Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Snow, internet…
There was a lot of snow here in Iran. Northern Tehran looked like a Christmas postcard with the evergreens covered in white snow. I associate the snow with my Internet problems, but that is probably not fair. It’s probably the new restrictions on internet sites that are causing all of the problems. The same thing happened last year when the government tried to forbid free internet use. In the end, they relented somewhat (not 100%). I mean, even extremists need to do business over the internet.

They turned off the gas for several days in parts of Tehran. People did not have heat or hot water for several days. Iran does not have enough gas to go around. They ran out. “The government’s first priority is pocketing the money from gas sales,” a fellow taxi passenger complained. “They don’t care about us.”

Who knows if it was the lack of gas that led to the tragic fire in one of Tehran’s oldest mosques? Sixty people were killed when something fell on the oil-burning heater in the women’s section of the mosque. The word in the taxis is that it was not an accident. “There was an explosion. It was a bomb,” a driver explained to us.

“I have a friend who works next door. He heard the explosion. It was a bomb,” my fellow traveler agrees.

I am sure it was an accident.

“After 26 years of hearing their lies, how can we believe a word they say?” Our driver said. (Everyone knows who “they” is, right?)

“I don’t hear them,” I reply.

“You’re lucky that you have not spoken our language for the last 26 years,” our driver laughs.

K’s TV rant
“Take a hot shower now because who knows when our gas will be turned off,” K said. “But you’ll notice that we always have television. That’s because the government doesn’t want us to forget them: it’s all mullah, all the time. This is Iranian tv: flower, flower, waterfall, bird, mountain, flower, river, butterfly, mullah, water, mountain, sky, mullah, flower.”

“Don’t forget crying,” I added.

The Islamic month of Moharram has begun. This is the month that commemorates Hossein’s martyrdom, which means that the crying has begun all over again. The television is filled with men crying. One tells the story. The others cry. Last year, I was mesmerized by the occasion. The singing and stories can be so beautiful. Unfortunately, most of what is shown is so filled with bathos that your gut reaction is that you are watching comedy. That said, our neighborhood has one of the best azans (religious singers) that I have ever heard. I am looking forward to following his group as they march through the neighborhood.

You know all of those months we have: national dairy month? Hispanic heritage month? Kite flying month? Etc… Imagine if the only entertainment you had during those months was from your grade school teachers, earnestly trying to get you interested in these months with filmstrips and activities? Do you have that picture in your mind? Okay, that’s Iranian tv.

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