Following the diva to almost any destination. But why?
I mean why do we have to leave our jobs and take leaves just to go to another city to see her and watch her and smell the air of Googoosh? What brings all these thousands of dedicated fans who keep going to her concerts over and over again? What does this woman have to offer to us which is so novel yet so old that has kept generations loyal to her for half a century? Witnessing the huge number of Iranian-American of all ages that attended these last few concerts made me even more confused and bewildered? Who is this woman and why an entire nation love her so much? The story of my own love-affair with Googoosh goes back to over 35 years ago. I would like to share it all with you.
A novel based on a true story
It was a typically hot day in Tehran as I finished my homework in my somewhat spacious bedroom. It was almost too big, but with very few contents. I just had my small bed in one corner, next to the radiator. I loved it there for the winters, where I could squeeze my toes in between the rails. Above my bed was a huge window, which looked out onto our back garden, if you could call it that. It was more like a garden attached to an orchard. I loved looking out of it on hot summer days when the sun was too strong to play outside. In the opposite corner was my little desk with its matching stool.
I break a rose bud and slip it in my pocket while trying to justify "everything happens for a reason" in my mind
"Salam azizam." She is all smiles and her frail body wraps itself around mine, as we try to restrain the tears that don't know their time or place. She whispers to me, calmly and rationally, trying to pace my sadness and her own. When tragedy strikes, amidst the shock and delirium that follows, someone must keep the troops standing and strong. Someone must push the broken soldiers onward. I recognize the signs of the leader of the wounded in her eyes.
Smoldering in Tehran, Part 7
Some time in the 1990s, “civil society” -- jame’e-ye madani -- entered popular and official parlance. Loosely connected to Khatami’s “dialogue of civilizations,” nongovernmental organizations popped up everywhere and NGO became a familiar word. Over 2000 registered NGOs were listed in a resource publication by the end of the decade. While religious charities and “G-NGOs” -- governmental non-governmental organizations -- comprised a great many of the listed organizations, many impressive grassroots efforts were also made. Having contacts in a number of old and new civic organizations in Iran, I started my own nonprofit in the U.S. to mobilize international support for the terrific work that these organizations did.
CIelebrating the writings and research of Hammed Shahidian who had a laconic commitment to women's rights
On November 26, 2005, colleagues, friends, family, and admirers came together at the University of Toronto to honour the memory and legacy of scholar, professor, and activist, Dr. Hammed Shahidian. Organized by friends and colleagues of Shahidian's, Dr. Shahrzad Mojab and Dr. Haideh Moghissi, the memorial had a very charged atmosphere. Meaning, there was an overwhelming awareness of the loss that both academics and activists of social justice have encountered. Charged, because the memorial was a testimonial of how Shahidian's writings on the oppression of women in Iran have contributed and paved paths to area's of inquiry that have gone against the dominant narratives in the academy.
Photo essay: India is not a country. India is an idea
Herfeh-am avaam faribi, pisheh-am raees jomhoori...
Book: Understanding and opposing the Islamic Republic
Ghassem Hajizadeh's paintings
I laughed and laughed until I reached a point where all I wanted to do was cry
Last Saturday, a good friend invited us to attend the performance of Hadi Khorsandi. Those who had seen his other programs said he was at his best and I laughed as hard as anyone in that packed auditorium. However, for the first time, I left a comedy with a deep melancholy. How ironic that, of all the Iranian programs, I would choose this one simply for the fact that it promised an amusing, happy evening. Having enjoyed Khorsandi’s humor in the past, the sad feeling his words left me with surprised even me.
Jalal Al-e-Ahmad was a neo-Islamist who cross-fertilized Third-Worldist rants on Nativism and Imperialism with Heidegger's rage against Machinism
On any reflective reading of Jalal Al-e-Ahmad it would actually be hard not to in some way hold him responsible for the calamity of 79. I would personally hold him and Shariati as the two arch demons who through their unenlightened teachings sullied the minds of a whole generation of people. My trouble with him, and as I will argue below, is that his bequest to posterity is nothing short of idolatry. I am certain he would not have seen it in these terms and I am even more certain that this was not his original intention. Idolatrous though he most certainly was or rather his way of thought was idolatrous-like.
Photo essay: Funeral for top graphic artist Morteza Momayez
Selected poems from "Daad nazan: Dar een ayneh kasi neest" ("Don't shout! There's nobody in this mirror")
The small caravan, traveling across the dry and arid desert, consisted of eight people-seven of whom were desperate people who, at the moment, were living in fear and despair. They were all riding on four mules, headed by the horseman or the dealer who was leading them towards the border. They each had paid him a hefty amount of money to be taken across the desert and then be transferred across it to the neighboring country. They were leaving their lives, families, memories, but most importantly, their homeland behind in search of freedom and a more emancipated life˜something that was scarce in their own homeland after the revolution.
"Dar fekr to boodam" & more classics
What hope is there, with this tired heart of mine, without you?
It's another one of those late nights. Nostalgia has taken over my entire being, it seems. I am listening to a heavenly voice, a gem of a singer. I'm talking about Mohammad Esfahani, one of the most wonderful new voices coming from Iran in perhaps decades. His song, "Maro ey doost", (Don't go, friend), hits so many cords within my friend-loving personality that I cannot help but listen to it over and over again. I write these words and send it to Bahram, my cousin in Iran. We were born a month apart and spent most of our childhood like brothers. His eyes begged me not to go when I was leaving Iran, but he knew it had to be done.
