Ever since The Islamic Republic of Iran has coiled it’s constricting grip around us and our country of origin, an aura of negativity has permanently descended upon us. We have been beaten, brainwashed, ignored, assaulted, raped, and become chronically depressed. AliReza’s death was in the news, because he was a Prince. Yet there are countless others as well that never make the news. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There r millions of others too.
This time, I am going to break with tradition and instead of the usual expressions of misery and negativity, attempt to focus on something positive, i.e. to think of 10 things that randomly come to my mind about Iran and America each. These are the things I feel grateful for just from the top of my head. What a waste if we forget being thankful for the things we do have. So here’s my list:
10 positive things about Iran:
- The memory of the sound of the zoodpaz, and smell of the food in the zoodpaz, as noon approaches. I sit in the raah-pelleh and watch how khaaleh waters the shamdooni goldoons sitting on the stone steps.
- The taste of the foods, by far the best in the world. Even Meikadeh in San Fransisco doesnt come close to the taste one experiences in a simple sofreh with the inlaws on panjshanbeh shab.
- The sounds I hear when I go downstairs in the Pasazh Arianne bookstore in Mirdamad. It was where I heard contemporary Iranian Smooth Jazz for the first time. People have uncanny este’daad there. Cant deny it.
- The experience of unique little things, like being able to sit with somebody in the front seat of the old Taxis, and position your left leg so that the driver can freely shift gears.
- The heritage, specifically architecture. Have u been to here? Have u seen this? This? Have u felt the desolate whisper of the wind whistling thru the arcade of an abandoned caravansara? I have. Have u felt the draft inside of a teemcheh? If u dont know or havent seen Iranian architecture up close, you really havent seen Iran at all.
- The people’s resourcefulness. Under war, yaaraaneh, economic hardship, people there try to make with the best of what they have. If we’re going on a picnic, and there’s no room for everyone, hell, we’ll just cram all 12 people inside the car and go ahead to the baagh outside Damavand! If the timing belt of the old renault cant be found or bought, theyll make one using granny’s stockings. And it works every time! Ive never seen any other people be so resourceful. Maybe that’s who The Police are singing about when they sing “When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around“.
- The closeness of fellow classmates. Being schooled in Iran is a whole other animal. After experiencing 4 different major universities in America, none of them have ever come close to the experience I got of going to a major Iranian university. Playing hokm at 3 in the morning with 5 other guys at Khabgah #8 while discussing Kant’s categorical imperative with Pink Floyd playing in the background? Priceless. The friendships there are forged for life, and they are truly unique.
- The contrast. Iran is a land of contrasts. The desert makes the baagh look greener. The Hijab makes the sex feel more gratifying. The hot aridness makes the water feel much cooler. Contrast by default creates incredible sensual stimuli. In every aspect. For example, why does sticking your feet in the cool howz on a hot summer’s day in the hayaat with the orange fish swimming in it feel sooo much better than chilling out in some pool here in Vegas? Remember that final scene in the movie Children of Heaven? (minute 4:30 onward on this clip). That’s what I’m talking about right there. (the scene on minute 5:30 is so fucking BRILLIANT)
- The introversion. Everything is designed inward. From our Sufi roots to our music to our architecture. It’s designed to express mystical and spiritual states. Have u noticed that whereas houses in America are a separate building sitting inside a parcel of sorrounding land, in Iran it’s the land that is enclosed by the walls of the house, with the focus on the microcosm and the inside, not outside. There’s a fucking awesome reason for it all. Iranians have always been mystics at heart. Rememer “The Magi”? The Cup of Jamshid used for scrying? The dualism of Zartosht? Hallaj? Sohrevardi? Shah Nematollah? The darvish sitting next to Hafez’s tomb? Somehow, it all feels just fittingly natural there.
- The women. Iranian women. Always attentive. Always mehraban. Always considerate. A very different species from the sorority chick smoking on the couch who you met while in college here. At least that’s my experience. I feel so grateful for that.
10 positive things about the US:
- The incredible beauty of the land. Stunning when u stand under a Redwood and glance high above at the Eagle’s nest. Pay close attention, and youll even hear a woodpecker on the same tree. Or how about when u gaze at a fjord or lake in Alaska. Or a vista in Utah. By God this land is blessed. No wonder the National Park System has been dubbed “America’s Best Idea“.
- The affinity and resonance of Native American culture with our own Sufi erfan perspectives. I feel right at home because of that. Fascinating how Sheikh Bastam meets Don Juan 🙂
- Free refills! Whoever thought of that first was a genius. Roohash shaad.
- The positive outlook on life. It always fascinates me how Americans look at the full half of the glass, dorost aks-e maa.
- Keeping the door open for the next guy that’s behind you. Fucking awesome. What a beautiful habit these people have.
- Rationalism. I’m eternally grateful to the American higher education system for that. I went to Iran’s top university, and they never taught us how to properly think, debate, analyze, and critique from a rational point of view. Not like here at least. In Iran, it was all about learning the textbook tooti-vaar, xeroxing the jozveh, and finding previous year’s test questions. Here, you have to actually expend energy and think your way through things. Sambalization doesnt exactly work here. In Iran, the focus was on efficiency via the least action principle. Here, it’s all about fostering independent intellectualism. There it was about the end. Here it’s about the means. The American higher education system basically taught me how to think.
- Everyone smiles here. Walk on a sidewalk, smile, and they (mostly) smile back at you. And even if u dont smile, some people smile at you just passing by without knowing who u are. That’s awesome. You NEVER see that in Iran. In fact, over there, if u smile at people while strolling down pich shemroon, chances are u might end up getting tangled in some “namoosi” scuffle. Or as we were instructed “sareto paaeen bendaaz pesar”.
- New York Cheesecake. Love it. Love it. Love it.
- The music. So diverse. So live. So sensual. When you hear Dean Martin, you just start singing with him! When you hear Stan Getz on the Sax, you just want to start crying it’s so emotionally nostalgic. When you see Steve Vai on the guitar, you just want to join him and meditate with him. It’s that fuckin good.
- The freedom. Oh yes. No negahban asking me “agha shoma?” when Im entering a library. No Basiji kid asking me who the girl is. No reeshoo idiot telling me I cant wear a T-shirt to school. Thank You The Star Spangled Banner. Thank You.
There you go. That’s my casual list. What’s your list? Wanna share it with us? 🙂