Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Protect Norooz!

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Right after I posted about too much holiday, I got in a cab to go home. “Did you have to go to the bank today?” the driver asked me.


“A half-hour errand ended up taking three hours. Everyone had to pay water and electricity and put money in the bank and take money out.”

The radio was on. The woman announcer was articulately complaining about the surprise holiday. Her final point was “Now they will probably announce that the Norooz (New Year’s) holidays are only one day. Eh.” (I love the way Iranians say “eh”)

This morning, during my morning cab ride, I heard the report from Parliament on the radio. One of the parliamentarians was trying to convince us that Eid-e Fetr was important for Iran and that Iran, because it is a Muslim nation, should have at least two days of holiday at the end of Ramadan.
“Even Muslims don’t agree with him,” the driver said. “Even they don’t think that we should celebrate Eid-e Fetr instead of Norooz.”

“Norooz is the best New Year in the world,” I tell him. “Ours is crap. January First. What kind of new year is that?”

Norooz falls at the Spring Equinox and is the same for everyone around the world. It is an Iranian national holiday: the only one left that has nothing to do with Islam or revolution.

Norooz is the most festive and amazing time of year in Iran. No matter what the government does, people take off for at least 10 days and most take 15. Last year they tried to make Sizdeh Bedar (the 13th day after the New Year and a national picnic day) a work day. They were not successful. They also tried to convince Iranians not to celebrate the last Tuesday of the year. Again, they were unsuccessful.

This past year’s celebration of the last Tuesday of the year:

Give me Your Red

Scroll to near the bottom of a round-up of nuclear-related posts in my article

All about Norooz at Wikipedia

Our surprise holiday:
Too Much Holiday

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Too much holiday

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How odd to complain about too much holiday, but that is what I am about to do. Last week, Ahmadinejad announced that Eid would not be one day, no, but 3! Which meant 4 with Friday. Certainly, many school children were thrilled, but for the rest of us it was a royal pain in the ass…

Here are some of the comments I heard from people:

“My friend went to Europe and had to change tumans into Euros. The banks were all closed so he had to call a bunch of friends to get the money he needed for traveling.”

“It was boring and annoying.”

“We didn’t get enough money out of the bank before it closed.”

“We didn’t put enough money into the bank before it closed.”

“There was no way to make plans.”

“My projects are now behind one-week.”

Too much paternalism and populism; too little thoughtfulness…

Next to Natanz

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Keivan's account of day 2 of our road trip. All pictures shamelessly stolen... Actually, we are having problems uploading images... so will update.

I am happy to sit in the front seat of the car. On my way to Kashan the day before, when I was sitting 7 hours in the back of the car, I had a lot of time to think of ways to get the women to let me sit in the front seat for the rest of our trip to Yazd. When I realized that I could sit in the front without any tricks or games it made me feel very good.

Kay is driving; we agree to eat in the car in order to save some time. It is not even a couple of minutes after leaving Fin Garden just outside of Kashan when we get lovely bread, cheese, and tomato sandwiches passed to us from the back of the car where Esther and Cay are sitting.

Can you look at the map and tell me how far we are from Natanz? Kay asked me.

She shows me a map of Iranian highways. I guess she doesn't know that we Iranians cannot read maps. I take the map and at the same time I get a sandwich to eat; I have the map on my legs trying very hard to find first where we are: I am not sure if Kay realized that I was having such a hard time just finding Natanz.
We are almost 80 kilometers from Natanz where we will stop for a short visit to a 1000 year old Sufi mosque with the attached 700 year old Imamzadeh-ye Abd al-Samad – that is if we can find it.

The Imamzadeh Abd al Samad caretaker must be so happy that not long ago the city of Natanz became internationally know for its nuclear site. I am almost 100% sure that more people have visited this small town since theat announcement than in the last 1000 years. Now Ahamdinejad has even added the nuclear facility to the list of Iran’s tourist attractions.

Driving by the site, I finally realize for the first time with my own eyes why Americans and Israelis (since I don't want to make my British travel companions mad/sad, I will leave them out of this) are so mad about this site. It looks like they cannot do anything to it to destroy it since behalf of a couple of anti-airplane guns everything else is deep underground.