Maryamn writes: I am a 32-year old woman. I have never had any psychological problems until this past month. All of the sudden, I am feeling very anxious. I never had anxiety before but I am now overwhelmed with it. It happened overnight, without any warning. Nothing bad has happened to me and my life is otherwise very good. I am truly a happy person except for this sudden anxiety. I don’t have any reason to be anxious! But I have all the symptoms: upset stomach, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and “del shooreh.” Can someone develop an anxiety disorder for no reason, out of the blue this way? I am very frustrated and scared.
It wouldn't be good to have walked down the street for years and then finally see that it was a place itself
For some the street is a way to get to a place and for some it is a place. But it is a place. All it takes for a place is for a man to stop. The question is, who stops on a street. Where I lived it was beggars and writers. They were both stopping to ask for something, and what they were asking for was similar. Sometimes a beggar would ask a writer, and the writer would look at him because he was interested in a fellow asker. Sometimes a writer would ask a beggar, only with less directness. Or more directness, depending. It didn't seem like there could be anything more direct than an empty stomach, but sometimes it could seem like there was. Nothing was as good as food for an empty stomach, but that wasn't always the only emptiness.
Poker as could only be imagined or seen in a movie
Last Friday I recieved a call from a friend who invited me to a high stakes poker "home game" in Encino, southern California. We both drove to an office building on West Wilshire and stood in front waiting for our "limo" ride. After a few minutes, a 2004 long wheel based Maybach (the $350,000 Benz) stopped and a very attractive young woman invited us to get in. We got in the car and very shortly she asked us to put on blind folds!! I started getting a bit worried. My heart rate was definitely over 100.
Photo essay: Village schools in northern Afghanistan bordering Tajikistan
Best rapper in Holland :o)
Sample from "Summer in Samarkand"
Missing verses from one of Sohrab Sepehri's famous poems
Or clash of cultures?
A few nights ago, I was in the mood for playing a relaxing game of backgammon on the Internet, the game I learned from masters in my childhood. There are a few advantages in playing backgammon on the Internet. Cheating is impossible and Korkory (bragging) is optional. As soon as I opened a table, a player beeped and the game started. Right at the very beginning, my opponent raised the stakes and challenged me to do so. I doubled only when I was ahead. What you are about to read is based on actual comments communicated between us.
Observations of a former leftist
Photo essay: Persian Family Day arts & crafts at the British Museum
Giving thanks to the "kesh"
In Persian, kesh is a simple word and yet without it a huge part of Farsi will shut down. Okay, may be that is stretching it a bit too far. To comprehend its ubiquity however requires no great stretch of either imagination or research. It is everywhere in one’s daily speech. In a most ordinary sense, the word means a rubber band or elastic. When I unfold the newspaper every morning or unbundle the mail every afternoon, I do so by removing the kesh that surrounds it. When I kesh-o-qos, I stretch and arch myself as if afflicted with a spell of yawn or ennui, restlessness, really.
The “boom” in prose writing by Iranian women authors in the 1990s within the context of the situation of women in contemporary Iran
In this essay a history of Iranian women’s social and literary developments as well as their struggle for emancipation will be discussed. This is done firstly, in order to give an evident picture of their restrictions and progresses, which are matters that go hand in hand with discovering the reasons behind women’s flourishment in prose writing in post-Khomeini Iran. Secondly, a presentation of the historical background is necessary to consider, for a better understanding of the present developments in women’s literature. Thus, I believe it is useful to take a deeper look at Iran’s historical background where these literary developments are in-rooted.
To beat the desert and grow a garden that is aesthetically pleasing there is a fundamental cycle, which is also observed in human affairs
Considering my considerably limited knowledge about botany, plants or gardens and or even life-cycle I still think it's an apt analogy for Islam. The garden is the Islamic world whereas its collective health, opinions and state of mind is personified by its gardener. In the century past, perhaps dating back to the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt and the stimulus of Western ideas on the Muslim consciousness, there has been a period of fertilisation. Blogosphere argues that there is no debate in the Islamic world I would beg to disagree. The great issues of the day have been analysed, talked about and thoroughly discussed, indeed Muslims rank amongst the politically engaged people in the world (in Middle Eastern cafes or Cairo dinners the discussion will inevitably drift to politics) and are keenly aware of the political events.
Taa meetooni benevis
It was Ordibehesht in Shiraz. The most beautiful time of the year to visit the place. We stayed in the home that belonged to her and her husband on Khoocheh Bagh Safa. It was a beautiful house surrounded by a walled garden that looked like it had seen better days. You could smell the honeysuckle by day and listen to the nightingales by night.
Confessions (and photo essay) of a scuba fundamentalist
Smoldering in Tehran, Part 6
For an encore at an outdoor concert at Niavaran Palace, the singer sang a popular song: Tehran Nights. The balmy night with a full moon, the majestic old trees of the garden, and the twinkling lights of the elegant old palace of Ahmad Shah reverberated with the song’s lyrics: “Tehran nights, concealing many melodies…” This is an old song whose revival has reached Iran from the exiled Iranian community in Los Angeles. It evokes not just the nostalgia of the exiled community but the lamentation for stolen life that Iranians inside and outside the border share. It is the stealing of their lives that young people now resist with a vengeance. This resistance has given the old “concealed melodies” of Tehran nights an increasingly shrill edge.
