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    August 1998
    Last update: Aug 25

* Change the alphabet

The question of usage of Arabic or Latin alphabet is not about politics or we Iranians being slaves to another culture ["Eenjoori Beneveeseem?"]. The issue is about two different parts, first what we Iranians outside Iran should do and second part is what Iran and other Persian-speaking countries should do.

We Iranians outside the country have the opportunity to improve our language without the barriers that exist in our country. This means that by careful planing we are able to make it easier for ourselves and our children by changing the alphabetic system. Every book can be "translated" to the new system and it makes it very easy and economical for us.

The only "bad side" of this is that the next generation of Iranians abroad will be unable to read and write Arabic alphabet, which will be the case anyway because most of them will never learn it anyway.

By improving the language I mean changing from a consonant alphabet that "only" puts down the consonants and its right to left letters and left to right numbers, to a more logical and easier way of doing things. The only arguments that have stopped us from doing that is:

1. Our ancestors have done and therefore it MUST be right

2. We have a treasury of literature that will be lost this way

3. We will not be able to read the Koran

I personally find the above unacceptable. We still can have the old alphabet left for artistic and cultural reasons. Changing the alphabet in Iran is nearly impossible. They would surly say that it would be pro-Western and anti-Islamic, whatever that means.

I think by changing the alphabet we even make the Persian closer to its family, the indoeuropean.

Keyhan Hadjari
Stockholm, Sweden

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* Homosexuality is not a threat

I just happened upon your article ["Homosexuals"]. One of the thoughts that came to my mind was your comment on how you were told as a youngster that being gay was bad. Think about this, good, bad, right, wrong, have always been and always will be subjective ideas.

As we go from society to society, culture to culture, we find good, bad, right and wrong to be dependent on the society. So think again, perhaps like most of us, we were told misinformation as youth, and now we need to reevalutate our hard fast beliefs.

Homosexuality is not a threat, or an abomination. We as humans have many different ways of expressing ourselves sexually. No one way is good, bad, right or wrong. Look again at yourself.

Terry J. DiVincenzo

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* They are, first and foremost, people

I wonder if Mr Behzadian has ever heard the phrase "two wrongs don't make a right." Whatever unjust actions were taken when the U.S. embassy was put under siege, and hostages were taken, they do not justify the present situation in Afganistan, where our diplomats are held hostage.

Countries send diplomats to foreign lands under internationally-recognised agreements. The host countries for these diplomats share in the obligation to provide security for the perimeter of the emabassy building, whilst internal security of the embassy is the responsiblity of the diplomatic visitors.

By making a forceful entry into the Iranian diplomatic area, Afghanistan has committed an act which in the old days would have been interrpretted as an act of war.

With all the hype and publications surrounding this event, it may be easy for people, such as Mr Behzadian to forget that there are, first and foremost, people - Iranian nationals at that - whose human rights are being violated. They may even have been tortured, and experienced traumatic events, the likes of which Mr Behzadian could never imagine.

The families of these poor hostages are suffering along side them, and should recieve our sympathy, and our compassion. So Mr Behzadian I ask you to reconsider your obviously narrow-minded, tit-for-tat approach, and hope that you can put away these imature feelings, and consider the feelings of the families of those you condem.

Farzad Moshfeghi

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* You're right, but...

Dear Ms. Khalili:

You are absolutley right about the date. Only yesterday (13 Aug) did the calendarical (if there is such a word) discrepency clicked in my mind. For some reason I had always thought of the date of The New Yorker article as June 20th (too much lead in my drinking water maybe).

I did mention in my response that it is possible for two or more people to come up with the same idea. You have to admit it though, there were uncanny resemblences between the two pieces which went beyond the ususal trite ESPN analysis.

Anyway I never meant to make a federal case out of this, and sincerly apologize if I may have caused you any problem.

However I still stand by my first point, that is the narcissism in your writing ["On Football, Philosophy, and Joy"] - it is too airy and can use some tightening.

Asghar Massombagi

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* The other way around?

I Just want to say why Mr. Massombaghi did not think about the possibility that The New Yorker writer stole ideas from Ms. Khalili? Just wondering!

Yasaman Mottaghipour

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* Government doesn't care

To a government that does not care about 60 million people, why should it care about 11 being held hostage? ["Taken hostage? Good"]

It is only wishfull thinking that anything is going to change in Iran. The banning of Jame'eh newspaper and others; the sentence against [Tehran Mayor] Karbaschi should all be good signs that nothing has really changed in Iran nor is going to.

