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January 11, 2002

* Gentle and kind man

I remember both Mr. Masoud , who was a Hamadani and Mr. Parastar , who were my teachers to. I attended the school many years before you as I am about 49 now and the school had just come into being. ["Mr. Masoud"]

I can vouch that Masoud was a very gentle and kind man. You probably did not know his background. In those far away halcyon days it was difficult to get a good head teacher like him and Sherkat Naft was lucky to employ him. In the summer he often went with his family back to Hamadan.

Did you know that they did not have a decent bath room in their lodgings in town and some times he would bring his family to school to use the facilities there. God forbid if you went to Sanai school , now there you would know what a beating was, as my poor brother was punished at the tender age of 6 for poor hand writing!!

My father knew Mr. Masoud probably because with Mr. Mosadequi they employed him at that school.

Mr. Parastar was a bit rough from time to time but he also probably meant well. He did brag about his high bachelor life which for us ten year olds was a bit strange!

Hope you don't mind me mentioning a few things i knew about Babak school. Did you know any of the girls at Roya school!?

Dr. Jim

REPLY: Oh I'm sure they were both fine men and I completely understand now that if they didn't show an attitude we would have taken full advantage. The perspective in the article is based on what I felt about them in school. I added something at the end of the article. -- Jahanshah Javid

* Universal story of all kids

Dear Mr. Javid,

Absolutely delightful, my eyes filled with tears as I laughed out very loud ["Mr. Masoud"]. Enjoyed the whole story and your little cute picture on the karnameh plus the other fun visual links.

You told a universal story of all kids that went to school in Iran then, the light and fun style was very refreshing.

Thanks for the great read.

Mina Javaherbin

* Reminded me of my own pedarsoukhteguiha!

I enjoyed your story very much ["Mr. Masoud"]. It reminded me of my school days and my own pedarsoukhteguiha! Thank you.

Manouchehr Houshmand

* Much changed in such short time

Salam Jahanshah;

hope all is well ["Mr. Masoud"]. my name is a.a. remember you very well. i live in atlanta, georgia. after finishing 10th grade at 25th of sharivar they moved us to the new building near the airport.

but i was there for one week only because i went to tehran got my f-1 and moved here. 10 years later graduated from emory dental school and stayed here in atlanta. from the time i moved here and the time i received my high school diploma so much changed in such short period of time.

last summer i went back to iran for the first time since 1977. visited abadan. went to babak/25th. even visited new building that i never really attended. the peroshimi had the same smell and noise. first we lived behind shardari on zand street and then in farahabad. mohammad ahmadi (who was ranked number one along with hamid arjomand) was my neighbor.

i visited both houses and was invited in. that says something about khozestanise. i stayed at karvansara hotel for a mere 20 dollars a night. i visited downtown. felt like a stranger. i was very sadened by the whole experience but somehow could not wait to go back. so i went back 3 weeks ago and visited my cousin in ahvaz and then took a cab to abadan.

my freshman year at northeastern university. i was with matin karbasion and mohammad ahmadi. then i moved to indiana and lost both of them. looking at all the pictures from the alumni of babak and 25th at your website i remember all of them... emrani, farid shayegan (had a blue mini motorcycle at babak) farzin baz, bakhshandeh, and all the other names. you are right about mr massoud and parastar. we had so much fear of authority.


* We were too rowdy!

I had tears in my eyes when I read your article ["Mr. Masoud"]. I also attended Babak from 1974 through 1977 and it brought good memories. I remember Mr. Shayesteh used to teach DASTOOR (grammer) and later he started with the Tali-matta Deeni .

We Used to sit in the back of the class and bet on how many times he would repeat (DAR-Natijeh... as the results) and Kholaseh -- these two words were his favorites.

At the end of the Talimatte Deeni kids in the back had usually 30 to 40 instances of each word that was repeated...Everyone would giggle and laugh each time he used these two words. At the end of the year there was some big money betting going on in his class.

I also distinctly remember his attitude on beating up kids when they didn't know the subject....the key was if you had memorized one of the assignments (and he had happened to pick you) then he would almost never call on you to come in front of the class for almost 4-5 months.

