Saturday, July 10, 2004

Movies, tests, and…

Protests? No.

Our friend K came over to visit Friday afternoon. We went to an outdoor café for lunch. "I was watching the tv with my brother and it was all about how Tehran is up in arms and that there is a revolution and that there are fights all over the city."

We sat in the garden of the restaurant watching the fountain. I heard "…fights all over the city" and thought of boxing. "Iranian tv?" I asked.

"Los Angeles. They were like 'Get out into the streets. The revolution is happening.'"

"There weren't even police checkpoints last night. This year is a lot calmer," I said.

"Concour," K (my husband) said.


"They had the tests for the university yesterday," his nephew explained. (There were 4 of us at lunch.)

"They are smart," we all agreed. (Which reminds me, K's niece and nephew have been here all week taking exams for the university. They could have bought the answer key to the tests, but they did not want to cheat. More power to them, I say.)

Reporters come to Iran and are taken in by the openness of the youth and the agitation and discomfort they see all over the country. They think that everyone is ready for political change. Frankly, I am more and more convinced that the agitation and depression expressed by Iran's youth have more to do with sex than with politics. Lately I have noticed bigger and bigger groups of young people mixing without being harassed by the police. Politics have taken a backseat to sex.

The other thing I have noticed is that television is much better when any unrest is possible. This weekend (Thurs. & Fri) you could have watched The Deer Hunter, Frenzy, Fellini's Roma, Jumanji, a Disney cartoon about Dinosaurs, and more that I am sure I missed.

I saw a brief anti-American demonstration as well. (I did not see all the movies I mentioned… there is too much to do for that). It was clear from the tight camera angle that there were no more than 20 people involved. I think you could gather more people in Austin, Texas.

I am taking a break from writing. Maybe I will write more than I think, but I am planning to take about 5 weeks off. Check back later.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Burnt out

Lately I have not wanted to write. Or maybe it is more accurate to say that I have had no desire to be polite. Part of the problem is that as my Persian improves so does my understanding of the television news. Now, like most Iranians we know, I just want to watch sports news. Aahh, women's archery: great! News about high school wrestling: double great. Water polo? You guessed it: wonderful. Football: can't get enough.

About a month ago, one paper had a headline reading that the government was looking for 2000 volunteers for suicide missions against Americans and Israelis. This, of course, caused ordinary Iranians to laugh. They found it ridiculous.

Last week, the Tehran Times had an editorial about the recent beheadings. It started off quite reasonably with a tirade against the beheadings and against the attempt of the terrorists to align themselves with Islam. The next step was to give a little slap in the face to fellow Sunni clerics who, the paper claimed, were not vociferous enough in their condemnation. The following paragraph blamed the terrorism in the middle East on Zionist forces and claimed that the beheaders were aligned with Israel.

After midnight, I have caught this little music video in English about how Islam is a religion of peace. It's a kind of We Are the World type song. Only the melody is worse. Listening, I could not help wondering, why couldn't they get Cat Stevens to write this tune? Could it possibly be more insipid? No way.

Cab drivers

Obviously we do not have a car, which is why we talk to so many cab drivers. So here is the cab driver update:

Lately, I have found myself in some customized cabs. One had quilt padding on its ceiling. A little crystal lamp hung from the middle. There was a wild array of checked and paisley fabric with green, pink, and yellow plastic baubles everywhere. I loved it.

Another cab was covered with medallions and badges. There were rhinestone eagles and horses, a pair of lovebirds, symbols from a variety of countries, and a small silver Statue of Liberty. The driver was a veteran of the war with Iraq and spent the trip discussing his experiences in the military with K. He was a gentle and sweet man.

Another had seats covered with cowhide.

One driver told us that one out of three drivers is an intelligence agent. I wonder if he was?

Another driver discussed the Gypsy Kings and the song "Hotel California." (Is there a more popular song in the entire world?)

Another driver was thrilled to find out I was American. "May you live a long life," he told me. "I myself never say 'Down with America.' I say, 'Long live America.' That's what I am saying."

"Iranians are the only people in the world who still love us," I said.

"No. That's not true. Everyone loves Americans. So maybe we do not like your government, but we like the people. Are there nicer people in the whole world? America is a great country, and Americans are nice people."

K actually agreed that Americans are nice. I was surprised.

The driver asked me about Bush and whether or not he would be reelected. I could not say.