From Ahmadinejad to breast cancer
You have got to give it to the man (credit that is), Ahmadinejad's campaign against corruption is creating screams of pain (much to my delight) from corners in Iran who long considered themselves immune from both investigation and prosecution for ill-gotten loot and thievery. I would not be surprised if some of the more powerful/influential elements within these gang of theives made an attempt on Ahmadinejad's life to relieve the immense pressure and scrutiny focused on them. And in the same spirit: yes, my offer to safeguard/invest Iran's oil-windfall (to pre-empt having a handful of crooks and thieves do the same) remains on the table.
Performing Ghlamhossein Sa'edi's "Othello in Wonderland" in Ohio
Twenty years ago on this day (23 November 1985), Iranians lost one of their brightest and most productive fiction writers and playwrights of the 20th century, Gholamhossein Sa'edi (1935-1985). In his last year of living in Iran, Sa’edi crafted the outline of a play he could not write in Iran. After fleeing into exile, he developed the idea into a play later called Othello in Wonderland. Now, twenty years later, this play has been staged by an American cast, in the English language. The play was offered at Ohio Wesleyan University...
... on November 25, 1978, my family left Iran
1978 was the year Iran made it to the World Cup in Argentina. We had just gotten a color TV and I remember watching some of the games. A lot has happened in the world... I've lost several family members, gained a few and watched the remainder scatter across the world with some still in Iran. I miss eating chelo kabob on Friday noons - we used get a take-out order from Chelo Kababiyeh Melli on the former Pahlavi Boulevard. My sister and I used to fight over who'd get the last loghmeh of rice from the bottom of the pot wrapped in fresh sangak.
Rejecting the Islamic Republic of Iran in its entirety
The Islamic Republic of Iran, including all its relics of faction is the same wine in different bottles; it is not worth to change the bottle or the faction, because in contrast to this complaisant proposal it is in all its development the same wine, made of the same material. In fact in the course of the last century, the bottle has been renewed by Islamic political movements, new form of Islam arose, one that now has alleged legitimate appeal for power.
A conversation with "Kiosk" band leader Arash Sobhani
A few weeks ago, I was browsing the pages of Orkut, the very popular social networking web site on the net, when I noticed that there was no community dedicated to the new Iranian rock band Kiosk. Now, it’s not in my habit of creating communities here and there on the web, but I seriously felt that this was an aberration. After all, it wasn’t long after I downloaded their album “Adame Mamooli” from the iTunes music store, that they grew on me as one of my favorite music bands. I think Kiosk is the turning point in modern Iranian music in that the lyrics of their songs are, contrary to the work of most other Iranian rock bands, quite unpretentious, actual, and heartfelt; not to mention the humor you can sense in them.
... between Iranians and Ameircans
Part 3: The Libertines’ Club in Nice
Napoleon called me in the morning and told me that he would call me the minute his plane landed in Nice so we could take a taxi to town together. At the airport I was walking on air, I was so happy. I love airports: so filled with hustle and bustle and so full of possibilities. I like the fact that I am anonymous there, just another traveler going from point A to point B. I had gone to the hairdresser and the wax lady, and was wearing my best lingerie and clothes. I don’t know about other women but when I groom I almost have to bed someone otherwise I feel like I have wasted my money.
Iranian government's position
In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners. Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapon program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies. In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted representation of the developments over the past 25 years. Before the international community is lead to another “crisis of choice”, it is imperative that the public knows all the facts and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe.
I desperately need to find me a reason to be thankful before Thanksgiving arrives
My grandmother, Nanjoon, an aging diabetic with bad joints and high blood pressure, used to constantly say prayers under her breath to thank God for her good health. “Dear God, ‘shokr’ for the bounties you have bestowed on me, for my good children, grandchildren, and above all, for my good health and the ability to do for myself.” She lived to be ninety-five, but as a child, I considered her gratitude ludicrous. Each time I visited that lonely widow in her humble home, especially when it took her forever to climb the stairs, I felt sorry she didn’t have much else to be thankful for. Now approaching the flock of “senior citizens” myself, I begin to appreciate the immeasurable resources Nanjoon spoke of.
No moving parts but lots of smoke, noise and angry neighbors
The black Austin taxi coursed its way through the downtown Tehran traffic. Inside with the smell of the old leather and gasoline I sat next to my mother with anticipation. In 1958 most daily shopping was done in the neighborhood stores or at the door from various vendors on donkeys, bicycles and wagons, but the trip to the Bazaar was always for special items such as cloth, rugs, jewelry, house wares, etc. I knew there would also be special treats of candy, food, drinks and perhaps even a toy.
And three other poems
I am from un-made beds and clothes everywhere except for my closet
Nothing is sacred, other than...
The truth was poison
Ghasem Ghani's diaries and memoirs
Dr. Ghani's reflective writings offer a profoundly civilized insight into the great changes that took place inside Iran during the first half of the 20th century. Ghani was born and brought among the educated elite of Sabezevar. a remote, traditional, even medieval city on the edge of the desert. His lifelong quest for useful knowledge and understanding let him into the heart of the continuing political and social turmloil in Tehran, where he became a lifetime friend and advisor to the leaders of Iran from Reza Shah to Mossadegh.