I can still remember the slap and the nice kick I got from him...(he kicked good too) one day when we were making fun of him...He didn't hesitate to come to our bench and asked what was funny and if we like to share it with the class....before I even say anything,,,there was a nice slap on my face and he grabbed my ear dragging me out and followed it by a nice kick on the ass...He repeated that with me and my buddy next to me. We ended up standing outside principles office the entire afternoon.....

Well...god bless him wherever he is....we were too rowdy!!!..

Farhang Dadgari

PS: I just saw your picture with the other kids... Farzad Saboori was my buddy... he started as a very sharp kid with excellent grade, by the time he was 4th to 5th grade... he really went down hill... I hope he is successful wherever he is... him and I sat next to each other one year in Roya.

* Inferiority complex

I liked your article on Mr. Masoud, and your Hollywood comparisons. You were a civil disobedient in advance. ["Mr. Masoud"]

One of the worst things in Iranian schools was physical punishment well illustrated in one of Kiarostami's films on a boy who wants to leave his class to see a soccer match forgot the title. The British had physical punishment til the mid 80's until it was finally abolished.

Contrary to you I was to my own disappointment very obedient in class. We were in an international school SICS in Shiraz so we were less subject to Iranian teachers and their often austère methods.

Nevertheless whenever we had farsi courses the teachers were always extremely strict and liked to lower most of us "beesavads" of mixed cultures. This inferiority complex was the most terrifying aspect in many of the teachers attitude who often resented the Cool American attitude towards education.

I think one of the most crucial aspects in Iranian scholastic education was that the teachers had received a tough education themselves and couldn't quite relate with their students. Differentiating discipline from humiliation. Transmit knowledge by arising interest instead of brainstorming children. American and English teachers were cool but when it came to Farsi classes they would disappear and leave us in terror.

I must confess I hated my farsi classes except that they developed my memory thanks to the numerous dictées. I think the educational system of the time was best adapted for students from rural backgrounds and totally unadapted to the bourgeois class we belonged to.

It is a proof that the country was on a threshold educationally speaking with a gap between an educated elite with privileges (Ahan pesareh Agayeh Doctor salaamoh Aleikom) and a would be educated class which had to go through what our parents went through a generation before. Well Jahanshah I like your Rascal Methods of in advance Civil Disobedience :)


Darius Kadivar

* I must have missed something

As a mother and an Iranian I am ashamed that someone thinks having chelo-kabab makes a person Iranian and takes the time to tell us how they eat it as well ["Simple yet noble piece of heritage"]. What great accomplishment!!. The sad part is that so many people assume that their kids are Iranian just because they like Tah-Deeg or Ghormem Sabzi (someone very educated told me that just this week).

I have tried so had to make sure that my child knows his heritage by speaking Farsi only to him, making him take private lesson in Farsi ( to learn to read and write), read Iranian stories to him and put him to sleep with Iranian classical music. I must have missed something. All I had to do was to feed him Iranian food at Iranian Restaurants. I do that at least once a week anyway. I would disown him if he ever mentions that he is Iranian just because he loves Chelo-Kabab. Knowing the language and your Motherland's glorious history and its great people makes you an Iranian.

Azam Neamti

* Not just the political context

In regards to my article "Just a concert", I'd like to clarify a few issues. I believe, as I tried to convey in my piece, that a concert such as the one staged on Jan. 1, 2001 in Tehran by Raaz-e Shab was a unique and amazing event. The concert's greatest aspect was not just that it happened but also that it happened by these people: People who at a time when no one even dreamed there would be a live pop concert in Tehran, thought to create a band, write music, and perform. People who are part of a generation that actually experienced Iran in the 1980s with the War and the strict moral code of the time. Therein lies the band's, and others like it, greatest accomplishment.

What I also tried to express in my piece was that what adds to the value of this event is that the audience is an audience sophisticated enough that does not see the concert as merely a sign or symbol of a political or cultural opening. It is capable of maintaining and exercising its critical tools, treating the concert and the music seriously. My piece was an attempt to portray a populace that rather than accept everything that is handed to it and be grateful for it, takes what it has and seeks to make it better.

The title "Just a concert", in the context of the article, is meant as praise for a group of musicians and their audience who have the imagination and the hope to reach such heights where their music itself and not just the political context of its performance will noticed, praised, and critiqued.

