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June 20, 2001

* Not all wine and roses

Ms Sabety's article "Diana not" was a tremendous analysis -- very thoughtful and extremely accurate. My father was an ambassador for the Shah and I can relate to much of what you wrote -- not personally, as we were lucky to have parents with a firm foot on the ground -- but with other children of my father's peers, including court ministers, businesmen etc.

Out of a group of children I knew, three overdosed since 1979, and one killed himself, and two perished in accidents due to drunk driving. I found all these tragedies infuriating and a waste of life. None infuriated me more than the boy that killed himself. His parents virtually ignored the poor chap because of his unruly behaviour and drug use, and upon his passing, refused to acknowledge their own failings. Instead, they blamed "depression".

I recall all my peers in the 80s -- when we were in our twenties -- struggling to come to terms with living with the past, with what the present dictated and what the future demanded. To say that this pressure was difficult in the already complex maturing phase of any individual is an understatement. Hence, to be heard and feel loved sometimes would see young people reach new levels of decadence.

You were so correct in describing the amazing pressure that these children, now adults (the "lost generation" so to speak) have had to endure since 1979, and probably prior to the revolution. They were, and still are, constantly reminded of their own parents past "importance", "success" and "family history", and are expected to match these benchmarks in countries offering a completely different socio-economic environment.

Moreover, this unrealistic expectancy comes with none of the support infrastructure that the parents themselves enjoyed. The "hezaar faameel" -- 1000 families -- concept is a very real phenomenon in Iran, and certainly helped the previous generations that enjoyed an elitist existence in pre-revolutionary Iran to make tremendous financial progress, and gain social status. Hence, the pressure on their children to succeed, make the family proud, and accomplish financially, socially and academically -- while living in exile -- has been detrimental to the emotional growth of many members of the "lost generation".

And escaping this absurd reality, the "lost generation" became self destructive, either like Princess Leila ["Leila's last ride"] via eating disorders and depression, or via hard drugs (in many cases both) as well as other wayward behaviour. Ultimately, as Ms. Sabety's article concluded, it's our jobs as parents of a new generation of Iranians born and living out of Iran, to instill a balance between what's reality and what's fabled history. No more,"'your Grandfather was a minister, your uncle an ambassador, so what will you be?"

It's time to face the facts. We are now in the fourth decade after the revolution, and what went on before that has little to do with the reality of today or tommorow. Being proud of your heritage and family, is totally acceptable, laying benchmarks based on past glories and accomplishments is self-serving and unacceptable.

Someone should write a book on the "lost generation" of Iranians in exile. It would be fascinating and I can guarantee the tragic story of Princess Leila is not unique to the Pahlavis. Also, the disdain that some Iranians have for the "exiled" population must also be addressed. It was not all wine and roses... just ask the mothers of children that became self-destructive.

Manou Marzban

* Goodbye sweet princess

As a fellow exiled-Iranian, I could not help but have tears in my eyes upon hearing of the tragic death of Princess Leila Pahlavi this past week ["Leila's last ride"]. Like the princess, I too, was just nine-years old in 1979 when the political tempest was beginning to brew in our native country.

At that time, my father was a high ranking Iranian diplomat stationed in New Delhi, and thus, I remember with great detail the havoc that reigned in our family's life during those politically turbulent times.

Ultimately, after the Shah was overthrown and the Islamic regime put in place, my father had to resign his commission, and thus, we too were forced to find a new home and start a new life. First in France for several years, and ultimately in Canada which welcomed us with open arms and offered us a clean slate with which to build a new life.

So now 22 years have passed since the revolution, and like Princess Leila, I too have a deep longing to return to see and visit my home country. I am certain there are millions of other Iranian exiles world-wide who may share this sentiment to some extent or other.

If Princess Leila's untimely passing was largely due to depression and homesickness as has been attested to in various media sources, then I am here to say that her pain is certainly not a singular one shared in isolation.

Dear Leila,

There are many of us, who deeply understand your sadness. There are many of us who truly empathize with that void you carried in your heart. I hope that wherever you are now, that somewhere, somehow you have found peace once again... Perhaps you are even re-united with your father once again... Perhaps you have even found "home" once again.

