Saturday, February 07, 2004

Happy Birthday, Sis.

To vote or not to vote

K and I had a harrowing week. It was personal. Maybe one day I can write about it. The second day of the personal crisis, we were out shopping when we heard our first news of the parliamentary crisis. "Khatami resigned," a man came into the store and said. "Khatami, the preseident or Khatami, his brother?" the shopkeeper asked. "His brother."

That has been the extent of the public discussion.

"Are people afraid to talk about it?" I asked K. "Or do they not care?"

"They don't care," he answered.

A week before the whole parliamentary crisis began, I found myself in the middle of a boisterous and noisy discussion of Iranian politics. There were two subjects at hand: Bush: good or bad? And to vote or not to vote. "If we vote," one of the women discussing the subject told me, "then the Islamic Republic will say: "The people support us. See, they voted for us."

Since the parliamentary crisis, there have been no political discussions around us.

Internal Exile

I heard this term on the NPR program: My Name is Iran. The term refers to Iranians living in Iran who have cut all ties with their culture and country. I have not met that many of these folks because I do not travel in the internally exiled circles. But I do see the symptoms in everyone: even those people who are steeped in Iranian culture. Iranians have taken refuge in small, private circles.

If you really want to rake in money in Iran, become a Prozac distributor. I have never met so many depressed people in my life. What do you think keeps Iranians off the streets? Fear? Maybe a little. I think depression is the bigger factor. "We are all depressed," a 22-year-old friend told me. "Especially my age group. Our lives have no future. We are just depressed." The taxi driver agreed with her. "Look at me," he said, "I am a University student studying electrical engineering, but this taxi is my future. It's terrible."

Iranians outside of Iran are arrogant (I love you guys!), smart, beautiful, etc. They think they are the best people in the world. Iranians inside Iran have the opposite opinion. They think they must be the worst people in the world. They constantly disparage themselves. "We are terrible." "A brother cannot trust his own brother." "We cannot do anything right." "Foreigners are so much better than we are." I always respond with, "I have the feeling that Iranians are only rude to each other out of frustration, not because they really want to be. I am constantly amazed by the kindness and the care I see among people here." It's good to be a foreigner in Iran.

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