April 2005


Photo essay: Qashqaies
Ehsan Shahinsefat

It's a small world

Illegitimate lovechild of a metrosexual ayatollah who donated money to the president of Halliburton whose brother was a fashion designer for Chechnian rebels
Siamack Baniameri

I was only thirteen when I lost my virginity to a thirty-two-year-old reformist prostitute. She was married to a communist drug user who was related to a fundamentalist cross-dresser who dated a suicide bomber while cheating on him with an orthodox Jewish settler in Gaza.

Hungry for L.A.

I'm excited to be playing in Los Angeles, mostly because I can have a decent chelo-kabab
Raman Kia

Now as I think of Simon (the guitarist from my band) and I on Sunday the 15th of May, two days after our LA show, and one day after our Santa Cruz show, sitting at a chelo-kababy, my mouth waters at the serenity that comes only with the end of a pilgrimage. I have tried to depict for him what it is that we will be eating but he just looks at me as if to say, “So it’s just meat and rice?” How can I explain the tryst between Iranians and chelo-kabab?

Not that old hat again

From the daughter of Ahriman to the rib of Adam
Vida Kashizadeh

It is about time for the Iranians (AND non Iranians by all means), who feel the need for religion in order to experience connectedness to the world, to become more eclectic and open and start judging for themselves what is just and what isn't. No religion is free of the social conditions which created it in the first place, and therefore it remains in its truthfulness constantly relative. An absolute religion is a dead religion which has to kill in order to rise to life again. And now back from the question of identity of a nation to the question of the surakh.

Dorood bar Amrika

What Iranians owe to the United States of America
Farid Pirouzian

The Iranian regime has used this national paranoia to reinforce its authority for years. Islamist regime has labeled America as the Great Satan and isolated Iran from the rest of the world. But what if we Iranians take another look at history and invert the question: "What does the U.S. owe to the Iranian people?" In doing so the question becomes: "WHAT DO THE IRANIAN PEOPLE OWE TO THE UNITED STATES?"

Real meal

Photo essay
Sara Catering

A few weeks ago a friend emailed to see if it would be interesting to feature a local businesswoman who has started a catering service -- SaraCatering.com -- from home in the Silicon Valley area, in San Francisco's South Bay. I thought it would be a great idea to do photo essays of the preparation of the various meals. Sara's husband Farshad Afrasiabipour sent these photos. They have promised me adas polo with keeshmeesh and... I wish.

In these times...

Smear tactics and confrontations against Middle East scholars have begun to threaten the rights of free speech and inquiry
Ali Banuazizi

A deep paradox besets the field of Middle Eastern studies and the pre-eminent association that represents it in North America these days. On the one hand, there is a wide recognition of the critical need for expert knowledge and deeper understanding of the Middle East and the Muslim world as the United States faces its most vexing, intractable, and high-stake challenges in this vast region, especially at a time when America's relations with the people of the region are fraught with misperceptions, distrust, and hostility.

Of wine and war

Party time in ancient Iran
Guive Mirfendereski

The Shahnameh is replete with scenes of kings and heroes in the company of wine. In one episode, for example, Esfandiyar feasted on kabob and wine (may) before going into battle against Arjasb. In another story, Rostam and Esfandiyar partook of wine prior to riding into Zabol. What made Ferdowsi’s rendition of such scenes remarkable is that even centuries of Islamic strictures could not efface the visceral connection of the Iranian with wine.


Iranian singer in Sweden
Arash Izadkhasti


Written for song during Iran-Iraq war
Vida Kashizadeh

On the Aryan trail

Honest discussion of Iranian identity is essential to building a prosperous future for Iran
Mohammad R. Jahan-Parvar

Besides an educational system to train bureaucrats, a dynamic legal system, an army and a police force, a modern nation also needs a founding myth! This myth is generally set in the distant past. There are exceptions, US being one of them. But you need a myth to rally the nation. Whether Reza shah was right or wrong in his choice of the founding myth is an open debate. But Aryan origin of (majority) of Iranians is not part of that founding myth.

Democratic culture

On recent legislative alert
National Iranian American Council

While it certainly can be disappointing to discover that one’s opinion reflects the minority viewpoint, one should not permit that disappointment to be manifested through undemocratic acts such as slandering or disrespecting one’s fellow Iranian Americans. Indeed, in a democracy, holders of minority views must struggle to expand their support base, not through slander in the face of loss, but through stronger and more sophisticated advocacy.

Sham o gol o Parvaneh

Short story
Mohammad Hossainzadeh

Heads or tails

USA and political Islam are two sides of one coin
Maryam Namazie

The USA and political Islam both will indiscriminately maim and slaughter the very people they claim to defend. One will behead Westerners feigning defence of women prisoners in Iraq with one hand whilst killing Iraqi women who refuse to veil with another. The other will feign a defence of rights through indiscriminate bombings whilst its soldiers' boots are trampling over tortured naked bodies.

Cohen kohan

Hebrew and Persian
Farhad M.

