Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Prop 8

November 12, 2008

Of course I am outraged at this. That comes as no surprise. But it seems that everyone I know is outraged by its passing, and if not outraged, than at least indifferent. I can’t say that I know anyone who would have voted to pass Prop 8. I don’t even think my Catholic mother would have. And even if I have met the occasional person who is still so backwards in their thinking or so “religious” that they would vote YES, how on earth does it make up over 50% of the voters in California? HOW?! This just doesn’t compute to me.

If you would have voted “YES,” on constitutionally banning gay marriage, please let me know why. You can even e-mail me at tashamort (at) hotmail.com. If you can read or watch the following things and still argue against it, then I am even more curious.

A great, PRO gay marriage blog post. These are some amazing arguments that I had never even considered.

Keith Olbermann’s special comment. His passion is on parallel with what I feel. How can you deny a couple the same rights you enjoy? It’s so unfair that it hurts.

Don’t tell me it leads to worse things. No one in Massachusetts is married to their dog.

Don’t tell me marriage is about God. I know people who married without God. Specifically, my future sister-in-law. They did not marry in a church. They did not use a religious figure as their officiant. In fact, the woman who married them was a good friend who happens to be a lesbian! They did not have any bible readings (I don’t think…). They had readings from books and poems that expressed their love in the truest way. One of their readings was even from the MA Ruling about gay marriage!

And they are married. They are not civil unionized. MARRIED. Should they not be married because they didn’t marry under God? That is not the God that I believe in. Will I have God in my marriage and ceremony? Yes I will, but that will not make me any MORE married than them. And you know what? The fact that they married the way they did, does not in ANY way infringe upon my marriage.

No one wants to force churches to perform gay marriage ceremonies. That’s not the issue. So the fact that religion has entrenched itself in this part of the government is kind of ridiculous. How does the fact that a same sex couple would be married diminish your marriage?! Does it bother you so much that there are states that allow this? Perhaps you should move to Iran, where they don’t have any gay people!

It doesn’t surprise me that there are people out there who harbor these views, generally based on their religion. People who believe homosexuality is wrong, immoral, an abomination. There will always be extreme people in this world. What is absolutely shocking to me is that more than 50% of California voters harbor this particular view.

Why?

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Persian Girls

July 2, 2008

I just finished this book on my lunch break today.

It was heart-breaking and eye-opening.

One of the critic quotes reads, “Nahid Rachlin’s memoir reads like a novel- suspenseful, vivid, heartbreaking.” I definitely agree with those three adjectives. I didn’t want to put it down. I wanted to find out the whole story and to understand what her current perspectives are.

I did find, however, that it seemed autobiographical almost to a fault. There are some details that are glazed over and some time periods that are ignored. I was left wanting to learn even more. Of course, that would have made the book three times as long, I’m sure. The way it is written, and the story she tells, makes me trust her facts and opinions. It doesn’t seem like she made up any details to replace things that she didn’t know or remember. I can respect that very much.

To that effect, the reader is left only with what the author knows. And it’s unfinished in some ways. The final line of the book almost sent tears down my face. Somehow, after everything she went through, she was strong enough to write truthfully about her life.

What was personally interesting to me, was comparing the timeline of events to what I know of my father’s life. Nahid (I feel like she’s my friend after reading this, so we’re on a first-name basis now.) is older than my dad, but as she recalls events, I can try imagine where he was in his life at that time.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, but it seems like they sent my dad and is brother to the US in the nick of time. The Iranian revolution happened in 1979 and it was right around that time that he came to the US. As the revolution continued, travel and communication between the US and Iran was nearly impossible. My dad was in high school during the hostage crisis in 1979-1981. In his first year there (in Adam’s Friendship, WI) he says he was a novelty. He was elected as homecoming king! But then things got very tense. The hostages were held for over a year and between hearing my dad’s stories and reading this book, things were not very good or easy for Iranians in the US at this time.