A Parandeh

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* Shame on you

Please be very selective in what you publish. On August 14, 1998 a view point was written by Kamran Behzadian entitled "Taken hostage? Good." There should be shame for an Iranian who writes something like that and worse than that, on The Iranian Times for publishing it.

Stuff like that, if worthy of publication, belong in USA Today. Please do not forget who your primary audience are.

Mohammad Chizari

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* Never learned our lesson

Mr. Behzadian's letter regarding Iranian "diplomats" being held hostage by the Taliban forces in Afghanistan ["Taken hostage? Good"] loses sight of the fact that Iranian governments throughout the ages have had a consistent record of breaching the principle of inviolability of foreign emissaries and have never learned a lesson. For their indiscretion, Iran as a whole has often paid a very dear price.

It is related anectodally that one of the reasons why Ghengiz Khan showed no mercy on Iran and Iranians was that his delegation to the Court of Mohammad Khawrazmshah was detained and butchered. During the Qajar dynasty, an Iranian levee claimed the life of a Russian diplomat in Tehran, for which Fath-Ali Shah had to send a special delegation to Russia to apologize before the czar.

Of course, the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the detention of a multi-national group of diplomatic and consular staff hostage for an indelible 444 days purchased for Iran a wholesale condemnation by the international community and the International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction the Iranian government though it could escape by putting on a no-show, a coward's way out.

The bottom line is that Iran does not heed lessons of history, no more than any other government or country, for that matter. One would think, for example, that after the Bosnian massacres, there would not be a repeat in Kosovo; but, there it is. Perhaps because of their kinship with Persian and Iranians, the Afghanis, too, when behaving like a "mob," have shown little respect for diplomatic niceties.

In the 19th century, the Afghans spared only one "protected" person from slaughter so that individual could take the news of the massacre of the contingent back to his authorities.

As for the present Iranian "diplomats" held hostage, here is the legal point: None of them can claim diplomatic protection unless said protection or immunity was granted to them by the "government" against whom they are invoking said protection/immunity. Just because one is a "diplomat," or that the sending state so claims, does not mean that the person is entitled to diplomatic immunity. Immunity and diplomatic protection must be conferred on the person by the receiving government. As none of the Iranian "diplomats" were accredited to the Taliban government nor reprersented Iran in the Taliban-held portion of Afghanistan, then none of them are entitled to any protection under international law.

Nothing in international law precludes the Taliban from treating them as enemy agents, try and punish them according to the laws of Afghanistan. Their only salvation, under international law rests with them being labeled as prisoners of war and therefore perhaps subject to the humanirarian provisions of the various Geneva and other conventions on the rules of war.

Guive Mirfendereski

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* Aab-e tobeh

For all the contemporary Romeo and Juliet stories, I am most moved by the honest rendition and accounting which characterize Siamak Namzi's "baptismal" experience and Laleh Khalili's purgings ["Loving and Iranian man"].

In their soul-searching endeavor, they wear their hearts ever so bravely on their sleeves and with minds like steel trap articulate their most inner feelings autocritically in a strong and vibrant prose.

Home, as one home-spun American saying has it, is where the heart is. It may be time for Mr. Namzi and Ms. Khalili to cleanse the past with a sprinkling of aab-e tobeh and find the spiritual home they each so crave. Nobody asked, just this one person's opinion.

Guive Mirfendereski

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* Taken hostage? Good.

Sadly enough, in a sense I am happy that Iranian diplomats are being held hostage by Afghan Taleban forces. Perhaps this will give the Iranian nation a taste of what it is like to have your diplomats held hostage by a radical government against all international laws. There are lessons to be learned here.

I further hope that the Taleban will hold Iranians in captivity for at least 444 days.

Kamran Behzadian

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* Thanks, Payman

Check out "Revolution: 1979-1999" if you haven't yet!

It includes many interesting photos and many songs from 1357 revolution era which really brought tears to my eyes.

I appreciate Peyman Arabshahi for all his efforts in helping iranian.com build up this page.