I am not Jewish. But as an Iranian who has a keen interest in the etymology of the words we use, I've often asked myself : What's the relationship between the Jewish name "Cohen" and the Persian word "kohan" which means "ancient" or more precisely "From immemorial times"? And as a coincidence Ahron Cohen, the first of the line of Cohens, had lived in the time of the Exodus from Egypt, from which the Passeover feast originates. Here are some thoughts to build upon:


Top of the charts

Seems like a dream

Photo essay: Central Asia
Shahriar Zahedi

I just got back from a trip to Central Asia. I went from Shanghai to Urumqi in Chinese Turkistan (Xinjiang) and then to Dushanbe in Tajikistan. From there I flew to Khujand in the north and crossed the land border into Uzbekistan on to Tashkent. I also visited Bukhara. I've been back for a week now but haven't been able to do any writing. I guess I'm still in a daze, trying to digest all that I have taken in. It all seems like a dream.

Post mortem of a strategy

World after 911: Villainous for the faithful and defender of the ungodly!
Iqbal Latif

The task post 911 for the planners of the war on terror was not an easy one, to wage a war against a hidden enemy living within a free society as an undeclared combatant, hell bent on destroying the very fabric of the society that sustains him. For a civilized nation, to dissuade terrorists who loathe the entire western way of life within a strictly 'free society,' is vulnerable. The impasse runs against the very basic law of thermodynamics i.e. more energy would be required to run the security apparatus than the needs of the society. The enormous security structure overheads and elimination of almost all kinds of freedom makes the cost of fighting a true war against 'hidden terrorists' an impossibility.

Memory and rain

Short story
Siamak Vossoughi

Rain in San Francisco is similar to rain in Seattle, especially some place green like Funston Avenue where I live, but rain in Seattle belongs. Rain comes down in Seattle like the whole city has been waiting for it, waiting for it in a way that's just between the city and the rain, and that the people between the two can't understand. All they can do is get wet or not get wet.


Paintings: Effacements
Ali Dadgar

Choose Canada

Did you know Canada SEEKS new immigrants?
Maryam Manteghi

As a Canadian immigration lawyer, these are interesting developments. It's my business to know where people are choosing to immigrate and why. Some people make decisions based on little information or misinformation. I always explain to my European clients that for all the welfare nets of some European countries, they are not and never will be immigration countries, countries built on and strengthened by immigration and diversity.

Life and liberty

Political culture and regime change in Iran
Masoud Kazemzadeh and Shahla Azizi

In the 1970s and 1980s, the dominant ethos among large sectors of the Iranian people was idealistic, altruistic, and celebrated sacrifice for the greater good. Today, on the contrary, the predominant ethos have become excessive selfishness, acquisitiveness, cynicism, and lack of willingness to make the smallest sacrifice to protect the common good. This pendulum-like swing from one extreme to the other has a deleterious impact on the outcome of political struggles in Iran. If this observation is correct, although the overwhelming majority of Iranians are opposed to the ruling Islamic fundamentalist regime, the vast majority are unwilling to pay the price of replacing it.

People power, not American power

National referendum will set in motion peaceful transition to democracy
Pirouz Azadi

It is true that the theological establishment in Iran considers the loss of power as a threat to its existence as a ruling class. Nonetheless, the idea of an all out referendum to seek substantive input from the seventy million Iranians (plus the three million patriots abroad), might serve as a last resort to avoid civil war, a chaotic bloody revolution as in 1979, or external military confrontation with the United States. If the voices of the Iranian peoples were really heard and they were empowered in a democratic federal system, there might be a peaceful passage to modernity that would preserve the noble aspirations of the diverse Iranian culture, including a reformed religion.

When "kaboud" is not

Illusions of color
Guive Mirfendereski

To the Iranians of my generation -- in particular those who spent half-hour of every Monday evening glued to Radio Iran -- the phrase “ziyr-e gombad-e kaboud” meant more than “under the black dome” of the celestial tent overhead. The title of a short-story program, the phrase was also the spatial complement of the phrase “yeki boud-o yeki naboud” that expressed the analogous timelessness of once-upon-a-time at the start of every story. In those my formative years, there was no doubt that the word “kaboud” meant “black” as in the pitch darkness of the moonless night, somehow a universally accepted “best time” for a story.

Death to 6/8

Recently I had 2 nasty disappointments in a row, which caused me to invoke the "enough is enough!' clause
Behrouz Bahmani

Ready? Dare I say it? Ah, fuck it, I am sick of 6/8. What was a hot bouncy beat in '78 has steadily become a drill straight into my brain, and I'm sorry but I just can't take it anymore! When are we going to be honest with the outmoded LA machine, the un-namables regurgitating the crap musical diarrhea they force us to buy?

Persian romance

Asgar was coming for khastegari. But Maryam needed to see Valentino one last time
Payam Ghamsari

Maryam lay there quiescently on her bed dreaming of Asgar and Valetino's kiss. Just as she was slipping further into her arousing daydream until she was rudely awoken from her stupor by the shrill sound of her polyphonic ring tone -- "Ey Iran ey marz-e porgohar..." Maryam hummed along to the tune... "Allo who is dis... ?" She purred.