I have to admit that I am really happy to see it with my own eyes, but now that I am seeing it I realize again that what I am seeing is not any different than seeing it on TV. What you see on tv is what you get in person, and what you get is not much. I wish I could see those guys coming out with the barrel deep underground or wherever it is: that's got to be the most famous shot of Iran's nuclear facilities. It is true that all of us Iranians should be happy with our achievement making an atomic bomb nuclear energy, because if you look carefully at the famous barrel picture, there are at least 7 people holding it. That just shows how effective we are with time, resources, and work management.

I have seen a lot of mosques, but Imamzadeh Abd al Samad which was a big Islamic complex in the 14 century, is now on the top of my list of places to visit if you are in Iran. It is really gorgeous and fucking fantastic, you can never imagine you will see something like this in a very small town in the middle of the country. It took us 5 times going up and down the road to find it, and if it was not for the 35 people we asked for directions we would still be looking for it.

Imamzadeh Abd al Samad again proves my theory that Iranians cannot keep places well. If this old building was in any European country, you would have an extra beautiful place to visit. There was no sign on the highway to it, when you are inside you can feel the place screaming for help. I know you cannot just start fixing things if you don't have resources, but my question is how can we say we don't have resources when we spend billions on things we don't need? So much money is wasted in Iran and we still don't have money for renovating lovely places like Imamzadeh Abd al Samad.

Picture taken from internet... website on pic... Not as good as the picture we would have taken had our camera not gone on the fritz...

We still have a long way to go. In the car we talk about almost everything, or should I say: Esther is talking non-stop and Kay and Cay are responding with their low voices. I have a hard time to follow what they are saying so I only make small comments here and there and usually nobody cares.

One thing I need to advise all Iranians traveling with their foreign friends not to do is; don't tell them that Iran has 4 seasons, Oh man, you cannot do that. Even though we may know we have the best spring, summer, fall, and winter, don't say that loud and clear to any foreigner. They will never stop laughing at you and will use it against all of your other correct points.

The minute I mentioned our four seasons they started a long and painful attack. In the next couple of days, Kay alone brought this subject up 7,123, 456 times and every time I knew where we were heading.

Oh Yeah, this is the most ridiculous of all, Kay said.

What do you mean? Cay asked in surprise.

Iranians think they are the only country in the world that has 4 seasons, Esther answered. I always make fun of them, Esther continued

Do you mean 4 seasons at the same time? Cay asked.

Esther said, No, just 4 seasons. I don't think Cay knows that Esther and Kay and I are having political discussion.

Oh god what did I do? I asked myself. I cannot say to Kay you may have 4 seasons (I still don't believe it) but you also have 364 days of rain during the year. I know if I say that I will be in big trouble.

This thing about 4 seasons made our trip more fun. We or better to say they referred to it as much as they could, and we did that for different reasons.
Driving to Nain we realize we may be way late with getting to our evening’s final destination in the middle of the fucking desert.

Our visit to Nain impressed my travel companions more than it did me. It was fun to get there right before eftar. In the last 10 minutes before prayers a lot of men and women showed up at the old tenth century Jameh mosque. The sky was impossible blue and the mosque looked beautiful against that sky. We drank tea. When it was time to leave, Esther got ready to drive. It was her first time driving in Iran, and I was getting nervous.

Photo taken from the Wikipedia site on Nain... obviously not as good as the one in our heads...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trip report, part 1

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Keivan's tale of our trip... Pictures are from postcards due to camera malfunction.

How can I get to Kashan from here? I asked our driver in the restaurant. We were sitting about 6 hours from Tehran but it was like we were in a different world completely.

Oh Kashan, there are a couple ways, the best way is if I take you to a point where you can go directly to Kashan, He answered

I think he felt bad for me because I had such a bad day, and he wanted to do something nice for me.

I don't want to take you way off of your way, I said.

Yes, Oh, No problem, it will only add 50 kilometers to our trip.

I agree and am happy that I do not have to change 3 different cars to get to Esther.