Kambiz Shoarinejad

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* Iranian-Americas and the age of peace

Yahya R. Kamalipour, writes in "Window of opportunity": "Hence, it is imperative that we, the Iranian community in diaspora, realize the serious implications of our prevailing stereotypical images in the U.S. and elsewhere as they impact upon our social and political relations within the U.S. and other nations. We live in a world of images -- images that can sell as well as enhance and images that can conjure hate and despair... "

Let's take this from a far simpler approach...

Here in the US, the concept of the "Great American Melting Pot" has been rusted through with anxieties and perceptions. Being myself of Jewish heritage, every time Israeli lets a Jewish settler kill another Arab, and does nothing about it, it affects the life of every Jew on the planet, and these perceptions are felt deeply here at home in the U.S.... FULL TEXT

David Brager
Richland, WA

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* Accusation: Stealing ideas from The New Yorker

Asghar Massombagi writes: Friendly suggestions to Ms. Khalili: Drop the narcissism from your writing. A mature writer doesn't need to impress her audience with big words and deliberate sentence structuring. Acknowledge the source of a good thought or insightful observation, since you're not the only one who for instacne reads The New Yorker on a regular basis. Your observation about proximity of football and life in you article "On Football, Philosophy, and Joy" came from Adam Gopnik's article in the July 13th issue of The New Yorker.... FULL TEXT

Asghar Massombagi

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* Reply: How could I?

Laleh Khalili writes: I am not a usual reader of The New Yorker. I don't have time for it, and I used to find Tina Brown annoying, so I just wouldn't bother reading the magazine. But obviously you believe that I have lifted some of my article from The New Yorker.... FULL TEXT

Laleh Khalili

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* Historic distortion

In reference to a BBC report carried by The Iranian Times regarding the meeting between a former American hostage, Barry Rosen, and his former Iranian captor, Abbas Abdi, at UNESCO's Paris headquarters, Eric Rouleau did nothing to "persuade" the two to meet.

This historic event should not be presented to the public in a distorted fashion. I worked on the event for a year and both were invited by me on behalf of the American-Iranian Council (AIC). A colleague in Tehran worked with me on the event from the very beginning (not affliated with the AIC).

However, the Iranian side did not wish to identify himself with AIC or me because of implications for U.S.-Iran relations. That is why the Iranian side asked that MR. Rouleau moderate the panel and coordinate media relations. Besides, Eric Rouleau works for the Center for World Dialogue (CWD), the organization that helped organize the event and generously paid for its costs including the cost incurred by me personally and by AIC. It is unfortunate that the Iranian side has chosen not to acknowledge those who spent all this time to organize the event, including the President of CWD.

President Khatami has promised that his administration will follow the principle of openness in domestic and international policies. Adherence to that principle is the key to democracy and national independence. The hostages issue indeed touches one of the most sensitive areas of Iran's domestic politics and international relations. After all, the hostage-taking has cost Iran over one trillion dollars, including damages incurred during the war with Iraq for which the Islamic Republic has blamed the United States.

Hooshang Amirahmadi
American-Iranian Council

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* Your emails worked

The Iranian-American Republican Council wishes to thank and congratulate the thousands of Iranian-Americans who sent emails and wrote letters to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or called the State Department regarding fingerprinting of Iranians at U.S. Customs.

After this announcement (see Washington Post article), it is clear that we as Iranian-Americans have the power and the ability to become agents of change regarding our own destinies in our adopted country and the well-being of our relatives coming from Iran.

Let this be a lesson to all of us that it matters if we all act in unison and that it matters if we become politically involved in this country.

Goli Ameri
Iranian-American Republican Council

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* Prayer

Request for prayer: Let us pray that the terrorists who caused the explosions in Kenya and Tanzania had nothing to do with any factions in Iran, and that Iran's name does not come up in any investigation. Amen.

Kourosh Ahadpour

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* Gifts to humanity

I truely enjoyed Jasmin's article on being an Iranian or American ["This is getting complicated"]. I commend her for her courage to challenge all opposing forces and feeling Iranian deep inside & all around. I, however, hope that her father's feelings are not hurt that his 50% role in Jasmin's being is being ignored or not cherrished equally.

Her Iranian mother, German father & American upbringing environment has only made her a stronger human being and richer in culture than an average person born of the same ethnic parents who have seen nothing but their own home country & in many cases their hometown.

Those immigrants who never lose touch with their roots but count their blessings for the richness of their multicultural heritage & put it to good use are god-given gifts to humanity.