Goodbye sweet Princess, you will be missed...

Yazdan Maziar

* Always in Iranian hearts

Leila Pahlavi was an attractive princess and she couldn't stand being far from Iran. I can not say she was better than Diana. I know she wasn't Diana. But she is a Diana for Iranian people. Leila will be in the heart of Iranian people forever.

I know that some Iranian people don't have a lot of pain in their life and always want to compare themselves with dear Leila. That is not fair. I. There was no need to write about her in with a title like "Diana not".



* Fundamental problem

I've very much enjoyed reading your articulate and well-balanced article "Diana not". You have touched on the fundamental problem within the majority of Iranian immigrants. The identity crisis -- that's what it is -- especially among our second generation Iranians.

These young people are left lonely and uprooted as their parents venture ahead daily in a bread-winning struggle in new environments. In search of identity, the young people prefer to identify themselves with icons such as supermodels, rock-stars, ...

During Googooshmania last year, I wrote a brief note on the Iranian music. Do we know how many of our youngsters, or by the same token our grown-ups, know that we have melodies in our classical music which dates back to at least 1,300 years ago? Are we aware of the Khosravanis and Farahmands in our culture? What characteristics do they have? How much our people are familiar with Nezami, Hafiz, and Molana...?

Best regards,

Nader Majd
Director Center for Persian Classical Music

* Depression & alienation

I really appreciated Setareh Sabety's perspective on Princess Leila's death ["Diana not"]. Although I share her remorse, I also agree the we Iranians really need to re-establish our values through recognition of our culture, our history and our heritage

Exile and depression go hand in hand. One out of every five American is considered to have a form of mental illness, more often than not, depression, caused by a society of alienation and isolation; lack of family ties and traditional values.

I dread to consider those numbers with respect to the Iranians -- in and out of exile. The majority of Iranians in exile, in spite of their losses, are generally considered part of the elite sector of many nations' population.

There are a proportionately huge number of Iranians who have achieved success and fame in the medical field. Unfortunately, with so much financial and medical power, there is not the solidarity, the altruism, nor the compassion for us to aid each other through depression and many other ailments.

I sincerely hope Princess Leila's death will symbolize the need for a resurrection of the Iranian people and the unity of the Iranian culture. We have lost so much, let's not lose our values, as well.

Bravo Setareh! And thank you.

Roshan Houshmand

* Keep our "noses" up

Ms. Setareh Sabeti,

Thank you for "putting your pen on paper" and your analysis on Leila Pahlavi's death and the aftermath ["Diana not"]. I hope that our young generation will read your article with much care, and realize the importance of "soul-searching about our collective identity crisis", no matter to what degree they are affected by it.

May we proudly remain Iranian, and keep our "noses" up, just the way they are!

Atousa H.S.Mohammadi
San Jose, CA

* Our insecurities

Dear Setareh

I so enjoyed reading your opinion piece in the about Leila Pahlavi ["Diana not"]. I agree with all your points about the fragility of our national identity and how our insecurities are on show with our face lifts, which are making our girls and boys look more and more European.

The point that the Pahlavis encouraged this superficial Westernization is very true and in fact they have a lot to answer for, including the death of their own child. I think Farah is extremely porroo to suggest the revolution is to be blamed for her daughter's death. She should instead perhaps take more responsibility for this tragic ending.

Kind regards,


* Life is being human

I laughed and cried while reading your article about Leila Pahlavi "Diana not" and just wanted to congratulate you in eloquently expressing most Iranian's views (especially second generation of Iranian women in exile) that life is not all about "aaraayesheh moo va soorat", designer clothes and material possession.

Life is being human. Life is about living, learning, teaching, loving and being "there" for each other at all times. But most important of all life is very short.

Many thanks,


* No political significance

Setareh Sabety's article ["Diana not"] is spot on in its identification of the most likely cause of Leila's death ["Leila's last ride"]. By no stretch of imagination can anyone seriously attach any political significance or cause to her death?

Leila Pahlavi was in fact a political and social nobody. This is confirmed by the fact that most of us had not heard of her for years if at all. So it is absolutely beyond me how some people can even contemplate elevating her to the level of an international figure like Princess Diana who was renouned for her high profile charity work.