I call Esther on our friend's mobile to let her know that I will be in Kashan in 4 hours, Sounds good, Esther told me. She was very worried about me and what happened in the meeting that I won't talk about on this blog, but I decided not to talk to her about it until we were back from our trip.

We headed toward Kashan, but we did not get close. A couple of hours later we found out we took the wrong way. We were only 120 Kilometers from Esfahan when we had to turn around.

It took me more than 7 hours to get in our room in Kashan. It was nice to see Kay and her friendly friend Kay in Kashan. (oh yeah I know what you thinking, two Kays, I found out when the Kays were born a lot of names ware banned by the British government and that is why a lot of girls were named Kay. It's a bit like Fatima in Iran, and I know you are asking when were they born? but I cannot get into that because this almost cost me a seat in the car)

So before I can go ahead with this post I need to explain one thing since I am going to refer to her many times, how do you know which Kay I am talking about? I can't use, nice or tall, or friendly, or these kinds of words, since they are both nice, tall, and friendly, so the second Kay will be Cay. You should know she has a very nice smile.

Finally, I arrive in Kashan. I love the way Kashanis speak. This is my first time in Kashan, so I need to get to know this city better considering the short time we have in Kashan. It is a very beautiful city with great old houses and a nice bazaar. Esther thought the young men were not nice mainly because we did not see very many women outside.

At dinner in the Yalda restaurant, where Kay and Esther really want to go, we sat down to eat. Esther and Kay have at least two things in common: first of all they both like food, almost any food, and secondly they can get their way with selection/sharing food. I have almost known from the beginning of our trip in Kashan that I will never get my way with selecting food on this trip, My two attempts to get a lovely kebab were harshly turned down. I do have to admit that they really know what they want and they get really good food… Still, I missed my kebab, even after I tried to use Cay's need for a taste of Iranian Kebab as an excuse to order one. I got very dirty looks after that suggestion. (Editors aside: Kay works in Iran, but Cay was only here for one week) We had excellent food that night in Kashan (Aside 2: if you go, ask for the restaurant run by the English lady. The appetizer of liver was especially good) with a couple of good looking guys waiting on us that helped make our only night there lovely. If those guys knew how much some of us were talking about them, they would not have been able to sleep for nights.

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Next morning when we left Kashan after a lovely visit to the bazaar where Kay got herself a lovely small silk carpet, I know we will have fun. I really liked the fact that the guys in the bazaar did their best to sell goods in very gentlemanly way, here I mean not pushy like guys in Esfahan. We finally left Kashan, after a short visit to nicely design, but badly kept up Fin garden where Amir Kabir was killed. Seeing a visit to the Hamam where Amir Kabir was killed reminded me of more things, like how could they put that ugly man in a glass room and call it Amir Kabir? he looked like anybody but AK.

We are in the car. Natanz next, but first let me know if you want more.

Monday, October 23, 2006

From last year...

...but still interesting. What can I say... I just discovered this article today, (published in FP May/June 2005) but it is still relevant and worth a read:

From Think Again: Iran

By Christopher de Bellaigue

: "“Criticizing the Islamic Republic Helps Dissidents Inside Iran”

No. President George W. Bush’s repeated statements of support for the Iranian people do not help normal Iranians. In the summer of 2003, the last time major riots took place in Tehran, Bush’s expression of solidarity with the rioters forced the reform-minded parliament to condemn American interference. At least one student leader, Abdullah Momeni, lamented that Bush’s statement had given the state “an excuse for repression.”

The Clinton administration, on the other hand, quickly grasped that publicly defending beleaguered Iranian reformists simply allowed the clerics to accuse reformers of being American lackeys. President Clinton also learned the cost of criticizing Iran’s unaccountable, clerical elite. During an otherwise quite conciliatory speech in 1999, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright contrasted the elected and unelected branches of Iran’s government, and any potential benefits of her speech were drowned in a barrage of Iranian invective."

Road Trip!

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Who doesn’t love a road trip? The wind, the road, the car, wide open empty spaces? Ya gotta’ love it.

