it would have been even bigger
shock if I was allowed to go to Abadan.
One correction to the pictures called "Deffteery" -- these are pictures
of the local clinic for Braim area and the correct name is "Dispensary".
Pictures that you are calling them fields, first few look like grass area opposite
Also if you remember with the exception of the bazaar area, none of the "Sherkat
e Naft" areas had official street name or numbers. There were only distinguished
by their house numbers i.e. "Shesh-sadiaa" (600) or "Chaarsadiaa"
(400) and so on, plus the area name.
Despite that some areas had unofficial names like "Chaarbaagh", "Falakeh
Alfi" and so on.
I don't know whether you are aware that there is another site dedicated to Abadan,
Khoramshahr and Ahvaz. Here is the address: //www.abadan.com/
Once again thank you for the lovely trip down memory lane.
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* So proud
As an Iranian who has lived most of his life away from Iran, I am so proud to
see so many talents who have blossomed in my homeland that it makes me feel exceptionally
proud. So many artists, writers, poets, photographers, film makers, scientists and
on who have changed the cultural scene in Iran and abroad.
Their contributions to literature, music and so on has enriched our culture and
the world's understanding of our heritage. I don't know of any other nation or country
with such a wonderful resource.
Undoubtedly people like you should be commended for introducing most of these
brilliant minds to us. Thank you for your efforts. Thank you for doing what you are
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September 29, 1999
* Why support Republicans?
The Republican Party is an anti-immigrant political organization why do they expect
us to help them to win an election [Iranian
American Republican Council]? Have they forgotten the atrocities they commited
against elderly immigrants?
Have they forgotten that under their leadership food stamps and welfare payments
to the needy immigrants were discontinued? (meaning single mothers, childern, and
the elderly). Have they forgotten the anti-immigrants hysteria they helped to create?
We as Iranians who live and raise our family in this country will not be fooled
by their propaganda. Yes, Mr. Rob Sobhani
is an Iranian decendant but so what? So is Googoosh, Khatami, the Shah, and Asghar
Where was Mr. Sobhani when all these atrocities were being commited against the
Iranian immigrants in this country? Whose rights was he defending? It is not enough
to say " I am Iranian give me your money; give me your support!"
And how about the destructive opposition of the Republican Party to gun control
legislation? How about Republican insistance to give back $800 billion to the rich
while cutting the budget for schools, teachers, housing and other important programs
that affect everyone's lives? Why should we support such policies?
Iranian Americans have matured during the last twenty years, we won't be fooled
San Jose Ca
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* Trash should be published
I fully agree with S.
Smith that Cyrus Rafaat ["Real
Iranian girls?"] seems like a rotten leftover of the Stone Age, and as a
woman, I find his opinions so unbelievably stupid, backwards, disgusting and hypocritical
that I cannot take it seriously at all. His article is nothing but the evidence of
an empty-headed blowhard and as such, I don't bother to dignify his writings with
However, I disagree with you on whether The Iranian should publish this
article or not. Airing one's dirty laundry helps kill the parasitic bacteria resident
therein! By bringing this article to light, The Iranian does the Iranian-American
community a great service: it puts a mirror in front of it and magnifies the warts
that need to be burnt off.
I declare - LOUDLY- that in fact, such trash needs to be published on occasion,
if for no other reason to keep those of us who hope for more open minds and thoughtful
ideas, forever vigilant. We cannot and should not assume that just because it is
1999, idiotic chauvinists (of whatever creed and background) are on the wane, even
in the United States.
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September 28, 1999
* Right to be homophopic
(See revised point
This is in response to the article about Iranian attitudes towards homosexuals
Just like those people made a decision to be homosexuals, the rest of us have
the right to make our own decisions about our own opinions and actions. If we wish
to dislike homosexuals it is our right. If we are homophobic it is our right to be.
You can't tell us how to be.
I hold the opinion that homosexuals are destroying society with their actions
and those who accept them and welcome them with open arms are helping them do that.
I don't believe homosexuality is right or should be accepted. However I don't
believe cruelty is right either. So therefore I personally, don't ask, don't support
and don't want to know if a person is homosexual.
Freedom of opinion seems to apply to everybody except those who wish to practice
it these days.
(See revised point
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So, now I have seen everything! I mean every door in Abyaneh ["Doors
wide shut"]. Chic? The beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
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September 27, 1999
* Lost hope in humanity
After reading the article written by Cyrus L. Raafat ["Real
Iranian girls?"], I have lost all hope in humanity, dignity, decency when
it comes to men and women ...