Admittedly Diana was no saint herself but at least she was a political animal with a clear vision and goal and the ditermination to work towards achieving them. And this is precisely what Leila and her kind lack. If Diana commanded respect Leila deserved only pitty and sympathy.

Siamak Alimi

* Really makes sense

I´d like to thank Setareh Sabety for her interesting article "Diana not". I believe these are the first words said about Leila Pahlavi´s death ["Leila's last ride"] that really make sense.

Saghar Mostofi


Setareh Sabety's "Diana not" is one of the best written, and accurate articles ever published in

Leila Pahlavi was a victim of her upbringing in the first place, and unrealistic expectations imposed on today's women in this Western society. I think her mother should feel the most sense of guilt for abandoning her daughter, and not instilling in her mind the proper defenses that comes with a closely knit family.

If it's true as mentioned in many news articles that she was raised by her grandmother, then the focus will be on her mother. Where was she when she needed her the most while growing up?

Thank you Ms. Sabety for an excellent article.

Farhad Rostam

* Show compassion and respect

I have been an avid reader of for some time now. It provides a glimpse into the scope and breadth of Iranian talent in poetry, writing and journalism. The letters section has also been a favorite, where I can see firsthand the brilliance of some readers or their depraved indifference.

I am compelled to write because of some letters that have been written about Leila Pahlavi's death. What is wrong with you people? Isn't the death of a 31-year old woman tragic enough? I can't believe the number of letters which criticize someone who has just passed, who by all accounts is an innocent victim of circumstance and history.

Don't you have any respect for her or her surviving family? The answer is you do not, and that is unfortunate. Respect for tragic circumstances, such as the death of someone who lost her father at a young age, left her country under horrible conditions (I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT MONEY), and probably had to endure a loneliness we have all felt, is TRAGIC.

When I heard of her death ["Leila's last ride"], that is what struck me, and I am not ashamed to say that it has affected me deeply. That some readers have chosen to use this event as an excuse to speak of their political ideology or a discourse on monarchy is thoroughly disgusting. Even worse are those who feel no sympathy because they have their own sob story.

Show compassion and respect. That you cannot is partly the reason Iran is the hell it is today.

Ali Towfighi

* I wish Pahlavis had taken more

After reading some wonderful letters in, "Leila's last ride", "Forgive all our sins" which brought tears to my eyes, it was disgusting to read some more letters full of hate and envy, "It's embarrassing, really", "Sympathy, disgust", "Rich little brat".

These people are so full of envy that they can not even let dying of an innocent to pass in peace. Princess Leila was only nine when her father was overthrown and had no role in whatever happened.

I am really sick of all this rubbish about Pahlavi's money. Whatever they have, they deserve it as they brought happiness and dignity for the Iranians. I just wish they had taken more, as the mollas plundered what was left anyway!

There is one thing which has been puzzling me about these envious people? Why aren't they envious about mollas' money? Mollas and their childeren (Aghaa zaadeh haa) have got thousands of time more money than the Pahlavis. And while it is normal for a royal family to be rich, it is not so normal for thousands of uneducated mollas to be rich. So please tell me why are you so envious of Princess Leila and not of Rafsanjani's sons who are plundering the wealth of our country at this very moment?!

I have been very sad since I heard the news about Princess Leila. But perhaps some of my sadness was for myself. Yes I was feeling sorry for myself too. I grew up in a country where her father was my king and she was my princess, where it was free to smile and be happy, where we were not ashamed to be Iranians. And now?! We are being ruled by a bunch of subhuman murderers and terrorists who have taken our beloved country back to the dark ages.


* Easy to hurt people

Mr. C.B.,["Rich little brat"]

If you do not have enough guts to come out with your full name then shut up. This is very bad of to keep publishing accusatory letters from unknown people. Especially foreigners, who have no right to meddle in our affairs.

While majority of us are open to criticism, some who hide them selves are betraying the others. And why goes along with this kind of double-standard, is every body's guess. It seems that Mr. Jahanshah Javid does not care for the feelings of his subscribers. BIZARRE!