Another critic quote that I found to be accurate was this, “Hers is one of the voices that must be heard if Iranians and Americans are ever to understand each other.”Oh, this one gets me. Iranians are not bad people. Just as Americans are not bad people. But does each culture have some evil wackjobs? YES!

Her story starts in the 1950s. She talks about Iran oil and how people from other countries worked in refineries and other jobs. Most of them were American or British. The Shah at the time wanted to be modern and Westernized, but this caused a backlash among Iranian citizens. And I can’t really blame them. Americans and British were taking over jobs and money that an Iranian could work and earn. Earlier, Americans and British helped create a government police force that put the Shah into power and helped keep him there. They would execute those who dared speak out against him, and that kept getting worse as they gained more and more power.

In 1979 Khomeini took power and pulled Iran back into it’s religious roots. It seems to me that he got rid of all the good things the Shah did (like women’s rights, more religious freedom) and expanded on the bad (state controlled media, increased police power). No one Nahid talked to in the book was happy. They talked in hushed tones about how the current situation wasn’t what they fought and hoped for.

The government still presses down on people in Iran. They have the so-called “Moral Police.” If a man and woman are walking hand-in-hand, it is well within their rights to stop them and demand to see documents proving they are married, for that is the only way that behavior is allowed. It is my belief and understanding that very few people in Iran want to live like that. Times are changing. In my dad’s pictures from his trip to Iran, there are very few women who dare to wear anything but dark colors outside, and they always observe hejab, or the head scarf to cover their hair. But in the privacy of their own home, it’s another story. The scarf comes off and the bright, modern clothes shine.

I felt intensely connected to this book. The stories she shares are beautiful, although sometimes a little shocking (especially related to women’s rights and marriage). I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone just looking for a summer read, but I think her perspectives and opinions as an Iranian American are interesting, informative, and invaluable. Maybe now, more than ever.

Home Safe

June 9, 2008

After a wild and rainy weekend, my family is safe and sound. My sister’s 21st birthday was awesome and I’ll write about that once I get the pictures. We had a great time.

Yesterday my sisters and I went to Chicago to pick up my dad from O’Hare. He is back from Iran! We all went to Reza’s for dinner and listened to some of his stories. He showed us a video he made from the first part of his trip. It makes me want to go SO BADLY!! It might be a possibility. He and his brothers and his dad are looking into if it would be possible to bring the kids. That would be truly incredible. They also talked about getting that whole side of the family together at a resort in Turkey. I’d like that too, especially since David could come, but the idea of being able to go to Iran is front and center in my mind right now.

The video is long, and probably not THAT interesting if you’re not me, but here it is. It documents the travel to Ardabil (my dad’s birthplace in Northern Iran) to visit his grandmother (that would be my GREAT grandmother who is 90 and is still in reasonable health!). Take a look. If only for my cute and funny family.

 

Birthday Party!

June 6, 2008

My little sister turns 21 this weekend!

We’re having a nice little celebration starting at midnight on Saturday. It’s only two and a half hours until bar time, so she’ll do the crazy Water Street stuff with all her friends another night. It’ll just be close friends and family tomorrow night. We’ll start at Elsa’s and work our way to the cool places on Milwaukee St. I’m so excited!!

On Sunday, after our hangover sleep, me and all my sisters will go to Chicago to pick up my dad from his Iran trip. We’re hoping he’ll take us to dinner in Chicago, maybe Reza’s, but after a vacation in Iran, will he really want more Persian food? Who am I kidding, you can never have enough Persian food.

I hope to have plenty of crazy pictures to post of tomorrow night, especially as David is playing the role of Designated Driver, and I will be boozing it up. In the meantime, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMANTHA!!!!

We Named The Dog Indiana

May 23, 2008

I saw it last night! The new Indiana Jones movie. I had been hearing rumbles of discontent about the movie, so I went in with lowered expectations. And you know? I enjoyed myself. I thought it was a fun movie. There really were some great moments. I was excited and entertained and it made me laugh. But then it also made me laugh AT it. I never want to laugh AT a movie series that I love so very much. Fortunately, it was not as much of a joke as Star Wars Episode One felt like.