The hours that I have spent in this school were some of the sweetest I have experienced since I left the country many years ago >>> Photos
For many years now I have regretted the fact that you can't see Mount Damavand from the city any more. Pollution is unrelenting. But on this trip I did not waste my time searching for the old Damavand view. I looked for what was there. And I was happy to visit Khane-ye Kudak-e Nasser Khosrow, which was one of the highlights of my trip. Khane-ye Kudak-e Nasser Khosrow is a center run by Society for the Protection of Children's Rights. It provides education and other services for Afghan and Indian immigrant children, and for undocumented Iranian children. The latter group are called bacheha-ye khiyabani who do not have birth certificates (shenasnameh) and cannot enroll in regular schools.
Part 5: The rumor mill
Word of mouth still plays an important role in Tehran. People rely on it for many things -- from finding the best doctors or schools or the way to get something done, to receiving and passing on news that does not make it to the media. A taxi driver, for instance, will carry a first-hand account of the vigil in front of Tehran University for student Mohammadi who is on hunger strike at Evin. The next day you can learn of a women’s demonstration in front of the university. If you ask, you will be informed.
Part 3: The Islamic government is looking for my ass and I mean literarily... they are looking for my ass. Give me political asylum!
Sohrab drove his Nissan Patrol to the Canadian embassy, blasting his new Reggaeton CD, cussing Tehran's traffic, swearing at pedestrians, coughing, chocking and cursing at his bad luck for being born in this county. His tight pants didn't help much since his testicals were crushed, blood circulation to his brain was cut off and his left leg was completely numb. Walking from his car to the embassy, Sohrab found himself repeatedly violated by male pedestrians ... slaps on the ass, groping, verbal abuse, whistling, pinching, prostate exams and a lot more. Easily distracted and jobless Iranian youth found Sohrab a good early morning source of entertainment.
On Shahriar Zahedi's critique of Jalal Ale Ahmad:
Thanksgiving: my anniversary of coming to America
Once I took off my brand new shirt and pants which were all muddied, and gave them to grandma to throw in the washer, Daryl, one of my new found cousins brought me a set of overalls to wear and motioned me to follow him into the woods. Of course I didn't think anything of this as being strange or the fact that he was carrying a rifle with him. Ten minutes or so later, we arrived at a hill site where a bunch of people were shooting their rifles at coke cans and bottles that were set on a hill for target practice. I was so excited! This was just the way I had imagined America to be like, minus the horses. Once Daryl introduced me, everyone there seemed very pleased to meet me. I guess not having any fear of these good ol boys and having a constant smile on my face made me less of a stranger to them. Or maybe it was the overalls!
A letter to Azar Nafisi, author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran"
I have always bought your premise that imagination is the salvation of humanity and that artistic creativity saves us when all of the rest of our humanity is stripped from us. The part about empathy was the same message the Dalai Lama delivered to scientists at Stanford U last month and also your comments about no amount of PC being able to replace empathy. The tools of the totalitarian regimes are always the same as Laurens Van Der Post and Michael Parenti have each written about in their own way. The propaganda of demonizing the enemy by making an entire people nameless and faceless and devoid of human qualities the easier to bomb them and take their resources and destroy their culture...
Anonymous writes: I am one of those “other” Iraqi War veterans. I was drafted into the Iranian Army during our 8 year war with Iraq. I was only in the Iranian military for a few short months before becoming injured and returning home. In the years after my service, I got married, moved to the United States, and finished my education. I haven’t really thought much about the war until recently. I have suddenly found myself having intense nightmares about my experiences in the war. I can’t watch the news for fear of catching scenes that will remind me of my experiences.
Scholastic Inc. reverses decision to exclude Persia from Ancient Civilization section of "The New Book of Knowledge"
In response to concerns expressed by the academic, scholarly and Iranian communities worldwide, the majority of which were from the U.S., Scholastic, Inc. has revised the article Ancient Civilizations in its 2006 twenty volume, The New Book of Knowledge so as to ensure that the Ancient Persia (Iran) is included both in its text, its chronological pictorial Timeline and map, in addition to the existing coverage under Persia in Volume P. This outcome is the result of a dialogue between a few community leaders, and Scholastic, Inc. representatives.
Photo essay: San Francisco through loving eyes
My aunt and I continued to think of each other as mother and child
Once a year, my real mother came to Tehran to visit her relatives there. But she paid me no particular attention. I called my aunt Mother and my own mother Aunt Mohtaram or nothing at all. I had met my father only once. I was afraid of him, of his rights to claim me, a fear I caught from my aunt. I lived with a sense of foreboding as you do if you know you have a lot to lose. I stayed close to my aunt, came home right after school, invited my friends to our house rather than going to theirs. One day, when I was nine, I was playing with friends in the yard of our elementary school when I saw a man approach.
A critique of Jalal Ale Ahmad
Part II: I am old enough to know that a little of something that gives you so much joy is better than none at all
I arrived in Florence tired from the six-hour drive. I checked into Hotel Ortho de Medici, on the narrow stoned paved, via SanGallo, near Piazza San Marco. It was a beautiful 18th century building with high ceilinged rooms and marble baths. He met me as I was checking in. He was wearing a purple sweater and shawl and jeans. I loved his eyes: huge and watery, protected by a set of upturned lashes so thick it looked like he was wearing mascara. We kissed and I wondered what the prim and proper, button-down-sweater- wearing, receptionist was thinking of our age difference. In Italy they are used to this kind of thing: a lady with a gigolo. Nothing is worse, than feeling so old that you have to pay for sex, for a woman’s sense of self!