I do not pity Mr. Rafaat, nor do I feel sorry for him. I am embarrassed for him
and am quite offended that your online publication would cater to the unrealistic
and delusional ramblings of a man that seems to possess little if any scruples about
how the world we live in works. But, alas, I am an advocate for freedom of the press.
You may publish any article you desire and I trust you will keep doing thus, however,
don't expect a great deal of respect from the public when you ignore objectivity,
good taste and logic by publishing Rafaat's nonsensical whims and sexual appetites,
then call it a legitimate article. It parallels the pulp-tabloid-drivel that we balk
at upon standing in line at the supermarket. I can see the headlines now: "Iranian-American
Man Will Only Marry a Virgin!" ... FULL
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* Abusing Allah
In response to "Allah
knows best", while there is no doubt that in the 12th century Islam was
a religion that governed lands from Tajikestan to Spain with tolerance, that is certainly
not the case today. It is obvious that today Islam is utilized as a means to control
and suppress people, thus it is not being utilized in its intended manner.
Nowhere in the Koran does it say women should not drive vehicles, should cover
themselves head-to-toe in blistering weather, need special permission to travel,
or get medical attention. Certainly the Koran does not oppose couples holding hands
or buying some ice cream together. Sorry, those are modern, patriarchal, repressive
A positive clean-cut reading of the Koran shows us love and acceptance, not torment
and injustice. Kadijeh was a successful business woman, who obviously "drove"
horses or the like, and women were merely advised to dress "modestly".
Oppressors interpret the Koran as they like to take away personal liberties and
boost their own lacking self-esteem. Do not tie Allah to your dogma. Allah does know
best and those who have abused his name are the ones who need to be most concerned
with their after-life.
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September 24, 1999
Yet another typical article regurgitating the same old tired leftist rhetoric
about gay rights ["Acceptance"].
In this and in all the other cases, it is never quite clear what exactly the author
WANTS from the Iranian community at large. He rails against this so-called "homophobia"
and heterosexism among Iranians but on the other hand he never defines exactly what
"homophobia" refers to, and what Iranians should do instead.
I mean, what IS homophobia anyway? Does it refer to gay bashing and violence towards
gays and lesbians? If so then Iranians are definitely not guilty of this. Does it
refer to a general aversion to the idea of gay sex? Well, that is of course natural
when one is heterosexual, just like the idea of sex with animals is repulsive to
the average heterosexual.
Or is homophobia a label placed on people who do not wish to march down the street
in "gay pride" parades and who have no desire to be activists for this
issue? If that's the case, the by all means yes, Iranians are homophobic. But I don't
see anything wrong with that.
The point is, I don't think the average Iranian cares greatly about the issue.
I think they are satisfied that what people do in private is just that -- private.
And it should be kept so. Just like what heterosexuals do in private is a private
matter. Beyond that, there should be no problem.
But of course there still is a problem according to gay rights activists like
this author, who want to force their ideologies onto everyone else. This borders
on fascism. There is absolutely NO reason why Iranians should "support the lifestyle"
of Iranian gays and lesbians (as a corollary they shouldn't preach to them either).
The very idea is inane and ridiculous.
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* Don't take it personally
Why can't some poor slob ever write a story, an item, an article that is a "sharhe
haal" without getting shafted by the readers of this web site? I don't get it.
Okay, so all you people who disagree with Alemi's "I
was once an Iranian", disagree with him. I don't see the guy telling you
that YOU TOO, god forbid, have "sold out."
Who's threatening the lot of you or telling you to be un-Iranian? Can't anyone
take it NOT PERSONALLY? He's describing HIS feelings about HIS life and times. Why
does everything ALWAYS have to be about EVERYONE. Why do we all think that things
are either black or white? Isn't there a happy medium, a gray area, a balance to
strike in this life? Our culture centricity will be our ultimate downfall...mark
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September 23, 1999
* Derrida wannabe
We have another Derrida wannabe [Sohrab Mahdavi in "Lamentations
of Laleh Khalili"] who has decided to write by way of aphorisms ... And
he is arrogant enough to construct every sentence as if it were truth as opposed
to mere conjectures on his parts...
It is ... the habit of every new generation to call the fight against or for modernity
its own (Gandhi seems ancient history now, doesn't he?). Let's have a little more
respect for history and not force it down every little intellectual canal we find
lying around ... FULL
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The article "Lamentations
of Laleh Khalili" is mortifying because it strives to be so. It perpetuates
itself through gyrations from "Messianic" time to Modern, from identity
to an identity-in-absence. It is very much emblematic of the writer's desire to conquer
both worlds in a single sweep, to go beyond "both" and "with"
at once. In fact, Mahdavi thinks himself post-everything, nationalism, modernism,
tradition, capitalism, Print, King ...