Mohamad Hakimian

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* Free to object

I find it surprising that you [Maryam Shargh] are compelled to condemn someone for voicing their opinion. It is their opinion that the article ["Loving an Iranian girl"] is distasteful and should be removed. Even if I don't agree that this action should take place, the person is as much right for expressing this objection as the magazine was for publishing the article.

Perhaps you forget that this objection and letter writing is as much a part of this society as the expression you write of. With freedom of expression comes responsibility, and we have the right to lawfully voice our objections in whatever manner we see fit. See this is also freedom of expression, but it may perhaps be in a manner *you* disagree with and are also calling for it's elimination just as the one you condemned did.

Millions of Americans part-take of this objection to things they disagree with daily. This is what gives them the greatest vocal power, and even though you may not agree with it, it is a healthy integral part of an open society.

The Baptists are within their rights to boycott Disney for what they perceive as immoral messages, for an outraged mother to write strong letters of objections to advertisers of [the Fox TV show] "Married with Children," and for anti-defamation minority groups to organize letter writing campaigns when they perceive they've been victims of racial slurs or stereotypes in media. It's all part of the process and you cannot have one without the other. Furthermore, I don't think you should presume why we are "here" [in the U.S.]; we all have different stories and reasons.

Rudi Sahebi

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* Divoonehs: Then and now

I was captivated by your article "Aberoo," by Mr Gilani. His list of encounters intrigued, and questioned my understanding of the Iranian community. You are so right in identifying our denial of such mental & physical tragedies... The term "divooneh" (crazy) is well known among Iranians. It means mentally handicapped, but in fact is used in every day language as a derogatory term or expression.... FULL TEXT

Farzad Moshfeghi

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* Manouchehr would have been proud

You have created a remarkable network for Iranians. Already I have received several emails regarding the Oral History Project ["Abdolmadjid Madjidi: Too much, too fast"]. Wish your father [Manouchehr Javid] was here to see what his son is accomplishing.

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* Airlines: Impressed

[Regarding Nader Saad's article "Post-1979 airline industry":]

I am an aviation enthusiast, and I recently traveled to Iran. I was impressed with the civil aviation there. SAHA flies several Boeing 747 freighters which I saw in Tehran and Isfahan.

There is a photo of one in a book about cargo planes which can be found in the usual aviation bookstores. Mahon Airlines uses Russian Tu154M and Il-76 cargo planes.

There is another airline called Bon Air using Tu-154M. Kish Air uses (exclusively, I think) Tu 154M.

Holger Tillmann

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* Cold sweat

I had not heard this song ["Baharan khojasteh baad"] in 19 years, it brought some tears to my eyes and some cold sweat....

Reza M.

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    * Lacking sensibility

    After reading Mr. dAyi Hamid's article "Loving an Iranian girl" in The Iranian, and all the responses to it, I decided to write my opinion, and express my own little problem with his article.

    My problem is not why his letter had been posted. Personally, I have read and heard worse than what he said. To me, he has absolute right to write about whatever he likes, and it is the editor's responsibility and judgment to publish it or not. To be honest with you, I would publish it, too. Sooner or later, we have to understand our differences; and more importantly, we have to learn how to deal with these differences... FULL TEXT

    Atlanta, GA

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* Thoroughly needed it

I thoroughly needed to see this article ["This is getting complicated"]. I'm am also half-Iranian, in my30's and find every encounter with a "real" Iranian awkward. To complicate the situation, I do not speak Farsi, which creates a void, that leaves me feeling as though I'm not really Iranian at all, but rather American, or Scotch/Irish in the eyes of Iranians I meet.

While there is a growing population of American-Iranians and half-Iranians, they are usually younger than myself. Again leaving me without persons of similar background to share with. I am glad to have read that there are others out there (does that sound solitary?) like myself, thinking about what it means to be on the fence between the Iranian and the American cultures.

Robert A. Abusaidi

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* Waffle

I spent the best part of 15 minutes reading this article ["This is getting complicated"], but really don't see the point you're making. I heard your shortened life story, and reasons for why you like "tea not coffee" but can't see why you would think the rest of us would want to know.

Unkile your article ("Aziz") which recounted a cultural and memorable occasion, which most other readers could relate to, you now ramble on about events which could only interest those who already know you, and are puzzled by your individualism.