A few days ago, I repacked the 50-volume collection into my car and drove it to Sabatico’s house. Letting go was hard to do...
One summer morning we drove to the customs clearance office on the wharf and began loading the crates into my hatchback. Among them, a few boxes were particularly heavy and upon examination I learned that they comprised a 50-volume collection known as the Loghat-Nameh, the encyclopaedia of the Farsi language. It was begun by Ali Akbar Dehkhoda and finished years later by a cast of notable Iranian literati, lexicologists and linguists. As parts of the Loghat-Nameh were being printed and published in fascicles, Sabatico’s father had them bound into volumes. The result was a magnificent and ornate series. As Sabatico’s one-bed room rental apartment at the time was too tight for the new cargo from Europe, he had rented a storage space in town. I shuddered at the thought of the Loghat-Nameh ending up in that damp and dark environment. So, I offered to house the tomes at my house until Sabatico could find a more suitable space for them.
New book: A Concise History Of Iran
Persian history and mythology form a fundamental identity of Iranians. It is imperative for our younger Iranian generation to know about Iran’s historic strong points and weaknesses. Our newer generations outside of Iran can hopefully benefit from history books that can give them most of this information. Living among different cultures, children of Iranian descent have the chance to become positively better human beings by first knowing East before appreciating West.
Video clips: Iranian radio in Los Angeles
Javaneh and I drove to Los Angeles last weekend to see my ailing grandmother, Zinat Javid. She's nearly 100-years old. In the past two weeks she has suffered multiple strokes and heart attacks and on top of that she's been hit with pneumonia. She's now mostly unconscious and doctors are not hopeful... Listening to KIRN Radio 670 AM as we drove in and out of Santa Monica reminded me how she listened to Iranian radio and TV stations, all day, every day...
Part 4: Traffic conversations
There are two kinds of cabs in Tehran, those who take you door to door and those you hail for specific distances as you incrementally approach your destination. The latter you share with other passengers, generally three in the back seat and one or two in the front.I noticed a change in the tenor of conversations in these taxis. In the early days of the revolution and war, conversation was much livelier. Back then, these random assemblies were used by drivers and passengers to vent anger at the way things were. Inevitably someone would find opportunity to hiss the old threat that someday a mullah would hang from every chenar tree on former Pahlavi Avenue. People seemed to get energized by taking strangers into political confidence and to derive solace from the camaraderie.
Islamic society of Rutgers University does disservice to Muslim community
Everyone in the U.S., at least on paper, is entitled to their own worldview, as long as it does not impinge upon the guaranteed freedoms of others. Thus, the recently elected Asher Hussain and his colleagues, of the Islamic Society of Rutgers University (ISRU), have the right to view Islam the way they do, regardless of the fact that many feel their views are hostile to women as well as Muslims of Shi'a and Sufi persuasion. However, with the fraudulent election of Hussain and his ideological counterparts to the governing board, the majority of Muslim students at Rutgers University may find the atmosphere at ISRU becoming disturbingly intolerant, more so than it has already been. I have only been to one ISRU meeting (the 2005 officer election); suffice to say, however, that the observations I took from that meeting were motivation enough for me to speak out about them.
A response to Shahrzad Mojab
Feminist research or women’s studies is a methodological perspective that criticises societal inequalities, with an emphasis on gender disparities. As a secular feminist I initiated a re-debate over the crisis in Iranian women’s studies/activism (intertwined) so that our scholarship and activism embraces more lives inside Iran. I did not in any way offer a fixed agenda for achieving a gender-equal state in Iran. As someone who has spent most of her life outside Iran, it perplexes me still that some senior Iranian intellectuals deconstruct one’s arguments as if it was a clear-cut programme to overthrow a whole government and create a revolution.
1997 concert in Washington, DC
... keh hamisheh taazeh shoroo mishavad...
Tracks from "Eyvallah" and "Ameneh" CDs
I saw the pictures of Aghasi's funeral late yesterday. I burst into tears and cried all the way home and all night. He was one of my heroes for having defied the odds and becoming an overnight success. He proved me and people like me right that he would not be a "on hit wonder". He was the embodiment of a kind, sweet and extremely charming person. I saw him perform in a small tent in 1978 at Cabaret Khorram (and will tell the story about that night). I was amazed at how humble yet funny he was and his voice was even more beautiful in person.
I loved his roses...they smelled of the dreams I had yet to dream up
Moving forward or looking backward
I am as old as rain
Books we'd like to send in circulation
The tendency to reach decisions without considering the facts and interests of people
Sacred is a holy person, animal, object, or idea, whose rationality and originality cannot be proved. Therefore religions, sects, cults, and even dictatorial systems abundantly use the concept of sacred to compensate for their irrationality. From this point of view, the concept has root in very primitive human behaviours. It has been a justification of many acts, ideas, and relations whose rationality could not be explained, and people were not aware and did not feel free to ask.
So I knew as the train whistled past in the dark something of what I was missing, but the darkness engulfed everything from the flat snow to the sharpest mountain peaks. Who knew what could be lurking within those depths?
