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Moving with time
Balloons to Boeings
* Persian and Farsi, not Persian or Farsi
[Regarding "Farsi: Biitersweet?"] What's in a name? The Nightingale will still sing and the Rose will bloom!
I read your article dated June 2nd 1998 regarding the Mojahedin Khalq ["what about MY rights"]. BROVO!!! BROVO!!! Everything you said in that article is 100% true.
Although, I left Iran as a 13 years old boy some 22 years ago, I'm still mindful of my people and their sufferings. It's particularly disturbing to see that some of those suffering is caused by this misguided and evil group, that would turn their guns on their own people for nothing more then a chance to grab power. well, I say ETERNAL SHAME ON THEM.
* Seeing something that isn't there
Anonymous: Something is funny here [1978 soccer team photo]. Where is the rest of "niroo-ye havaii" on the airplane?! (The Persian mark on the plane should read niroo-ye havaii shaahanshaahi-e iran -- Imperial Iranian Air Force).
Editor: That photo has been reproduced exactly from a magazine published in Iran.
* Honest and refreshing
I find [Laleh Khalili's] style of writing to be hones and refreshing. when I began reading this story ["Loving an Iranian man"] I said "wait this sounds like me talking regarding dating men." As I was born and raised in Europe (my parents are American) I could never relate to American men in college and I dated a couple of Kuwaiti men (Yes, I could write a book about that one) while Living in Kuwait.
Well to make a long story short, I met "Jeff" the weekend a girlfriend and I went to Savannah, Gorgia, and married him three weeks later. We will be married 20 years this July. everyday is great and our love grows stronger daily.
[Iranians] are very special men. I hope our daughter meets a man like him some day. It's like a love affair that none of my friends have. My friends ask him if he has a brother.
I can't wait for my husband to get home and read your story ["Absence"]. He is from Shiraz and has not been back since he left in 1975. I found your story to honest and funny and enjoyed it so much.
Holly R. Amiri
* Accurate, but...
Your article was a very interesting one ["Not a total loss"]. It did capture the mood and the events of the day at the Steps of Rome very accurately. I was there and experienced it first hand.
However, after Iran fell behind 2 - 0, we did still cheer them on a bit more than you gave us credit for :-)
Director of Information Technology
San Francisco Symphony
* World Cup: Inspiring women -- and a turn on
I've admired Hamid Taghavi's observations in The Iranian on several occasions, but I found myself wincing and readying myself for protest when I read, "What were all those women doing standing in lines and watching the games anyway?" ["World Cup Lessons"]. Well, Mr. Taghavi, what else but cheering on Iran as it made its most sensational (and most sensationalized) appearance on the international stage in years and years!?
Now, I won't chastize Mr. Taghavi for what I take to have been his genuine surprise at seeing women turn out in such numbers to watch the World Cup games. He's been vindicated not least of all by his magnanimous entreaty that we Iranian women fans should "hop on board" since "there's plenty of room" for us on this trip. Still, his question has got me thinking. . .
An admission: The Iran v. U.S. soccer game was the first sporting event of any kind I have watched in my life. To capture my attention, I suppose the Iranians in France could have been doing just about anything, so long as it were being done competitively. What really mattered to me as I sat down to watch that now-historic match last Sunday, was that "we" were out there, on the world stage, performing beyond "their" wildest expectations.
A second admission (and one much harder for me to make): I was one of those women Mr. Taghavi imagined were dropping comments about looks (and yes, most were inspired by the very cute goalie, Abedzadeh). I was none too shy about voicing my appreciation, either.
Now, I know that in, oh, say, thirty years' time, when I look back on last Sunday's game, it won't be the particular faces and bodies I'll remember, but rather the vitality and subtlety of the Iranian national team's playing and the players' stunned, exuberant expressions after the game -- the expressions Iranians everywhere were wearing at that very moment. In thirty years' time, moreover, I imagine that this one game will have inspired me to view many a soccer game, even perhaps to play it myself, and to have learned to appreciate the sport's finer technical points.
And yet, and yet. . . allow me a shallow digression, but how fantastic after so many years to have our very own Iranian heartthrobs! If that's part of what has women in Iran defying all mandates to watch this team play and has them taking to the streets to celebrate its victory, and if it's also that same base lust that now has Iranian women abroad casting fond glances across oceans. . .well, there's an energy to that, and it may be a simple thing, but simple things move people, too. So here's to the galvanizing force of unabashed female lust!
* Holding our head high
It has been an interesting week in our bi-cultural life in the U.S. My logic was telling me that I should also want the U.S. to do well in the football match. However, my heart was beating to the rythm of the Iranian football team.
I remember when I came to the U.S., my brother and I went to the Italian section of Boston to watch one of the World Cup games in the 70s in a theater. The Italian-American fans had their flags with them and sang songs in Italian to cheer the Italian national team without any hesitation. So, why was I feeling guilty for wanting to cheer the Iranian team?
I statrted by saying to Americans that football is in our blood. But that's not true. Iran is in our blood. It seems that we live so far away from our roots and we try to assimilate in American cutlure. We are professtional, educated , and cultured people. But no matter how much we try, our soul is very close to our root.
Last Sunday was like a New Year celebration. Everyone was calling each other to congratulate form the east coast to the west, from Iran to America. Afterwards, the glow of the Iranian national team was apparant everywhere. A friend said how are we going to go to work the next day. I told him with our head high -- like an Italian-American.
Corona del Mar, California
* Blind to uncomfortable realities
"Political" commentary of this sort is certainly about as "kheeshtandar" as can be [Masoud Behnoud's "Losers"]. It is so telling of the author's (perhaps) self-imposed practice of not facing uncomfortable realities, that after 20 years, with the doubling of the population, with massive underemployment, with mostly stagnant or falling oil revenues, with a minimum inflation of 100 percent in the cost of imported goods, with at least a 50% drop in the standard of living of the population, he offers "cutting waste" as the remedy for the economic problems of the country.