Naghmeh Sohrabi

* Rigid view on literature

Dear Reader, Mr. Hamed Vahidi: ["A good poem resembles a melody", "Crimes of poetry"]

I was quite intrigued by your letter in iranian.com. As a professional poet, it is my honor to inform you that in addition to khalil Gibran and Parvin Etessami whose days are long over in terms of their creative style (not their social/spiritual perspectives), the days of Moshiri, Bahar, and Shahriyar are over as well (in terms of poetic techniques, language, and images). I think we are dealing with a fundamental issue of "what poetry is" here.

Pre-modern or classical poetry's main purpose was to offer advice or some kind of reformative message to its readers. There are many many examples which I won't bring here, but you can just read samples of Etessami's or Moshiri's or Tavalalli's work to grasp the undercurrent of overstated ideologies and recommendations on how to lead one's life morally and optimistically.

A contemporary poet, expresses him/herself through currently existing elements, such as "mobile phones", "subways", "coffee shops", "underground clubs", "fast foods", "addictions", "prostitution", "neon lights" or even "one-night stands!". I am sorry to disappoint you my friend, but a modern poet has RESPONSIBILITY to speak about cockroaches and hamburgers and the fact that some hamburgers are made with ground cockroach eyeballs! and some toothpicks are carved out of their little hairy legs... and in these grotesque images if you will, upon your own depth and repertoire of subjective experiences, you will find that he/she maybe alluding to or objecting against a political/social/cultural modality.

The fact that you do not observe poetry in "Papa Noele Marhoom" attests to your overwhelming alienation with the arena of contemporary literature in general. In regards to a contemporary free-verse piece, one could say it's a "bad" poem or a "good" poem, but anyone who has not managed to drag his/her feet out of the drowning Bermuda of traditional poetry in light of the advent and evolution of modern world literature, (over a span of nearly a century), would have serious issues reading any non-melodic and unrhymed poem.

For such rigid view on literature, any deviation from the "normalcy" of mainstreamed practices of language and image, would be considered a taboo or even a blasphemy. Of course any one is entitled to their take on all creative matters, but one can not deny the indispensable need for each rising generation to express its psychic truth through creative media by means of its "own" genuinely crafted linguistic and literary tools. At the end, I would like to appreciate your honest critique and I look forward to having more discussions on this topic with any other reader of my work.

God Bless,

Leila Farjami

* Life is meaningless without the YANG

A nursery rhyme is full of melody (and nazm!) but is most certainly not poetry. Rhythm and rhyme limit language, and there are only so many ways thoughts can be conveyed by adhering to the classical rules. Those ways have been discovered and used by the geniuses of Persian Poetry along with many hundreds of mediocre others. How many times do you want to hear the same old ghafieh (rhymes)? ["A good poem resembles a melody", "Crimes of poetry"]

A good poem is art. Art is art; it does not have to resemble anything else. The essence of art is to convey an idea, thought, or feeling. Good art conveys NEW thought, meaning, or philosophy. How it is done is only secondary, what is important is the freshness of the message.

Does the message/meaning have to be simple and accessible to most? Absolutely not. Art does not have to be populist. Do you really think that the message in Hafez is not hidden. He did not write for the illiterate masses, he wrote for the educated few. If you want to appeal to "all sorts of mentalities", you have to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

As for "the majesty of nature, and the high ideals of human freedom, ultimate meaning, man's place in cosmos, delicacy of human spirit and feminine beauty and class", would you please leave 18th century romanticism and join the modern world. Why not discuss the cruelty of nature, the base reality of human behavior, the uncertainty principle, insignificance of man in a senseless cosmos, the rough human character, and spousal abuse or prostitution. Your notion of poetry is all YING. Life is meaningless without the YANG.

Forget that Farjami,s poetry doesn't fit yours. The real issue is was she saying anything new?

Korosh Khalili,

* What makes you an expert

Hamed Vahidi,

So you say A good poem resembles a melody! ["A good poem resembles a melody", "Crimes of poetry"] Why don,t you start working on yours? I always enjoy reading the pieces on the Iranian.com too and like you - whether they are shallow and nonprofessional or scholarly and informative, I still read these writings.