I feel like there were some “jokes” and scenes that were inserted because the writer/director/George Lucas thought it would be FUNNY, but didn’t think how it fit with the feel of the movie or how it would be received by audiences. (Ahem, Jar Jar Binks, cough.) The monkeys really did it for me. And the refrigerator.

Oh, and don’t ask me what the plot was, because I lost that halfway through the movie. But I didn’t really care that much, because it was still fun. Mostly. I am more than a little in love with Harrison Ford, and I think he is still super sexy. I am really liking Shia Labeouf more and more. I thought it was great that they brought back Karen Allen and she looks like a REAL woman! Cate Blanchett is always good, but I can’t really hear a Russian-ish accent without thinking of Boris and Natasha from “Rocky and Bulwinkle.”

Would I see it again? Yeah, probably. But it wasn’t quite the thrill I was hoping for. I may have to watch some of the originals this weekend to remind me of how good it used to be.

In other news, my scale said 188.5 this morning!! Incredible! I am so happy, but I’m also nervous. I plan to start myself on Phase Two this weekend. I think this will be harder than Phase One, because it’s going to involve more planning. On Phase Two, I will begin SLOWLY reintroducing healthy carbs into my diet. Slowly, meaning one serving a day. So if I have oatmeal for breakfast, I can’t have a sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner. Also, I’m nervous because my weight loss will slow. The book says you can expect to lose one or two pounds a week on Phase Two. On Phase one, I’m losing around 3 or 4 pounds a week. But as long as I keep seeing another half pound drop every couple of days, I’m hoping I’ll be okay. I decided it’s time to switch phases because I got a great initial loss, and I’m now starting to feel a little bored with the foods I’m allowed to eat. I’m looking forward to adding some foods back, especially fruit.

My dad wrote something nice, though slightly creepy seeming, on my Facebook wall about my weight loss. He talked about watching me walk up some stairs and thinking I looked great, etc. It made me laugh. He’s foreign, what can you do? I also think he was feeling a little shmoopy because he’s leaving the country for two weeks, and that was the last time I’d see him before he left.

He’s leaving for Iran today. I feel butterflies in my stomach. I’m sure everything will be fine. He has his visas in order. But there are so many risks. What if something happens while he’s there? What if he can’t come back? I’m sure he’ll encounter some hassle while he’s travelling, so I hope he packed his bags to be easily searchable! It’s also a little bittersweet, because I wish I was going with him. I want to go to Iran so badly. But all I get to see are pictures. It’s extremely difficult for an American to get a visa for Iran, I guess. Even though I’m the daughter of an Iranian citizen? Apparently. Maybe someday I’ll get to go, but it doesn’t look good any time soon. I wish I could go now, while my grandparents are still alive and healthy. I want to experience their life and culture. Not to mention it’s been a couple years since I’ve seen my grandpa, and much longer for my grandma. But for now, I’ll just wait for pictures of my dad and his brothers having a great time.

Iran Continued

January 8, 2008

 

I found my dad’s pictures of Iran online. He has only been back once in almost 30 years. He and his brother went back in 2006. He stayed for two weeks, I think. I just wanted to share some of his pictures. You can also visit the whole Shutterfly photo album HERE.

I don’t know what relation the woman on the left is (I think she might be my dad’s aunt) but I think the woman in the middle is my great grandmother and the woman on the right is my grandmother, who has come to visit us here many times, although I haven’t seen her in several years.