* I cried...
Well, didn't we all feel the same way ["Dilirium"]? As I was reading your article while sitting at work, it was hard to stop my tears, so I cried.
I am glad that we all had this oppurtunity to celebrate one common thing [victory over the U.S.]. This time nothing could stand between you and I, not the Mojahedin nor anyone from any other group or belief.
As my friends and I were watching the game [betweem the U.S. and Iran] it was obvious that for the first time something has brought us very close together. For a second, I felt that it was our five six guys against the whole world. But we did it.
As you said, "Mercie bacheh-haa."
* Sticking together
There's a wise saying that victory in itself is not as important as what you become after it.
[Iran's loss to Germany] was a bittersweet experience. Me and some of my friends had reserved the party hall in a campus in Copenhagen, Denmark, where there is a big screen on the wall with a video projector.
From previous experience in the Iran-USA match, we thought many Iranians would show up. And the same thing happened. Probably three times more Iranians gathered there Thursday night. People with cam-corders and cameras, painted faces and national team shirts, with happy faces were ready for the thrill.
First half went smoothly for us, everybody drank and yelled "Iran, Iran..." But the second half when those two goals got scored in that short period, half the people left. So the guy who was shouting slogans, changed to "Mashallah, Mashallah" and people replied "Mashallah". He continued "Cheqadr maa bi-khiaalim" and people stunned me by replying "Mashallah".
And the same thing happened and happened again. It was obvious that everybody could feel distance in between us.
If we could just stick together...
* Just print her picture
After reading "Absence" and the Iranian survey paper, I thought I would look forward to seeing more of Laleh Khalili's compositions. They were great. "Loving an Iranian Man" although a bit offensive and narcissistic still had enough informative substance and style to keep it interesting.
This last one though was bit too much ["On Football, Philosophy, and Joy"] : I couldn't even finish it. Perhaps if you promise to attach her picture to the next article, her writing won't be screaming as much for us to look at her.
* Baharmast was right
Had you practiced true journalism, meaning waiting long enough to confirm and double confirm "news" stories particularly in cases involving the reputation of Iranian-Americans, you would not rush to discredit international referee Mr. Baharmast with the story about his "erroneous call." As it turns out FIFA now has a picture published on the internet proving Mr. Baharmast call in the last minute of Brazil vs. Norway game was accurate... full text
* Azizi Mongolian?
[Regarding Aziz's "Afghan" origins:] To tell you the truth, Azizi 's physical features look more like a Mongol than an Afghan. Most teams in the World Cup have players who originate from other countries. This seems to only be an issue with us Iranians/Afghanis.
* Baharmast is history
First, congratulations are in order for the victory of the Iranian team [over the U.S.]. I fully agree that Keller should have been red-carded and Azizi should have been awarded a penalty kick. But as the result turned out the way it did, it would otherwise have provided fuel for more American whining and wimpering. They can only console themselves with balls saved by the woodwork. Hearing the likes of Musberger and Keough(?) the play by play announcer with their political comments sickens me. Yet it makes me understand how Americans get their political info.
Secondly, I wonder whether someone can comment on Jere Longman's column in The New York Times about the Iranian flag. He claims the symbol represens the face of God. Could you please comment on this. I feel so ignorant about the change of the symbols after the revolution. My apologies.
Thirdly, what is the deal with Esfandiar Baharmast, the "American" referee who outrageously awarded a penalty kick in the 89th minute in favor of Norway so Morocco could not advance. Did he learn his trade here [in the U.S.] or in Iran? If this decision has affected the fortunes of Brazil, I assure you he would never ever be seen in a soccer uniform officiating FIFA games again.
* Intelligent analysis
Thank you for running Hamid Taghavi's observations on Sunday's match between Iran and the United States ["More than a game"]. He provided the sort of intelligent analysis I found utterly lacking in the American news media's coverage of the event.
While I cheered on the Iranian team on Sunday, I was increasingly outraged by the idiotic, hideously biased ABC sports commentators, and I'm certain I wasn't the only viewer appalled by this sorry example of sports journalism!
Hungry for news that did not frame the results of the match solely as a woeful defeat, on Monday I bought every national newspaper that ran stories on the game that day. With the notable exception of The New York Times, which ran a truly fantastic piece describing the jubilation in Iran, I was very much disappointed. At least I have this forum on which to rely!
* Visceral hatred of Iranian men
Laleh Khalili's disquisition on the trials and tribulations of one Iranian girl pairing off with an Iranian boy is proof positive that no amount of good writing can possibly mask the visceral hatred which the author brings to this seemingly innocent rendering of her tortured soul ["Loving an Iranian man"].
The incident at the library is not typically Iranian boys dissing an Iranian girl; scenes like that occur most places and by people from all sorts of nationalities. Driving BMWs and talking on cell phones are not uniquely Iranian vices, either. They provide symbolical hints of a much deeper disquiet in her writing.
Ms. Khalili's personalized story of the age-old dilemma facing Iranian girls, particularly the educated ones living and working and loving in the West, fails miserably to provide an honest assessment of what might be in Iranian girls that makes the Iranian male the so-called "mard-e goh-e irouni," meaning, more or less, a "shithead."
In fairness, though, she does provide a clue to the query. She sees in her father the ultimate measure of an idealized Iranian man. Her flirtation with the notion of the Electra complex leads the reader to look for a hint of an Oedipus complex on the part of Iranian boys being overly connected to their mothers, as if this bond is less sanctimonious than a girl's bond with her father.
