Thursday, September 18, 2008

1. A couple of friends invited me to go to an Iranian mosque for Iftar tonight, but I declined. Since I'm not fasting, I felt like I'd be a hypocrite if I went. I've enjoyed and even hosted Iftars even though I don't fast, but going into a mosque somehow takes it to a diffierent level. Besides, I had some work I needed to finish up.

But I happened to finish my work five minutes after I was supposed to have been picked up to go to the mosque, and my stomach started to growl at the thought of all the delicious Iranian food that I would be missing.

And that is when it hit me: hypocrites rarely go hungry.

2. Speaking of hypocrites, do you all remember when Ahmandinejad's VP, Esfandyar Rahim Mashaee, said that "Today Iran is the friend of the people of the United States and Israel and no nation in the world is our enemy." Despite the furor his comments caused inside Iran among hardliners who vociferously called for his resignation, Ahmadienjad has resisted and today he again defended his embattered VP, going so far as to say that "Mashahee's views represent the administration's views."

So, where are the ogres who have been milking a mistranslated and out of context phrase to scaremonger the world about Iran wanting to "wipe Israel off the map"?

Their silence, of course, is not surprising. The hypocrites whose visa status or jobs at the Washington Institute or Voice of America depends on building a monstrous image of Iran have reason to fear any reconcilations among, well, just about anybody.

3. Today, a British friend asked for my thoughts on a piece that claimed, among other things, that "an Obama victory would bolster reformists in Iran."

What I told him was that I am no fan of these so-called reformists, and that I find them very much similar to the US Democratic party: no principles and no spine.

Moreover, I don't see that Obama would be all that much better for Iran; his rhetoric may be less scary, but when it comes to action, I very much doubt he will take the US in a productive direction vis-a-vis Iran: just look at his foreign policy advisors and the type of lobbyists he prostrates himself before.

4. I find it somehow odd that Oscar Wilde's only great-granchild is a computer programmer, at least that is what wiki says. More importantly, why did it take me so long to discover his writings? I mean I always knew about him, particularly in relation to dandyism and all of that, but to actually read his work, it was long overdue.

5. My friend Sima writes lots of great emails when she has looming writing deadlines; I write blogs, and I'll leave it up to you decide if they are any good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

مار در باغ

چند ماه پیش هنگام پیاده روی در پارک زیبای «مانوا فالز» از کناریک زوج جوان و دو دوستشان رد شدیم که به نظر میامد توریست و از اهالی آسیای شرقی بودند . همه دم پایی پوشیده بودند و من و رائد به هم گفتیم که عجب جراتی دارند که با دم پایی دارند از کوه لیز باران خورده بالا می روند. ما که کفش های مناسب به پا داشتیم و از نی خیزران برای خود عصا هم درست کرده بودیم زود از آنها جلو زدیم و رسیدیم به آبشار بالای کوه . بعد از کمی استراحت تصمیم گرفتیم که دیگر بالاتر از جایی که بودیم نرویم و برگشتیم به سمت پایین. چندی نرفته بودیم که دوباره بر خوردیم به گروه توریست های آسیایی. سه دختر گروه از شیب کوه به دره نگاه میکردند و هیجان زده به زبانشان صحبت میکردند. من ذوق کردم که شاید آنها ببری یا خرسی یا همچین چیزی دیده باشند و فوری پرسیدم « آیا در دره حیوانی پیدا کردید؟» و رفتم کنارشان ایستادم تا ببینم دارند به چه نگاه می کنند.

متاسفانه حیوان شگفت انگیزی در کار نبود. دوست آنها، تنها پسر گروه، لیز خورده بود و ته دره پرت شده بود. به دوست دخترش گفتیم که به اورژانس- همین 911 معروف- زنگ بزند و درخواست کمک فوری بکند.

آن چه بعد گذشت مثل یک طنز تلخ بود:

دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده (که به سختی انگلیسی صحبت می کند): از من آدرس می خواد.
رائد: بهش بگو ما در مانوا فالز هستیم.
دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده: میگه آدرس دقیق می خواد.
من (عصبانی): یعنی چی آدرس دقیق؟ بگو وسط جنگل.
رائد: بگو در مانوا فالز هستیم، یک سوم راه مونده به آبشار.

دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده: می پرسه حال دوستم چطوره؟
من ( دوباره عصبانی): یعنی چی حالش چطوره؟ از 100 متر پرت شده ته دره. انتظار داره چه حالی داشته باشه؟ چرا یارو داره وقت تلف می کنه؟ ما زنگ زدیم که اینا بیان ببینند که چه بلای سره این بد بخت آمده.

دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده سرش را به سوی دره دراز می کند و چند سوال می کند. صدای خفیفی از پایین پاسخ می دهد.

دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده کمی بیشتر با مرد پشت خط صحبت می کند. ما سعی می کنیم که پسر پرتاب شده را از بالا ببینیم و دلداریش بدهیم. پسر اصلا انگلیسی بلد نیست و دو دختر دیگر برای ما ترجمه می کنند. اول متوجه نمی شویم که دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده دیگر تلفن را قطع کرده است .

من: خب کی می رسن؟
دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده: میگه نمیان.
من و رائد: چی؟!؟ چرا؟
دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده: میگه چون اون جاییش نشکسته و داره با ما صحبت می کنه لزومی نیست که بیان.
رائد: یعنی اگر ما پنج دقیقه دیگه زنگ بزنیم و بگیم که دیگه صداش نمیاد اون وقت پا می شن میان؟ می خوان
مطمئن بشن طرف مرده بعد بیان؟
من (دوباره عصبانی):این اورژانسشون برا مرده هاس یا زنده ها؟
دوست دختر پسر پرتاب شده: گفت اگه جاییش نشکسته می تونه از کنار کوه بیاد بالا.
من ( خیلی عصبانی): آخه در حالت عادی کسی نمی تونه از کنار این کوه گلی بیاد بالا چه برسه به کسی که پنج دقیقه پیش پرت شده به ته دره. تازه از کجا معلومه که سرش ضربه نخورده باشه؟ شاید حرکت براش خطرناک باشه. شاید هم یجاش شکسته اما چون شکه شده حالیش نیست.
رائد: خب چاره ای نداریم. باید خودمون یه جوری کمکش کنیم.

و بالاخره خودمان هم کمکش کردیم با هزار زحمت. از بالا او را هدایت کردیم تا یواش یواش تو دره راه برود تا برسد به جایی که بتواند از سخره با درختی بالا برود. از چند جا بالا رفت و موفق نشد. لیز می خورد به پایین و ما هر دفعه نفس در سینه نگر می داشتیم که نکند این دفعه حسابش رسیده باشد. آخر سر به جایی رسید که توانست تا نصف کوه بالا بیاید. دیگر از آن بیشتر نمی توانست بالاتر بیاید ولی حداقل دوباره پرت نشد. رائد توانست به زور او را با یک دست بکشد بالا. همه دست به دست هم دادیم که نکند رائد هم پرت شود. ولی با این حال رائد کلی زخمی شد. بیچاره پسر پرتاب شده هم سر تا پا گلی بود و در هوای گرم شرجی می لرزید.

این یکی از آن تجربه ها است که همیشه با ما خواهد ماند. نه سرویس 911 و نه هیچ یک از آمریکای های سفیدی که ازکنار ما رد شدند کمکی به ما نکردند. فقط یک پسر جوان همان اول نگاهی و نصیحتی کرد و بعد با دوست دخترش رفتند به طرف آبشار.

چرا من این جریان را حالا می نویسم؟ چون دیروز در وبلاگ نویسنده محترمی که خود کمتر از دو سال است که به آمریکا آمده است این را خواندم:

دیروز زنگ زدم ایران. خواهرم گفت: «توی خانه‌امان چهار تا مار پیدا شده که با بدبختی آنها را کشته‌ایم.»
گفتم: «به آتش‌نشانی زنگ نزدید؟»
گفت: «چرا اما آنها گفتند:چون مارها را کشته‌اید دیگر نیازی نیست که ما بیائیم.»
پسرم گفت: «واقعاً آتش‌نشانی نرفته...»
بابک گفت: «این‌جا هم که می‌آيند پول می‌گیرند. آنجا به فکر جیب آدم‌ها هستند.»
پسرم گفت: «بابا اینجا به فکر جان آدم‌ها هستند...» پسرم اشاره می‌کرد به مارهايی که در خانه خاله‌اش در ساکرمنتو پیدا شده بود و بعد از چهار دقیقه آتش‌نشانی آمده بود و باغ و خانه را برای پیداکردن مارهای دیگر زیر و رو کرده بود...

