A first concert
By Laleh Khalili
A few weeks ago, the sophisticated scene in New York was in an uproar over the conduct of the conductor of the symphony orchestra -- I think it may have been the venerable Zubin Mehta -- who walked out on the concert because the audience was coughing too much. Last night at the Golreez Theater in Tehran, I remembered the controversy and smiled ear-to-ear thinking that the fragile egos of these great men of art in the West would surely never withstand an Iranian audience.
Tehran is celebrating the annual Fajr Festival season which provides an excuse for holding concerts, shows, plays, and films. My young and handsome cousin -- who is something of a dandy "dude" -- and his beautiful girlfriend took me to my first concert in Iran the very first night after my arrival. As we all have heard in the West, Iran is enjoying a cultural and social spring of sorts, and since the purpose of my return to Iran has been to sense and feel and hear what is happening, I was tremendously excited to see the evidence of the new freedoms firsthand.
The concert, a festival season opener, was to showcase the talents of a young Iranian musician (Pedram Amini Abyaneh) and his band of six other young musicians. The smudged and hand-cut announcements for the concert promised "new music, Gipsy Kings" and the music of a few other Western bands who all sounded like they played the Latin/gypsy variety of music so popular among Iranians. My cousin was immensely excited about the concert and perhaps even more so about the semi-illicit meeting with his girlfriend. ... GO TO FEATURE
As the plane descended through the clouds, I had my first glimpse of the land I missed so much, that beautiful flat land. We touched down at Mahshahr Airport, walked out and the first breath of air, the salty, humid air, brought back all the memories that were tucked away for more than twenty years.
My father and I hired a car and drove to Abadan, about an hour away. As we got closer, my heart started to beat faster and I became rather nervous as if I was about to meet a blind date. Our driver friend Mr. Khorshidi narrated our visit telling us that Abadan had been rebuilt. And thank God for that. I don't know if I could endure seeing my town in ruins ... GO TO FEATURE
Last December, Gol Aqa, Iran's most popular satirical magazine, published what it called a proposal to replace current press laws. The piece was published while several moderate newspapers and magazines had been ordered closed by the press court, new prposals were being considered by conservatives in parliament to put further restrictions on the press, and dissident journalists were being "mysteriously" murdered. Meanwhile, Abdulkarim Soroush, a leading critic of the religious establishment, had written an open letter to President Khatami urging him to take firm action to protect the press.
You can start reading Gol Aqa's proposed press bill by going to the introudction. But I would recommend going straight to the bill itself (in Persian): ... GO TO FEATURE
Inferno in Gothenburg
By Susanne Pari
Gothenburg is a city most Americans have never heard of. It's a picturesque place on Sweden's west coast and it's known for delicious shellfish, the largest amusement park in Scandinavia, and a giant Volvo plant. After last October, Gothenburg is now also known for a horrifying discotheque fire that killed more than 65 teenagers, most of them from immigrant families.
Just four days before this tragedy, I was at the Gothenburg Book Festival promoting the Swedish edition of my novel, The Fortune Catcher, about the Iranian Revolution. When I returned to the U.S. and heard about the fire, I thought of my new Swedish friends -- not just those whose ancestors were Vikings, but those who recently emigrated and whose children speak Swedish like the natives they have become ... GO TO FEATURE
Pleasure in pain
Photographs by Shahrokh Golestan
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