The value of Ms. Khalili's work however is in the irrepressible conclusion that as long as Iranian girls look to date or marry their fathers, and Iranian boys look to date or marry their mothers, problems will persist in the area of social intercourse among Iranian youth, in or outside Iran.
Ms. Khalili also decries the architecture of oriental courtesy (ta'rof) as an impediment to her developing relations with Iranian boys. It is not clear whether this is the result of her not speaking the language of ta'rof, not understanding the value which ta'rof contains, or simply disagreeing with ta'rof altogether. A blend of courtesy and insincerity, ta'rof is raised to the level of a metaphor for traditional values which she does not necessarily espouse.
This exercise is reckless in that tradition, while less than a binding rule of law, does provide the Iranian girl or boy with what one may expect of the other. As they meet and date and get along, the content of that tradition may change to suit their particular situation.
Not to venture into a relationship with an Iranian girl or boy merely because of one's inability to fathom the architecture of tradition is to take the easy way out. That kind of person may not be ready for any sort of relationship with anyone but himself or herself. Nobody asked, just this one person's opinion.
* The little expert
This little expert, I mean my daughter Nastaran now 11 years old, is really going to be a little expert on football. First with Yugoslavia, she became annoyed with us when we criticized the Iranian team in any way. She commented that they played very well and she is proud of them. Then she went on to remained us that it was important to be in the World Cup and Iran is in the World Cup.
Next on her list was Iran vs USA . That is an important game to win she said. The afternoon before the game Nastaran and her father went out to a park near where we live, and took a ball with them. The purpose was to send prayers for the Iranian team! They even asked for specifics such as: to give other players besides Azizi, Daie and Bagheri also a chance to score a goal! I didn't understand it at the time but did not question their spiritual exercise.
Before the game she asked if I would wake her up? The game was scheduled to start before 5 a.m. Sydney time. She came to our bedroom: "I can't sleep lets turn the TV on."
During the game when the tension would build up, she would leave the room for few seconds. It was all too much for her. She made few comments about the referee being all in Iran's favor, and when it was all over, while she was leaving to go to school, she said: "I 'll go to school proud. I did not know how to go to school if we had lost!"
I thought no matter where you are born, where you live and how many passports you have, home is were your heart is.
* Cool statement
I loved the TV pictures [of the Iran-U.S. soccer march]. It was a great way to make that moment last just a little longer, and a cool self-statement on your media.
* High on drugs
Excuse me but what the fuck are these pictures you got from Iran/USA match? Were you high on drugs?
* Azizi, an Afghan
After viewing the profile of Khodadad Azizi on ABC news this past Sunday during the Iran and U.S. soccer match, I realized that Mr. Azizi is actually from Afghanistan. He is an Hazara from central Afghanistan and entered Iran as a refugee with his family during the war with Russia in the 1980s.
His ability to almost imperceptibly declare himself as Iranian demonstrates the similarities between Afghans and Iranians.
As an Afghan, I am very proud of Mr. Azizi's accomplishments but I think it would be very commendable if Iranians would simply declare his true origins. This would serve as a great departure from the common viewpoint among Iranians that the Afghan refugees that live in Iran are merely drug traffickers and cheap laborers.
* Fars Gulf?
Allow me to jump into the fray concerning the use of the word Farsi for what has historically always been, and should continue to be, Persian ["Farsi: Bittersweet?"] .
I have no doubt that the prevalence of the this usage here in the United States by the American academics, media, and now the Iranians themselves, stems from an aversion or apprehension in designating the culturally identifiable and geographically specific nomenclature "Persian".
In other words, for the Americans -- and Europeans to some extent -- the word "Farsi" does not carry the historical and political baggage that the designation "Farsi" would. By the same token you note a frequent use of the word "Gulf" in referring to the Persian Gulf. Would those Iranians who favor the use of Farsi over Persian prefer to change the name of the Persian Gulf to Fars Gulf, since that is the exact rendition of its use in our native tongue? I don't think so.
So I firmly believe that it's up to our community as a whole to avoid as much as we can using the ethnically and culturally neutral term, Farsi, for the more definite and more culturally and historically loaded term, Persian.
* Cliches & stereotypes
I give Laleh high praise for her writing ability and command of English ["Loving an Iranian man"]. I had to open my dictionary a few times reading her very nicely written essay.
However, even the best writings in the world can NOT make all those stereotypical claims to be general facts applicable to all "iranian men." I dont really understand how, an otherwise seemingly intelligent person, could be so wrapped up in so many cliches & stereotypical generalizations? And openly admit to it.
I do see how most of the points she brings up can be true and troublesome. I do agree that the Persian community, as a whole, regards the relationship beteewn a man and a woman somewhat as a taboo, and it imposes on the couple many out of place expectations and so on. And I agree many Iranian men may not be able to write as well as she does. But to put them all in one basket, lock the basket in a closet, and throw away the key!? And their crime: Born in Iran, loving their mother, driving a BMW, and oh yes, an unfortunate & humilating comments by some teenagers in Texas.
Give me a break!!!
Iranian men have their problems, just as Iranian women do. Our culture has its weaknesses, just as American culture has its own. And I know that Ta'arof can get annoying at times. But I know I can love no woman like I can love a Persian woman, and I can love no culture like I the Persian culture. And I can understand no music like Shahram Nazeri and Googoosh.
We Persian men & women are a unique breed. We are the "hyphenated" Persian with our own unique culture. We have our shortcomings, but above all, we have each other. Instead of hating each other for the flaws, let us love each other for who we are, and whom we can become.
Finally, I think it would be constructive to express our critisim so we can help each other become better people. So I start:
Why can't Persian girls be a bit taller?