Freedom to bomb

"Iran Freedom Act" is not intended to bring regime change in Iran by supporting students and organizations
Nema Milaninia

The vast majority of Iranians I know, inside and outside of Iran, seem very clear. This is our revolution to wage and if we want regime change, it will come from us. In fact, Bamdad seems to articulate the same concerns: "Frankly, with much of my immediate family still in Iran, I really don't relish the prospect of anyone bombing Tehran or any other major urban center." Nevertheless, Bamdad believes that "maybe" people in America and Iran want the US to intervene in Iran. Maybe, Bamdad, but maybe is not probably and it is surely not certainly...

Regime change

NIAC does not represent all Iranian Americans
B. Bamdad

Much like you, I was excited to see an organization established several years ago to voice the concerns of Iranian Americans. I assumed some wealthy immigrants from our community decided to chip in and help establish a force to support our interests. After all so many other minorities have similar national organizations ... it seemed a good move now that our numbers have grown in the United States. We truly have been victims of discrimination, and do need to have greater participation in public forums. But recently, I have begun to suspect the motives of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

Afsaaneh-haaye Irani-ye assr-e maa

Three short stories in a series by Mahshid Amirshahi
* Shabi dar mahfel-e jaanevaraan
* Shir va roobaahaan
* Magass-e nimeh daanaa


Al-Ahwazi's claims show the diabolic legacy of Saddam lives on
Nima Kasraie

After killing almost a million people in trying to annex Khuzestan during the Iran-Iraq war, mutant remnants of Sheikh Khaz'al demagoguery are scurrying around trying to disintegrate Iran once again. Now we have the Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Stewart Pettigrew meeting with the leaders of the "Al-Ahwaz" grouplet, officially endorsing their position. This is what happens when thousands of competent conscientious technocrats from all parts, minorities, and political affiliations are banned from running for offices in Iran, and replaced instead by a posse of religious retrogrades who refuse the sacraments of free-thinking, and who have absolutely no clue how to run a country based on contemporary standards.

Found in translation

For Sam, the past lurked behind the meaning and shape of words and the future could be explored and measured with them
Farid Parsa

Sam never appeared tired, bored or anxious -- as if being unemployed was a full-time occupation with exciting prospects. Unlike me he was always clean-shaven, and dressed neatly and expensively. He carried a small, but elegant leather handbag that gave him an aura of affluence. His eyes seemed to be engaged in some higher purpose and they looked beyond earthly contact. He was tall, above six feet and constantly checked the time on his wristwatch, as if running late for an appointment. He never talked to anybody and vanished the second he was done.

Make me Persian

I want to see Toot, Bamieh and Sohan in every pastry store
Brian Appleton

Since Mr. Bush seems determined to invade Iran for the oil under the Iranians feet I think it is only fair that Iran should invade America with pistachios, jasmine, cardamom tea, carpets, backgammon and Rumi. I want to see Faloodeh and Yakht Dar Behesht in every frozen yogurt and ice cream shop. I want to see Toot, Bamieh and Sohan in every pastry store. I want to see the shells of empty pumpkin seeds strewn all over the floor of the movie theatres instead of candy bar wrappers. I want Iranian Americans to gain seats in both the House and Senate; I want an Iranian for President. I want Iranian mayors in every major city and at least a dozen governors.

Champions of wrong causes

Recycling arguments made by every religious fundamentalist
Parissa Sohie

Jordan Cross and Cid Davoodi, I'd like to congratulate you on your willingness to think about social issues and express your views in "Say no to same sex marriage" and "Shahid Schiavo". However, I am struck by the tone and lack of information in both. I realize your teenage youth and enthusiasm may taint your views, just as my age and (lack of) knowledge taint mine. However, youth should not be an excuse for lack of research. I say this, not because I necessarily disagree with your perspectives, but because you seem woefully misguided.


(in the night for a Knight of secret inwardness)

Either touching down on the ground of didthing, the existential level?, or flowing like fountains, as fountains go on existing, you know, got eternal milk, God Malte? NNNooo k-nowing about mourning and the black intestines actually, and calling up, clicking clack the aesthetics of realizing the missing some.thing, missing some.one, perhaps the Ave Che-mamaria and his Olympian Caravan through an orange revolution all the way down to Malta and returning Home to Asturias in the north of Spain --

A Flamenco lesson for Michael Howard

Persian Jew condemns British Conservative leader's policies on refugees
Peyvand Khorsandi

Last week, Federico Mazandarani phoned up Conservative Party leader Michael Howard - who hopes to oust Blair’s Labour government from power at the UK's general election on 5 May - on a radio talk show. "I would like to say to Mr Howard that, like his grandfather, I am a Jew who is a refugee in this country. But unlike Mr Howard, I have dark skin and dark hair. And every time Mr Howard opens his mouth and talks about foreigners who are invading this country in the way that he does, life for me and people like me who are working extremely hard... ," he said.