From the left: My uncle Bahram (who currently lives in Virginia), my father, and my grandfather:

Downtown Ardabil, the city where my dad was born:

The Persian Gulf (it looks especially beautiful to me right now. I would love to be lounging there right now):

Most of Iran is covered in mountains. Can you imagine the skiing?:

In fact, Tehran is completely surrounded by mountains:

Breakfast (Mmm, seeing this makes me hungry. That bread is so good):

Aside from mountains, the bodies of water in and around Iran are plentiful. Here is my dad and grandpa by the Caspian Sea:

War Is Sad

January 8, 2008

I had an interesting e-mail conversation a few weeks ago. After spending all morning on YouTube listening to various Persian songs, I feel the need to repost some parts of my thoughts on Iran. I thank Sierra for asking me about my opinions and what I know about Iran. I don’t really have any “insider” information, and I’m sure that for all the news and articles that I site, someone could find a news article to rebuff it. All I wish is that the leaders of this (and every) country could see the people and the lives and the families that are torn apart by continued conflict throughout the world. In light of all the political debate we are likely to endure for the next 11 months, here is some food for thought…

Let me start by saying that just as all you know is what you see or hear in the news, my information always carries the weight of knowing that I have family over there. 
 
I would agree that Iran, as they stand now, is a threat to America. I’m not sure how big of a threat they are, but I imagine there are other countries that pose more of a threat that we are ignoring (like North Korea). Of course this is just an opinion as I have no way of knowing what is TRULY going on in either government, or our own.
 
My opinions come from my father. He and his family were/are very normal every day citizens of Iran. They work, they are not under persecution, and they do not hate America. However, as I understand the government, it is a very different story. Here is how I see it:
 
The leaders of Iran are OLD. They are not modern, they refuse to change the way they think, and they don’t do a very good job of listening to the general population. They also control the media (as best they can). But their population is pretty young. The last report I read said that about 2/3 of their population is under 35 or so. That is really young. But who is controlling the country? The old radical Muslim people.
 
So why doesn’t this change now? I think it has to do with their culture. Perhaps because Iran has had a tumultuous past and I don’t think many people are eager to shake that up again. But in my fairly uneducated opinion, I don’t think that this regime will continue forever. I think unrest is in the streets of Tehran and it is only a matter of time before something changes.
 
I don’t think the majority of Iranians hate America. I think a majority of the ones that DO hate America feel that way because that is what their government tells them. There are plenty of families like mine- people who sent their children to America or other countries to get a better education or for whatever reason left the country. Certainly they have seen the good side of the USA! Through reading articles, talking to my family, and seeing their pictures, I think the young people of Iran are becoming more Westernized. More liberal (compared to their leaders). I have heard stories of kids watching MTV by reprogramming their satellite TVs and watching entertainment stories online. In their homes, they wear fairly modern, western clothing. I think they are curious about America. Apprehensive, but interested.
 
But with this war in the Middle East, I think that apprehension grows. And if we outright attack Iran, then ALL of those nice feelings will go away. Suddenly we are the enemy to every person over there. And if they all turn against us, we have a much bigger problem on our hands.
 
I think Iran’s government and leaders are overreacting to all the “problems” they see by becoming more strict and controlling. I have heard rumors that they still execute those that disagree with them and other “undesirable” people. I think that the more they continue to tighten their grip on the society, the more people they will upset and turn off to that way of life. I think that is a good thing for America. 
 
Understand that these are my impressions and my thoughts only. I truly have NO way of knowing what is really happening and how things could or will turn out. It’s easy to be forgiving and compassionate when you have a personal relationship and attachment to something, like I do. I would give my left arm to be able to visit Iran and visit all the family that I have never met and tour their beautiful country. My parents had plans in the works to do this, but it all fell through after September 11th. If we go to war with them, I fear that dream of mine will never be realized. So you see, part of my opinions is selfish- I want to see the country AND protect my relatives.

I assume some of the same could be said for every country in the world. There are every day people and families who are just trying to “make it” in this crazy world. I wish there was a way for everyone to see that. I don’t know how to make that happen. But maybe next time you see a news clip of some crazy USA flag burning radical from the Middle East, you will remember that they most likely represent only a small percentage of how most people really think and behave.
 
Here are some websites and articles of interest:
Revolution of Youth
Role of Youth
Iran’s Media Power
Life in Iran

Unfamiliar with the beauty of Iran? Check out this, or any of the related, Youtube Video.
Here it is: