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April/May 2004

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* Role of taarof

I have never read a better explanation of the "Concept of Taarof" contextually explained than is explained in the article below [That arrogant reporter]. I hope you find time to read it. It explains a great part of the Iranian culture. "Taarof " plays a great role even among many Iranians abroad who spent the large part of their lives in Iran. They can not help not to become (environmentally conditioned) one to practice the "Taarof" in the sense that is explained in this article. 

What the author is saying is that try to understand the concept of "Taarof" and the frustration of youth in Iran due to the clerical regime, then interpret what you hear from the people. In my opinion, what is being argued by the two writers here (Kristof & Shirazi), the two variables can be tested by another interview and qualitative observation in Iran by a liberal Iranian, someone who is willing to study the aggressor of the two regimes in Iran and the culture of dictatorship that is also instilled in people due to the environmental conditioning, then we can understand the sociological concepts of the argument.

Fatima Farideh Nejat


* Making things much worse

Dear Keyvan, [Will you or won't you?]

Do not let the Bush rhetoric fool you. Though publicly Bush denounces the mullahs, privately he makes deals with them because he thinks he needs their help controlling and influencing the Shiites in Iraq which is spiraling ever more out of control.

I think a Bush style “pre-emptive” invasion of Iran as he has done in Afghanistan and Iraq would be a disaster. He is too egotistical to help empower Iranian dissidents and not do the job himself. Bush is not interested in Democracy for the region; he is interested in oil in Iraq and natural gas in Uzbekistan plain and simple. Do not be taken in by his rhetoric. Where were the American forces while the world’s heritage in the museums and libraries of Iraq was being looted? Securing the oil fields.

I agree with you that Kerry is not knowledgeable enough about Iran to make an impact and unfortunately those of us who care deeply about Iran are too small a contingency to get the attention of most politicians. If Iran became nuclear weapon capable like N. Korea it would get the wrong kind of attention. A war would not fix anything but only make things much worse for Iran.

If Bush gets re-elected we can only hope that his father’s friend Hushang Ansary will have some moderating effect on him. We don’t want another Viet Nam where "we bombed your village to save it."

Brian Appleton


* Sho'aar taa key?

Maghaaleh "Will you or won't you?" Keyvan raa motaale'eh kardam. Ghasd-e man dar in naameh analyse 'amalkard-e Keyvan nist va beh inkeh kojaaye kaarash dorost va kojaayash eshtebaah boodeh yaa che mikard behtar bood va gheyreh ... kaari nadaaram. Oo baa emkaanaat-e maadi va tajrobi va fekri-e khod khaasteh dar hadd-e khod kaari anjaam dahad. Amma in motaal'eh dar man so'aalaat-e asaasi tari raa bar angikht.

So'aali keh baraaye man pish aamad in bood keh cheraa in opposition keh dar khaarej baraaye mesaal dar canalhaaye satellite az sobh taa shab inghadr sho'aar midahand va mardom raa beh mobaarezeh da'vat mikonand taa behaal yek baar shabih-e in kaari keh Keyvan kard raa nakardehand?

Agar jalb-e tavajjoh kardan va nazdik shodan beh afraadi keh dar 'arseh siyaasi-e ghavitarin keshvar-e donyaa matrah hastand nesbatan inghadr raahat ast cheraa taa beh haal dar tajamo'aat-e siyaasiyoon-e USA yek nafar az in sokhanvaraani keh dar in rasaaneh haa kaar mikonand va mibinim maashaa'allah inghadr harf baraaye goftan daarand hozoor nayaafteh beh 'envaan-e yek khabarnegaar jeloo beravad so'aali bekonad yaa chizi begooyad?

Vaghti Keyvaan aan T-shirt raa saaket va tanhaa dar aan jam' baalaaye sar-e khod negah daashteh bood in sokhanvaraan kojaa boodand? Mashghool-e sokhanvari? Sho'aar daadan va harraafi taa key? Agar green cardeshaan raa begirand geryeh hameshaan dar miaayad vali baraaye ferestaadan-e bachehaaye bi defaa'-e mardom jelooye tir khoob baladand sho'aar bedahand ...

Pass dar paasokh beh in so'aal keh 'aalem-e bi 'amal behtar ast yaa 'aamel-e naadaan? ... Beh dalil-e delzadegi az sho'aarhaaye bi mohtavaa paasokh-e man in ast : 'aamel-e naadaan.

Azadeh Alavi


* Empty talk

It is ironic that your article is called "Out of the fog," as you are (and we are, after reading it) very much still in the fog.  I think you mentioned that you live in Iran and maybe if you live there, you can get away with simply hinting at certain truths and urging openness of mind, and saying things like: "Even here in Tehran I can be a passenger on the ship of the 21st century and live in the present and travel to the future."

Nearly your whole article, especially the last several paragraphs, are full of... nothing. It's empty talk. It's what we Iranians are really good at, the so called, "Shoar daadan."

For instance, you say: "It may be against our nature or religious beliefs, but the debate will begin soon. Time flies and so we should be ready. This era will requires us to change, although it does not require us to forget our originality. It's all about embarking to expand our mind."

You know I could slap that paragraph at the end of 200 different essays, and still get away with it. For instance, you could be talking about having sex with aliens or eating pork and still put that paragraph at the end. I am not try to pick on you, as many of us are guilty of this.

I wrote an article on homosexuality, called "Blind tolerance," and if you compare your article to mine, you will see what I am talking about. I am not saying you should accept my opinion as stated in that article, but at least you should try to state your opinions clearly to allow for an effective argument.

Try to get to the issue and stop beating around the bush. What is YOUR view on homosexuality? You talk about a "new me," and that you have changed. What do you mean? Do you respect homosexuals? Do you think they deserve the full rights of a heterosexual couples? Or you are simply not disgusted by them anymore? Or that chatting with that bisexual person made you think that homosexuals are also... like you and me.

I don't want to hear about future and culture and originality and Iranians being mentally retarded! Maybe you are not clear about your own position, and my email may turn those questions that you asked initially in your essay, back to you.

Majid Saleh


* As if they have no respect

The topic of Persian or Iranian has been discussed here and in other publications and still is not clear to some individuals and organizations [Persian vs. Iranian]. As they say in the U.S., what gets my goat is using Farsi instead of Persian.

Some official forms and communications in the U.S. have taken the liberty of using Farsi instead of Persian (e.g., Department of Motor Vehicle). I feel that these individuals or organizations are taking liberties with our identity, historical legacy and our culture as a whole.

It is as if they have no respect for us. As if there is no word for our language in English. As if we are insignificant or unknown individuals who need a native word to be referred to us. As if our language and long standing literary tradition and contributions to the world civilization is not well established, that they can easily rename it for us, and by doing so, pretty much deprive us of our heritage and any sense of legitimacy and positive connotations that it carries, in the eyes of the American people.

What bothers me is that we have Iranians who have contributed to this misunderstanding even in American universities where proper education should be taught.

In a world where brand names are everything, I find it very sad that some Iranians are contributing to the destruction of their well recognized and positive identity and moving towards one that is more unknown and more reminiscent of all the ugly stereotypes that the US society has to offer us. For more discussions about this topic, you may refer to here.

Mohammad Ala, Board Member


* Things the world would have missed

Dear Behrouz jan (I know, it's a redundancy), [Persian vs. Iranian]

Hello from a fellow Iran-zamin alumnus. I just wanted to point out a couple of things regarding the "Iran vs. Persia" thing you brought up in your latest article in The name "Iran" goes much farther back than even the Safavid dynasty.

I could point out that Ferdowsi used it a thousand years ago, but that would still be half the story. Fact is, the Archamenians called our country "Aryan-vaishnu" in Old-Persian, or "The Aryan Expanse". The Sassanians called it "Eiran-Shahr" in Middle-Persian, or "Land of the Aryans".

We have called our country Iran, or some variation thereof, for basically our entire history. "Persia" is how the Greeks referred to us because the Persians were the rulers of Iran during the time of the Greco-Persian conflict, and it was adopted by the rest of the Western World. Did Reza Shah insist on the rest of the world adopting our own name for our country due to Nazi intrigue? I don't know and it really doesn't matter.