How to dismantle jadedness -- Japanese Style

Sometime during the fourteen-hour flight between New York and Tokyo, Toby reached over from his seat which was directly behind mine and handed me a book titled: HOW TO BEHAVE IN JAPAN or something equally pragmatic; as if to say, "Read this or you will misbehave badly." The book proved to be a handy little companion guiding us on all matters of etiquette in Japan such as never pointing but always waving in the general direction of the object or person one wants to draw attention to.

Alireza Eftekhari

"Be Donbaaleh Del"
New CD

For children's sake

Parents, children and the 1979 Revolution
Lobat Asadi unedited

While it is tempting, you just can't blame the 1979 Revolution for everything. We should take a hard look at how some men left behind their children in order to either save their country or encourage the Revolution. The latter, no self-respecting intellectual Iranian will ever admit to, no matter how open-minded. But the disturbing truth remains that many did support the revolution, yet most regret their decision. As a result, some Iranian youth of the 70s had to endure the loss of their pride and history as well as and the break up of their family.

Papal plea for reconciliation

The new pope may not be as divisive as he was as a cardinal
Iqbal Latif

I was wondering why Cardinal Ratzinger of Germany elected Pope Benedict XVI as his Papal name, it was expected that the next Papa would be John Paul III. After the great term of John Paul II it would have required a lot of guts from a man who lived under his shadow as chief enforcer of puritanical doctrine. Ratzinger has a long record of controversial remarks on Islam, Buddhism, politics,and social issues such as homosexuality.

Shokooh's couch

"I am always tired"
Shokooh Miry

Always Tired writes: How much sleep is enough for me? How do I know if I am getting enough sleep? What can I do to fall asleep more easily at night so that I feel more energy in the morning? My wife thinks I have a sleep problem. She wants to spend more time with me, but I am always tired. Is she right? Is there something wrong with me? I don’t want to take medications -- what other options do I have?

What's up, Tech?

Save your eyes
Tourang Birangi

Many times when I walk by co-workers' computers I notice that the refresh rate on many people's monitors is set too low. My eyes have become kind of sensitive to the 60 Hz flickering.

Holding no punches

Photo essay: Sports women
Farzaneh Khademian

Selected poems from Azar Khajavi's book of poetry "Va Aftab Nemidaanest":
* Mohakemeye Aftab
* Koli
* Havva
* Arash
* Tab-e Rooyesh

My sweet little terrorist

Like creatures from another planet
127 Band


"Doost": Sohrab Sepehri's poem for Forough Farrokhzad
Interpretation and translation by Ali Sadri

Shab-e sangsaar

Mohammad Ali Isfahani

Shabi dar Aten

One night in Athens

On both sides of the pond

The foundation of life is one
Sheema Kalbasi & Alessio Zanelli

I'm every woman

Bearing witness and capturing truth in frozen glances
Samira Mohyeddin

Night in her forest

For Antje
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi


Fond of whatever bread and religion we are fed
Sholeh Wolpé


Life is not a dream
Farah Afshari


Whenever I get near you, you suddenly disappear
Mehran Makki

Iranian guy on the dance floor

... I cannot help but smile

Father & Mother

10-year old poet
Anna Ansari

Choob dosar talaa

Short story
Mohammad Hossainzadeh

See you in Germany

I've got my t-shirt, face paint and boogh ready for 2006 World Cup
Mahsa J

Last year someone told me that the new Team Melli is a young and talented bunch with a good chance of making their way to the 2006 World Cup. Truth is until recently I had once again lost track of who these fresh players are and whether the rosy predictions are true or not. I have never been much of a sports fan, but when it came to the World Cup, I used to support Italy, mostly because of the great looking players -- I could care less about their handling of the ball. Of course when Iranian football came back on the world scene, I was all excited, especially after the 1998 qualifier between Iran and Australia.

Shahid Schiavo

Terri Schiavo - December 3, 1963 -- March 31, 2005
Jordan Cross and Cid Davoodi

On March 31, 2005, Terri Schiavo passed away after battling starvation and dehydration for nearly fourteen days. By order of her legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, her family was not allowed near during her final hours. Some people do not know the facts about Terri Schiavos life and death. Her husband claims that Terri verbally told him that "I don't want to be kept alive on a machine." This, however, comes as a surprise, to say the least, since Terri was an active member of the Catholic Church.

Buried treasure

A review of "Zoroastrian Houses of Yazd" by Mary Boyce
Ryszard Antolak

Sometimes old buildings possess the virtue to express far better than words the fears and uncertainties of nations or religious groups. The old Zoroastrian houses of Yazd are one such example. Civil and religious persecution have dictated the style and pattern of their unusual architecture. Memories of repression are encoded in the design of their thick adobe walls. They are voices frozen into stone.

All that glitters

Photo essay: Sa'dabad Palace, Tehran
Aref Erfani

Suffocating charmer

Am I happy to be landing in Tehran? Or not?
Shahla Azizi

I am headed to Tehran and although I was feeling rather panicked last night right now I feel fine. I feel more than fine actually -- I feel good. Thanks to the two Codeine pills and copious amounts of Sylvaner wine that I have downed so far -- this being a Lufthansa flight I figure I should go with the German white rather than the Chilean red even though the meal was the kind of wannabe beef that only airplane’s can serve. I also feel happy because I am going to see my friend and my kids. And oddly enough I have grown fond of my life in Iran. Although an incredibly suffocating and dreary place, shrouded in a collective sense of depression and hopelessness, with little to do outside the home, Tehran has still managed to charm me.

The crisis of Persian culture

Part 1: Shajarian in Washington
Rasool Nafisi

Shajarian's tenor lends itself to melancholic and sad songs. But he performs many tasneefs with happy rhythms, such as "doush doush." The contrast between the tenor and the message and rhythm of some tasneefs is so obvious that one may assume he is doing this just as a duty. Many traditionalists in fact prefer "avaz," because singing tasneef is presumed to be below the status of the "masters;" a carry over from "rowzeh" (religious sermon and lamentation over the death of martyrs), into secular music.

Cooking a fish

Reviewing three photo essays
Vida Kashizadeh

The focus has to change. I am not against capturing nature and beautiful villages in principle. In fact the environmental issues are of major concern to me. What I am talking about is the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. What we need now is a journey within, in order to get to know ourselves, our motivations, our relationship with the world and how we get influenced and can in turn influence the world.

This doctor shit is hard

Part 3: What happens the day before the big test?
Maziar Shirazi

I got up at around 9 am, even though I usually take advantage of Fridays to sleep in. After 45 minutes of video games and a shower, me and my man Noel went to Fuddruckers, which sells massive hamburgers, and ate a big meal. He's taking the MCAT too, and although we were both thinking about the exam a little bit, we mostly talked about girls, roommates, New Brunswick's crazy guy, and the massive amount of nothing that we were going to do after this Saturday.


Iranian alternative jazz
Babak Khiavchi

127 is an Iranian 5 piece band -- guitar, piano, trombone, bass and drums -- with roots in Iranian melodies and jazz with an alternative sound. The band was to perform at the SXSW 2005 Music Festival in Austin, Texas, on March 19th, but was not able to because of U.S. visa restrictions.

Staying in place

Did a small piece of cloth on her head really make a difference?
Najmeh Fakhraie

Maybe it had to do with marrying a deeply religious man, or just habit. But somewhere along the line, when she was busy recording religious sermons on her old Sinatra tapes -- years later, she regretted not having that sultry voice to listen to -- or angrily fighting with her parents who seemed not able to understand the inner turmoil she was going through, she came to fully accept the head garments and the long sleeved shirts. As the years went by, that became less and less of a political statement and more of a personal choice, one that she was ridiculed for over and over by strangers in different countries and even her friends.

Tourist burgers

As an American traveling in Iran, the overall impression I got was that young people want to join our 21st century global community
Diane Fisher

In today's Iran, the religious leaders still hold the reins of power, but there is new generation coming of age in the country, one born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and impatient for modernisation and freedom. Cities are full of pizza joints, 'tourist burgers', Pepsi (despite having no formal diplomatic relationship with the United States, this spearhead of global capitalism has succeeded in penetrating), internet cafes and horrendous traffic.

My people

Interview with the author of "Searching for Hassan"
Fariba Amini

Terence Ward: We had been given a gift as young children, by Hassan Ghasemi, our cook and master storyteller in the extraordinary country of Iran. My three brothers and I wept when we said our goodbyes to him on our last day in 1969. After a long separation of almost 30 years, many questions haunted us: the chaos of the Revolution, the brutal Iraq War.  So, our journey back to find Hassan, who had injected so much love into our lives, was a complete miracle for us all. Searching for Hassan is an attempt to repay, maybe that’s not the right word, I am trying to honor the gift that we have been given. My wife and I are writers. We do not seek stories, they find us.

Letters from Nowhereland

If I were a cartoon, my jaw would have been on the floor and my eyebrows just below the ceiling
R. Faze

My Dear Cousins, By now you know something has happened and not simply because it’s been a while since we wrote and even longer since we’ve seen each other; long absences are part of life when you are scattered around the world. So, I’ll tell you a few things about what happened. For the past two years, as you may have heard, I’ve been a freelance writer. Not really much of a ‘real’ job. Definitely not something our parents would approve of, what with the low pay, lack of benefits, the uncertainty and all that. The newspaper that buys most of my articles, an English language paper, called The Daily Gomi, is based in Tokyo.

Persian romance

It starts with a caress and ends in bliss.
Our eyes meet as I graze your lips.
Payam Ghamsari
Part 3

Asgar raced towards his cousin's restaurant -- it served a delicious combination of Iranian, Italian and Spanish cuisine -- cruising at a hundred miles an hour. He loved the feel of speed and racing other cars. Suddenly he saw the car in front of him breaking as the traffic lights turned red, Asgar slammed on the brakes and just managed to avoid smashing into the car in front of him. In the car next to him he saw an Arab sitting in a Porsche Boxster. Asgar glared at him as his blood started to boil. The sight of an Arab sitting in a Porsche brought back painful memories of when his last girlfriend Leila had cheated on him with Malik because of his Porsche.


