Sunday, August 31, 2003

More from Karbala

We were drinking some delicious tea with K’s sisters. “It’s from Karbala,” they told us. So were a couple of new kitchen items and some fabric they had recently acquired.

People have beer and whiskey again: from Karbala.

We all got sick recently. K’s sisters told us, “People are bringing a microbe back from Karbala.”

Everything is from Karbala.

Left-handed Iranians

Before I arrived, I read that you should never ever eat with your left hand or extend it or serve people with it. During my first week here I observed very carefully and saw that many Iranians use their left hand to eat and don’t seem to mind if you use it as well. Oh, and guess what, I have met quite a few left-handed Iranians.

The Lonely Planet Guide warned me that most people would not talk to me if I were with a man. Instead they would talk to the man. Again, this has not been the case. Most people want to talk to me. In fact, sometimes I get exhausted just from talking.


I was tired and was taking a break Thursday afternoon. I turned on the television and had this choice of shows on Iranian TV: a documentary about tornadoes (always fascinating), The Ten Commandments, a documentary about Martin Ritt, and the film about blacklisting in Hollywood, The Front. One day you have got to hear the Iranian actor who dubs Woody Allen’s voice.


Which brings me to: Films. I see most films on buses between cities. I saw a weird Indian film about a present-day hero avenging past life crimes. I saw the Iranian film, “Women’s Prison,” which is really worth seeing. I saw “Seduced by a Thief.” I saw a fairly funny Iranian comedy about a couple having a hard time getting married because of their feuding families. I saw the Iranian version of “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” I saw some pretty boring young love movies. Yawn, yawn.

One thing I have noticed is that the movies on the buses are less censored than the films for sale in the stores. You can buy stolen films in many, many stores. Some were downloaded, some were filmed in movie theaters, some were copied off of dvds. What they all have in common is that they have been censored. For instance, Analyze That is missing the scene when Billy Crystal gets drunk. Women showing cleavage have big blocks floating in front of their breasts. They are all more censored than the films on the buses. Tell me, is censorship here getting worse?

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