با توجه به ماجرایی که برایتان تعریف کردم از این جمله پسر خانم نویسنده که ایشان هم با تکرارش تایید می کنند هم خنده ام گرفت و هم سخت عصبی شدم: ««بابا اینجا به فکر جان آدم‌ها هستند..»

شاید بگویید اتفاقی که برای ما در مانوا فالز افتاد استثنایی بود( که می دانم نیست). ولی می خواهم بدانم که آیا خانم نویسنده محترم و پسرشان خبر دارند که سرعت رسیدن و یا اینکه پلیس یا آتش نشانی «اینجا» اصلا تشریف میارند بستگی به مقصد دارد؟ برای نمونه این را ملاحظه کنید. آیا خانم نویسنده محترم و پسرشان می دانند که در«اینجا» بعضی از بیمارستان های عمومی به جای درمان مریض های بی خا نمان آنها را با آمبولانس به پس کوچه ها می برند و ول می کنند؟ این کار آنقدر شایع است که حتی در ویکیپیدیا صفحه اختصاصی خود را دارد.

جسارتا به خانم نویسنده محترم و پسرشان پیشنهاد می کنم که کمی بیشتر با جامعه ای که در آن زندگی می کنند آشنا بشوند و کمتر با ساختن تصویری غیرواقعی دل آنهایی را که «آنجا» هستند را به حسرت «اینجا» بسوزانند.

البته شاید بد نباشد که آن آتش‌نشانی را که در طی چهار دقیقه خود را به خانه خاله رساند را بفرستید به ناحیه وانشگتن؛ یعنی ناحیه پایتخت «اینجا» . چند وقتی است که پارک ها پر از مار شده اند ولی علی رغم تماس های متعدد مسئلولین شکایت های مردم را جدی نگرفته اند.

Sharbat

Long before I discovered bobo drinks, there was Sharbat-e Tokhm Sharbati:



Nothing hits the spot more on a hot day!

Directions for making around 4 cups:

1. Get yourself to an Iranian store and buy a pack of Tokhme Sharbati (these are the seeds of a particular kind of basil known sometimes as Mountain Basil in Iran)

2. Measure two heaping spoonfuls of the seeds and soak in enough water to cover the seeds by about 2 inches (you may want to first rinse the seeds in a fine colander in case there is any dust on the seeds; also I tend to way over do it with the seeds, you may want to adjust depending on how much seeds you like in the drink).

3. Let the seeds soak for 2-3 hours at room temperature; when they are ready, the seeds will plump up and look fuzzy, like they have a white furry halo around them.

4. Add four cups of water and sweeten with sugar and rosewater to taste. Chill in the refrigerator four a few hours, and then drink up.

In addition to being delicious, the seeds apparently have health benefits for one's heart and nerves. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

1. Dear US voters, if there is a presidential candidate that you actually respect and want to vote for but fear facing the wrath of annoying people who sing the praises of US democracy but attack anyone who would like to exercise that right by voting for a third party, there is a solution for you: the vote pact.

The details are on the website, but the basic idea goes something like this: two people whose votes may otherwise cancel each other out (i.e. someone voting for McCain and someone voting for Obama) pair up and vote for whatever third party candidate they really want to vote for. This would ensure that the overall balance of votes between Obama and McCain is not impacted and the third party candidates get the votes that more accurately reflect the support they really have. Of course, this means that people from opposite sides of the political spectrum have a conversation together (yikes!), and trust each other enough to keep their side of the pact.

2. How come Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the current president of Estonia, speaks English with an American accent? Anyone know if his Estonian sounds as native of his English?

Fun facts about Mr. Ilves: not only was he himself a journalist with US State media Radio Free Europe, but his brother headed that radio's Prague based Afghanistan Bureau (the brother currently heads the Persian and Pashto world services of the BBC).

3. Is it a coincidence that more than thirty five years after his release, new video showing footage of McCain's release from Vietnamese POW camps is emerging less than 60 days before the US election? Perhaps, but I somehow doubt it. McCain sure was handsome back then, and I bet he would get a lot more votes if he still looked even remotely like the man seen in this video.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Last night, I went to an event where Javier Bardem was supposed to lead a panel discussion and then screen his newly released documentary, The Invisibles. But Bardem was a no show, and the documentary was quite bad. Most folks, including myself, didn't make it through the screening.

I think most people had come to see Bardem anyway, and they were probably itching to leave since the moment they found out he wasn't coming. Many of the women sitting around me got very excited when a tall, shaggy haired guy approached the stage early on, but they were disappointed to see that it was John Prendergast. Prendergast had a good sense of humor about it though. He joked that while he had considered trying to cut his hair to look like Bardem, any such cosmetic attempts on his part would be like "putting lipstick on a pig."

To fill in the celebrity gap, the organizers had managed to invite the beautiful and likable Robin Wright Penn, but lovely as she is, she is just not as cool as, you know, Javier Bardem.

Anyway, the event was all about typical "left" interventionism. While the right-wingers have gatherings where they talk about how to intervene in other countries by bombing, proselytizing, and what ever else it is that they do, the folks ostensibly on the left of that spectrum get together to talk about how they can stick their nose in other people's business by sending in their (often state-connected) NGOs and various other components of their "soft power" machinery.

During the question and answer period, one guy politely intervened in the love-fest of how "we" must act to lobby the US government to fix the problems in Congo to ask what the panel made of the fact that the US has channeled millions and millions of dollars to fund six different sides in the Congo.

The only person to respond-- if you can even call it a response since was a total evasion of the main point-- was Prendergast, who said: "Well, that just goes to show you how much influence the US can have."

Say what?

One of the panelists, whose name I can't recall since he was also late addition and his name doesn't appear on the program, is an American author who has written about the situation in Congo, particularly about the rape as a tactic of war, said at one point that the solution to Congo's ills would come when all those who had entered the country from elsewhere went back to where they came from: if left alone, the fighting would stop and the Congolese could heal their own wounds.

His point was clear, made perfect sense, and should have been taken to heart by the rest of the panel and the attendees. But this type of audience, which always takes itself as an exception, certainly didn't get it; the sense of entitlement to interfere in the business of the world over is just too deep-seated.

And finally, I think the sudden boom of interest in Africa related affairs is clearly rooted in broader political concerns that have nothing to do with the sufferings of the people Africa whatsoever. It will take many more posts to further explore this, but what is issue can for the time being be summed up in one single word: China.

I hope people expose these links, rather than falling for yet another "humanitarian" cover for expanding the powers that be.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A little immature humor doesn't hurt anyone, does it? Good, because I've been dying to poke fun at something for a few days, but I was restraining myself to be nice.

There is a Persian language blog that has the English title "Iranian USA." I'm not exactly sure what the author means by this, perhaps he means that he is an Iranian in the USA, or a USA that is becoming Iranian. Who can tell from this construction? But the best part is the URL of the blog which is Iranianus.blogspot.com. Now, I'm sure the guy meant it to be read as Iranian US, but my friends, it is clear to me that the URL also reads Irani Anus.

Normally, I would just feel sorry for the person who made this mistake and perhaps have a quite little laugh. But then I took a closer look at the blog and thought that there was some poetic justice at play, and perhaps we are indeed dealing here with an Irani Anus.

Look, for example, at the post where he gleefully points out a tear in Ahmadinejad's jacket, while gratuitously and awkwardly photo-shopping a photo of a monkey nearby.

On the day when Evo Morales--the first indigenous president of gas-rich Bolivia--meets with the President of oil rich Iran, I did not see on a single analysis about the symbolic or material importance of the meeting on any diaspora or opposition sites. Different zoom-ins on the tear from various angles, on the other hand, there were plenty of those.

One day, maybe the self-designated Iranian elites and intellectuals will finally stop their classist jibes at Ahmadinejad, and maybe then they will understand that the very features they deride--like Ahamdinejad's scruffy look and worn out clothes- are what endear him to his sizeable domestic and international supporters.

But it looks like these folks would like to keep their head where the sun don't shine (or name themselves after such places), and the more they stay in the dark and entertain themselves with silly jokes about Ahmadinejad, the higher the chances of another Ahmadinejad landslide in June 2009.