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June 29, 2001

* Our resolve to defend

Dear Arman,

I enjoyed your article [""Gasping for air""]; it made me pause and appreciate my life. I served from Aban of 1359 (45 days after the begining of war) to Aban of 1361 (1982) and left Iran shortly after the end of my tour. I arrived in the US on February 16, 1984.

We lost our best and bravest to that vicious war. I know people call that war senseless and a big waste, but I believe that our country had to secure a peaceful future with her neighbors for some time to come. We showed our resolve to defend our land despite the shortages and shortcomings.

It will be a long time before Iran is attacked by neighbors again!

Best wishes,

Ben (Bahman) Bagheri

* Sacrifice appreciated

I got so many replies for my article ["Gasping for air"]. Not only I but also my buddies from up there will thank you for making their voices heard and their sacrifice appreciated.


Arman Sadati

* On behalf of Asghars, Akbars, Kazems

Dear Ms. Nooneh,

On behalf of all Asghars, Akbars, Kazems, Baghers, Nabys, Valys, Mohammds, Jaffars, Aynollahs, Gholis, and others guys with uncool names, I plead with you from the depth of my burning heart. We have feelings too, we crave attention too.

Is it fair that only Bahrams, Dariushes, Peymans and Kambizes of this world are the recipient of your erotically charged attention? We, the bearers of uncool names, are tired of introducing ourseleves in discos and parties as Mehrdad and Kamran to Spanish or French looking Persian beauties with nose jobs.

After all, what self-repecting middle class Persian princess likes to take home a Taghi-type and introduce him to mom and dad? I myself, a victim of my father's lack of imagination, have stubbornaly held on to my name (I confess, I'm an Asghar. There. I got off my chest). Don't know why.

I've had to bastardize it to Azgar, to sort of pre-empt the embarassement resulting from it being turned into Assgar. Yes I did flirt once with Mehrdad for a while, and even, god forbid, Steve (a folly of my club hoping days). I'm actually known to my friends by three names, a source of confusion and speculation at some gatherings (Is he polygomist, political activist, police informer?).

Still, here I am thirtysomeoddyears old and writing to you as Asghar. So next time when you prowl a party in search of your next sexual conquest, or get foxed up for a night on the town with your girlfriends a la the cast of Sex and the City, be kind to us, the victims of short-sighted parents.

I see you have just nailed a P with Peymaan. So here is my suggested list of potenial one night stand partners for your post-feminist rock'em sock'em attention: Qulam (okay it's realy Gholam, but GH is often spelled as Q in English), Rahim, Sadegh, Taghi, Valiollah, Yaghub, Zakaria (heck, you can call always him Zak). (See Nooneh's reply below)

Lustfully yours,


* Asghar Ghatel

This is what I would write about Asghar: ["On behalf of Asghars, Akbars, Kazems"]

When I heard his name is really Asghar my insides went wild. No soosooli name for him, oh no. He's a real man with a real name. I imagined him as Asghar Ghatel, the terrifyingly sexy serial killer of Southern Tehran who crowded my dreams with images of sharp knives penetrating soft skin. Or might this Asghar be the more jovial Tarragheh type? Offering his bold head to my hungry hands. I saw myself caressing that shiny roundness endlessly...

And so on...

Please pass on the love (?!) note and thank the gentleman for his kindness & sense of humor. As you can see I'm a bit bored at work!


* Doshman taraashi

Professor Hamechizdon announces Kharejeh Keshvaris summer program at Southern Khar-dar Chaman, with a beautiful campus fit for "Ah-o-naleh" kharejeh keshvaris. Courses will cover a wide array of analytical subjects containing; iranian hasoudi, bad dahani, fohsh, kharejee parasti, natounam bebeeni, and zeddeh hamechi .

Special credits are given to abstracts written on subjects dealing with anti everything sensibilities, somber stories about badbakhti, zajr, beekasi, exile, gain & loss of self esteem through fohsh, bad gouee, universal blame including physical characteristics such as big "damaaghs", guilt trips for material possesions, intellectual resentments and pessimism for not being included.

Now the result of our department's recent observations:

(Mobser, bring the khatkesh)

Khalili, lots of doshman. As some of our colleagues would say, "balam toro sanana?" bozorg meeshi yaadet meereh. "Work" is not the same as "poverty". Not all people who work have to be underprivileged. In the world our department inhabits, we would say, Khalili work on your feelings of guilt.

Sabety, Diana not, you are okay but you've got bad timing; lots of doshman. May God provide you with a princess with a deformed nose and a big behind who would hug AIDS patients and walk on mines.

Kazemi, voice of conscience, lots of doshman. Nothing is scared (at least here in Uncle Sam's territory). For Kharejeh keshvaries, truth is not fashionable, morality is passé (peef) and Nooneh is good. Haven't you heard about theories of "hyper reality". Deal with it.

Sohrabi, where are your comments? Being wisssssse eh!!? Or preparing for November?

Siamack, you could teach "favaaedeh fohsh va bad zaboni" any time.

Jahanshah, needs you. Snap out of Nooneh. Lots of doshman. We would like to see more of your own writings.


Professor Hamechizdon
Department of Middle East Studies and Cultures of Kharejeh Keshvaries

* Beautiful Yazd

I really enjoyed Fardin Shenasa's beautiful photos of Yazd and its people ["Return to Yazd"]. I noticed that this was his first trip back to Iran in 25 years, and wondered what his impressions were after all this time?