Iranians are mostly afraid of the desert. “You will die there,” they say. They prefer to stay away from Dasht-e Kavir with its infamous sand storms that were in large part responsible for the failed Carter-era hostage rescue attempt. Iranians call them baad gir gerd-baad: whirling wind or tornado. (In the Atlantic Monthly, I read that Iranians call them “haboob,” but a google search seems to reveal that haboob is an Arabic word for the high altitude clouds of sand that are caused by the desert thunderstorms.)

Okay, so the point is, we did not die. We saw wild camels, heard jackals, wandered off into the dunes, stayed at an oasis, ate the best dates in the world, met Moses – or at least a man who looked just like we imagine Moses to look – had great food, and saw some of the villages that dotted the famous silk route.

We also had three cameras on our trip, but still no pics. Tantalizing, isn’t it? Our two digital cameras failed. We are depending on the cheap film camera for our images. Wish us luck.

Great photo of Dasht-e Kavir at NASA

The Desert One Debacle

Definition of Haboob

See a great picture of a haboob
(Well at least it was great when I visited the site)

Nice article about the names of wind: They Call the Wind Maria

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Shamelessly looking for a new job


I would like to relocate my life to the godless west so I am shamelessly asking for work. Does anyone out there have a good job for me? If you are a reader then you know that I have fine powers of observation. Oh yes.

I would love to stay connected to Iran. That is my first choice. My second choice is well-known by my friends and family, and they are already helping me out with that.

Email if you know of anything: responses AT gmail.com.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Wedding Bells

The long post I promised... I will post pictures sometime soon...

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Trip made just before Ramadan

"Where are your fellow travelers from?" the police officer asks Keivan as we are about to board the train.

"The Global Arrogance," Keivan answers. The police officer laughs, stamps our tickets and sends the three of us through the gates where we hurry to meet the overnight train.

The train leaves the station exactly on time. A couple of minutes after departure, a porter comes by with clean sheets. We fold the seats down and make our beds. "This is great," our British friend says. "I just love the train. It's so comfortable, so great to sleep in."

"The cabins were larger when I was a kid," Keivan comments. It's his first train trip in Iran in more than 25 years.

"No, you were smaller. Trust me."

At 5 the train stops and we are woken up by the call to prayer booming in over PA system.

"They never let you forget where you are," our friend says sleepily.

We pull into the train station and take a cab into the city where we are meeting friends of friends who will take us out to a Nomad encampment some 2 ½ hours outside Esfahan.

We make our way through highways, small towns, dirt roads, gravel roads, and tarred roads and, after a spot of car trouble, head towards our destination where there is one teenage boy and some sheep.

"They're at the wedding," he tells us. "They'll be back in a couple of hours."

There are weddings everywhere in the encampments. We passed one on the way here and now our hosts are at another. We manage to get ourselves invited and are quickly surrounded by huge groups of young and old, women and men, boys and girls, all curious about the two foreigners in their midst. "George Bush is very, very dangerous," a teenage boy says to me.

"Aren't you afraid of me?" I ask jokingly.

"Afraid of you… No!" they laugh. "You are afraid of us!"

"Terrorist," says a boy pointing at his own chest. The others laugh. They know we think of them as terrorists.

"Take off your scarf," an older man tells me. "There are no religious police here. We do not care. You should feel free. We are free here."

"Did you know that Qom has a huge Bridgestone tire factory?" one of the men asks me.


He answers by circling his hand above his head in the shape of a turban. I am so gullible.

"Take off your scarf," another man says to me.

"Really it's okay," the man who brought us here tells me.

I refuse, but everyone assures me that it is fine. They do so often and with sincerity.

"Our scarves are for decoration," a woman tells me. "It is fine to take your scarf off here."

The women wear flowered headbands and transparent black lace scarves. Their long braids come out the back. Most have two long side curls framing their faces – a bit like Chassidic boys.

"Have you ever heard of BlackENdeker?" a man asks me. It takes me awhile to realize that he means Black and Decker.

"Is America better or Iran better?"

"Do you have any children?"

"How old are you when you marry?"

"Do you think that our women are beautiful?"