But then you Mr. C.B. I have to assure you that I am not one of the lackeys of Reza Pahlavi. In fact I had & have nothing to do with him. But, has every body got a JOB? Is not having a job a sin? Is it easy to find a job for a Persian Princess? If she would have come to you for a job would you honestly accepted her? Think it over & try to be honest with yourself just for once.

Was that expensive hotel room, made exclusively for her? Or there were others who used the same room? Are you envious about all the people who can afford such expensive dwelling?

What is your problem Mr. C.B.? Are you a communist, Maoist, Ultra Left, or overt intelectual? Probably you live in a free society & enjoy all its benefits as their economy is market oriented, yet you hate the people who can afford a luxury? What a double-standard! How can you accuse people by stating "with a questionable source of income"?

Where, in which lawless land do you live that you are not afraid to be taken to the court of law to prove your unfounded accusation, and be punished for it? How about the saga of the other princess, who died after a night of over booze &... Did you enjoyed her demise? Another useless jobless spoiled brat being buried? Or you felt sad, shed tears and shared the grief of the world?

If you felt sad then you are swept under the rug by the influence of the shady Western mass media. You have no solid opinion of yourself. You lack self confidence. Get some professional hand to set you right. Yes, Have you got another AYATOLLAH in mind to govern our country. We experienced what the so-called modern molla (KHATAMI) achieved in his four years of his tenor. What a sham!

If our people democratically opt for Reza Pahlavi, do you see anything wrong in that? Or will you start throwing stones? What happened in Spain & what is right now is happening in Bulgaria? Does it not open your blind eyes? Mr. C.B. it is easy to hurt people? Is not it?


H. Hakimi,

* Shame on everyone

The passing away of Leila Pahlavi, a young lady, with all of her life in front of her is a sad story and obviously very hard on her mother.It is natural that she is quite upset over this tragedy and probably very angry at the world ["Leila's last ride"].This is understandable and any human being probably will react the same way. I don't think we can fault her for that.

BUT there is a fine line to cross, in trying to turn a personal tragedy into a national issue and intentionally or unintentionally take advantage of this calamity by politicizing her death. This is the line that separates an adult from a child and a woman from a girl. Farah should not have crossed that line and open herself up to opportunistic individuals (and apparently including herself) to take advantage of this tragedy. Then unavoidably the vultures move in and try to feed on peoples misery.

That is why we have royalists coming in with their age-old false claims like "cried for everything we had during Pahlavis" and " thousands of Iranians would not have left their country and this child may have died in her motherland" and "I don't care how much money oon khodaa biyaamorz stashed away, nooshe joonesh" ["Forgive all our sins"].

In other word those idiots went through the fire of revolution because khoshi zeere deleshoon zadah bood. Well, for his information, it turned out that for those thousands of Iranians who left their country, the revolution was a blessing and forced them to leave "that hell" and come to a better world and then mourn that they could not "stash" enough money away. And the only hope they have is, if the situation improves enough to let them go back and bring the rest of the nooshejooneshoons.

And what NA forgets (if he is not making up the story to drive at his conclusions), is that he joined the revolution because his majesty had told "his people" either to join the Rastakhiz Party or leave the country.That was why NA revolted and hasn't left the country yet.But the smart people including the royal family did , and the majesty's prophecy became a reality(ironically for himself). Chaah makan ke khod ofti.

Or another forgetful person ["Sympathy, disgust"] writes "we were free to wear what we wanted", ignoring the fact that his majesty, the grand father , militarily forced people to take their chadors off.I can clearly remember that as a child , I saw a policeman tore my nany's chador off her head and that old poor woman felt as if she had been raped. Yes you "were free what to wear and they did not have to wear the black coffin ", as long as the dictator liked it.

Shame on your memory and insincerity. I am not in favor of wearing or not wearing the black coffin , but forcing your will on people of different opinion is not called "freedom". And she should be truly "shameful of not defending her monarch" instead of stashing money and leaving the country. Instead , now she is writing the obituary for "her princess". Have people no shame?

If Omid Ashraf ["It's embarrassing, really"] expressed his opinion regarding Leila's father, it was probably a response to Farah's initial step of pliticising the issue.What goes around, comes around.