Why do we Iraninas think we can explain away the entire universe ? There are so many flavors of "Irooni," just as there are so many flavors of Arabs, Indians, English, etc... that there is no one person who can identify with each flavor of one race, never mind crossing over different races. So how can you make comments which deem to be judgemental about those around you who don't share your out look on life.

According to your article, you (at times) chose to be Irooni, then Farangi, lapping up the advantages it would bring you in turn. At the time you when swapped identities, it must have felt right to do it, just as it feels right to you to be ALL Irooni now. So how can you, or any one else try to impose your views on others ?

You, Miss Darznik, are lucky to have now matured into a versatile writer, whose command of the English language is impressive. However, this article had a hint of "let me show you how many big words I can use" about it. You already have my admiration as a writer, and I am sure others share my view. It is a shame to dilute that respect by writing articles which at best are an exercise in vocabulary, and at worst lose themselves in waffle.

I do not mean any harm by my comments, but I had come to expect more of you in the time I have been reading your articles.

Farzad Moshfeghi

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* Good morning to you too!

What depressing stories ["Aberoo," "Shattering truth"]! Sobhe doshanbe haal maa ro gerefteed. But it's okay can't always be amusing.


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* Revolutionary songs full of memory

I was in Los Angeles this weekend and finally got a chance to listen to the revolutionary songs, (we have a "firewall" at work and can't access RealAudio files). I LOVED them. Full of memory. As one of your readers said: for us, it was part of growing up. Amin, my cousin's youngest brother who lives in Paris, was also there and baa ham keyf kardim.

Zahra Mahloudji

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* The last straw

My comments are in response to an earlier conversation on the topic of the Mojahedin Khalq and their attacks on free speech.

When I wrote the article "Evolution not Revolution," I truly believed that the Mojahedin should be involved in Iranian politics. This is despite the fact that they are based in Iraq and also put up an embarrassing show during the Iran-USA soccer match in France. But, today thanks to the continuing shame they are bringing on Iran's name, I no longer feel that they should be involved in any kind of dialogue.

The last straw for me was the embarrassing spectacle during the Iran-USA wrestling match in New York last month. What exactly are you people trying to achieve? Do you think that by disrupting an athletic event and destroying the morale of athletes, who have worked hard to get this far, you will win support for your cause? Exactly what is your cause and what are you offering to the Iranian people?

I am very much interested to hear from Mojahedin supporters as to what it is you are trying to achieve and what you are offering the "Khalq." At this moment, as a member of the Iranian "Khalq," I must say that I am disgusted by these actions and they are not my Mujaheds.

Abbas Soltani

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* Tajrish

We lived two blocks from these bazaars at Tajrish for 10 years and sure do miss being there. Thanks so much for the memories.

bryan w. ault

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* Intolerance for violence

Family stresses due to mental illness are profound ["Aberoo"]. It is quite common for mentally ill people, as well as their family members, regardless of their national origin, to deal with mental illness with varying degrees of denial. Family members of the mentally ill often feel immense shame, isolation, helplessness and hopelessness. Under these difficult emotional circumstances and with little or no social and financial support, family members of the mentally ill act as the sole caregivers for their mentally ill relatives.

Although, persons diagnosed with mental illness often pose a greater threat to themselves than they do to others, the stigma associated with mental illness is great. In fact, the majority of persons with mental illness, even those with chronic conditions, never exhibit violent behavior. Violence is not, by any means, a logical consequence of mental illness. With proper psychiatric treatment, medication and social support, those diagnosed with mental illness can and do become fully functional members of society.

Nevertheless the stigma of mental illness persists. This stigma is even greater in the Iranian community where the slightest departure from the norm, particularly in more affluent circles, is perceived as deviant behavior and treated with intolerance and often extreme cruelty. This type of response isolates even further those who suffer from mental illness, compounding and intensifying the stresses felt by their family members.

One can only hope that discussion of the issue will lead to a greater understanding of mental illness and a strong system of support for Iranian families suffering from mental illness. Perhaps this discussion will lead to intolerance of a positive nature: intolerance for violence, a problem, as Mr. Gilani pointed out, is far too prevalent in the Iranian family. Thank you Mr. Gilani for starting this dialogue.

Sussan Tahmasebi

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* We're not that perfect

"Aberoo" sung with truth I only wish I heard more frequently from my fellow Iranians.