"We had many American teachers here before the revolution. There was Mr. Harmon and Mr. Ryder and many others." Among the over 40 crowd there are some who do speak pretty good English.

My friend and I are ushered to one of the many women's tents. Keivan and the two men who brought us here are guided to the men's area. The women's tent is crowded with women and children and a fair sampling of young men who are here to flirt.

The children tell me that my Persian is bad. The women tell me that it is good. It's my accent that is bad, they explain.

Every once in awhile, a man comes up to the tent and says something in a gruff voice (Speaking a Turkish dialect, so I do not understand). The women then make fun of him and he laughs. I am not sure what this whole play is.

"It's time to go get the bride," I am told after a lunch of koubideh and rice with zereshk. Yum. You could taste the life in the kebab. (Sorry to my vegetarian readers…) I am sure our sheep was alive the day before.

"You need to go meet the bride," the family of the groom assures me. They usher us off towards the waiting cars.

Keivan, Megan, and I hop onto the back of a pickup truck. The women inside offer to get out, but we insist on our right to speed through the desert on the pack of a pick-up. Wouldn't you?

We are not alone. Another couple joins us. "We had an American living with us 35 years ago," the man tells us. "Louis Beck."

"Louise Beck?"

"Yes. Louise."

(A later google search reveals her real name: Lois Beck.)

"She was here for four years."

Megan turns to me, "I would love to do that."

"Me too," I respond. "She must be an anthropologist."

"We are 2000 years behind you," the man says. "But you have moved ahead too quickly. Your life is like a prison to us. What can compare with our stars? Our sky?"

We arrived at the tent of the bride who had just spent hours having hair removed. After spending the past few hours having her hair painfully remover, her eyebrows were trim and elegant. She was in a white gown and surrounded by women and girls.

"Dance!" The women command me.

"There's no music."

"Don't worry. We'll clap."

I dance. Megan is too shy to dance. Instead she laughs at my missteps. So do the other women.

We go outside the tent to join the circles of dancing people. They give me a couple of scarves to swing over my shoulders and make fun of my inability to pick up the steps. What can I say… It took me 14 years to learn the hora. I'm that bad, and I don't care.

Never pass up the opportunity to dance. As my great Aunt Rose always said, there are plenty of opportunities to mourn.

The Blanket

We take a break from the wedding to go pick up Megan's blanket. She is exchanging a digital radio for a heavy wool blanket. We sit with the family.

"Where are our pictures?" The older woman demands of our guide: Ahmad.

"I'll make you a copy of the CD and bring it to you next week."

"You won't bring it," the woman says to him. "Give us the CD, and we will make a copy and give it to you."

"I see Khosro every week. I will give him the CD. I promise."

I ask permission to take pictures. "Only if you give us copies," the woman tells me.

"Absolutely," I agree.

"Do you have farming where you are from?" the man of the family asks me.

"A lot. My parents live in one of the biggest farming communities in the world."

"Are there sheep."


"What kind?"

"They are not like yours. They are white with curly hair."

"Do they have pink faces like cows?"

"Kind of."

"Oh. You have Israeli sheep."

"They are similar to the sheep in Israel. That's true."

"Israeli sheep are too wild for us. They are difficult to care for."

"That's what my friend's father tells me," I answer. "He had thousands and thousands of sheep. He said they only liked him" I want to say that they were too emperamental, but I don't have the Persian word for temperamental.

The radio and the blanket switch hands.

"Don't trade that radio away," our young guide Hamid says. "Sell it to me, if you want to get rid of it."

Hamid wanders around the area with the radio until he finds a spot that gives him good reception.

"Don't worry. I am keeping this radio."

We take some pictures, say our goodbyes, and head back to Esfahan."

Time off

i'll be out of internet range for the next week, so check back then. Until then, I'll leave you with a really long post to read. You can read it a couple of lines a day until i am back in civilization.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Internal Sanctions

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“Guess what Kaveh told me,” I say to Keivan.


“He said that out of 140 countries, Iran ranks 133rd in foreign investment.”

“Wow. 140th must be North Korea,” Keivan responds.

