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.
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.