Public Iranian spaces can be intimidating--crowds of dark-skinned, heavily-bearded men and clusters of veiled women all staring, or seeming to stare--intimidating, at least, to a lone fair-skinned American. Airports are, to my mind, the worst of these spaces. Waiting at airports is always a bore but made worse when the bureaucracy is foreign. In Iran, men and women undergo separate security checks. On our first conjugal trip to that country (my husband, Farshan’s, birth land), I was whisked away from him and ushered into a curtained-off area, then hand-searched by a group of women who eyed me relentlessly through the black veils of their chadour. Immigration authorities confiscated my passport on our second visit (later redeemed by my father-in-law after two all-day excursions to a bureaucratic hole-in-the-wall). On our most recent trip to Iran, complete with two young sons, I had had enough of airports and flying and voted whole-heartedly in favor of taking an overnight train for our annual pilgrimage from Tehran to Tabriz.
Ahmadinjead, Akbar Ganji & terrorism
On Ramin Kamran's book "Setiz va Modaaraaa"
The people of Iran are quite aware of their predicament
Heads of state and foreign ministries were all making reference to Iran's nuclear ambitions in the same breath as Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map. In fact, the fear and paranoia of a nuclear-equipped Iran swept through the front pages of the world press, with Britain's Daily Express newspaper, running with the cover "MANIAC PLOTS WORLD WAR III." The Islamic Republic of Iran has been calling for the obliteration of the Israeli state since its inception twenty-six years ago. So what's all the clamoring about? The Iranian president's comments, however reprehensible, do not signify a major shift in Iranian policy towards Israel, and should not be portrayed as a break or departure from the ideology of the government.
After Ahmadinejad, what now?
Photo essay: New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ahmadinejad is dangerous -- even to the Islamic Republic itself
Why we should care about Akbar Ganji
It has been four months since Ganji stopped his hunger strike. In those four months, there have been numerous reports indicating that Ganji is continuously being tortured. Nevertheless, the world's elite and intellectuals continue to remain passive on his release and the release of other political prisoners. In fact, America's major newspapers contain little to nothing about Ganji's plight, but play day-to-day predictions on Iran's nuclear activities. Like Ganji, hundreds of writers and journalists have been detained in Iran's prisons for their political writings. Cooperation with the Iranian government and rapprochement should not be conditioned on Iran's nuclear and terrorism record. It should begin once the Iranian government begins taking sincere steps to promote and protect human rights for all its citizens.
Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it
A few weeks back my hometown newspaper reported a story by the Associated Press that King Tutankhamen was a red wine drinker. In the same story one Patrick McGovern, an American molecular archeologist, was cited as saying that he has discovered grape residue in northern Iran that dates winemaking to 5400 BC. I do not know what the ancient Iranians inhabiting the north of the country may have called this elixir. If they called it by the Persian may is mostly irrelevant because in today’s Farsi the commonly known word for the term is sharab, a word from the Arabic root sharb, to drink. I am writing today, however, to make the case for Farsi, our national language, being a sort of Persian plus – Persian plus all those other wonderful Persian words that enrich it.
Israel’s response to Ahmadinejad
Since invading Iran is not an option any more (after America’s debacle in Iraq), perhaps the next best strategy is to get Iran’s ethnic groups to fight the battle for them. Several, simultaneous ‘battles for liberation’ from different directions (Kurdistan, Baluchestan, Azerbaijan, etc) would topple Iran’s central government, and create a number of weak client states which would pose no threat to anyone. If you think this is a remote possibility, think again. All the seeds have been planted to implement this strategy.
Photo essay: New York's Times Square, 11pm last Thursday
The art of wine in ancient Persia
The history of wine making and wine drinking is an old one in Persia, and today the Darioush vineyard in the Napa Valley which has become renowned in the art of wine making, is attempting to revive this tradition in the United States. Wine connoisseurs today may be familiar with the word Shiraz, the name of a town in southwest Persia famed for its grapes.
If France is facing tremors in its urban structure it is precisely because its inherent secular Republican values were not adhered to
At the time of writing this article Paris and many other cities brace themselves for a thirteenth night of violence (even as Dominique de Villepin was doing his 'I have heard the voice of your revolution' special) there is a certain issue that is being overlooked or rather carelessly treated. The issue of secularity must not be sacrificed at the alter of political expediency. The sounds are mixed and there is some evidence that the French might succumb to that pressure to affect some accommodation. This as I argue below will be disastrous for all concerned.
Part 3: Greater Tehran
Since my last visit in 1992 Tehran had changed almost unrecognizably. Back then the country was still jang-zadeh-war-stricken. The walls were plastered with war propaganda and death-to-America slogans. Food and consumer goods were in short supply. It was long enough after the revolution that cars and buildings had aged, unmaintained. New buildings were scarce and the better buildings tucked away inside old leafy gardens. Apart from the few and far-between billboards advertising rice-cookers and blenders, advertising was refreshingly absent.
A policy of appeasement will not ensure peaceful co-habitation in Europe's multi-ethnic cosmopolitan community
The French have so far said the right things, and done the right things. They have stood up to "American Imperialism tooth and nail" beyond the call of duty, for them war in Iraq has created more intolerance and frustration within European community immigrants, undoubtedly "one nation" these North African immigrants should really be grateful too is "France." But militants have no friends, the weakest link and most opportune one for them is the one that is going to give in. Paris sounds to them the weakest link; it is where they have made their first stand. It is in this city we should nail them down, let's say a loud 'no' to their medieval practices.