One thing's for sure, if I was Kurdish, Azari, etc., I would have a problem with being called a "Persian" the same way a Scotsman would take exception to being called "English", or having all of Britain referred to as "England".

Here's a couple of other things for your list that the world, especially Americans, would have missed out on if we didn't exist:

1) The "Cowboy Creed" that adorns every ranch and gunshop in the US of A: "Ride well, shoot straight, and tell the truth" (this was the creed of the Iranian Army of Cyrus, history's first professional military).

2) The motto of the US Post: "Neither wind, nor rain, nor dark of night" (the motto of the Archamenian postal riders that invented the world's first pony express).

3) Oh, and let's not forget the Aftaabeh.

Adrian Norbash


* Hostage Crisis effect

Well, "Persian vs. Iranian" is a big turn around from the cheesy Farah story [My dream coffee with Farah Pahlavi]. This one is a good one.

There is a big factor, which I believe had gone unnoticed here. One of the biggest reasons, if not the reason, we switched from Iranian to Persian was the Hostage Crisis in Iran. During the 1979-1980 Hostage situations many Iranians hid their identity by saying they are Middle Eastern, Persian, "Italian", and yes, even Arab. It was so much safer and we didn't have to explain about why the hostages were taken and all the BS that went with it.

What was the name for the region before Persia? Maybe we should go back to that name?

By the way, it was the Egyptians (Mesriha) who came up with beer well over 5,000 years ago! And of all we have contributed you came up with "unicorns" and "angel wings"? No mention of first ever written constitution, first writable and readable language, medicine, alcohol, first bill of rights, and last but not least, "goosht koob"?

Good piece, non the less, food for thought.

Hamid Bakhsheshi


* ... but COME ON!

Isn't this "Women and railroads" photo collection, by Misha (Mehrdad) Honarvar, just the beginnings of a porn-shoot? Instead of "women" it should be "young sexy white women, partially nude".

Where are the real women--say age 50 and above? (Don't get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than sexy young women, but COME ON!)

David W. Donnell


* Nice hand (job) book

Misha wrote: "Here is a photo essay of an on hand book project which hopefully will be published by the end of summer, titled "Women and railroads".

Very nice hand job book ... umm... I mean very nice job on the hand book... :))



More letters (May 2004)
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All past letters

By subject
April/May 2004

U.S.-Iran-Middle East
* Bush popular in Iran
* IRI had its chance
* Bush: "Nafas Kesh!"
* Summarized Chomsky
* Shifting blame
* Mullahs: No Democracy

* Role of taarof
* Making things worse
* Sho'aar taa key?
Christian fundamentalism

* The dark side
* Shameless sales job
* Line of traitorship
Iraq prisoner abuse
* Huge wedge
* Please get out of Iraq
* Real picture of America
Goli Ameri: Congress
* Not enough
* Why badmouth?
Ahmad Mirfendereski
* Sorely missed
* Our guru

Hashem Aghajari

* Be proud

Human Rights
* IRI tolerance
* Support your president
* Nail on the head
* Dropped the ball
* No place for little sluts
* What are editors for?
* Also a place to bitch

* Assaulting sensibilites
* Load of crap
Ali Shariati
* Defending defunct idiology
NY Persian parade
* Filled with errors
* Why the surprise?
* Need hard slap

Iranian class structure
* Nation of chossophils?
* E as in asshole
Iranians vs. Persians
* As if they have no respect
* How screwed we are
* Iran encompasses all
* Things world missed
* Hostage Crisis effect
* We were ahead of our time
* Almost a perfect world
Darioush Winery
* Sold lots of wine
* Top of the list
* Felt I am there
* We will definitely visit
* Too many pictures
* Great

* Become more tolerant
* Live the way they want
* Empty talk

* Dirty dishes
* Outstanding talent
* Nice hand (job) book
* ... but COME ON!

* Understanding behavior
* Another sloppy kiss
* Old songs
* Where's Solie?
* Great memories
* Beautiful work
* Sepaasgozaar
* Bone Marrow Registry
* Unforgettable with 'Haji'
For sale?
* Obtaining nostalgia
Water or paper
* Some... smell
* Excited aliens

* Biggest export
* Naamardee


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