Growing up Iranian in America, I learned from my parents there were many, many topics one never broached with other Iranians, and even more topics that one never broached with Americans. Spousal and child abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse, adultery -- judging from our silences, you would think we as a people were blessedly free of all the vices of the world!

Our native-born instinct to maintain aberoo at all costs has been exaggerated in this country, and the costs of pride and silence are at times horrifying, as Mr. Gilani can attest to. It's high time we got talking. Thank you, Mr. Gilani.

Jasmin Darznik

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    * Impossible woman?


    Serenity is not a given. Not like brown hair and eyes are a given. You can't trade it in because you don't own it. [The women we wanted to be].

    Serenity is born of difficulty and all births are painful. If you are a difficult, impossible woman, this is your gift. Use it well.

    And most of all, keep honing your voice. Think of all the high notes you have yet to reach. We'll be listening.

    Y Rafii

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    * Awakened fond memories

    After I read your wonderful article "Aziz" by Ms. Darznik, I could not stop myself from day dreaming about my own two wonderful grand mothers. You awakened fond memories which should never have been dormant in the first place.

    We Iranians may each have different outlooks, opinions, and priorities, but we all share in one thing: we are most definitely away from HOME. Those of us old enough to remember "booy-e Iran" can but barely make out the scent, and those too young to remember can not but imagine.

    We need more articles (PLEASE) like "Aziz" which grab us by the shoulders, and give a gentle tug, reawakening fond memories. Memories which make us proud to be what we most definitely are - Irani. I call on those with memories to share to come forward, and put pen to paper - or fingers to keyboard.

    Finally, thank you Ms. Darznik, and please write some more.

    Farzad Moshfeghi
    London, England

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    * We looked good

    What a fantastic article ["I was there"]. I watched the Iran-U.S. soccer match onTV -- as an Iranian woman married to an American man, we had some tense moments during the game. I was deliriously happy and he was rather upset.

    Erfani's prose touched me - he says his "vocabulary is severely lacking" when he tries to explain how he felt....but it was not. I think all of us tried to put into words our pride, joy and wonder but found it impossible to find just the right words.

    For a country and people who are always put down as terrorists, and god knows what it was a bright and shining moment. We looked good - although not GREAT - to the world at large!

    I was so proud.

    Tania Nordstrom

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    * The same smell, or something

    "I was there" truly captured the spirit of those 24 hours -- we where there too and it's warming to know that many fellow country-men/women had a similar experience and felt the same overwhelming feeling beyond nationalism or patrotism or football or...

    I just wish the Irooni population of this globe could at least attempt to bond in this way outside a stadium -- the experience for me was like "rooz'e avval'e enghelaab" -- there was a similar intensity -- the same smell in the air -- or something...

    Nargess Shahmanesh

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    * Sarcasm

    Just a point of correction. The "posters" in the cafe in Arizona [Photo of the Day] are actually of Abdol-Baha (son of Bahaollah who was prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith). [Ed: corrected]

    Abdol-Baha refers to a society in which for health reasons people will eat less meat. I understood your reference to be somewhat sarcastic. Sarcasm in context where reference is made to people's religious beliefs may well be misunderstood to offend people.

    S. Haake
    Melbourne, Australia

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    * Revolutionary songs

    Thanks for reviving my childhood memories. Those revolutionary songs posted on The Iranian Times these days were on the radio 24 hrs a day when I was growing up and, believe it or not, I have some of my best memories from those songs.

    To many, the revolution was a disaster, to others it was the end of dictatorship. But to those of us who were only in elementary school back then, it was just part of growing up. And those songs are as close to our hearts as any song by Googoosh or Dariush.

    Pedram Missaghi

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    * Einsteins & Shakespeares


    Your grandma ["Aziz"] is obviously a gifted person and a fabulous storyteller. She was a great contributor in shaping your character.

    I have to admit I became a bit depressed by your story. The sad part was how her talents have been wasted due to circumstances beyond her control. Imagine if she had the same educational opportunity as the rest of us did, she could become a Nobel laureate -- one would never know.

    The sad thing about life on our planet is that every day thousands of Mozarts, Einsteins, and Shakespeares are born, but because of the lack of a nourishing environment, they are never discovered.