Photo essay: A few hours with Lady Liberty
Music of Azerbaijan
When we were kids (as young as 4 or 5), my father would kind of make us to listen to him and most of Uzeyir Hajibeyov's musicals and operas. How ironic now I start my weekends with listening to bulbul and I am sure will be torturing my kids with this until they, like myself, learn to love his voice. once my sister and I were brave enough to plan to tape over his Koroqlou and Leyli and Majnun Opera tapes, thank God we didn't go through with our plan.
I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France
Riots have taken place all over France since the incident and over 1,200 vehicles have been torched. On Sunday evening, a sixty-one year old man attempting to protect his car from being set ablaze was killed by youths who beat him to death. This current state of unrest has been compared to the worst in France since World War II. William Golding's thought-provoking novel Lord of the Flies written in 1954, describes in detail the horrific exploits of a group of youth who turn from upwardly civilized to downright barbaric. The underscoring theme being that man is inherently tied to society, and without it, we would all become savages. I wonder if this connection can be linked to the recent events in France.
That is how much I love him. I rather see him with her more often than less without.
He is short and has a baby face. He is not good looking but has a sweet face and is incredibly skinny. Some times it feels like he weighs as much as one of my thighs. He has a bit of a Napoleon complex which makes him a better lover. It is as though each time he makes love he grows a few inches taller. What he lacks in physique he makes up for in skill. That is why he loves sex. He is so good at it that it makes him feel taller. But so does his girlfriend. She is tall and skinny and blond. When they are together they seem very much in love. He calls her ‘amour’ among other terms of endearment, which sound, so much more endearing in French! He does it even in front of me. I die each time I see him be nice to her. But I rather see more of him than not. That is how much I love him.
Photo essay: New York's Museum of Modern Art
Stand up for yourself because no one will for your culture, for your traditions and for your ancestors
My generation is torn compared to those who came to the United States as teenagers and those who were born and raised in the States. We do not know if we offend our cultural heritage by acting fully American or do we simply ignore our ancestry as a whole. A part of me felt awful that I almost disowned my faith and patriarchal patriotism toward Iran by marrying an American. But I have come to the realization that I do not lose myself unless I want too. I can stop celebrating Nor Roz and "13-bedar" events. I can stop speaking Persian and only listen to Americanized music. I can choose not to expose my future child to the wonderful culture that Iranians have built for centuries. Yet, I know children who come from two Iranian parents and couldn't tell you where Iran is located on the map.
Ahmadinejad's remarks help cement the alliance with radicals in the Islamic world who in time of war would mobilize and attack the U.S., Israel, as well as any government that sided with the U.S.
Unlike the Supreme Leader and many in the hard-line camp, it appears that Ahmadinejad and Young Conservatives wish to follow the "Vietnam model." Some believe that the U.S. is on the verge of collapse similar to what occurred in the former Soviet Union. Many of them believe that the U.S. is overstretched in Afghanistan, and Iraq and in a stand-off in the Korean peninsula and thus unable to impose its wish on the fundamentalist regime. However, America's weakness may not last another year or two. Considering the above factors, it is to the advantage of the regime to confront the U.S. and the West at the time of its weakest rather than wait until they solve their problems and regain strength and choose the time at which to put pressure on the regime.
The only difference between the rap offered by Sandy and Deev is that the latter has political, violent and racist lyrics
Rap music is one of the biggest and an important part of Afro American subculture called Hip-Hop culture, which is also comprised of graffiti art, break dancing, fashion, attitude, and basically the lifestyle of the people who subscribe to its' mores and traditions. Rap is a musical art form that has been growing ever more popular since it first appeared on the radar around 20 or so years ago in the United States. With its popularity, the Hip-Hop culture has spread all over the world to a point where it even entered the Iranian music scene around 10 years ago by a commercial band called Sandy.
Video clips & photo essay: New York on a glorious day
Beneath all the struggles, specially economically, people still strive to push the boundaries
The same sub-cultures that exist in the west, like the druggies, the snobs, the intellects, the hippies, the artists, the virgins and the experienced, the gays are also existent in Iran but the difference is that now you can easily set them apart on the streets by their dress-code and their encounter. Iran as a result of all this change has become much more colorful, but yet unstable... and MY GOD so many beautiful girls and guys, of course the ratio of the girls to guys in Iran is now four to one, as you know, so this has created a huge problem for the girls who want a proper relationship...
Iranian people will regrettably be FORCED to see the importance of regime change exactly as they were FORCED into realising that Economic Globalisation
I am sure you have all heard the phrase 'Useful Idiots' rightly or wrongly attributed to Vladimir Illych Ulyanov (a.k.a. Lenin). The phrase is used to describe the naïve souls in the Capitalist West who- though decent people- are by and large the best spokesmen for Soviet misinformation in the West. The misinformation which chooses to turn a blind eye to the otherwise suspicious quarantining of a whole nation on promise of an unattainable and idealistic utopia. Which utopia is rich in intellectual justification with elaborate theories but weak in putting bread on the table of its inmates known as Soviet citizenry. Which misery they (the U.I.) will be loathed to understand for fear and hatred that they have of the Liberal Democracies they live in.
Part 2: Who voted for Ahmadinejad?