After your comments and words-put-together, I came to realize you are not that far off in what you suggest about "Nazm in poetry but we have a slightly different view on this. I think you should be concerned about your own poetry and not others because I find yours (I do not want to call your put-together-words: A Poem) absolutely ...

I am not questioning your talents, but what exactly is creative in your poetry or let me ask you in your own words; do you know what you are doing? A good poem creates a sense of weightlessness in the reader and I did not find this feeling reading your poetry. You talk about the experiences of physical and spiritual freedom but yours is far from any of the above. So I want to know what makes you an expert on the poetry issue.

Negin Babaie

* Forgotten where he came from

Dear Farid (an American citizen), ["Relative visa"]

I feel very sorry for you. You are one of those Iranians who has forgotten where he came from. As Jack Welch (former CEO of GE) says, "you should never forget where you came from". I am sick and tired of Iranians like you who have become so selfish upon their arrival to this country. People from other nationalities, help their fellow countrymen as much as possible. What do we do? We try so hard to compete with each other. We can not see each other's success. We feel that we are the chosen ones. Two years ago, I was having dinner in an Italian restaurant with some of my Iranian friends. Our waiter was an Italian man with the thickest accent imaginable. Some of my friends were so fascinated by this guy's accent. They kept saying, "wow, what a beautiful accent". Interestingly, the next day, we were in an Iranian restaurant.

As soon as our Iranian waiter finished greeting us and left the table to get our drinks, the same people who thought the Italian accent was beautiful, started making fun of our Iranian waiter's accent. Why? Why are we like this? Why can't we be nice to each other? So what if you had a difficult rout to get here? Don't you enjoy changing somebody's life by helping them Mr. American citizen? I am not sure why your wife left you but I assure you that your selfishness had a lot to do with it. Believe me, Americans are so much more generous than you.

Fred Rakhshan

* I feel very sorry for you

I agree that the picture of the Iranians you describe in your article does represent part of the people in that society, but is that the only picture of Iranians you know of? ["Relative visa"] If so, I feel very sorry for you. You obviously have not seen anything else of Iranian people and that is very sad. I grew up in the U.S. and went back when I was in high school, and though I did see a different picture than my upbringing her in the U.S., my family lived more like Europeans in Northern Tehran. The reason I left was because all around me there was nothing except glamor and luxury.

I also traveled the whole country during the years I was there, almost to every province, and though I did see things that surprised me, I have not allowed myself to insult my people and country, or generalize about them. Iran is the most diverse country in that region and I think you should learn more about it before putting it down.

It's sad that many of us don't have pride for our nation and instead worship western cultures for the sake of trying to look un- primitive. The Europeans had worse habits than burping in the years before industrialization, and still had a great pride for their nations and were very arrogant about it and still are.

I think this comes from the fact that you lived in Iran and only associated with people and relatives around you, so you don't know anything different about the Iranian people and were overwhelmed by the first glimpse of Western and not so cultural U.S. society and it's impact on you.

We are a nation that prides itself on being the one of the greatest empires of the world in its history and being ahead of all the main civilizations of its day. Not being proud of your heritage will make you a sad and unsuccessful person and I think it has already.



P.S. If you don't think that Persian carpets are of much worth, at least the Europeans do. But that's all that really counts, right? Oh and by the way, dough is spelled doogh, since dough means khamir. To be a full Americanized person, it's not bad to at least start by spelling and using the language correctly.

* First rays of the sunrise

Dear A.

I read your article on the Iranian. ["I'm an optimist"]

I have had kind of strange feelings about humanity for a long time. At least I thought they were strange because I couldn't quite understand them. I couldn't understand why after any bad incident happens somewhere in the world, instead of feeling depressed and down I feel more encouraged to live and I feel much more love and affection for other human beings. I couldn't quite explain it to myself that

Why I was feeling that way... and after reading your article it is as clear as the first rays of the sunrise.... that's it, that is what fills my heart "the knowledge that somewhere, sometime, someone, a man, a woman, or a child braver than me, will stand in front of that tank"

Thank you......


* I can't express my love

Dear Readers and Sara, ["Mano bebakhsh"]

Sara writing has been about something that I think speaks for a lot of people, yet very few have the courage to write about it. It is something that I feel too.

