September 22, 2003
What me worried?
Why I have not been blogging:
The phone lines were being repaired and only working sporadically.
My computer needed to get backed up and reformatted (always a pain in the ass.) I am still having problems importing my old emails.
Johnny Cash died.
Our internet service provider blocked everything from blogspot. All 1,000,000 blogs. I got a little worried, but resident Iranians have assured me that I have nothing to worry about. “Have you looked at the papers recently,” they all say? “You can’t be more critical than they are.”
That’s true. I don’t even plan to be critical. Which brings me to my next point:
I am not a journalist
A lot of Iranians tell me that my blog makes too many assumptions about Iran and Iranians. “You should take time to get the whole story,” I hear over and over again. This blog is a series of observations about being here. It is not meant as a research project or a piece of journalism. I tell stories about what I am experiencing. For me, what is interesting is how much my experiences of and assumptions about the country and the culture change over time. It is as much or more about me (and K) than about Iran and Iranians.
And besides, how the hell am I supposed to get a complete picture of anything? Does such a thing ever exist? Aren’t we still discovering new things about well-documented historical events? Iran isn’t a mineral with a finite set of characteristics. No matter how long I examine it, there will be something new to understand.
Which gets me to my next point:
People who know and love me know how fond I am of exaggeration. Listen, I am a mere beginner compared to Iranians. “This is the worst regime in the world,” I have heard many people say. I think even Thomas Friedman had a quote from Hussein Khomeini saying exactly that. (I know that I should link to it, but surfing with a slow and unreliable dial-up connection is a royal pain. And you would have to pay for the article anyway.) In the worst regime in the world, every other cab driver does not complain about politics.
“Iranian food is the best food in the world.” Okay, it’s good. But the best? I don’t think so. That said, I know Iranians living in California who eat only Iranian food, pasta, and the occasional (really occasional) Cantonese dish. They are really chauvinistic about their food.
“No other country has the problems Iran has. There are people here who still live in the first century.” True. But my college roommate grew up without electricity and plumbing. I am quite certain that there are many, many countries in the world facing exactly this issue.
Iran is, without exaggeration, the capital of the car accident.
More exaggerations as they occur to me.
I am a lifelong fan of Johnny Cash. As a child, I remember seeing his short-lived program on television, marveling at his deep voice, and black clothes. There has never been a time in my life when I have not listened to Johnny Cash. K used to complain that he sang too much about Jesus and religion and then one day, K too fell in love with the songs.
The last hitchhiker I ever picked up told me that he had seen the ghost of Johnny Cash's redemption on the highway in Memphis. It was then that I realized that I should never pick up another hitchhiker.
One afternoon in Istanbul, I was listening to Unchained and reading Isaac Bashevis Singer when the call to prayer was sounded. It was a brilliant moment.
I have introduced many Iranians to Johnny Cash. Some actually seem to like him. Those who do, knew that I would be sad when I heard that Johnny Cash had died and asked me to play some of his CDs for them. That's how we are spending our free time now. Listening to Johnny Cash.
His CD, Murder, is playing right now.
I have to say good things about her. Her emails have been really welcome to me. It is a relief to communicate with someone who is just as confused as I am about the state of the world. I like the fact that she does not tow the party line. (Or is it "toe" the party line? Am I putting my toes up to the line or dragging it behind me? I must have learned this once in English class.)
A big public thanks to Gotham Diana for her engaging emails. She told me that she is not blogging anymore, but if she changes her mind, I’ll link to her.
Not to mention thanks to my friends and family whose regular letters have kept me sane.