Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah and Happy Longest Night

Sorry for the radio silence. I had internet problems and anger management problems.

I have never had so many Christmas invitations before…Brunch here, lunch there, dinner somewhere else… Little plastic Christmas trees, revolutionary guards with kalashnikovs roaming the streets, and snow in the mountains! On Christmas eve, we even had a visit from a skinny Santa Claus.

Last year I wrote that I believe that in the coming 10 years Christmas will become a full-fledged holiday in Iran. This year was even Christmasier than last. Not one of our Christmas invitations has come from a Christian. Iranian state radio even wished Christians a merry Christmas and played Western music. (AN himself used the theme song from Bonanza in his campaign clip)

I love it when Iranian Muslims ask me what is traditional for Christmas: “Chinese food & a movie,” I answer. Of course, they don’t get it…Fortunately another foreigner could answer: “Alcohol.”

In the holiday spirit… here are a couple of jokes:

A joke:
Bush, Chirac, & AN pay a visit to God to see what’s in store for them in the coming year. First Bush:

“I’m afraid I have bad news for you,” God tells him. “Things are not going to go so well in Iraq. The public is going to lose its faith in you. You’ll have horrible hurricanes one after the other, and the republicans will lose the election.” Bush left crying.

Then Chirac:

“The news for you isn’t so hot either. You’ll have riots in the streets. Thousands of cars will be set on fire, and everyone will blame you.” Chirac, too, leaves crying.

Then AN:

“And what’s in store for my country?” AN asks. God hesitates a moment and then starts crying himself.

Another joke:

In a country where fish fall in love and turtles fly, it’s no wonder a monkey is president.

Oh and more humor...

Blocked on my side, but I bet you guys can read this: "How about transferring Israel to Iran." Hey... I laughed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Earlier the day of the crash…

Waiting for a telephone line to be connected in Tehran means entering a strange world of bizarre excuses and broken promises. If you don’t know someone in the telecom office and then if you don’t grease his palm, you are guaranteed horrific service. If you do know someone that you can appropriately “tip” then you just get bad service.

After several broken promises, we were told: “The guy who can connect your phone had a death in the family.”

I found that I could not be sympathetic. “Iranians always have a death in the family,” I responded. “It seems to be a favorite excuse.”

Everyone laughed.

Later that day, we ordered pizza to be delivered. It arrived an hour late and cold. When we called to complain, the manager told us that his delivery person had just died.

Again we laughed.

It’s sad isn’t it? You get to a point here where the news just keeps getting worse and worse and you have no way of controlling it. Sucks, right. You just laugh. And then a few hours later the news is even worse.

Plane crashes, pollution, & other every day occurrences.

Iran is deep into its second week of horrific pollution levels. Schools and offices closed last week in an effort to reduce Tehranian’s mobility needs and therefore reduce the pollution. No such luck. It just keeps getting worse. There is no rain, no wind, no nothing. I am starting to feel like someone has been standing on my chest, like I am caving in.

In the midst of all of this, a military plane crashed with 68 journalists on board. The pilot did not want to take off. He was ordered to do so. This is a scandal. (See idiotic graphic on IRNA’s site. Note that tulips are the symbol of the martyr. Martyr to what? Irrational decision-making?) Mr. Behi expresses the common outrage.lThe uncommon outrage is that it is America’s fault because of sanctions. Well, there are sanctions against obtaining nuclear capabilities and Iran seems clever enough to get around those. Also check out the BBC’s report via regimechangeiran.

Our friends have been attending a lot of funerals. Many of them knew people on board. I wish them well.

Ahh… but the pollution is the lasting disaster. When will it end?