Girl in the Mirror
Pop singer

Phone with no ring

Satanic communication
Peyvand Khorsandi

Yesterday I went to the basement of Carphone Warehouse in London's Oxford Street, a first-aid centre for mobile telephones. The older gentleman in front of me looked familiar. I asked if he was a writer. "Yes," he said. It was, as I had suspected, the novelist and essayist John Berger. I told him I met Salman Rushdie a few months back. He was in a pub with his partner Padma Lakshmi. I patted him on the shoulder and said, "I'm Iranian and on behalf of my country I apologise".

Camel journeys

Desert sojourns
Nahal Toosi

Cairo - The camel appeared uninterested in me. He was 10 years old, his name was Mickey Mouse, and to him, I was probably nothing more than just another tourist he'd have to take for a brief ride across the desert sands. What number was I? 556? 3,072? To me, he was Camel No. 2.

Born again vs. the renaissance

Culture wars masquerading as development theory
Ross Pourzal

In the Eurocentric worldview of the native intelligentsia, pious Iranians who claimed to have discerned Ayatollah Khomeini's likeness on the moon epitomized superstition and opposition to progress on a national scale. But the dissidents did not have the same reaction last week when the media reported similar illusions expressed by some of the Western pilgrims at the Pope's funeral. Nor have I heard many of them publicly condemn the evangelical circus preceding Terry Schiavo's death in Florida late last month.

A love letter to Iran

Fasten your seat belts. You are going to meet the most notable Iranology scholars of the 20th century
Majid Tehranian

I first met Professor Frye as a graduate student at Harvard. He was a lanky, bow-tied, and sharp-witted Agha Khan Professor of Iranian. He welcomed me to the class by saying if Mohammad would not go to the mountain, the mountain would go to Mohammad. I was auditing his course and, therefore, did not have to fear his grading style, which was reputed to be exacting. I took an immediate liking to him. And I grew fonder of him as I came to know him better.

Forgiving Saddam

A note to a Iraq's Kurdish presidnet
Kamal H. Artin

It is a pleasure to hear that since Qazi Muhamad we now have another Kurdish head of a state, although the state you are heading is not Kurdish. Congratulation to you, your family, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Iraqi people for your selection as the first Kurdish President of Iraq. Hopefully your neighbors learn from the Iraqi experience and eliminate their bias toward Kurds so that they in return eliminate their bias toward them.

Going places

Photo essay: Masouleh, Dizin, Abyaneh, Isfahan, Boushehr ...
Ehsan Khoshroo

Ziba Shirazi

Sample tracks from new CD, "Havaa-ye Taazeh"
Jahanshah Javid

Often you pick up a CD hoping that the music lives up to the tantalizing title. But Ziba Shirazi's "Havaa-ye Taazeh" is indeed a fresh breeze. Shirazi delivers her trademark I'm-a-proud-woman attitude with playful, modern sophistication. If I didn't know she lives in southern California, I would have thought she was born and raised in Paris. Shirazi has proven once again that she's one of the finest and most original Iranian musical artists -- in or out of Iran

Visiting Massih

‘Where are we going?’ we would ask. ‘To the Eternal Garden.’
A.S. Mostafanejad

Even now, almost fifty years later, the drive to the Eternal Garden appears as a dream. A recurring walk in some overgrown secluded forest, with poorly defined paths. I am walking those trails now in my mind, dimly aware that I have been here before to visit Massih. Not in happier times, but always in reverence. Massih, too, remains continually aloof. An abstract duality; one a happy giggling child playing peek-a-boo from behind the crib railings, waiting to grab your nose or hair, if you dared come too close, and laugh out gleefully if you pretended surprise. The other a fawn in distress, motionless, rolled into a fetal position, dewy with perspiration, silently staring at the far wall.

Asbhaa va meh

Based on "Golden Arch"
Shokooh Mirzadegi


How old are you? How much do you weigh?... Are numbers really necessary?
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

People’s sensitivity about age has always fascinated me. Would I dare ask how old you are? Certainly not, at least, not unless you’re under thirty. When it comes to age, I envy the old generation of Iranians. My great grandfather didn’t even have a birth certificate. Nobdy celebrated birthdays back then and no one kept track of them, either. There were four age groups: child, adult, middle aged and old. Even in our previous generation, nobody seemed to care about birthdays. In fact, not too many of them seemed to know the exact date. “You were born in the year of the big earthquake.”

Eastern eyes

Mixed media
Parima Shahin Moghaddam

Down with Democrats

What is truly wrong with the American Democratic Party
Rosa Faiz

It is a strange world, of course, where a Pope that provides sinister cover for paedophiles and sadistically outlaws proper preventative measures to be exercised against AIDS... gets exonerated to high heaven... The strangeness however pales when we consider the willful ignorance and indeed the pride in ignorance exercised by the well-paid, very well-fed, well-educated, well-housed, and not-too-worried about any consequences of anything thought, said, or done. We are referring, politely mind you, to the elite participants in the game of deluding selves and others; the aristocracy of the voters for Democratic Party USA.