* Striking many chords
I have been following the features published in The Iranian Times with interest. I have particularly enjoyed reading Ms. Khalili's article ["Loving an Iranian man"] because of the many similar chords it struck in me.
Ms. Khalili's story is one that I hear all the time from many of my friends who are expatriates or "hyphenated Americans", and indeed one that I have experienced myself. Although I am not Iranian, I have been an expatriate living in America for a number of years. I find myself making the same stereotypes and generalisations of men from my country, and harbouring the same misgivings about starting a relationship with them.
Ultimately, I think Ms. Khalili is making the point that despite her generalizations and stereotypes of Iranian men, it was an Iranian man who turned out to be the man of her dreams. And that she is learning to accept the cultural expectations that go along with loving him because of him.
Ms. Khalili has been exceptionally honest about her struggle to be both Iranian and American at the same time. Rather than being a slight to Iranian men, I think Ms. Khalili has demonstrated that stereotypes are only general observations and do not hold true for everyone.
I do applaud her sincerity and look forward to the next Iranian Times publication of her articles.
School of Advanced International Studies - JHU
* Why argue with the forces of change?
I barely in lived Iran and yet it has always occuppied a major piece of my psychic real estate. Since I joined the Iranian cyberspace community via The Iranian Times, I have relished the opportunity it provides for getting to know my countrymen and women.
Reading the Times is now a nightly ritual. Most often, it is the essays and letters that capture my heart and imagination. On the whole, I have been impressed over and over again by the rich voices of the people who come to share themselves in this forum.
There are the courageous voices, who are willing to sacrifice their private selves in a public forum for the sake of truth, progress, art, what have you. I wonder what motivates them? Why would anyone willingly expose their most vulnerable elements to a public not especially known for its tolerance?
And then there are the voices that stand guard over our traditional views of life. The voices that urge us not to forsake the way things were. No to lose ourselves in the morale decay that is the West. The voices that in their urgency, come across as intolerant. What motivates them? Can it be that across this wide and often conflicted expanse of opinion, attitude and perceptions, all these voices seek the same thing? To see their inner selves reflected in the world they live in; to be seen, heard, known; to have value.
I have witnessed many conflicts during my lifetime and in the end it all boils down to one thing. We fear nothing so much as the unknown, and the unknown is most often ourselves. Time does not stand still, my friends. If there is one lesson in life worth learning, it is that change is inevitable and those who learn to adapt, survive. This is the case in nature, where maladaptive traits result in the extinction of whole species. Who are we to argue with this process?
As individuals and as a society, we must adapt to our time, to our circumstances and to the changes brought about amongst us. So as we struggle to sort things out, why not practice tolerance, inclusion, acceptance? Of each other and even ourselves. We have nothing to lose.
* Unlucky year for girls
I would like to respond to a recent letter by Mr. Mehran Azhar titled "Not even one?" As a member of one of the Iranian teams participating in the Scientific Olympiad back in 1995, I would like to try to clarify the matter concerning Iranian women in the olympiad.
There are many highly talented women in high schools of Iran and they are free to participate in the National Olympiad team selection. In fact, many of them do participate in different levels of these examinations and often get selected for the national team. During the past few years, there have been a few girls in these teams who have achieved high ranks. They have received gold, silver, and bronze medals in the world. Many of these women perform better than many of the participating men. In a few instances, Iranian women have won the title of best participating woman in these scientific olympiads.
The team selection is only based on the students' knowledge and skills, nothing else matters. A national team member can be from any gender, religion, and social class. There have been many instances where all these types of students have participated in the olympiad contests. This year has just been an unlucky year for girls.
Interestingly enough, I should also mention that even if there are two students, a man and a woman, who are equal in all scientific aspects competing for the same spot, there would probably be more of a chance that the women is selected for the national team. This is an effort by Iranian scholars to raise the scientific position of Iranian women in the world.
I would like to use this opportunity and thank all the teachers and professors that take the time and effort to select and train students for the national teams. These scholars are critical in helping the Iranian team achieve the best medals in the world, making all Iranians proud. Let's not take a random occurence and turn it into a negative outlook on the culture of Iran. We must stand proud of our young generation not paying attention to their race, religion or social standing.
P.S. If anyone needs more information about Scientific Olympaids in Iran, please let me know. I would be glad if I can be of any assistance
* Pardeh-daree touches sensitive parts
I do not know Laleh Khalili. I however read her article ["Loving an Iranian man"] three times, and after the third time, I emailed her and congratulated her on sentiments that were well articulated.
I even forwarded the article to a third of the people in my email address book, male and female, but I also e-mailed Ms. Khalili telling her both that I enjoyed her article, and also I thought she was careless for her own sake to bring up such sentiments in an Iranian forum.
It does not matter that this is in cyberspae, through the Internet and published in 1998. It is still an Iranian forum and subject to a lot of undeserved attacks because the article touches sensitive parts that many of us feel are better left untouched. Mr. Yazdanbakhsh's letter made that quite clear.
May I say a few words as an alternative interpretation of her article. Nowhere did I see a hate for Iranian men, nor did I notice threads of trivial attacks in there. There were wide ranging generalizations, but they were there, in my opinion, to make the point that generalizations and stereo-types are first of all there for a reason, and secondly they are meant to be broken down when one gets right down to a particular case.
It is a precarious affair among us Iranians when what we consider private is suddenly brought out in the open (we call it pardeh-dareedan in Farsi). The sentiments expressed by Ms. Khalili are not novel or extreme. They are not something out of the ordinary. They are sentiments shared by many Iranian women, especially those brought up States-side or generally outside of Iran. Any of us with sisters, female friends or female acquaintances know that pretty well. To attack the article based on its merits and brining counter-points that argue the sentiments of Iranian males in foreign societies is one thing, but attacking her as a 'man-hating' woman who cannot find a balance between what she looked for and what she often found is unfair and out of line.