    Farhad Homayounpour

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    * Slow evolution

    Dear Abbas Soltani,

    I read your article ["Evolution not Revolution"] and It seems to me you are not familier with the culture of Shi'ite Muslim clergy. Do people in Iran want every powerful poltical, business and social leader to come from the clergy? There might be diffrences of opinion among the clergy, but they all represent one view.

    You may be right about evolution in Iran, but I think this will even be slower than evolution in the universe, which, by the way, the clergy don't believe in.

    M. Shariat

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    * Persian Gulf: history's favorite

    The present-day name of the gulf comes from the Greek and classsical writers who, after calling it the Sea of Erythras for many decades, came to call this body of water Sinus Persicus, meaning the Gulf of Persis. Persis at the time refrred to the part of the Iranian plateau which wasc Pars, today's Fars province. There was also at the time the province of Carmania, whose remains today represent the much smaller Kerman Province, without frontage on the gulf. The term Persian Gulf is the Anglo-Saxon as well as other later European translations of Sinus Persicus or Mare Persicum (Persian Sea)... FULL TEXT

    Guive Mirfendereski

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    * We're so perfect

    In reading "No sand between my toes" and other similar letters, it always strikes me as odd how the writers try to present a perfectly balanced picture of themseleves: progressive but traditional, enjoying the "shallow" things in life yet wanting to pass on the traditional Iranian values onto their offsprings, claiming to want a meaningful relationship but expecting the physical part as well, accustomed to all the amenities that their high social status affords them yet understanding of the plight of the less fortunate and many more contradictions that I have time to mention.

    Maybe our Iranian society has lots more "perfect" men and women than I have experienced, maybe I am one of the last remaining breed of the fallible imperfect beings. If so, then there is still hope for the human race. No criticism intended, just one big question mark.


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    * Smell of Iran?

    I loved "Aziz." After I read it the first time, I went back to the music section, put on "Jaan Maryam" by Nouri and while it was playing in the background, I read the story again.

    I must confess that I tried to put in Persian the sentences that Ms. Darznik had translated in describing her conversations with her grandmother. To me, when you say "Shomaa hanooz booy-e iran ra daarin," it conveys a message of love. But when you write "You still smell of Iran," I know what you mean, but don't you think that the love doesn't quite carry through? I wished that the story had Persian in it when the beauty of that language expressed precisely the feelings.

    To be honest, when my mom turns to my little boy and tells him "qorboon-e sheklet beram," I can't imagine how I could possibly translate it to my American wife.

    Reza Shadmehr

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    * Birds & the bees

    "Az shabnam-e eshgh, khaak-e aadam gel-shod"

    It' s funny, for the last few weeks every time I sit down to read through The Iranian Times, I wonder whether there will be yet another letter commenting on the khAleh Laleh/dAyi Hamid tango ["Loving an Iranian Man", "Loving an Iranian girl"].

    Either this is a terrifically loaded subject for us, or dAyi Jahanshah is playing favorites and leaving out many other interesting letters on more mundane subjects, such as the Karbashchi trial or the reported execution of a Bahai. Not that I object to reading all the commentaries. Quite the contrary. It has been edifying, amusing, wistful and maybe even a touch absurd, in the "Ionesco" sense of the word.

    My perverse curiosity led me back through the Letters archive, to select and print everything relevant to this subject. It came to fifteen pages. If I were a scientist, I would do the same with every other significant category of discussion and present conclusive evidence that the birds and the bees are still "top of the charts" as far as we humans are concerned.

    But I am not a scientist. I am a humanist and as such, the sheer force of emotional output is all the evidence I need to make such a judgement. I hesitate to overburden our virtual readership with yet another point of view, but this "do shaahi" are burning a hole in my pocket and if I don't spend it now, old age and forgetfullness are likely to spend them for me.

    Forgive my simplicity, but after respectfully rereading all fifteen pages of wit and wisdom, I came to these conclusions: Men love to love women and women love to love men. When men aren't loving the women they love, they are loving the women they'd love to love. On the other hand, when women aren't loving the men they love, they love to feel sorry for themselves. When men and women don't feel loved, they both resort to major trashing of the opposite sex. When men and women are not loving, period, they attempt torturous gymnastics to make it look like they're not really interested in loving because everyone of the other sex is a cross between a pickle and a cellphone, or was that fickle and hell-prone?

    We are a proud and beautiful people with a rich and ancient culture and I can't help but love us.

    Y. Rafii


    (Sorry, I just had to give myself a plug.)

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