Thursday, June 09, 2005

Iran qualifies to 2006 World Cup

Iran has qualified for the World Cup and, on top of that, has qualified undefeated.

I was talking on the telephone when the final second ticked off. There were whoops and the sound of firecrackers. "It sounds like Iran won." (Hey, I saw the rerun of the game at midnight… I'm new to soccer: remember, I'm an American.)

K came to get me off the phone. "Let's go out," he said. "Let's celebrate!" I thought he was joking, but he wasn't. We went out. All of our neighbors were out. Some of them had boxes of pastries and were passing them out passersby. We turned the corner and went on to the main street. Rafsanjani supporters were out with giant SUVs blaring electronica and trays filled with fruit drinks. Moeen supporters were handing out pastries to people in cars stopped at the light.

We made it to Valiasr right before the major traffic started. We arrived just in time to see thousands of celebrants running down the street with faces painted and flags waving in the wind.

Drivers honked their horns and young men blew these noisemakers. There were firecrackers galore. Some of the flags were simply green, white, and red. Most were the current Iranian flag.

Young men danced in the street. Iranian men are really sexy dancers. (Although I hear that Iranian women don't find their dancing sexy. Well, foreign women do. Trust me.) We came across a group singing and dancing. A woman in her late 60s was encouraging people to clap. "What's your problem!" she would yell to passive onlookers. "Clap! Sing!"

Rafsanjani's campaign was out in force. Young people were covered with his stickers. They were dancing and yelling.

The Qalibaf campaign handed out zero alcohol beer from an Efes truck. I can't remember the exact slogan printed on the truck. I think it translated to something like "Life goes better with Qalibaf." So many people were running after the truck that you would have thought they were receiving 2.5% beer.

We saw a small, solemn group of Moeen supporters who held his poster up over their heads and walked quietly up and down the streets.

Later we saw a yellow hummer driving through the crowd. "Is Schwarzenegger in town?" I asked.

Groups of celebrants seemed to wander in and wander out from all directions. People were happy and relaxed and somewhat anticipatory. Did anything more dramatic happen? I do not know.

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