I commend her for her brave output, but I suspect it is till too early for us to confront pardeh-daree and face our faults in the face.
I hope Ms. Khalili does not take this as a defense of her viewpoint. Her thoughts are well defended in her own words.
* Absent grandmotherian notions
Although Ms. Khalili considers herself as half-Iranian ["Loving an Iranian man"], her relationship to Persian tradition seems to be just as superficial as that of many others among us, whose materialistic (in a broad sense of the word) greed for something euphemistically known as "success" has been their primary reason for immigration.
"Loving an Iranian man" bears a strong smell of hedonistic attitude, so prevalent in the Western hemisphere, the very existence of which is easily overlooked; as is the case for the air around us for which we normally don't care!
I consider myself as belonging to the rebellious generation who was never satisfied with "superstitious" notions such as one's so-called "qesmat," but still deep down in my messy store of feelings and memories, I can recover some tranquilizing grandmotherian notions such as "rezaa," "gozasht," "sabr," and their moral value, which I find absent and forgotten, not only in the context of this article, but all around myself, in a world in which one is easily misled to believe that one's capacity of acheivement must be arbitrary and unlimited.
* Just a desperate man-hating woman
Right after I read the new article ["Loving an Iranian man"] by Laleh Khalili in The Iranian, my mind started looking for a suitable all-encompassing description for it, to no avail, though; neither in my Farsi vocabulary, nor among the few English words I knew.... Whatever it is, it seems to be a well-written outcome of the anger of a desperate "woman of two cultures" who doesn't find what she desires, neither is she satisfied with what she's got. Fine! You made your point!...full text
* Another bucket of sand
[Regarding "A Bucket of Sand":]
Please take a bucket of sand from me too to the LA Times and charge it to my Visa card as I am out here in Minnesota's wilderness where, apart from the problem of distance, there is a great shortage of sun-baked sand. Great commentry comrade.
* Carrying the sand
The article, "A Bucket of Sand" by Ramin Tabib was one of the best I have ever read. Like the author, I consider myself a nationalist, but am not fond of shirin-polo either. But, in every game of the World Cup in which Iran participates, I will be glued to the television as well.
I could not agree with Ramin more -- the article he refers to in the Los Angeles Times is infuriating -- to say the least. If Ramin needs any help taking that bucket of sand to the LA Times, I would be more than happy to help.
* Late 19th century: American balloonist in Tehran
1. The anonymous writer has thought it untrue that a balloon had been sent up into the sky during the time of Nasserdin Shah and has felt sure that I am mistaken. He further adds "manless balloons made of paper with a wicker lamp inside was a kind of fireworks that were sent up." I was impelled to refer to the sources of the study and obtained additional information and I thank this writer for causing me to learn more about the balloon, its maker and its function. I now know for sure that the balloon has had an operator and the issue is exactly the opposite of what the anonymous writer has said. In the diary of Ein-ol-Saltaneh, Naseredin Shah's aide, in pages 747 and 746, he records this matter at length, leaving no doubt.
In the history section of the diary, titled "Balloon and its Parachute" an account is given which I quote...
"Today, a balloon will be sent up into the air in the presence of [Nasserdin] Shah in Shemiran Gate (Darvazeh Shemiran).The crowd was so enormous that it was dangerous to go through riding. A tent was pitched for the Shah. The American accompanied by a translator was ushered to the presence of Shah. He related to the shah certain points about ascending and descending. It climbs 6,000 feet. Twenty minutes passed until the balloon became ready. He sat in his place and released the balloon. It rose up in the air and climbed rapidly."...full text
* Iranian Jews: Decent treatment
I am a Persian Jew, and I am amazed at how the author of the 15 headings exaggerated the living conditions of the Jews ["Singing the blues"]. I mean maybe in the mid-19th century it was that bad; however, until right before the revolution the conditions for the Jews of Iran were not too different from that of the Muslims.
In fact, many jewish families thrived in Iran during the reign of the Shah. Some of them became intensely affluent merchants, boutique owners, doctors and so forth. They were starting to assimilate into parts of the cities where there were Muslims (in other words, they were migrating out of the ghetto type areas they had been living in). By the around that time, they were becoming so assimilated into the culture that there was even a certain amount of inter-marriage going on between Jews and Muslims.
When I speak with the Jewish people who are still living in Iran (an estimated 30,000 of them left), they seem just as content with their lives, as theMuslims. After all, they have freedom to parctice their religion, and they claim that the only hard-ships they face is the same as everyone else's (such as high prices etc).
Yes I realize that they cannot fly out to Israel and they cannot call there either, but that condition exists for everyone living in Iran, since Iran and Israel are not exactly on friendly terms.
It is amazing how the Jews who have left Iran, exaggerate so much about the living conditions that they had to endure. It seems strange that the Jews who have left are complaining even for the ones who willingly remain there. Let us not forget that the Jews have been the single most persecuted people throughout history. Everywhere we have gone we have been somehow or other violated against. From early history, when we were slaves, to the Spanish Inquisition, to the Babylonian exile, to the awful treatment we were faced with throughout Europe, and even today the jews of Ethiopia, Argentina, and Russia are having trouble with anti-semitism.
Compared to what other world jewry has had to endure, Iranian jewry has actually had a much more decent time. I realize that we did have pressure to convert to Islam in the mid-1800's, and many had to by force, and yes I know jews were not treated as typical citizens, but let's focus on what we contributed to Iran, and how we have had an incredible history there.
* Choosing Israel over Iran
In response to Maryam Shargh's article "Jews: The invisible Iranians", and I would to share one of my many experiences with the Iranian Jews that troubles me greatly.
I used to live in San Diego, CA, and one time I walked into a Persian carpet store which was owned by an Iranian. As soon as I walked in, the first thing I noticed was an Israeli flag and an American flag on the gentleman's desk. I was greatly offended, because I always considered Iranian Jews , Christians or Armenians, Iranians first and everything else second. That is the exact reason why some Muslims question their Jewish counterpart's allegiance.
If Jews have lived in Iran for 2,700 years then they should be proud enough to display the Iranian flag (if they don't believe in the new flag may be the old one) over any other flag. You can't have it both ways. I am Iranian first and Muslim last. Ask your Jewish friends whether they would join Israel if there is a war between Iran and Israel or whether they would choose to stay neutral. I can guarantee you that most would join Israel (a country that constantly talks about striking Iran and using nuclear weapons against Iran or any other Muslim country in order to deter nuclear proliferation in the region by wiping out a large portion of their population).
I did not write to offend anyone. I love all Iranians regardless of their ethnicity and religion. I also agree with the fact that we have not done enough in order to reconcile our differences. However, both communities need to share the blame, and it has been a two way street and.
* Pontificating pedants
The controversy over Farsi vs. Persian is rather interesting ["Farsi: Bittersweet?"]. I think however that "Persianists" have forgotten the basic rule of linguistics, i.e. the use of a word is enough to establish its validity. If the word Farsi is used and understood by a group of people then it is valid, do to the very simple fact that the people who use the word would continue to do so without caring about the pontification of pedants.
Also the word Farsi has a very specific application and meaning it means the " language spoken in Iran in the twentieth century." Persian on the other hand has a nostalgic tinge reminescent of Omar Khayyam and Hafez. If you ask an Indian what is his national language other than English , he would reply Hindi, the english version is Hindustani.
I actually think that the use of Farsi as the "language spoken in Iran in the twentieth century" is specific while Persian can be used for things with a historic background i.e. Persian literature, carpets, languages, cats, art, etc.
* ... Farcically?!
Reading the comments on "Farsi: Bittersweet?", prompted me to send you a contribution I made on this subject some years ago in the newsgroup SCI. Here it is:
Last night in a meeting with some English friend I was talking about the "Persian" langauge. A friend asked if it was the same as "Farsi". I nodded "yes". Then somebody else asked her: "Then what would you call a funny way of talking? Farcically?!"
No, it wouldn't put me off calling the "Persian" language Farsi. Or perhaps we better call it Parsi?
Basi ranj bordam dar in saal si
Ajam zenda kardam bedin Parsi - Ferdowsi
Hossein B. Zadeh
* Ignorance or indifference
I would not repeat the many valid examples quoted and reasoned by many against the incorrect use of "farsi", when referring to our Persian language ["Farsi: Bittersweet?"]. The prevalent use of "Farsi" mainly in the U.S, Whether due to an acute and obstinate mental block, simple ignorance or just sad indifference by many Persians, is indicative only of today's rampant disregard for any kind of standard.
* Farsi, even in Europe
I think really this issue ["Farsi: Bittersweet"] is more a question for Brittish and Aerican linguists than for us Iranians, cause they have power over the language. But unfortuanatly the usage of the word "Farsi" is now wide spread even in Europe. My Swedish professor in speech processing asked me if I speak "Farsi" and he didn't even know that Farsi and Persian were the same thing (well almost)!! I think this is something to be worried about, that the word Farsi will take our identity away and put a new one that we do not need or want. I do not see even one good side of using the word "Farsi".
Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan
* From useful to time consuming
Congratulations on your 500th edition of The Iranian Times. I have been a subscriber since the beginning (well before number 1) and have appreciated all the hard work you do to bring us news of Iran.
However, I have a small complaint about the new, multi-page format. I routinely print out the approximately 12 pages of the Times so my computer illiterate wife can read the news of her country at her convenience.
This was very easy in the days when the Bulletin and later the Times were distributed by email. It got harder when you started emailing just the URL to the day's Times (the list of topics was not very useful) because I then had to fire up my browser and surf to your web site to get the Times, but I adjusted and enjoyed the more colorful content.
Now, I have to surf to each page to print the Times and I get all the previous summaries of news and features as well. You have turned a useful, informative format into a more time consuming exercise.
* Imperial Cherry?
My heartfelt congratulations to J.J. Khan and the entire talented staff of The Iranian upon issue 500. Both the Times and The Iranian magazine are quite major and indispensable ventures.
The new format, by the way, is excellent and easy to navigate.
Most certainly, you can be proud of a significant achievement, but J.J. Khan, ask an old-timer, did I detect a slight taste of "Imperial Cherry," a sort of nostalgic "Farman" in your editorial on the occasion? Or am I wrong?
As hinted once before, you will go far and conceivably beyond that of being a public-spirited chief editor of a distinguished cyberspace enterprise.
* Spread your wings
A hearty CONGRATULATIONS on the 500th issue of The Iranian Times and the new format. As the saying goes, "No one can predict to what heights you can soar. Even you will not know until you spread your wings." So, fly high and spread your wings!
Yahya R. Kamalipour
Iranian new format is wonderful and your jobs are great, I appreciate and proud all of you, please accept my special thanks.
* Crying, every time
Vigen's music takes me back at least 15 years when I was a little girl and my dad used to sing his songs to my sister and I.
I just wanted to thank you for making this page even though it has made me cry every time I have visited it!
* Iranian Jews are IRANIANS
I'm not sure I understand why, according to the article ["Jews: The invisible Iranians"], some Jewish Iranians complain of "not being accepted by Muslim Iranians." I've never heard of such a thing. Maybe in some circles this is the case, but on the whole from other Iranians I've known in my lifetime this issue of "acceptance" for Iranian Jews has never surfaced.