Democracy within autocracy

People in the Middle East still gravitate towards individuals who most resemble a Supreme Being, who is compassionate, merciful, generous and wise
Mahin Bahrami

“In the name of the Compassionate and Merciful God”. NOT “In the name of the Democratic and Freedom Loving God”? Could this be considered as a hint towards what most of the people in the Middle East deeply and truly value, at least for now? Perhaps if we listened carefully to what is blared out of the mosques’ speakers, day in day out, we would find out what the majority holds as value. Contrary to common belief, most people in the Middle East don’t even know what democracy is and don’t care for it.

True gem

Photo essay: People, pets & places in Cuba

Konfraans-e Bandung

Difference between Mossadegh and his contemporary Third World leaders
Hassan Behgar

Shab-e Luli

Songs & poetry
Vida Kashizadeh

Drifting through Iran

Photo essay
Nickmard Khoey

Between Persian and plain pasta

I inherited my grandmother’s earnestness about Persian cooking but none of her confidence
Jasmin Darznik

There were no cookbooks in my house when I was growing up. All cooking was performed from memory and honed by experience, and everything my mother and grandmother cooked pointed the way back home, that is to say, Iran. In fact, the first cookbook to enter our house was presented to me as a high school graduation gift from my Farsi teacher, a goodly woman with justifiable concern for our culture’s culinary future in the hands of girls like me.

Ambassadors vs. Ambassador

The Unites States and the United Nations
Fereydoun Hoveyda

Some fifty-nine former ambassadors and officials have signed a letter to the U.S. Senate against the nomination of John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The gist of their argumentation boils down to the fact that the nominee has always been disdainful of multilateral diplomacy in general and the world organization in particular.

Divided under god

Photo essay: Visiting Lebanon & Syria


Habib Tohidi

Persian romance

Part 2: Passion inspired by the most traditional and sacred of Persian instruments: the Yamaha keyboard
Payam Ghamsari

As Asgar entered Maryam's boudoir his breath was taken away, such a beautiful room. The scent of rose water filled the air and on the floor was an intricately woven Persian carpet. On either side of the bed were two Romanesque columns, the walls were filled with tasteful black and white photographs of Maryam. Next to her bed was poster of Andy and on her bed was a Versace bedspread, gold and turquoise.

Face it, Behrooz is gay

If we only put aside our ignorance and not assume everyone has to be heterosexual
Nazy Tehrani

Most Iranian parents cannot accept/imagine that their sons/daughters can have a different sexual orientation other than heterosexual. In their views their daughters and sons can be lawyers, doctores, and engineers but not homosexuals. That would be the biggest family shame. Some even argue that "Iranian" and "homosexuaity" do not mix, therefore all Iranians are heterosexuals.

Khod-khaahee va khodi-khaahi

Zahra Kazemi and Terri Schiavo
Dariush Sajjadi

Followers of the Truth

Interview with Partow Hooshmandrad on the music of the Ahl-i Haqq in Iranian Kurdistan + 70 photos
Jahanshah Javid


50-year-old songs that'll make Googoosh blush
Milad Sfandiary

Shokooh's couch

Signs of depression
Shokooh Miry

Anonymous writes: I know that this might be a loaded email, but any help would be wonderful. I am married to my wife of 6 years and as of the last two years, I have noticed my wife being down. Lately, the last 6 months, the frequency of her being "down" is more often and even more lately, last 2 month, her symptoms are more severe. She is crying a lot. Feeling of despair and hopelessness, and a lot of signs of depression…

What's up, Tech?

Satellite images
Tourang Birangi

When I was at school, having a book of maps with different parts of the Earth was interesting but I could not wait until I got my hands on a spherical Globe. It was when I finally bought a Globe that I realized how the continents, oceans and even mountain ranges were inter-connected. Soon after, however, my Globe turned into a soccer ball, and was kicked around the house until my brother's foot poked a hole in it
from China to Turkey.

Persian power in Paris

Photo essay
Kaveh M

Old friends

I silently observe her diamond ring and the lovely shade of pink on her fingernails and push my gardener hands deep into my pockets
Zohreh Khazai Ghahremani

I look forward to meeting an old friend whom I have not seen in years. None of my new friends know my hometown or my family and there aren’t too many people left who can recall my childhood. I need someone to validate my youth and it seems as if, without that, I’ve been middle aged forever. “You haven’t changed at all,” she says. “Not a day older than the last time I saw you!”


My Iranian of the year
Siamack Baniameri

Like many of you, I'm sucker for a good story and I love individuals who defy logic and conventional wisdom to get their point across. The world has gone so conservative, religious and politically correct that you hardly ever meet interesting people anymore; people who have the ability to entertain by insulting everything that is sacred to us. While the media is consumed by Christian zealots and Moslem fundamentalists, people who live alternative lives are completely ignored.

Ehdaa-e boors

Granting scholarships to Iranian students in Toronto
Souryeh Kabiri

Returning to Rome

The Western legal system of the 20th Century is driven from Roman law
Fatima Farideh Nejat

I had a memorable semester at the American University of Rome in Fall of 1996. Watching the procession of Pope John Paul II panders me to publish this essay on the meaning of the canon law and its long history.