And finally it was strange and disgusting to see that Jahanshah Javid , at the bottom of the same page , immediately after these letters , and under ANYWAY had chosen to put baadaa baadaa mobaarak baadaa. Is nothing really sacred as the embelem goes? Shame on you too.


* Too harsh

I did not know the late Leila Pahlavi ["Leila's last ride"]. Honestly, I did not even know how she looked like until last week. Also, I must add that I am not a monarchist and I do blame the Pahlavis for what happened to Iran in 1979.

However, I do believe some of the comments made on the late princess to be too harsh and insensitive ["Rich little brat"]. After all, she was a young woman in her prime and beauty and she deserved a better fate. In his or her article CB states that the princess did not care for Iran and dismisses the statements of her brother and mother.

CB is free to criticize Raze Pahlavi as much as he wants. He is a well known public figure. However, we hardly knew her sister and we don't know what went in her mind. Perhaps she was sincere about her feelings about Iran and she probably did miss her country.

Our fondest memories are always from our childhood and youth. In this case the person left her country at age nine and was never able to return. For a young person such an experience could be devastating. Also, CB keeps repeating that she died of a drug overdose. The word "drug" could mean many things.

As far as most of us know she died of overdose of sleeping pills. By simply saying that she died of a drug overdose CB misleads the reader and makes one believe that the princess might have died of overdose of illegal drugs. We don't know if she was using illegal drugs and we should not use vague terms and mislead people.

Finally, we did not know the late princess and we will never know her. But let's respect her in death and ask god to bless her.


* For a good reason

I share Mr. Agha's lamentation ["References"] about the lack of bibliographic/source infromation relative to the Hengam Island article .This particular piece on the Tonbs and Hengam and the others that will be coming along all have bibliographies, but I have chosen not to share them openly for a good reason.

My experience has been that when I provided sources, people (and there have been many among the Iranian scholar community) who then use my phrases and references as if what they are saying or citing have been their own work, without a single attribution or acknowledgement to where they got all the stuff.

Comically, I have discovered even instances where the taking has been so blind that the taker has repeated my mistakes along with the rest. The readers may want to consult my piece on All Rights Reserved (on this site: just as an example of the sort of literary theft has bothered me for some time. While I cannot make my neighbor honest, I can however exercise discretion as to whom I would like to let in.

I don't think it is fair of Mr. Agha or anyone else for that matter to ask someone to leave her door open so that thieves can help themselves to fruits of one's labor. In the context of the Hengam Island article, the point about it needing a public list of reference is unjustified. I do not write and post on this site term papers and I certainly do not write in order to be graded.

I have a certain well-known expertise and area of specialization about the Persian Gulf islands, which hardly needs reiteration. If a non-patronizing reader enjoys the piece, regardless of whether she agrees with the message, my job is done.

If a non-patronizing reader's interest is so that he wished there was reference to sources then that is good too; it shows that the reader wants to do research. What kind of reserach would I be encouraging if I were to also provide all the material?

Guive Mirfendereski

* Erotica in Persian

Farzin Forooghi has an excellent point ["Challenge: Erotica in Farsi"] about writing erotica in Farsi, but he should read "Karin" for a very interesting start. Or maybe it would be a good experiment to translate one of Nooneh's pieces into Farsi.

Personally, I always thought Farsi was very expressive when it comes to verbalizing sex, but maybe that's only in the heat of the moment. :-)

I also think it's interesting that so much breath is spent talking about how Nooneh is a waste of time, of no literary value, but nobody at all is complaining about "Just Breathe" What is it about sex that so suddenly elevates our literary sensibilities?

Zari Moaveni

* Beyond words

Dear Jahanshah,

Sitting in my office surfing the web (it helps to get my mind off of WORK for a while) once again came across your not so new article "Growing up". Well, I said to myself a reply would be appropriate whether you read it or not:-)...

Let me wrap this up quickly. What you have done here has value beyond words and I think you're the greatest and I'm very much addicted to and appreciate all your work and time. Not to mention, I LOVE the section related to Abadan and ROYA.

(By the way, this has nothing to do with you being Abadani or Sherkat Naftee!?;-) Just kidding!! )

Best wishes to you,

Banafsheh Dehdashtian

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