I think there are many of us who have been away from Iran for many years and have built up a picture of how things are "back home", and it would be fascinating to find out how the fantasy compares with the reality in Fardin's case.


* What is Persian?

It's been a few weeks that I've visted I love to see what others have to say and I read their letters. I did respond to some of the comments that were about Leila Pahlavi and one comment about Islam.

Today I received a letter asking who am I to talk about Persians, "You're not even a Persian." Well my name (real name) is Filip Saprkin. My mom is Persian and my dad is Russian. I was born in Tehran and lived there for 13 years. Then I was sent to Germany. I was there for 10 years and four years ago I moved to the USA.

When I was in Iran, I was considered an outsider, because of my religion, name, look. I didn't fit with Armenians, or Jews, or Bahais. I was not able to go to the Armenian school (I didn't speak the language) or Jewish (I wasn't Jewish) and there where no Russian schools. I had to go to a regular school (my father considered regular as a Moslem school) and with my bad luck it was after the revolution so you can imagine how much problem I had.

I mean, I always got told to change my name to Alireza and I had to attend namaaz. Since I (my father) didn't want that, I had to change many schools. And even at home, on my father's side I was Russian and on my mother's side I was Persian. As a kid you don't care what you are; all you want is your family and friends.

When I went to Germany, for the first 3 years I didn't even know any Persian, and later on when I met some Persians, I still wasn't Persian or German. Believe me every time people ask, "Where are you from? Iran! Oh you don't look like an Iranian!" it just kills me. Till today the same question and I get the same respond.

Sometimes I say, "I know. I shaved my beard and took off my amaameh. That's way I don't like an Iranian." But since I was very young and wasn't exposed much to Persian culture, my thinking and mentality is more or less European. I still love Persian food, music, culture, and language. And I see myself as a Persian, but I have a problem understanding Iranian.

Here in the US, I have many Persian friends and still I'm different than them. Most Iranians I know still care about status, money, and material staff. Driving Mercedes Benz, carrying lots of gold and etc.. And talking about how rich they are (not all are the same).

Michael Jordan's mom goes to TV shows and tells how poor they were and that she had to work hard to support the family. But if it was a Persian mom: "Na maa hamamon pooldar boodim. Pesaram behtarin morabiye basketball ro daasht. Man hamisheh midonestam ke pesaram be in maghaam mireseh. Asan pesaram too iran avalin kafshe NIKE ke omad daasht" And more.

Persians are too proud to accept who and what they are. When I moved to Key West, Florida, I was the only Iranian who loved to live on an old boat and work to just be happy. I believe money and status is nothing; people will respect you for who you are not because you are Dr. X or Mohandes Y, or you lived in Farmaniyeh and belonged to high-class people (baalaa shahri).

So when I talk among my Persian friends about life, politics, love, and money, even they tell me "you are not like a Persian." I'm not Persian, German, Russian (I don't know the language or the culture), and not American. So who am I? What is Persian?

Filip Saprkin

* Forgive me

During the 1979 revolution in I ran, I was a 19-year-old student at Isfahan University. Like all the other students, I shouted at this and that, and wanted death for almost anybody who was sombody then. Well, I managed to go to the US and finish my education. While there, I found three friends that each had a bad fate.

Majid was a student at Aryamehr University, Siamak was a in his second year at Amir Kabir University and Hasan who was a freshman at our school. All three suffered from homesickness and went back to Tehran. Only Hasan tried to tough it out due to his background in sports but end up in a mental institution twice before calling it a quits.

Looking back on all that, I know how Leila Pahlavi must have felt. A nine-year-old child forced to move away from all she had. No mother, father, brother or sister to talk to, to consult with, or maybe even to cry with. Yes, the governess' were there, but could they have taken the places of mother or father?

Hasan had a home to go to, but what about Leila? Can you imagine being sick and not having a place to go to cure you? Being touched first hand with homesickness and the depression that comes with it, I know how Leila must have felt.

So to make myself feel better, I want to shout one more time that I am sorry, Leila, that you had to suffer because of my stupidity. I am sorry that I didn't know better. I have read most of the letters written about Leila. Some have called her a rich brat; the other one said she was no Diana, yet someone else mentioned that she never held a job.

Whatever she may have been, she was not pergnant from an Arab boyfriend and she never walked on an already cleared minefield or kissed AIDS victims where it was safe. She was never seen with anyone on some beach like other well respected princesses. She graduated from school without anyone knowing who she was.

To all my American and English born or raised Iranian friends who have criticized her since her death, I say you have no right to talk to her that way because you don't know how much she sufferd. So my dear Leila, forgive me for what I did.

Kambiz from Iran

* Fundamentalism

Dear Mr Makhmalbaf, ["Limbs of no body"]

Your paper on Afghanistan is impressive, your statistical data seems accurate, your interpretation of the cause of miseries in Afghanistan are realistic, I sympathise with you on the case.

However, added to historical issues, the current devastation of the country is rapidly accelerated by a fundamentalist Islamic regime. Islamic utopia of Taliban (a weaker version currently rules in Iran and a violent one is trying to establish itself in Algeria) is responsible for suppression of freedom, as well as economic collapse, unemployment and ban on female education, unacceptable international relations, etc.

Is there any way that the Islamic fundamentalists can understand and perceive the needs of modern times? There is no Utopian State ("Madineh Fazeleh") except in one's mind.

Iradj Yassini

Comment for The Iranian letters section


June 2001
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