Aside: I cannot find a link to this, so maybe it is not true. According to the Heritage Foundation, Iran does rank 156th out of 157 countries on economic freedom.

On our way home, Keivan mentions this to the taxi driver who laughs and says, “Isn’t that just great?”

“Why does Iran even need sanctions?” I say. “They create their own. There is not need for outside help.”

“I hear that even the Chinese are having a hard time making a profit here,” Keivan says.

“Iranians think that they are doing foreign companies a favor by letting them do business in Iran and then they just bleed you dry. No foreign company can survive here.”

“They are wolves,” Keivan says.

To illustrate our point, we have an acquaintance who has been working on a 3-month project for the past three years. “Every time I come back to Iran I think that I will finish the project in these three months. But it never gets done. I don’t know what happens.”

Every few months, he reports, a new Iranian contractor appears onsite. They freely tell him that they greased a few palms to get the contract and then proceed to blackmail his mother company for a bigger monthly payout. “You can’t keep your contract without a local partner,” they tell the foreign project managers. Suddenly they disappear: just as suddenly as they showed up.

So you see, Iran has its own very effective sanctions regime.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Banking and other scandals

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All of our taxi talk has been about the Parsian Bank scandal, which is confusing to me. “Explain it to me,” I ask Keivan.

“The problem isn’t your Persian,” he tells me. “It’s that no one understands what is going on.”

“Is that what Ahmadinejad was talking about the other day? What was it something like 1,750 billion in questionable loans?” Our driver asks.

“Or was it 175 billion? I don’t know. Ahmadinejad is giving the director 15 days to pay the money back, which gives him just enough time to get a visa and buy a ticket.”

This gives me an opportunity to ask about interest rates in Iran since one of my readers has asked me if I can tell him more about this.

“What’s the interest rate now?” I ask.

“17%, 18%,” the driver answers.

“Isn’t interest haram?”

“Riba is haram,” the driver answers. (“Riba” may mean interest in Arabic or it may mean usury; that’s the whole crux of the issue) “So they bullsh*tted* us and changed the name.”

[*thanks to my Iranian commentors, I understood the driver when he said: “gool mizarand”]

“Does that mean I can call wine grape juice and legally drink it?”

“That’s a good one,” Keivan says.

“It’s the Iranian way,” the driver says. “A man looks up and sees his friend climbing a tree. ‘What are you doing up in the tree?’ he asks. ‘I climbed the tree to eat some mulberries.’ ‘But that’s an elm tree,’ the man says. ‘That’s okay. The mulberries are in my pocket.’”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Khomeini's Letter

Interesting post on the recently revealed letter from Khomeini:

From Angus McDowall:

"Khomeini quoted Revolutionary Guard estimates that the war could not be won for at least five years, and only then if Iran had the following equipment:

'350 infantry brigades, 2,500 tanks, 300 fighter planes and 300 helicopters as well as the ability to make a substantial number of laser and atomic weapons which will be the necessity of the war at that time. The strength of the IRGC must be increased seven times and the Military by two-and-half times.'

But before anybody gets carried away, a word of caution. Khomeini at no point in the document suggests that he supported getting the bomb or that it would be religiously acceptable. All his known public utterances on the subject maintained that nuclear (as well as chemical and biological) weapons are haram (a position that has been carefully maintained by all other senior Iranian officials and clerics)."

Taxi Talk

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“Your Persian is so good. Where are you from?” The young man sitting behind me says. All I have said is “Straight” which is what you say when you want to get a shared taxi that is also going straight.

“America,” I answer.

Another guy gets in the car. Now there are four of us passengers. Three men and me. The youngest one has got big bushy sideburns and has a briefcase in his lap. He looks like he is heading to University. The other two are skinny, traditional looking men. One is wearing a knit cap. The other is angry looking.

“What do you think of Iran?”

“Sometimes it’s good,” I answer.

“Sometimes?” The young man replies. “What do you like?”

“She likes Iranians because we are hospitable and warm,” the driver says. “She likes our nature and our food.”

“Exactly,” I say. “Your answer is better than mine. It’s good to be an American here. Iranians love Americans.” They laugh.
“We love all foreigners,” the driver adds.