There is no need for high-flown language whose sole aim is to expose foundations,
only to surpass itself in the act of doing so. This is a small community. Even if
there are those who appreciate the tone and language, the majority doesn't get beyond
so much as the first few lines of Mahdavi's verbiage. Lets forget who we are or who
we have been, as Mahdavi would have us, but let us not forget how little we are.
Man has left the realm of gods to gods, but he still finds himself subject to a predicament
that can, and all-too-often-does, inspire him with awe ... FULL
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September 22, 1999
* I am shocked!
I think Mr.
Salaradini is a bit unkind to Mr. Alami ["I
was once an Iranian"] ; I can't see Mr. Alami toasting the Queen anytime
soon, nor do I see self-hatred as Mr. Alardini has implicitly suggested. I do agree
that some of Alami's remarks are naïve and inaccurate...
Example of mishmash: To call into question literary exploration of the Iranian
literary cannon as evidence of some kind of reactionary tendency. I am shocked! An
educated person such as Mr. Alami is surly aware of mountains of work annually amassed
on such medieval stalwarts as Chaucer, Boccacio, Marlow and so forth. Entire cultural
industries are erected in Western universities around obscure literary figures in
Twelfth century Wales. So what is then Mr. Alami that is wrong with study of Hafez?
... FULL TEXT
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* Deep down: Neanderthals
This is an old article ["Real
Iranian girls?"]. I found it just as repulsive then as I find it now. It
saddens me that it is being re-circulated again. It makes me wonder that no matter
how sophisticated, or intellectual some of us pretend to be, deep down we are just
the bigoted, sexiest, Neanderthals which our sick backward religious or otherwise
beliefs have so well created ... FULL
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September 21, 1999
* Genuine debate
After reading Mr.
Tavakoli's letter about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran, I felt so sad being
an Iranian. How can this government of so-called holy men be so cruel upon our people?
: - (
I think the issue of Iranian gays and lesbians most definitely is one that will
grow. This is mainly due to the openness of the cultures where the Iranian diaspora
live. In addition, the increasing mass-popularity and availability of the internet
has opened up many possibilities among all people, even within Iran.
Gay and lesbian Iranians living in Iran now, are starting to realize that they
are not alone and so-called freaks of nature and that there is a whole world of people
like themselves. This was not possible a few years ago.
I think that a genuine debate on this issue is needed especially since many Iranians
think they are progressive and open-minded until they are faced with gay and lesbian
I have many gay and lesbian friends, and they are great people who have done no
harm to anyone. Most of them tell me that they did not choose their homosexuality.
In the face of such hatred and cruelty, why would they?
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* Head spinner
My head is spinning. I just got done reading another one of Laleh Khalili's rambling
reviews; her ostensible critique of fast paced modernization in her article "New is good".
What is it about her writing? Reading it has the same effect as popping high-powered
speed pills. No introduction. No main theme or body. No conclusion. Just an endless,
rapid fired, breakneck speed stream of harsh, ideologically laced opinions and observations.
Like a diesel locomotive raging ahead with no breaks.
And to what end this stringing together of multisylabic sixteen inch words? Hard
to say! But then again, modern writing is often characterized by its schizophrenic
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September 20, 1999
* New Dark Ages
This is a letter in response to YekIrani's recent article "Acceptance".
Same-sex relationships are currently outlawed in 26 Islamic countries... Of the Islamic
states that ban lesbian and gay sex, Iran is the most zealously homophobic. Since
1980, when the fundamentalists came to power under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini,
over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed, according to estimates by the
exiled Iranian homosexual rights group, Homan....
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September 17, 1999
* Small town in England
Sitting here reading your excellent piece ["I
was once an Iranian"] in a small town library in England, has made my eyes
swell with tears.
I am partly ashamed to say so, but even though you writing is cool and sufficiently
distant (seeming that you have had much time to reflect on these issues) it still
resonated with a certain emotion much familiar to me.
However your experience is infinitely more broader and cross-cultural and therefore
must be worthy of a larger non-ethnically specific audience. A current affairs periodical
Anyway I wrote to regeister my appreciation and admiration
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* Rude awakening
While surfing the Net, I came across your website. I just wish to make the following
point about "I
was once an Iranian":
You consider yourself as an ex-Iranian who is now a naturalized Amercian. Maybe
so, as far as your identity papers are concerned, but is this true as far as your
adopted country is concerned? How deep are your roots in your adopted country? How
much did your parents (not to mention your grand- or great grand-parents) have participated
in making your adopted country what it is now?
