Monday, March 28, 2005

Fires, visiting, new year's tv, and the latest fashion news

The last time I wrote, K and I were on our way to search out the best fire-leaping district. We walked for 2 ½ hours and saw a few boys lighting firecrackers, caught site of some private bonfires, and got sore feet. We returned to our neighborhood only to find that we were living in Chahar Shanbeh Souri-Central. In our small neighborhood, there were several bonfires. Our tiny street (2 whole blocks) featured 3 or 4 bonfires. The whole neighborhood was out: from newborns to one-foot in the gravers. Young men were dancing in the street. There was music and singing. I didn't know we lived in such a happening place.

It was so wonderful to see Iranians having fun in public. Fun is such a great thing. I feel pretty red after a night of fires and dancing.

The next day, we flew south and joined millions of Iranian tourists visiting Kouzestan's spring. Ahwaz's river was so high that it reached the stairs of the Hotel Fajr. Flowers were everywhere. Women were in their new manteaus: short, salmon, and tight. Southerners were wearing these tiny little scarves woven with metallic threads. Every other young woman seemed to have one. So, last year the new scarf fashion was a shawl that let your bangs show and the back of your pony tail. This year's seems to be an oversized handkerchief that can just be tied under your chin and shows even more of the back of your hair than the shawl. Pretty soon we'll be wearing skull caps.

Haven't seen too much fashion back in Tehran yet, but then, no one is here.

TV is much better during the New Year's holidays than it is during religious holidays. There's a pretty funny serial on now that features a pizza parlor, a Mercedes, several goofy men who end up in and out of jail for a series of misunderstandings, and silly women. We've been enjoying it.

There is a campy tv game show with a series of silly feats that feels like it must have been borrowed from Japanese tv. I find it pretty funny. People seem to either love it or hate it. K is in the second camp. I am in the first. There is also an Iranian version of the Weakest Link. Anyone who has ever seen Ann Robinson tear apart the contestants of the British version of this game show would be amused by the Iranian version. While Iranians are capable of making insults, those insults are subtle and require a pretty thorough understanding of Iranian manners in order to be understood. Mostly, Iranians are so unfailingly polite that the type of insult that is the hallmark of the Weakest Link is impossible for them. Every time someone loses, the host politely wishes him luck and says something cloyingly nice.

Here is a sampling of the movies on Iranian tv: Whale rider, Troy, Shanghai Knights, The Inlaws, Lord of the Rings (parts 1, 2, & 3), Antz… The only movies that don't get heavily censored are the movies with casts of men or cartoons. This means most of the movies worth watching are violent or cartoons. The only time I have seen real men and women touching on Iranian tv was when they were fighting. If they had been hugging, that would have been cut. Sword through the belly, okay. Man and wife showing affection: cut!

We saw our fair share of satellite tv during our multiple New Year's visits. Most people were watching Tapesh 2 or PMC: both of which feature mainly, but not solely, Iranian music videos. For the most part, the videos suck. Most of those shot in California seem to be shot at the same location. The men wear all white or all black, have no style, and have forgotten how to dance. (Iranian men are great dancers!) Mostly naked women dance in the background. The other type of video features a stage with flashing lights. Everyone's favorite videos were: Kamran and Hooman singing Toro Micham, Arash singing Boro Boro, and a woman (what was her name?) singing Mirdamad.

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