Akram is quite a woman. As a single mother she raised her son with hard work through the very difficult years of revolution and war. She is a strong and athletic woman who has climbed the 18,000-feet Mount Damavand a number of times. Her passion is mountaineering and, as a woman, she is a novelty and quite popular in the predominantly male climbing community. Over the years she has picked her boyfriends by testing their endurance in the mountains first. She tells funny stories of how she wears down lightweight men who can’t keep up with her.
Reza Deghati receives French national medal for artistic excellence
Ahmadinejad and Bush
The two men could not be more different in almost all respects. But they do have a thing or two in common. For example, they both represent the worst of their country's nature. Under President Bush, America has become known as an international bully, a nation engaged in torture and humiliation, a friend of the powerful, and an enemy of the weak- hardly the stuff America was founded on, and has been known around the world for. We can wonder the same way about the people who elected Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This man is completely un-Iranian. The policies he stands for, and the underlying values they represent, are foreign to Iran and Iranians.
Why did Iran's president demand that Israel be "wiped off the map"?
One explanation of Ahmadinejad's comments is that, following its victory of seeing a Shia state established in Iraq (the main component of the occupation government being pro-Iran Shias), the Iranian regime's image is tainted by its support for the US-UK-imposed government in Iraq. As the only country that has directly benefited from imperialist military action in the region, Iran does feel isolated. That is why, in the words of a Palestinian official, the Iranian president's comments reflect Iran's weakness in the region, and represents an attempt to regain some credibility as an anti-Zionist, anti-US regime.
Modern art not seen since 1979
An Iranian perspective on Hurricane Katrina
Fardad Jamali is my best friend. He is also a Safety Engineer. Actually he is one of the top safety experts in the US. And that’s not just a best friend bragging. When Katrina hit the gulf coast, Fardad was pacing back and forth in his office like a caged tiger, for days. Finally when he couldn’t stand it any longer, he made the calls to his contacts at the American Red Cross and put his name and credentials onto the volunteer list. After a couple of days and the prerequisite training class (which he could have taught), he was notified that he was to report to Mississippi, where the eye of the storm came ashore, the scene of some of the worst destruction.
Part 2: "Yeah, baby. I'm a homosexual Bahai and I love it."
I don't have to tell you how awkward I felt at that moment. I mean, what do you say when your cousin who is the national symbol of heterosexuality and doesn't know the first thing about his own religion, let alone Bahai religion, confesses to you that he's now gay seems to be extremely open about it. Sohrab used to take extra pleasure in beating up gay guys back home and he especially made certain that gay men did not cut his hair, shave his back, or massage him in the public bath houses.
"Vatan", "Baavaram Nemisheh" and more...
Shadi Bahar writes: The plane glides across the Tehran night and I unclench my teeth, peek outside and a tiny smile blossoms on my weary face as I touch the oval face of the window. How I love this landing, how I love the tangerine colored lights of the Tehran skyline.
I draw in the musty air as I sway from side to side in the bus that takes me from the plane to the terminal. The terminal that is a few short steps from where eager smiles and loving grips await me in this god forsaken hour of the morning.
I take in the night and this land that I love no matter what. I take Iran without a facelift and dressed as it is, morning, noon and night. Isn't that how we love our mothers? Isn't that how we wish to be loved?
I settle into the car, curl against the glass and prepare for the familiar ride home. The Willow trees in the Bozorgh-rah have grown taller, and fuller. Cars weave in and out. So much dust, so many sounds; people, so many people. My mind is restless, my eyes heavy and tired. I have been awake for 36 hours -- the entire trip over. My travel mate, the hazel eyed Hungarian grandmother with the ready smile and the bag full of snacks, announced seconds after we met that "she likes to talk and never sleeps on plane rides". She was good company for my fatigued nerves and anxious mind.
I crack the window open and touch the still groggy morning air. I can hardly believe it. I am here, at last. I don't know how I arranged everything to be here at this moment. All I know is that, the tomatoes don't need dressing. And the persimmons are winking at me from their high perch upon the tree. I have not been in Iran in the autumn for 18 years. How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
Photo essay: Halloween in San Francisco's Casrto district
The children of the revolution have changed
Part 1 of 12
Time for preventive mobilization on bird flu
I am not a medical doctor, but several of my cousins who are uniformly tell me that we must take this one seriously, but are we? In the US, compared to Europe or Canada, so far only one percent of the population are pre-covered with medication and vaccine, if there is any against this deadly, catastrophic would-be plague, and in Iran? Scanning through the Tehran dailies, I fail to see a national strategy on how to deal with the global pandemic if, god forbid, it breaks out soon. It is not enough to order a halt in hunting migratory birds and so on, or to stockpile medicine, a lot more is needed, and very urgently, following the footsteps of other governments.
Photo essay: Three women throw a Halloween party
Ahmadinejad's comments about Israel are nothing new. But the international outrage reflects concerns about where Iran's nucler program may be heading.
In this article, I present evidence which proves that the dominant explanation is false. I show that Ahmadinejad's words are the expression of the actual consensus of the ruling faction of the regime. In other words, Ahmadinejad's words are not the mere utterance of one inexperienced person. Rather, Ahmadinejad expressed the views of the Young Conservative sub-faction and the consensus of the hard-line faction which control virtually all the main levers of power in Iran. This is not mere academic exercise. If the dominant explanation is correct, one may not be too concerned about the off-the-cuff remarks of one man. However, if my analysis is correct, we should expect a more confrontational foreign policy by the regime.
Fusion of Iranian and Hungarian folk music