Chef groupie

Try and visualise a hot-tempered Chef asking you to go ‘undercover’ to review his own food!

On occasion, I’m sometimes asked by certain Chefs or my industry peers to review a restaurant, or act as a Mystery Customer and review a restaurant for it’s food and service etc. Try and visualise a hot-tempered Chef asking you to go ‘undercover’ to review his own food! Surely it’s a contradiction in terms, but foolishly, I seem to always accept! I find the challenge lies in phrasing the review carefully, so not to infuriate the Chef, but get my point across. (I feel another skill listing coming on for my Resume... “Shabnam the Diplomat”) And I didn’t even have to study politics to get it!>>>



Female rap song on youth and oppression

08-Aug-2007 (one comment)


What matters is her work

Who cares what a writer thinks about this or that issue?

This is the second time in as many months that someone has written a piece attacking poor Parsipur and defending Mahshid Amirshahi on the grounds of the former's personal opinions on certain issues. Grow up, people. And this nonsense is coming from individuals obviously living abroad. Who cares what a writer thinks about this or that issue, what matters is her work. If we were to disqualify writers and filmmakers and poets based on their politics or positions on social issues then T.S. Elliot or Ezra Pound should never be read.>>>


Coming to getcha

Tribute to Kiosk



Time traveler’s nightmare

How long would it be before the mob would dare to pull down the statue of Ataturk?

Sometimes a loss is best left alone because looking back may entail a whole new defeat we can no longer handle. That’s how I felt when I visited Turkey, a land with an uncanny resemblance to Iran of forty years ago>>>


Juvie court

I realize I am uncomfortable there

Today is my first time appearing at Juvenile Court. Juvenile Court or "Juvie", as some in-crowd criminal defense attorneys call it, is different than a regular courtroom. This one especially is a trip... it's next to a golf course and looks like an elementary school>>>


Death with a smile

This summer season’s nationwide public execution tour has a strange new twist to them

A strange trend is unfolding in the Islamic Republic of Iran. True, it would have to be incredibly strange phenomena to be considered as strange in the context of the Allah-land. And yet there it is in color photographs, even in professionally produced videos alongside the grainy mobile phone-video variety from different parts of the country... The advent of a new uniformed “Morality Corp” tasked to oversee populace’s adherence to heavenly prescribed mode of conduct which includes dress code barely worth’s the mention. It is none of those or a laptop full of other listed oddities that are modus operandi for the Islamic Sultanate.>>>


Post-Sept-11 neo-con mentality

It is not the Muslim who is blind from hatred

To narrow down all Muslims as sheep, and implying that all Muslims do is concern themselves with hatred of Jews and Baha'is, and which hand to use to wash themselves is not only ridiculous, but if it was about Jews it would be slammed down as downright anti-Semitic. I, a practicing Muslim, have both Jewish and Baha'i friends, and even if the myth was true about concerning myself of which hand to use to wash myself (which is not a concern of a Muslim), I would say that it is ridiculous to think that somehow any of this would blind site me of the realities around me.>>>


Sheiky baby, I love you

Howard Stern interview with the Iron Shikh, the "Shah's bodyguard"



Buying cucumbers

Finally I found the fruit and vegetable section

The day I arrived in Paris from Iran, my older sister sent me to buy cucumbers. She told me that I needed to learn to be independent and mature. I was 23 years old. I had never before bought cucumbers. In Iran, I never shopped in grocery stores. Being the youngest daughter still living at home, I was spoiled. I never cleaned my room. I never helped my mother with any chores. I never bought anything for my father. My father was a retired mathematics teacher. He wasn't old in years , but the day he learned he had to retire, a few months after the Revolution, he suddenly became old. He stayed at home and grew bored. I was doing the same thing at that time--nothing! I was accepted to attend the university, but universities were closed.>>>


Adultery vs. savagery

Let's learn from Europe's mistakes

Stoning is a form of human rights violation, it is torture. Even based on Iran's Islamic Penal Code, it should happen in very special circumstances, almost close to none. Jafar Kiani who was stoned to death, well, not in a progressive manner, did not have a fair trial. None of the Penal Code conditions for stoning applied to him. Can you imagine for a second, how it is to be killed that way? Can you imagine the lives of the 2 men and 9 women who are now in prison, nightmaring their life, waiting to be stoned one day?>>>


Reality in contradiction

Photo essay: Life in Iran

The nineties were an era of the modern melodrama in Iranian life. Popular concerns included modernity, evolution in family values, and a high order distinction between the private and public selves. The desire to conform to and shadow the rest of the world called for an extreme need to adapt and fast-forward an organic process of familiarization.>>>


Little Mother of Abadan

I met Fati in my recent trip to Khozestan, and this is a report of my visit with this adventurous girl

05-Aug-2007 (one comment)
Fati is the mother of orphaned beggars of Abadan, and unfortunately Abadan has lots of beggars many of whom are orphans. Passing through any street and back alley you will see hands that are extended towards you and mouths that are glued to your hands. “Fati” the 14-year old girl, who herself has two needy hands, has gathered many of the needy, abandoned, and homeless kids around herself and in effect has formed a small organization of beggars. This organization does not train beggars but rather helps the homeless children, and at times with a bite of food and a pair of shoes saves a life.>>>


More power

Single and loving it!