You may wish, understandably, to close your eyes on these facts but your adopted
country is most unlikely to do so. If you don't believe me, read about the story
of the Japanese-Americans who were interned after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
In brief, when it comes to the national interests of your adopted country against
the interests of your country of origin, you will experience a rude awakening. Would
it not be easier if you accepted your true identity and left the question of Iranianness
to be debated your second, third and nth generations?
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September 16, 1999
* Enough Rumi already
I enjoy reading The IranianTimes every day but those Rumi poems are starting
toget on my nerves! Is it possible to get a poem from different poets , even modern
ones, like Sepehri or Farokhzad, once in a while?
And anyway, what is this new craze among Iranians out-side of Iran, about Rumi?
I know he was a great poet, but why do we elevate him to a kind of prophet-like status?
Can't we live without these mythical beings? Thanks for your great work.
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* Go to Afghanistan
In response to the letter "Allah
knows best", if Iran is such a "modern theocracy" where Allah
knows best, may I ask what you are doing in the moral decay known as the United States
which you described as "borderline anarchy"?
I suggest you relocate to Afghanistan where you may be one with the Taleban and
there, you may continue on your way of being an ignorant and hypocritical individual
who shames all Iranians with your backward beliefs and uneducated commentary.
And for the sake of all Iranian women, we really have no need of you telling us
how to protect our dignity when you obviously have none yourself.
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September 15, 1999
* Only vegetables have roots
First of all,let me congratulate you on your piece in The Iranian ["I was
once an Iranian"]. I think that you have brought up some very important
questions. As a kid raised in Beirut in the thirties, I had some similar experiences.
I also have felt tensions about my "multiculturality" but I think that
all Iranians have some kind of ambiguity in their inner personalities. This is perhaps
due to the fact that since the 7th century we have been living on a kind of "double"
cultural background: Our Persian-Zoroastrian-Aryan culture and the Arab-Islamic that
was added .
But I want to point out that Iranians, as well as others, are mistaken in searching
for roots. I have coined the following phrase which I often use in my writings and
lectures : "Only vegetables have roots"!
I agree with your distinction between migrants and immigrants. But let me tell
you that the U.S. is not a melting pot. It is rather becoming a keleidoscope in which,
as time goes by, all the nations of the world will be represented. (A kind of United
Nations of the people of the world, not of the governments! I am preparing a piece
about this idea of mine) ... FULL
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* We are separate
I very much agree with the
opinions of the gentleman who lives in Australia regarding Mr. Alemi's article
was once an Iranian"].
I have seen Iranians in the U.S. with similar beliefs who eventually feel emptiness
and regress 180 degrees.
I would simply like to say "more power to you!" I think that we should
not become part of the homogenous "blob" called Americans.
We are a seperate entity and should be proud of it.
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September 14, 1999
* Obscure fluke
I would like to comment on this matter ["Modern
khaastegaari"]. Most of the people who read my article ["Real
Iranian girls?"] were allowed to effectively use the most insulting and
derogatory language in regards to my motives, life-style, mentality, and so forth.
It seems that there is some bias either with the readers which have shown overwhelming
support for the this copy-cat story from a woman's perspective, or my many attempts
to respond to the accusatory-insinuations by others commentators simply did not warrant
-- in the eyes of the staff -- my effective retort, because of subjectivity. We won't
Let me point out that while Halima's article was interesting to a point, it does
not show any of the depth and serious condition of the male population or the normalcy
for khaastegaari, in my opinion, with the expatriate Iranians. The reason being is
that NO MAN in Iran, legitimately, from my observation, seriously considers girls
in the West to be equals morally, or conversly monitarily.
So cases of Iranian men inside Iran marrying girls from overseas are very rare
proportionally to that of expatriate Iranian guys getting nice-girls from Iran. This
is expected because the value is not in the mundane issues, but in the ability for
the future spouse to truly satisfy the wishes of the future family.
So in all honesty, Halima's article, is of no credible value in whether it is
"modern khaastegaari" or not, because it can never be considered a trend
or norm. In my case, I have now added nine Iranian-American guy-friends who have
since gone to Iran and gotten engaged or married girls. Her case is an obscure fluke!
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* Halloween NOT Persian
Just a line to explain: the word Halloween is a Gaelic derivation of the middle
English expression "All Hallow's Eve", which conotes the night before November
1st which in itself is the druidic day of the dead or in other word, all saints day.
Just so you know.
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September 13, 1999
* Subservient and self-depricating
My intention is by no means to insult Mr Alemi ["I
was once an Iranian"]. I am sure he is an intelligent man who will appreciate
honest criticism albeit criticism in a rather robust tone. Mr Alemi has written a
self-indulgent piece in the worst tradition of orientalism. He reminds me of the
line " Goftaa ze cheh naaleem keh az maast keh bar maast!"
He wants to be American. What is that exactly? Sure, there are flowery slogans
like "the American Dream" and "the American Way of Life", but
these are merely verbose masks for a migrant country's inability to define herself.
Unless you are a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) , preferably one whose ancestors
arrived on the Mayflower, you can not be "American" only. You are an Italian
American, a Jewish American, a Black American, an Irish American.... So why does
one's Iranian ethnicity in conflict with being American?...
Mr Alemi reminds me of the Indians and Pakistanis who go to GPS schools in Sydney.
They try so hard to be more British than the British. They are all obsessed with
cricket, they are staunch monarchists (Last night I was nauseated when one toasted
"Gentlemen, the Queen!"), they glorify the Westminster system and all the
while they speak of how their respective countries were better off under British
rule. The only time they acknowledge their Indian heritage is to impress someone
who is fashionably into eastern mysticism or the like. Yet they are rediculed by
all. Afforded no more than the vilest contempt. I hate to think that our most educated
will similarly end up subservient and self-depricating ... FULL
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* Who needs Einstein?
Could you please expand further on your research [Halloween is
Persian]? Particularly on the "tunneling technique" used to link Anglo-Saxon
traditions through the satanic/pagan undertones of Halloween to Kadoo Halvaee? Could
the candle in the pumpkin be attributed to the Zoroastrian tradition of reverence
Through the ground-breaking "lexicography" of Masoumeh Haqshenas and
Kaveh Bayat [Khiyaar
chambar] - we are witnessing the dawn of a new science: "Cultural Tunneling"!
Although they missed another scientifically well-established parable: Hitler was
Iranian and from Kerman - Hitler Germani aka Hitler Kermani!! Most effectively explained
as a "genetic remnant" of Timur's famed invasion and slaughter of Kerman!
Recently another publication from Iran claimed that Molavi's usage of the term
"Zarineh" alludes to his understanding of "quanta" - i.e. quantum
mechanics and the physics of elementary particles. This is quite interesting, since
the Sufist non-deterministic interpretation of life and nature relates well to the
dualities of modern Physics.
Perhaps Cultural Tunneling can be classified as a subcategory to the "Certainty
Principle", the counterpart to "uncertainty principle" - the cornerstone
of modern physics explaining the tunneling of particles through insurmountable barriers!
The Certainty Principle proves that most (if not all) scientific, cultural and folk
traditions "tunnel back to" Iran. Honar Nazdeh Iranian Hasto Bass!!
Who needs Einstein?
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September 10, 1999
* Halloween is Persian
Not only words but entire Western traditions are derived from Persian customs
chambar"]. Take for example Halloween, it is in fact taken from the old
Persian feast of "halvaeen" celeberated around the harvest time of "kadoo
halvaee". Even today the pumkin is a symbol of the Halloween celeberations.
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* For brainless Iranians
I was checking your website & on your home page and under the heading Latest
Features....Letters..., there was a chap called Amin
who had written his disgusting & shameful opinion using very bad language
(cheshmemoon koor, koonemoon besooze, ...khaak bar sar ...).
He may be an idiot (and I am sure he is), but should you not think twice about
putting these stupid letters & suggestions on your site? A lot of people will
be looking at your site, searching for useful & interesting material.
How can you display such lavatorial opinions on your first page? Would you print
a letter from some sick people who make fun of others? What kind of editorial are
you running? It's a shame to call your site The Iranian paper. Better change
it to brain-less paper for brain-less Iranians.
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September 9, 1999
* Ten years from now
Your piece was amazing ["I
was once an Iranian"]. It was as though you articulated everything that
I suspect I will be thinking ten years from now, or something like that. I too, am
a product of two cultures. I am Iranian, but was raised in the U.S.-- we came here
beofre the revolution, but stayed here through it as a consequence of it.
I grew up sort of on the other side of you, where I always wondered why, in America,
they hated Iran so much. So, I took it upon myself in the midst of my American eduation
to discover my roots and decide for myself.
