"You Shi'a certainly take a lot of holidays," a (rare) Sunni neighbor said to Keivan.
"Well, if you guys wouldn't kill us then we wouldn't have to have this holiday," Keivan answered. The neighbor was stunned at first but laughed with Keivan. He thinks the Shi'a are nuts.
Two days after Ashura, we found ourselves magically transported to a friend's birthday party. During a month when parties are infrequent or just simply quiet in order to avoid the prying of neighbors and potential visits from the police, this was a loud party with dancing and singing. Young and old were represented in healthy numbers as our friend was presented with cake and gifts.
"The sun should never set on Ashura," a woman told us as we discussed the best Ashura events in Iran. She had traveled the entire country observing them. Her favorite was in some out of the way corner of Iran and was, by her accounts, different from all others.
I imagined her standing by the procession in a black scarf and a black manteau crying as the battle of Karbala was recounted in chants. Now, here she was, vodka in hand, listening to music and watching the young people dance. This is what people mean when they tell you that you never know what to expect in Iran.
After a series of Iranian songs sung by a deep-voiced youth, the host's daughter attached her ipod to the stereo and acted as DJ: Bob Dylan, Queen, Cream, and R.E.M. Ahh… the tunes of my youth. What are they doing on the ipod of a 19-year old?
We all sang along to my favorite REM tune: Losing My Religion. It never sounded more like an anthem then when sung by these young Iranian party-goers.