“Do Americans love Iranians?”


“They think we are terrorists, right?”

“They don’t know who you are,” I answer. “They don’t know the difference between Iran and Iraq. There are a lot of Iranians living in America, so maybe they will learn.”

“We are not Arabs. Arabs have no culture.” [Aside: Iranians tell me that when they travel to Arab countries, they are greeted with such respect. “They love Ahmadinejad there,” an Iranian who had recently returned from Jordan told me. “We want to hit him over the head; they kiss his picture. But it’s good for us when we travel.”]

“Americans think we are Arabs,” the driver says. “We are not Arabs.”

“Our passport used to be as good as an American’s.”

“The revolution turned us into a third world country,” the angry looking man says.

“In the time of the Shah we were progressing,” the man with the knit cap says. “Now every day we go backwards.”

“We have such a long history,” the young man says. “It goes back more than 15,000 years. America has no history, but you have about 700 0r 800 books of American history. What do they write about?”

At My Destination...

At my destination, I tell my Iranian friend about the conversation. “Do you think they really meant those things about the Shah and moving backwards?”

“I don’t know. Iranians say what they think you want to hear. You have to have several deep conversations before you know what people think.”

“In the Western Press, they are writing that Ahmadinejad is unpopular here. Do you think he is unpopular?”

“No,” she answers. “I think he is still popular. I think that now Iranians are confused. They don’t know what they feel. When the election was between Hashemi and Ahmadinejad, people voted for Ahmadinejad because they did not like Hashemi. They did not know Ahmadinejad. We Iranians do not like to think much before we make decisions. We just decide quickly.”

“I think Iranians have become very slow at decisions.”

“We are floating now. We think God will save us or the USA will save us. We do not like the decisions that we have made.”


Sampling of articles stating AN is unpopular here:

When Not Seeing is Believing

An Unpopular Leader

Diplomats Meet to Test Resolve After Iran Defies UN

Separation of Church & State

This link to an article from Amnesty Int'l on Payvand has more details including info on how to take action.
Iran: At least 40 followers of Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi arrested: "Iran: At least 40 followers of Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi arrested

Source: Amnesty International

At least 41 followers of Shia cleric Ayatollah Sayed Hossein Kazemeyni Boroujerdi were reportedly arrested in the courtyard of his house in Tehran during the morning of 28 September. They are thought to have been taken to Section 209 of Evin Prison in Tehran, which is run by the Ministry of Intelligence. One was reportedly later released. There are fears that the Ayatollah may be at risk of imminent arrest.

On 30 June 2006 the Ayatollah conducted a large religious ceremony at the Shahid Keshvari stadium in Tehran. On 30 July, the security forces reportedly arrested several of his family and followers at their homes. The security forces also reportedly tried to arrest the Ayatollah himself, but were prevented from doing so by his followers."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taxi Talk

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“Oh, so you are American?” We have ridden with this driver perhaps 20 times. I guess I never mentioned Chicago or New York before today…

“You didn’t know?”

“I knew you were a foreigner, but I didn’t know you were American. Americans are great. I thought you were British. The British are war mongers.”

“No, they have changed. They are good people.”

“As a people they are good, but their government is always after war. Your government is not so good right now either. Are Americans happy with it?”

“No, they are not. They are unhappy with Bush and unhappy with the war. Sometimes I think that we Americans would do it all again though. We can be so, I don’t want to say stupid, but stupid.” I don’t know the word for gullible in Persian, and I don’t want to use the Persian for “simple” which also means honest.

“I don’t know what we want war for? Why should we have war with Israel or America or Iraq? There is no reason at all. Why shouldn’t we just be friends? War, what do we need it for?”

“Sometimes we use war for food, or oil, or water. You know that you have some of the best drinking water in the region. No other country in the region has as much drinking water as Iran. Forget oil. The next wars will be for water.”

“Why can’t we just settle these issues in a friendly way? We always use war instead. Didn’t God give us the water? Didn’t God give us the trees? Did God say that Iranian resources are only for Iranians? What kind of religion would that be? God gave these trees to the world, not to Iranians.”