I think you are right in that you don't need roots in America, but because of
my "dream-like memory of the past" I wanted to undnerstand so badly that
I sought out my roots. I think this saved me, and today helps me define who I am.
Even if that is a juxtposition of many things.
Your article was very thought-provoking and made me reflect on similar things.
But, you know, not all Iranian-Americans seem to think this deeply about bi-culturalism
or take the tinme to define who they are. They seem to stick to one culture or the
other, or rather they take the bad parts of American culture and exploit them, merely
because they can.
I have a hard time finidng Iranians I can relate to in all levels. As a result,
it was promising to read your piece.
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* So true
I was going through The Iranian and I read the article "After
all, I am Iranian". It was writen so nicely and so true. Even though I have
only been here for five years I have grown a lot here. Still, I don't dare call myself
Iranian-American cuz I am still an Iranian. I feel the same pride.
This was so obvious that my roommate this past year called me a complete Iranian
nationalist. He was telling me how excited I got about every news or event about
iran. I guess we all have that pride and invaders have not had the power to take
I was also moved by the couple of articles you had of Hadi
Farahani and very simple yet so pleasant Sadaf
Abbassian. Really awesome.
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September 8, 1999
* Can we contribute anything?
I very much enjoyed reading your article, on "I
was once an Iranian". It's interesting to see that we all suffer from the
same internal conflicts. It's funny though, life here in the U.S. brings me closer
and closer to home, yet it distances some people like you.
Maybe my experiences have been different from yours. I am definitely not your
literary equivalent. I went to an international school until sixth grade, somewhat
like you, albeit less rigorous of a curriculum. And, I am a born citizen of the U.S.
I think part of where our difference may lie is in the fact that my parents never
secretly had any lust for the Western world. They have always been Mossadeghi and
nationalistic. I do also, as you beautifully described, see how many people like
my parents or Iranians in general are so stuck on our greatness that we have failed
to excel and advcance with the rest of the world.
What is a hybrid? Where does the problem begin? Is it from the West? Is it our
own doing? How do we fix it? Do we contribute to the lack of progress in our country
by turning our back on it, and adopting America's ideals? Can we contribute anything
at all to the growth of Iran? Does "ghatreh ghatreh jam shavad, vaangahi daryaa
shavad" hold true for our individual efforts?
I do not have the answers, and don't claim to be an expert. However, you raise
real issues and questions, and that is both inspirational, and mind boggling. I haven't
been able to grasp what the best of both worlds is, and I fear that my quest and
yours may not provide answers in this life time.
Your article was the most enjoyable I have read in a long time.
Varshasb Broumand, MD
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* No melting pot in Germany, Sweden
Guive Mirfendereski, in his article "Cucumbers
& tomatoes" raises interesting points about immigration and assimilation.
As he rightly pointed out, the reason behind the move to exile is highly reflective
in the assimilation process. But so is the geographical/cultural location of the
For example, immigrants in Germany (using the example of Iranian refugees rather
than the Turks) have not joined that salad bowl for a variety of reasons possibly
outside their control. Germany has geographically (intentionally) located refugees
in housing projects outside cities. The isolation has had an alienating influence
on the second generation as well.
Sweden's examples are even worse, whereas England has had a successful rate of
assimilation as has France (to a lesser degree). The U.S. being historically a migration
pot, is a different case and has had the most democratic and successful case study
so far (& possibly Australia). But one thing is for sure, the more varied the
cultures, the more tasty the salad!
It's good to have access to such a range of opinions published in The Iranian.
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September 7, 1999
NOTE: I have received several emails congratulating the
4th anniversary of The Iranian. I am offering two of them; one from Dr. Esmail Nooriala
and another from dAyi Hamid because they include a bit of history. My sincere thanks
to all for being so kind and generous. JJ
* Traveler of tomorrow
Dear JJ (Jahanshah Javid),
To be honest with you, I see a reflection of my younger days in what you do. I
am now 57 years old. (I cannot believe it but it is true.) And you remind me of my
days when I was 22. When was that? A good 35 years ago. How old are you? Were you
I and a few friends of mine -- a bunch of students at Tehran University, people
like Bahram Beizaie, Mohammad Ali Sepanlou, Ahmad Reza Ahmadi, Nader Ebrahimi, Nasser
Shahinpar, Akbar Radi, Dariush Ashuri -- had decided to publish our own periodical.
Like yours, it was a self-imposed crusade. We had decided that our periodical should
be called "Torfeh" meaning "new". Selecting a name reflects the
necessities of the time as you conceive them.