Acceptance of what!? Iranian Jews are IRANIANS, just like Muslim and Armenian Christian Iranians are Iranians. One's nationality always comes first before one's religion - number one, because religion is fluid and can be changed by simple conversion (I reject the notion of Judaism as an "ethnicity"), and number two because one's culture is much more influenced by one's nationality than religion. Just to prove this, an Iranian Jew has very little in common with a French Jew, despite the fact that both are Jews. French and Iranian cultures are completely different. Therefore, Iranian Jews are just as Iranian as Iranian Muslims.
We all have basically a common culture, with minor differences. There are people on both sides who would reject this - for example, Muslims who don't consider Jews "real Iranians" out of simple prejudice; but there also exist Iranian Jews who try to disassociate themselves from Iran and their nationality - for example, those who go exclusively by their Jewish names or those who, for whatever reason, moved to Israel. For them, their Jewish identity is more important than their Iranian identity, which I think is unfortunate.
I would like to add that many American Jewish leaders like to look upon Iran's Jews as this small oppressed minority, who don't have anything in common with the Muslim population - almost as if they were foreigners living in a foreign country. To them, Iranian Jews really aren't Iranian but rather just Jewish; they try to somehow disassociate their Iranianness from their Jewishness, in the process just ignoring the fact that they're Iranian as much as they're Jewish. I believe this reflects these Jewish Americans' own prejudices and ignorance about Iran, and that's just too bad.
* Gay? No problem. Just don't parade it
I'd like to respond first to the way in which [The Iranian ] entitled my protest letter to the Alemi article ["In front of the embassy"] . The chosen title, "Gay Iranians aren't 'good Iranians'" clearly relfects [The Iranian's ] own biases and point of view. [It] intentionally entitled the letter this way to make it look as if this was the point of my letter, thus making me look bad, despite the fact that I said nothing even remotely close to that.
I don't expect that the responsibility of the publisher and editor of a magazine is to inject his/her own opinions on people who write to the magazine. His/her job is to be as fair and impartial as possible, without injecting such blatant editorialization when it's not necessary.
If [The Iranian] and Guive Mirfendereski set aside for a moment your own prejudices, get off you moral high ground, and read what I said, maybe it'll become clear.
Of course gays exist in Iran, they exist everywhere. But unlike homosexuals in America, gays in Iran keep it quiet, to themselves, and a private matter. They don't parade around the streets advertising and shouting out their homosexuality; they don't get into people's faces with it, and they don't try to shove their ideology down other people's throats. And of course this is perfectly fine, the way it should be.
I do not and have never had any problem with homosexuals being homosexuals; I don't give a rat's ass about someone else's sexual orientation. I don't personally and from a moral standpoint approve of it, but frankly that's none of your business nor is it anyone else's business. And I don't wish that it be MADE my business, as is the case when a bunch of trouble-making militants get out and march in the streets, denouncing anyone and everyone who doesn't conform to their views with cliche catch phrases like "homophobe," "bigot," and "intolerant."
Alemi's article was more of the same stuff, being "out" and "loud" and "broadcasting to the world." But most importantly it was irrelevant to the article.
"Pro-gay" people have never once made an effective and intelligible argument regarding their point of view. All they're capable of doing is name-calling, using the same aforementioned labels over and over again until they're blue (or pink) in the face. Please, give it a rest. A vast majority of Iranians are rational and intelligent people, who don't have the time for your unintelligible rants.
* A piece of fiction. Period.
[Regarding the debate over gays and Iranians:]
Every writer I know would tell you that he/she writes so that his/her stories are read and talked about. I always thought that I shared the same view. The appearance of my story, "In Front of Embassy" in The Iranian brought out a less desirable facet of writers' lives to view, and I can't say that that aspect of writing holds any attraction for me.
I do not like to respond to criticism of my story, because I believe when you create a work of art you should let it walk among the people for whom it was made and defend itself. If it has any merits it will survive the severest blows, and if it doesn't, then perhaps it is better off criticized to death.
While I don't mind a fair hit from a fair-minded and well-read reader, I do mind a biased individual using my story as a whetstone for grinding his own ax. Mr. Sina D.'s taking cover behind a letter of the alphabet does not mask the fact that he continues to not get it. His message reminds me of a joke:
When the Sepaah-e Daanesh was first established in the 1960s, it is said that the first Sepaahi fellow was sent to a remote village where people were skeptical of his mission. No matter how hard he tried to educate the folks, they wouldn't give up their ignorance. Finally, an old man approached the young Sepaahi and said: "Look, young man. If you think that we're going to learn how to read and write, you're dead wrong. We're going to remain the same herd of ignorants we always were."
I'm not so much disappointed in Mr. Sina D. as I am let down by those supporters of the publication of "In Front of Embassy" who fail to recognize the piece for what it is: Fiction. The fact that none of the readers have critiqued the story as a work of imagination speaks to the sad reality that very few read it the way it was meant to be read.
For the benefit of the public at large, I would like to stress, once and for all, that "In Front of Embassy" is a fictional piece and as such has no ideological or political ambition, let alone carrying the burden of something as daunting as a social mission.
It is with a heavy heart that I must say both my supporters and detractors have missed the point that my piece is not an essay (or article, as some have put it), and does not espouse a point of view. If anybody feels the need to critique it, they would do us all a favor if they embarked upon the more mature task of reading it as a work of modern literature with Iranian post-revolutionary sensibilities as opposed to what their particular hang up likes it to be. After all, we all have our prejudices and blind spots.
* Not even one?
We have 19 students going to the science olympiads in four categories and not even one is a female. (Photo of the Day, June 4th, 1998). Are these competitions gender-based much like schools in Iran? Nah, I didn't think so.
