Seema (2)

Javad shadowed Seema for months, asking her to marry him repeatedly

29-Dec-2008 (13 comments)
I met Seema at Bellagio on one of my frequent runs to the ATM machine. Being a lousy poker player and not knowing my limit, I spent more time pacing to the ATM machine than at the poker table. One look at me and Seema knew she had a customer (sucker) for life. Now, make no mistake about it, though a high school dropout, Seema had a PhD from the school of hard knocks. In her profession she needed not to be book smart but street smart. Seema hustled the hustlers, cheated the cheaters and swindle the swindlers. She was such savvy negotiator that she could perhaps negotiate the Middle East peace, if she could find the Middle East on a map>>>


Rebel with a pause

“How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?"

27-Dec-2008 (10 comments)
News of playwright Harold Pinter’s death arrived in primetime, Christmas – a religious date, in Britain, for watching telly. You couldn’t escape the news and the news couldn’t escape reporting on Pinter’s final years and his opposition to the war in Iraq, as well as his monumental literary achievements. His stance on the war demanded to be featured in the briefest of TV obituaries. Of course, in the BBC News bulletin I caught, there was no mention of the fact that, in accepting his Nobel prize for literature in 2005, he had called for Tony Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes. That would have been too much given the mince pies, turkey, pigs in blanket and booze viewers will have been digesting>>>


In Praise of Silence

Think before opening your mouth

27-Dec-2008 (6 comments)
There is a long standing tradition of voluntary silence in religious orders the world over. Silence is golden, so goes the saying; it teaches self-discipline and forces the individual to think and reflect. It’s believed that silence stimulates other senses that are often dulled by the ego’s eagerness to shoot its mouth so to speak. There are orders of trappist monks who spend their days singing hymns and reciting prayers and refrain from casual conversation except when given permission by their superiors. There are orders of nuns who having taken a vow of silence communicate mostly in a special sign language. By eliminating the unnecessary, they seek the essential. By looking past the clutter, they search for the “kernel of truth.” >>>


In full bloom

In full bloom

Photo essay: Tehran flower exhibition

by Farzad Zamani
26-Dec-2008 (4 comments)



جهانی شدن ادبیات

گفت‌وگوی گروهی نانام، آیرو، علیرضا زرین، شیما کلباسی، علی نگهبان و سپیده جدیری

22-Dec-2008 (2 comments)
جهاني كردن ادبيات ايران چند سالی‌ست که به یکی از داغ‌ترین بحث‌های جامعه‌ی ادبی‌مان تبدیل شده است. عده‌ای کوتاهیِ مترجمان ایرانی را مهم‌ترین عامل معرفی نشدن آثار ادبی ما به آن سوی مرزها می‌دانند و کسی نیست از آنها بپرسد که آیا ادبیات بقیه‌ی کشورها را هم مترجمان همان کشورها به جهانیان شناسانده‌اند؟ اشتباه نکنید؛ هدف ما از برگزاری این میزگرد، مچ‌گیری از مقصر اصلیِ جهانی نشدنِ ادبیات ایران نیست، بلکه در کنار این بحث که جهانی‌ شدن اصولاً چقدر حائز ارزش و اهمیت است، به بررسی گرایش شاعران و نویسندگان ایرانی به جهانی شدن و به تبع آن، تئوری‌های جهانی در ادبیات و فلسفه و مقایسه‌ی این رویکرد با گرایش‌های شاعران و نویسندگان مهاجر - که در قلب آنچه از نظر بسیاری «جهان» محسوب می‌شود، زندگی می‌کنند - پرداخته‌ایم>>>


Santa is ours

My speech to the Annual Father Christmas Conference

17-Dec-2008 (6 comments)
I have a recurring dream. I fly to the homes of Jews, Muslims, and leave presents for their children. Christians are outraged. In one north London school, Jews and the Muslims who’ve received Xboxes from me are punched and kicked by the parents of other children. “Santa is ours,” they say. “He’s ours, you can’t have him”. Newspapers columnists: "It's multicultural madness when Santa Claus favours the children of lesbian disabled Jews and Muslims instead of the people who invented him.” In the dream I fly to Lapland. It's not my intention to favour non-Christians, it just happens that way. As for the Jews and Muslims, they are forced into a unity under oppression after being spat at on the school run>>>


Portraits of a nation

Portraits of a nation

Photo essay

by Nader Davoodi
10-Dec-2008 (5 comments)



An Affordable Holiday

I’ve told the kids about Santa’s laid off elves and of the North Pole GM shut down

10-Dec-2008 (2 comments)
My bank statement sits on the table, unopened. If there’s any holiday cheer left, it sure won’t be found in there. They say we’re in a recession, but I have no idea who they are or what difference saying it makes. For the past year, I’ve driven less, needed fewer things, rarely ate out and my only vacation involved a weekend at Big Bear. So I’ve known about the so called “recession” long before they detected it and I resent their announcements just as I’m getting ready to spend a bit more. Always a sucker for making the best of the situation, I need to plan, cut a few invisible corners and give this Christmas the needed facelift>>>


The Foghorns at Night

From my bed I have been one of those sailors coming to shore in a new city

09-Dec-2008 (3 comments)
There are nights in San Francisco when I wake up in the middle of the night and hear the foghorns out in the bay, and I have lain in bed and felt the beauty of where I live, listening to the different sounds at their different intervals, and the whole idea of a horn sounding over the land and the sea has been one that has made the night and the city feel like my own. It has sounded like a horn that is watching over everyone sleeping, and those who are awake and coming to rest after crossing an ocean, and listening to it purposefully feels like it gives me a little access to all it sees. I have tried to think about places where a horn sounding at night does not carry any of the beauty of a city, places like Baghdad, where those horns carry an ugliness instead>>>


Keeping balance

Pahlavans like Takhti exemplified the necessity of maintaining balance

08-Dec-2008 (8 comments)
Truthfully, wrestling is not one of my favorite sports, it is a little messy for my taste, and the idea of two semi-naked, sweaty men twisting around each other never appealed to me. To make it worse, I should admit that my technical knowledge of this sport does not go further than some generalities. However, I know its cultural value, its place in Iranian culture, and its relevance to Iranian life. But while reviewing Marcello Di Cintio Poets and Pahlevans, I learned a lot more about this sport, its technique as well as its social and cultural value. The author, a young Canadian poet and a semi-professional wrestler, makes two tripsto Iran to record various local techniques of wrestling. In this quest, he stumbles over a poet’s grave next to almost every wrestling pit, in remote villages of Iran, which functions as a shrine>>>


Pebble Beach – Half a Sandwich

I feel that I am reduced to a drag on that cigarette

04-Dec-2008 (13 comments)
I call his room from the hotel lobby. It wakes him up. A brief silence. He asks me whether I want to go up. Hesitation. I respond that I will wait for him in the lobby. I am not in the least bit offended; surprised a little; flattered somewhat, but interested, I am not. I grab a cup of coffee and the local paper, and settle into one of the plush chairs in the foyer. I pore over the Carmel news with gusto. A local resident has come across a $20 counterfeit bill at Dolores and Ocean which he dutifully turns in to the local authorities. A squirrel has munched his way through the front seat of a car parked at Mission and 7th. A resident on San Antonio finds the tires of her car missing. The culprit turns out to be an ex-boyfriend who has disabled her mode of transportation in exchange for the money she owes him>>>


Got Depression?

“Kids your age who live in Iran. They should be depressed … not you!" I shouted

02-Dec-2008 (22 comments)
My brother called the other day. I was a bit surprised. We don’t talk much. Life has been busy and our relationship has been reduced to quick chitchats, consisting of a few words and not much content. We sometimes go for months without talking. Dealing with kids, wives, demanding jobs, the in-laws, and everything in between, leave us both with no time or energy to keep the communication channels open. He sounded stressed on the phone. “What’s wrong?” I asked him. “Well, you know, shit hit the fan with Kami. We got issues,” My brother said. Kami is my brother’s teenaged son. The kid is a bit strange and very shy. He is one them kids who wear only black and walk around in long trench coats and military boots. He scares me.>>>
Forbidden Love

Another look at "Vis and Ramin"

01-Dec-2008 (one comment)
The Persian romance of Vis and Ramin, which has influenced the European legend of Tristan and Isolde and the Georgian tale of Visramiani, was composed in 1050's by Fakhraddin Asa'd Gorgani in Isfahan, Iran. It is one of the oldest examples of forbidden love in Persian literature in which a man passionately falls in love with his sister-in-law. For this reason, Vis and Ramin has not been welcome by the Persian literati in the past and present. Nezami Ganjavi (1141-1209), who wrote his romance Khosrow and Shirin, more than one century after Vis and Ramin tries to distance himself from Gorgani as follows>>>


Los Olivos – A Day

He is looking at me right now, searching for my response

24-Nov-2008 (3 comments)
How is it that I find myself seated across from him in a romantic setting such as this, on a warm sunny August day, alone and allowed to soak in the moment? It takes a good bit of practice for me to gather my thoughts and release them to the passing breeze. I want to be wholly at this table – it is hard though. I have to chase the stubborn thoughts; which refuse to leave, insisting that they be witness to this. I will to focus on the mere pleasure of a simple fare with a person who happens to have slithered his way into my heart. Who is he? Do we ever know? Well, I have only shared a handful of days with this man and fewer nights even. This time around, I don’t have to ask ‘who am I’ – a much more pertinent milestone. So I settle to enjoy this “familiar stranger”>>>


Green is Great

Green is Great

Photo essay: The Green Festival

by kfravon