And what came out of that venture a few years later? The "New Wave Poetry"
(Mowj e No) was born, the new cinema of Iran was established, the modern Iranian
theatre was enhanced and the new ways of Farsi novel-writing was experienced ...
I write this to make you aware of a future that is not far from us. What will
you and your readers think about these present days? Who will remember you and appreciate
what you did? I am sure your endeavors will be a part of the history of our life
You live in today but you are a traveler of tomorrow. That is why what you do
in every hour of your present life will be weighed by the people of another day,
when you are turning into an old man and your computers are no more considered to
be the most advanced means of communication ... FULL
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* Big fat hairy happy birthday
I used to be a regular subscriber to Soc.Culture.Iranian (SCI), the most visited
Iranian usenet newsgroup. Sometime in mid 1995 there was a strange message from an
unknown silent reader called Jahanshah Javid who announced plans to start a new Iranian
magazine and asked SCIers to contribute articles.
Ah, I thought, another single-page magazine with articles talking about how the
Iranian government is blah blah and how America is tati tata. Not everybody thought
the same way. There were some flamers who started belittling the guy's magazine and
calling him a "mozdur" of the regime: "He used to work for them, he
must be a spy or something." ...
Like everything else in life, The Iranian has changed over the past four
years. It has transformed from a shy, careful magazine to a taboo-breaking, freedom-fighting
frontier, and I'm proud to be one of its first contributors ... FULL
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September 6, 1999
* Very insulting
I believe that this "work" of pseudo-Iranian Western cooking is very
It has been twenty years since the successful changing and reshaping of our society,
and there are still reactionaries who believe that the British caused a revolution
in which two million common people (not 10,000 college students) poured out into
the streets demanding rights and liberties of man.
Being an Iranian of the non-LA community, I find it interesting how the Iranian
and Western society has molded into this comical mess of customs and everyday living.
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* Hold the mirror
You are right on the money when you say Iranians do not like Jews ["I
must be a Jew"]. But you should remember most of this nonesense has religious
roots which is being fed by hard-core Hezbollahis and repeated by brainless stupid
people who really don't mean it.
Iranians as a people have never been bigots or hate-mongers. But religious intolerance
is basically driven by the mollas and their supporters who unfortunately these days
rule Iran and carry on their self-declared religious war all around the world.
Keep up the good work and continue to hold the mirror in the face of all Iranian
Jew-haters and let them see how ugly and criminal their thinking is.
September 3, 1999
* Smoke or fire?
I think the conclusions of the author ["Culture
of Karbala"] are rather one dimensional and overly generalizing.
1- In respect to culture of martyrdom, we Iranians or shi'ites are not alone in
our praise of martyrs, by any standard. Every culture has its own martyrs upheld
as archetypes. Christianity's praise of martyrdom starts with Jesus and continues
with St. Peter. African Americans revel in martyrdom of ML King and Malcolm X. Even
JFK is considered by some to be a martyr, and his disciples are not shi'ites! And
furthermore, how is praising archetypes/martyrs a sign of rejecting modernism?
2- The recent student movement in Iran did not represent Shi'ites vs. others (i.e.
Sunnis, Moguls, Arabs, etc.) as Hossein's odyssey across Karbala did. It was political
in-fighting brought onto streets by supporters of each side. This was not a revolution.
This was actually closer to the fight of Ali vs. Omar over leadership of Islam which
led to the rise of Abu-Bakr, but let's not get into that!
The first step leading to a revolution is the deterioration of legitimacy of a
state in the perception of the people it rules. IRI is still considered the legitimate
heir to a legacy set in motion by Ayatollah Khomeini. The only attack against the
legitimacy of the IRI from within the Iranian people (the 97% that don't live in
affluent suburbs) came when the concept of Velayat-e-faqih was openly challenged
by some of the demonstrators. This challenge was quickly hushed even by opponents
of the hard-liners in Iran, further enforcing the legitimacy of the regime.
Let's not confuse smoke with fire.
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* Shah let people hold hands
In response to Kazem Mansouri's letter "Allah
knows best", I suppose getting a girl pregnant when you aren't ready is
certainly not a good idea. But preventing one from being able to do such a simple
thing as hold hands to express love is certainly an invasion of one's deepest, most
You speak of freedom as if it was something that has boundaries. And who are you
to decide what is "divine" and what is "human?" Where do you
get your information from? The mollas who pound ideals of Islam-e aziz into every
Iranians head, everyday?