Happiest exiles

Photo essay: 13 Bedar in Los Gatos, Northern California
Talieh Shahrokhi

Rooz-e avval-e ghabr

Short story
Hossein Nushazar

Workers show muscle

A fresh breeze in the labour movement in Iran
Bahram Soroush

If you cast your mind back to a few years ago in Iran, it was very rare, because of the repression and the brutal suppression of the workers' movement in Iran, for workers to come out openly in support of each other. But during the past six months to a year we are witnessing that workers more openly and publicly are supporting each other. So we had groups of workers from different industries sending solidarity messages -- for example, from the huge Iran Khodro car manufacturing company, as well as from Mashinsazi-e Tabriz, a large engineering tools manufacturer.

Time tells

Former Mojahed tries to come clean
Farid Parsa

Masoud Banisadr's Memoirs of an Iranian Rebel (Saqi Books, London, 2004) begins his story with his dysfunctional upbringing. The love that his divorced mother gave him was a short respite in between the harsh treatment of his father who left him emotionally scarred. Masoud is typical of his pseudo-intellectual generation. Disgruntled by many things around him from politics to the economy , he is deluded into believing that only the country run by certain ideological manifestos can truly liberate the masses.

Peace through sports

Humane response to bigotry, intolerance and prejudice
Iqbal Latif

PARIS -- The positive influence of sport on all aspects of human life - its benefits of instituting mutual understanding across divisions of race, culture and gender - means that its importance ought to be recognized in peace-building and global reconciliation initiatives. 'Peace through Sports' is a new frontier opened for humanity. The belated recognition of the true value of sport in promoting coexistence, however, means that peace through sports is a relatively new occurrence. Sports in modern world are helping gel nations together.

Japanese fans in Tehran

Photo essay: Iran-Japan football match
Nader Davoodi

Canada & Kazemi

A Canadian citizen is a Canadian citizen is a Canadian citizen?
Samira Mohyeddin

How Canada purports to hold the Iranian government accountable for Zhra Kazemi's murder has yet to be discovered. Keep in mind, that two years have passed since the detainment, rape, torture, and murder of the Iranian-Canadian photojournalist in Iran, and the Canadian government continues to "search for the truth", and "review its options." In fact, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pierre Pettigrew, has already noted that Canada is not going to recall its ambassador to Iran, nor will it propose economic sanctions.

Under an umbrella

Individual vs. society and the role of the Kurdish National Congress
Kamal H. Artin

In term of geographical location, Kurdish society is being broken apart between four unreasonable countries; it lacks a recognized national identity. It lacks industrial development, jobs, and security. It is impractical now to expect all parts of Kurdistan to be united. However, it is practical that an organization such as the Kurdish National Congress uses the Model of African, Indian, or Jewish National Congresses and becomes a broader, pluralistic, and umbrella organization for all factions of the Kurdish society.

The Inshallahs

Key players in the Middle East
Bobby Burner

I recall very well the day I very politely asked my religion teacher, after he had spend an hour or two on reasoning for God's existence, how I could believe in a god that I can't see with my eyes. The teacher came towards me looking very angry and shocked. He sent me to the principal's office after slapping me hard on my face. Later I was expelled because of what they called it "kind of blasphemy." Well, as I was under 18 and this was one of the "good" schools in Iran, my father was blamed for not bringing me up in the "right way".

Peanuts and pistachios

Another Iranian-American woman; another book
Peyvand Khorsandi

Iranian-American women’s memoir is fast becoming a genre of its own. Marjan Mirabdolbaghi’s Peanuts and Pistachios is its latest offering. Here’s an excerpt: Our plane touched town and my mother shed a tear. We were in America now and things would never be the same. I looked at my father, his moustache proud if slightly fatigued by our journey, carrying the aspirations of a generation.

Liberty Gulf

U.S. renames Persian Gulf to
" promote freedom and democracy"

Rethinking "Ey Iran"

This terrible song is for silly royalists, whining Mossadeghists, sheepish ex-Hezbollahis, and clueless leftists, both inside and outside Iran
Hushang Shahabi-Sirjani

I have just opened my 27th Nowruz e-card containing a recording of Ey Iran. The centrality of this song to Iranians' collective identity first struck me when I gave a lecture at an Iranian association in the United States a few years ago. I was flabbergasted that proceedings began with a playing of Ey Iran, as the audience got up, put the right hand on the heart (an ancient Iranian gesture attested in the Avesta and the Shahnemeh, no doubt), and looked solemn.

Aghdashloo quits "24"

Iranian-American star leaves hit Fox TV show amid controvery
Ken Hakarimoran
Khollywood Reporter

In a stunning announcement Thursday at the Gala Night ceremonies, oscar-nominated actor Shohreh Aghdashloo announced she is quitting "24", the FOX counter-terrorism show. Aghdashloo, who was nominated last year for the supporting actress role in "The House of Sand and Fog," cited personal reasons for her decision. She said after long hours of contemplation and soul-searching, she could not continue with the show in good conscience.

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