I consider myself way too sensitive and caring, but I never let it show. I have never uttered the words I love you to either my mom or my dad. They have educated me and done their best to provide me with the means to succeed in life. I, however, have never shown any emotions whatsoever. I love them enormously but I can't and will not express myself.

I guess it all started way back when me and my siblings were all kids. My father seemed to prefer my brother over me and my other siblings. He was the "ba-orze" and the "zarang." He was the "shaytoon" and "street smart" kid. It seemed my parents and especially my father encouraged and looked positively on things such as outsmarting other folks.

If he screwed up, it was seen as a result of his courage and "having balls" and was soon forgiven. I must admit though that my parents never laid their hands on us. They only seemed to prefer my brother over me. I guess this is the reason, I turned out to be so cold towards them. They hurt me through their preferential treatment and now is the time for me to hurt them by making them feel I don't care about them.

I have not called my parents once in the past four years. It is always them calling. I have tried to distance myself away from them even though they paid for my education. Even so, when I asked them for money, I asked them for just enough to get by even though I could have asked for more nad they would have provided.

I always felt guilty asking them for money even though they had the menas. I felt that I don't belong to the family and therefore have no business asking for money. Asking them for money was in my mind like the Islamic Republic bowing before the USA.

When I was in high school, they thought I was doing drugs even though I have never touched drugs. This sense of mistrust and not trusting me infuriated me even more.

When it came to buying me a car in high school, my number one choice of automobile was rejected, so I skipped number two and went all the way down to number 40. I just felt that if they are not willing to buy me the car I want then I should simply suffer and go with an average car.

Only a few years later, my parents bought my brother bought a sweet ass car, of course after my brother insisted. I still drive my "unwanted" car.

My parents seem to think that I like to save money and I am a modest guy. But they don't know that heck I would buy a freaking porche and the best clothes if I had money. But I never asked for much from them because I felt I am not part of the family, even though the money has always been available only had I asked.

Some may argue that a car doesn't mean a thing. But it does especially for a teenager. Later in your life, when you look back you can remember the awesome car you had and all the good stuff that came along with it. I am especially aware of that because when I look back at high school and remember that I didn't ask a girl for my senior prom, it was a huge mistake.

Maybe if I had a nice car, I would have had the courage to ask one out but I didn't. And now that period has passed by. My high school years were not anything but ordinary and average.

At this point in my life, I am working and my mission is to succeed in life and make money. Total independence. Never ask my parents for money again even though they were paying for my education before.

I strive to succeed to make money and prove that I am self sufficient and I do not need my parents. I love my parents but for some reason, I feel that I deserve to suffer. I don't care if I die tomorrow. I wish I can die tomorrow. I go walking to seven eleven at 3:30 am hoping that one day some stranger walks up and blows my head up so I can rest peacefully.

Like I said before, my parents do love me, but they seem to prefer my other brother. If i could have my wish, I would ask somebody to put fences around my grave so no one would mourn for me.



* Moft-khor tourist attractions

If you look around the world, the monarchs in genuine constitutional monarchies are a bunch of useless bi-kaar moft-khor tourist attractions who do nothing more than dress up in costumes and consume taxpayer money. So why are Mr. Pahlavi's handlers so interested in him becoming a constitutional monarch? ["Consider the facts"]

Why do these Monarchists who pretend to have suddenly discovered the benefits of democracy and constitutional ism totally ignore the option of forming a genuine REPUBLIC instead of a constitutional monarchy? Its not as if the Pahlavi Dynasty was such a long-lived or well-respected one that the country can't function without them, especially now that 22 years have passed without them.

The only explanations for this pushing of a "constitutional" monarchy are either Reza Pahlavi needs a job very badly, or his handlers are simply manipulating people's frustrations with empty promises about constitutional ism to get a grip on power and then promptly forget about the constitution, just as his father did.

Yehuda Goldberg

* Ultimate judge

I have met a good number of young, eager, literary talents who are simply afraid to step forward for the fear of receiving severe criticism from literary community ["Crimes of poetry"]. Although I appreciate your conservatism, here is my message to you. First and above all, have faith in your work. If there is a severe flaw in your work, the ultimate judge would be world literary community, not just Iranian.com. Second, do not be afraid of criticisms.