You seem to forget that before the revolution, these same mollas were living in
abject poverty and giving a sermon to whoever threw a few rials at their feet. Today,
they are taking the hard earned money of the Iranian people and putting into their
Swiss bank accounts, like the Shah of old. At least that scumbag of a Shah let people
hold hands and walk down the street.
Iranians are living in a society that is against free speech, freedom of thought,
freedom of religion, freedom of sex, and in short, freedom of LIFE. You harbor no
ideas derived from yourself, but borrow morals, ideals, and even a borrowed God taken
from the Arabs, sit and type out what freedom should mean to the people. We cannot
let these complete idiots decide what is best for US anymore.
We used to be the most progressive, innovative people on earth under the Achaimenids
and Sassanians. These laughable, ignorant peoples who still believe that you have
no right to think and do freely are trying to drag Iranians down to the pits of blind
faith, where anything a Muslim says goes, and everything else is heretical. They
are trying to put MUSLIM before IRANIAN.
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September 2, 1999
* Insulting you-know-who
First of all I must commend you on the quality of your work. It is truly refreshing
to see writing of quality and content within a liberal framework where everyone gets
the opportunity to contribute. However, dAyi Hamid's article on Iranian women ["Loving an Iranian
girl"] is demeaning and insulting to all of us. Even though I love satire
and have enjoyed his sometimes controversial quotes, I believe he has gone too far
in his generalisations.
His comments may be a reflection of himself more than the subjects he calls Iranian
women. As a man who was married to an Iranian woman and subsequently divorced because
she was a pain in the you-know-what, and has had plenty of other relationships, I
still would never allow myself to generalise as Hamid did, especially in the context
of a satirical column.
Writing and getting published is a privilege and a writer of any stance has a
duty toward the society. But to be judgemental the way Hamid has been is very immature
and his comments reveal a man of many shortcomings, to compensate for which he has
chosen Iranian women and his many (!!) superficial relationships.
I was in Switzerland only last week and I met many Iranian girls. they were coping
as well as they could in their new country. Just like all of us, they were not perfect.
And it would be futile to expect them to have maintained their chastity in the traditional
and highly questionable old (!) ways.
Hypocrisy has always exsisted in our society, but that covers men as equal, if
not more than, women. the Iranian girls residing overseas are subject to the same
social forces and influences that the average non-Iranian girls. They should not
be expected to behave much differently. But they actually do. I believe they can
maintain their head way up high if compared to the average Iranian man. I still would
never marry one again, since I still consider most of them a pain in the you-know-what.
But that's another story.
I therefore hope that as a very well-read publication, you are more selective
in your choice of articles. The implications with which Hamid's article is riddled
with is not much different to other insulting and socially unacceptable behaviour
as anti-Semitism, anti-Bahai or racial prejudice which are not allowed easy publication
in any democracy.
PS: Tell Hamid that next time I'm in Switzerland, I'll look him up!
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* Very ordinbary
khaastegaari" story was very flat; nothing special happened, in my opinion.
The writer does not have a purpose or conclusion except other than sharing her experience
which was very oridinary.
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September 1, 1999
* Like father like daughter
Personally, I would like to thank you for writing this article ["A
bitter bite"]. I must admit that not unlike some friends you have mentioned,
I have also become somewhat accustomed to, or numbed by, these breaches of ethical
boundaries in Iranian cinema. But your article did remind me of the strong pangs
of unease I felt during Salaam Cinema. This is a tall tale, and I find that ethical
concerns are usually the most troublesome to convey ...
The technique of blurring the line between fiction and documentary which, if I
am correct, Kiarostami first used in his films, and was then taken on by Mohsen Makhmalbaaf
to newer, more creative heights, has managed to blur another parallel line - between
what is ethical and un-ethical ...
Mohsen Makhmalbaaf has evolved in many ways during the years. But ethical evolution
takes much more time than the ideological one. In Samira Makhmalbaf's Apple I sensed
the strong presence of her father throughout the film. This influence can of course
be both positive and negative in the work of the daughter. She is all too young for
it to be otherwise. But it would seem that it takes if not a complete, but at least
a serious break from the ways of the previous generation, to set one on an independent
path of growth and discovery, and perhaps, more evolution ... FULL
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* Farsi: wrong and ugly
Please change all the words "Farsi"'s in your English text to "Persian".
According to Encyclopaedia Iranica scholors and also those at University of Tehran,
it is wrong to use "Farsi" in English. In my opinion it is also ugly since
it is an Arabic word replacing the pretty word of Persian. Please promote this recommendation
to all the media that unknowingly use Farsi instead of Persian.
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