* Soccer photos
HAZ KARDAM VA SAREH HAAL AMADAM ! ABSOLUTLY GREAT !!
I have been looking for such a collection ["Killer soccer photos"] for a long time. I spent over an hour admiring the "bacheh-haa" and my eyes were kind of wet. Once again, great idea and a great job. Let's hope the "bacheh-haa" have a good time here in France.
* Very funny
This was a great article ["The Embassy and me"]! Very funny... I had clear visual images of you and your relatives/friends tribulations at the Iranian Interests Section. Keep on writing!
[Regarding "Three-month military service exemption for expats wishing to travel to Iran"] ... You made my day!
* Lack of ability to be inclusive
Kudos for having the proverbial testicular fortitude to publish a magazine given to all points of view. To evolve into and as a community, no greater service is required by each person to be tolerant of others. A reader with the handle "Sina D" has objected to the revelation that the character in "In front of the embassy" admittedly was gay.
The very diasppointed writer opined that it was not advisable for people to be "open" in the Iranian community and intimated that on top of explaining everything else now Iranians have to explain being gay too! Sina is entitled to Sina's opinion. Yet, it bears reflecting on the notion that dissimulation, denial and subtrefuge do not contirbute to the opening up of the society or to it becoming more pluralistic.
Sina seesm to indicate that being gay is an American phenomenon or that openly admitting to being gay is a facet of Westoxication. Perhaps one should comtemplate the meaning of two words in Farsi, the quivalent of which do not exist in any other language -- obneh and tabagh-zadan -- and then tell the class about the gayish or lesbian proclivities in the Persian culture. Also, one may want to research and tell the class of the cultural origins of such expressions as "mazeh-ye pa-ye araq," "malijak," "fael and maful," and "bach-e bazi," all of which have decidedly a homosexual connotation. Some of the poems published in The Iranian from time to time refers to allusions of homosexuality of the poet or the protagonist.
While the matter will no doubt be debated, one should wonder whether Iranians' lack of ability to be inclusive and accepting is in part responsible for there being only 60 million Iranians after some 5,000 years on the Iranian plateau, that many Iranians are inbred and most of them as intolerant as Sina.
Nobody asked, just this one person's opinion.
* Zonkey talk
I have greatly enjoyed the articles [by Hamid Taghavi] in The Iranian. They are very well written and extremely amusing. I am sure many others, like me, can relate. It is my hope that the following reminder is not interpreted as anything other than a suggestion for further clarity in communication. In other words, my aim is not to be a SMART-ASS.
In your "Donkey love" piece you wrote: "... Me and Mash Hashem agreed between the two of us to let his steer and my cow, you know..." Well, from years of living in Oklahoma and contact with Okie Mash Hashems I have learned that a "steer" is a "bull" minus his bull-bearings (sic), ouch! So either Mash Hashem was pulling a fast one on the guy or something(s) got lost in the translation.
Also, you write (and believe me, I swear, I'm not having a cow about this): "Besides, if they, you know..., what if my donkey gets pregnant? Then, heaven forbid, its calf may take after your..." A calf is the offspring of a bovine bull and a cow and also certain sea mamals. The little donkeys, like little horses are referred to as foals. The following is from some folks that have a site on the internet and apparently are hog-wild about them:
* Jack - a male donkey - mostly refers to intact males (aka: stallion
* Gelding - a castrated male donkey
* Jennet or Jenny - a female donkey (aka: mare in UK)
* Foal - a baby donkey
* Ass/Donkey/Burro - Interchangable proper terms that mean the same thing
* John - a male mule
* Molly - a female mule
* Mule - (Hybrid) normally refers to the get of a donkey sire with a mare dam
* Hinny - refers to the get of a a horse sire with a donkey dam
* Zebrass/Zonkey - a Zebra crossed with a Donkey
* Zorse/Zebramule - a Zebra crossed with a horse
Again, I hope you forgive my presumptuousness in this matter. If you intended to use the words as you did I sincerely apologize, and if not I hope I have been helpful (As you know, helpfulness is our national pass time, whether appreciated by the helped or not- so I'm just fulfilling a national obligation). Keep the stories and observations coming, they are like tahdig, addictive.
Editor: The mistakes have been corrected.
* Persia, Iowa - again
My grandpa (Milton Watson) was one of the individuals playing cards whom you met on your way through Persia, Iowa. I spent many a summer in Persia on my grandpa's farm. Glad an "outsider" took the time to stop in and see what the town is all about. Can't believe you did a web site on it!
* Iran Air: Doing our best
What a surprise to find this information on the Internet ["Balloons to Boeings"]. All my colleagues (Iran Air, London Heathrow) would like to say hello and tell you that we are still flying and doing our best to uphold the best and old traditions of Iran Air.
* Content: Not much to be desired
I was remembering your earlier postings (The Iranian Bulletin), a few years ago, I guess when you were still back in New York. They were simple and, compared with the quality of your current production, pretty 'low-tech!'
You have really come a long way! I congratulate you on the quality of your work (both in content and presentation, although with respect to content, there is still much to be desired). And, I appreciate your dedication.
* Always ready to criticize
Ms. Nourzad wrote "You have really come a long way! I congratulate you on the quality of your work (both in content and presentation, although with respect to content, there is still much to be desired)."
I am consistently amazed at the inability of us Iranians to just complement someone else's efforts and then move on. We have to find a problem, something that is not "just right" in our opinion, a glitch that needs to be improved. In my opinion, this is just to let everyone else know that we know better! That if it was us we could've done a better job.
We are always ready to criticize, but rarely willing to roll up our sleeves and contribute (discretely) and make improvements. For our own sake, I hope that some of that American positive attitudes and spirit of encouragement will rub off on our children.