As a 39 year old Latina I travel in two worlds, Hispanic and American culture. I speak English and Spanish fluently, my French could use a lot of help. I have decided to learn Farsi and Arabic. I am going to the university and hope to finally graduate this summer. I have made so many great friends from many cultures. Moving from a small city in Texas to a Metropolitan city was the best decision of my life. It was such a relief to leave the narrow minded town I lived in for 16 years. I am amazed at so many of the similarities between the traditional Iranian culture and that of the Hispanic traditional culture. Yes, there does exist a double standard in dating for the different genders>>>


Nothing, nada, zilch

Giving credit to the Islamic Republic

Iran has a GDP of less than $2000, $1200 of which is from oil. For the past 30 years, the Islamic bastards did not do a damn thing to build any type of an industrial or service base. Nothing, nada, zilch. South Koreans or Japanese, without a liter of oil or a cubic meter of natural gas built world class industries and became industrial power house in 30 years. What did the Islamic Republic or Iran do? Japan is #1 in auto and consumer goods industry. Korea is #1 in semiconductors & ship building and fast approaching #1 in electronic consumer goods. Korea's bioengineering industry is ahead of the U.S.and France.>>>


Reza Shah vs. Ataturk

The former did not preside over the total alienation of his country

Yes, Reza Shah did confiscate privately owned land but he did not take it from the poor peasants whose earnings were plundered by their powerful and greedy landlords who had, in turn, obtained the same land by force and without giving a fare share to its native farmers. He took the land off the hands of the feudal landlords who had mushroomed around the country and were seeking to disintegrate it for the benefits of their foreign masters. And no, Reza Shah, unlike his friend and ally Ataturk, did not preside over the total alienation of his country's literary heritage by blindly adopting a foreign script that had no connection with its rich literary past be it poetry or prose. And unlike Ataturk in his days as a member of the fiercely nationalistic Young Turks, Reza Shah had no hands in the ethnic cleansing of a major community.>>>


Hit machine

Interview with legendary music producer Elton Farokh Ahi

As I held the record in my hand that day in Gargantini and turned it around (yes, I’m the type that reads everything written on a record, you should too, you’d already know what I’m getting to here), I noticed something at a glimpse of an eye that I had not thought possible until that day: An Iranian name on the back cover! Oooh, interesting. “Elton” Farokh Ahi. Hmmm. Elton? No wait, there’s another one. Ardeshir Farah. Very interesting. Who IS that? And they’re the main ones, “Elton” Farokh Ahi made the record!>>>


Whisky and coke

The minute the door opened the blasting sound of music nailed my feet to the ground

31-Jul-2007 (one comment)
It was late night in Tehran. I was sitting at my laptop thinking what I could do to entertain myself. Porn would be so out of the question. The lines are probably monitored. Imagining a police showing up at Mamani's door step with photos of Kirs hanging right out -- the thought gave me shivers. I thought of the late night parties we had in Melbourne. I missed getting smashed and rolling in the hallway of my student apartment. There was this time I had thrown a party at my flat and I remember being the best host I could be, however my friends had other interpretations of the night, they were too drunk so they said I was laying on the concrete door step while it was raining and apparently they had tried to pull me over the fence to avoid embarrassment>>>


A house I call Iran

And I'm going back there this week!

I was surprised by the kind smiles I received from my hosts when they opened the door for me. This was hardly what I expected. They welcomed me with such warmth, kissing my cheeks and embracing me as I was lead to explore the dimly lit interior of their home. Richly decorated, it contradicted all that I saw from its exterior. Magnificent carpets of all colors and motifs, murals and frescoes on walls depicting historical scenes and daily life throughout the ages. The painted brown eyes of a turbaned man in one of these paintings stared at me firmly, as if attempting to converse with me about his time. The past was as active as the present in this mythical home. The architects had done a splendid job, as well as its decorators. Supposedly fashionable western elements did not exist here, for the residents stood firm to their beliefs and the flavor of originality in design that they were given from their forefathers.>>>


Mashad’s collage of life

What I saw next in the next to last row of photographs had my stomach churn and a sob escape my mouth

In 2001, while on a business trip, I was invited to the home of a family in Mashad as their new family member. They were a devout Moslem family, who lived in an old traditional house in the older part of Mashad, near Imam Reza’s shrine. The house consisted of a very large living room, with two bedrooms and a kitchen to the side. There was another small living quarter off the backyard. The family of two daughters and three sons had all gathered to welcome us into their home, with the family’s patriarch sitting against pillows against a wall, turning his rosary in his hands, the women walking quickly and efficiently to move the plates and platters and cups and saucers of cookies, fruits, and tea. Other male members of the family were sitting on the floor near the father, and children played in a corner.>>>