If you think it is a fair one, then simply thank the critic and immediately start working on your flaws. If it is an unfair one, then simply ignore it or politely mention the fact to the critic. But how about if, deep down in your heart, you feel that you are the subject of, God forbids, "accusations"? Well, you can either ignore them or respond to them as strongly as you can, but always take it like a MAN. Remember what Einstein once said in response to his critics: "If I were wrong, one would have been enough."

Today, I received a letter from a reader in which she demanded that I "should be stopped" and that my works (both the poems and articles) are pure rubbish and that I "bore her to death". Well, that's fine with me. I am not responsible for how others feel about me or my work, but she finally boiled my blood to 100 degrees centigrade by accusing me that I "had stolen verse translations of Hafez and that her friends wondered why I take these verse translations and pass them as mine". I simply asked her to show me which verse translations I had stolen (well, in a not-so-polite language because I was angry).

Let's become professional for a while and think clearly. The next paragraph is a summary of a portion of the talk I listened to by Dr. Jahanpour. I am adding some of my own comments to it.

In both Hafez and Khayyam's poems there is a phrase called "Charkheh Falak". "Charkh" means "wheel" and "Falak" means several things such as fortune, fate or sphere. So, a rough translation of "Charkheh Falak" would be something like "wheel of fortune" or "destiny" or simply what you expect of the world.

Now, Khayyam, in one of his poems said that "Charkheh Falak" does not turn or move in his favor. Then Hafez came after him and changed it a little bit by telling others that "he won't be upset or that he simply would not be belittled or humiliated if the wheel of fortune does not turn or move according to his expectations".

As we all know, Hafez was greatly influenced by Khayyam, but is it fair to accuse Hafez that "Hafez jan, please stop writing. We all know you stole from Khayyam". People inspire each other both in science, philosophy and Literature.

Moreover, Alfred Tennyson, Percy Shelley and Wolfgang Goethe (see his West - Ostlicher Diwan) were all inspired by Hafez and some of their poems are very, very similar to Hafez. Does it mean that they have stolen verse translations of Hafez?

Of all the 500 and so poems that now exist of Hafez, I can only read and fully understand 50 of them -- with great difficulty and help of others of course. I have written a good number of poems and someday I may publish them. I've received comments that my poems resemble that of Hafez, Molavi, Tagore, Vincent Millay and Gibran. So according to the logic of a number of our readers, I should have spent all my life stealing poems from these literary giants.

My last advice to you literary talents of tomorrow is to read more books and compare Literary works with one another and don't be afraid to ask questions and seek advice from experts.

Hamed Vahidi

* Queen of Jordan

In response to "Huh?":

Toni Gardiner was the second wife of King Hussein of Jordan. (aka Muna al Hussein) She is the mother of King Abdullah, the current king of Jordan.

Patricia Holt

* Ambassadors to Sweden

In response to "Iranian ambassadors to Sweden":

Iran established relationships with Sweden in 1896. Ambassadors were in Moscow. The first Iranian Embassy in Sweden (Legation) was established in 1919:

1- Assad Khan Assad Bahador 1919-1920

2- Ghaffar Khan Jalal-ol-Saltaneh 1921-1922

3- Reza Khan Arfaa-ed-Dowleh 1925-1934

4- Assad Khan Assad Bahador 1934-1939

5- AbdolHossein Massoud Ansari 1941-1944

6- Bagher Kazemi 1945-1950

7- Fazlollah Nabil 1950-1952

8- Abbas Forouhar 1952-1953

9- Fazlollah Nabil 1953-1957 (Legation raised to Embassy)

10- Hossein Navab 1958-59

11- Gholam-Hossein Forouhar 1959-1963

12- Morteza Adl Tabatabai 1963-66

13- Akbar Darai 1966-1970

14- Issa Malek 1970-74

15- Manouchehr Marzban 1974 till 1979 Revolution

16- Hamzeh Sabouri from revolution till 1979

17- Abbas Amir Entezam beginning 1979- middle 1979

18- Parviz Khazai 1979-1980

19- Abdol Rahim Gavahi 1980-81

20- Said Kalantarnia 1981-1985

21- Jaafar Shamsian 1985-86

22- Mehdi Danesh Yazdi 1986


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