Hafez, iPhones and the 21st century Iran.

I remember visiting my grandparents house when I was younger. My parents would drop me off and I would spend the weekend hanging out with them. One of my favourite parts was when my grandpa would read to me from his beloved Divan e Hafez. Back then I was too young to understand most of of it, (Honestly not a lot has changed ) but the melodic weight of the words was enough to keep me entertained. Also running up to the bedroom, grabbing the book, closing my eyes and neyat-ing for a new bike or video game was also something I was known to do. I would open the book run downstairs and beg my grandpa to tell me if I was going to get it. Those were fun times but that was more than twenty years ago. A lot has changed since then.

Iran is not the same place it was 20 years ago. I visited Tehran last summer and remember seeing kids walking through the streets sporting iPhones, talking about Justin Bieber, discussing Obama and debating the fate of Iran’s nuclear program. Regardless of the sanctions stacked against Iran, Iranians are more connected than ever. With endless satellite channels and unrestricted internet, everyone seems to have at least a facebook profile. Much has changed since I was seven.

However last week, while looking through Apple’s iTunes, browsing for apps, I came across a Hafez App. Interesting thing was that this wasn’t the only app in the store, there were five other ones like it. I downloaded this one because it was free and it seemed well done. I spent a few hours playing around with it. As I was navigating through the poems, I remember sitting on my grandpa’s lap and reading the Divan. Then I realized although things might have changed in twenty years, there are some things that probably never change. I remember last summer, as I walking through the streets of Tehran, thinking to myself that most of these kids don’t get to experience what I had with my grandpa. That the days of opening a poetry book from a poet who lived hundreds of years ago is not relevant in 21st century Iranian culture. With the dominance of Apple, the new age of Facebook and Google, the young Iranian population can’t be bothered with ancient poetry about love and desire.

As I took a ‘Faal” on the app I realized that I was wrong 🙂

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