Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kamyar took me on a surprise trip yesterday. I mean he told me we were going on a trip, he just didn’t say where. And I didn’t quiz him about it which must have been strange for him since he knows that I’m not really into surprises. But I had figured since I don’t like trips either, I might as well keep it this way and hope for the laws of fate to follow the laws of maths and result in the outcome of my two negative experiences being a positive one.

Of course at first we had to do our customary getting lost on the way which meant I had to keep looking at the map until I felt ill and irritable and started to doubt even the laws of maths, let alone fate.
After getting lost again a couple of times in Didcot as well (which was very impressive of us I thought since the town only has about three main roads) we finally managed to find our way to the village of East Hagbourne.
As we got out of the car the last thing I heard on the radio was Jeremy Vine saying, ‘In two hours time we will be revealing something very surprising about cows…’
We walked around the village for a bit (this took just about five minutes actually) and then we decided to have a walk through one of the footpaths that went up the hill.
Ten minutes later we found ourselves on a path in the middle of two huge fields with tens of cows on either side of us. They all looked so nice and calm grazing in the autumn sun.

A couple of hours later we were back in the car, on our way to our second destination and Jeremy Vine was on the radio again warning people about how dangerous cows could be! I didn’t know this but apparently a lot of people have been killed or injured by cows. They even interviewed one poor guy that had been kicked by a cow while cycling through a field. Apparently the guy (who sounded like he was crying) had become so traumatised by this that had to take some time off work and was in therapy or something as well.
I couldn’t believe it. It all sounded like a very low budget horror movie (Dawn of the Deadly Cows). I kept saying to Kamyar, ‘Faster, faster’ I just wanted to get out of that village and away from those dangerous creatures.
I kept looking back to see if any were following us. I kept praying to god that they hadn’t become clever enough to use their udders as weapons to shoot milk at us and cause us to crash. But I think by then we were well out of their udder’s range anyway.

In the end we made it back in one piece, a bit shaken of course but that was ok; we were alive and that was all that mattered.
It’s a dangerous world out there.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Warning: This post contains materials of both the soppy and the cheesy (literary) variety.

This is mummy. And me and Biba who the photographer guy apparently tried to take away from me but I refused to let go of until he gave up (hence the suspicious look on my face there). My mum once said that the age I am in this photograph is her favourite age of me because she didn’t need to change me anymore (nappy-wise I mean, not that before this time she had been thinking about returning me to wherever I came from or anything. At least this is what I’m hoping she meant), I could talk so she could have a conversation with me and I would not argue with her when she sat me down and made my hair into pigtails or dressed me in the way she wanted. This was a very short period in both of our lives of course which she cherishes to this day.
Knowing how much she enjoyed that period, these days in my yearly visits to Iran I sometimes give her the freedom to do as she pleases with me, for example last year I let her put Henna in my hair (which was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life but it was ok because I knew it was making her happy. She is big on putting things in people’s hair, namely me. When I was little her favourites were egg yokes and bone marrow.) or this year I did not interfere when she suddenly decided to have a little play with my right nipple. She only sees me once a year ok? She needs to get a feel of things.
I know that everyone always thinks that their mum is the best mum in the world but I’m afraid you are all wrong because it is actually my mum who is the best mum in the world. I first realised this as a child when I had some sort of weird disease which meant I had to stay in my room for like a week and she would come in and play with me everyday, all day long.

Yesterday mummy made me very happy. She called me up and said, ‘I’ve been reading your blog.’ I usually don’t like it when people do this and a lot of people do this to me as well now days. ‘So I’ve been reading your blog.’ They say and then go quite. I’m not sure what my reply to this should be. The way I see it this is a weird sentence to say to someone and then nothing. But then again I’m very new to this blog business and I don’t know if for example I’m supposed to write the names of all the readers down somewhere and then at the end of the year handout an award to the best reader or what?
But anyway when my mum said this it was different, I could tell she had enjoyed it plus she didn’t go quite after her sentence (she rarely does during our phone conversations) she said about the parts she had liked and what she had liked about them. She even said that she had tried to leave a comment but wasn’t sure how to. So I got very excited and explained to her how she does this (something I later regretted when she told me that the comment she had wanted to leave was about her breastfeeding me)
Then her phone-card finished and she got cut off. Then I phoned her and we had that echo-y thing going on where every time you say something your voice is repeated three times. So we couldn’t carry on with our conversation.
I just wanted to say, thanks mum, you made my day and for the Nth time in my life you made me realise no matter how I’m feeling or what I’m doing, it’s only when I think I have made you and Baba (and now Kamyar as well) pleased, that I feel like I have achieved something.

Umm, now that I’ve said all these nice things about you, do you think it might be a good time to tell you something that is a little bit upsetting?
Here it goes. The cheese you sent me did not travel too well. I’m sorry. We did all that we could for it but it just insisted on going straight from the parcel into the bin.
On the plus side I have been nominated for the Smelliest Parcels Awards by our postman, Derek. It’s me against an Italian guy in Manchester who receives parcels containing freshly made salamis from his village in Italy and an Indian girl in London whose mother sends her Chicken Tikka Masala warps from Calcutta.
I’m really not that hopeful but Derek thinks I’m in with a good chance. Fingers crossed.

Friday, September 23, 2005

It’s not even October yet but in supermarkets the Mince pies and Christmas puddings are already out on the shelves! We seem to have skipped Halloween and gone straight to Christmas this year.

Yes you guessed it; I’m one of those people who don’t like Christmas. But since there are those who secretly like Christmas but say that they don’t because they think it’s not hip to like Christmas and then there are those who think it’s hip to be different and say that they like Christmas even though they don’t, (Yes I know; there is a lot of confusion about this whole thing) it’s very hard for someone like me to say, ‘I don’t like Christmas.’ And be believed.
People are forever saying to me, ‘Come on no one likes Christmas but we all do something for it anyway.’
Me, ‘Yes you celebrate it because you are Christians but I’m not (this is a good reason right?) and neither is my husband (double-good reason) and we don’t have any kids (because if you do they say you should do it for your kids)’
They, ‘So you are not even going to get a little tree?’
Me, ‘!’
I get this all the time and I really can’t understand it. How does this tree thing work then? Is it that you have to have a Christmas tree no matter what but the further you get from Christianity, your tree gets smaller? So the devout Christians get the biggest trees of all while for example Moslems, Agnostics and Atheists will in that order get, small trees, very small trees and special bonsai Christmas trees which they must then decorate with small, tiny and minute Christmas decorations!

I don’t understand why it is that Christians love to get everyone involved in their religious activities so much. Can you imagine a Moslem going up to a Christian for Tasooa Aashoora and saying, ‘Look I’m not saying you should beat yourself on the chest until you go black and blue or hit yourself on the back with chains or whack your head open with a machete to mourn the Killing of Imam Hussein, but how about you just tapping yourself gently on the chest with the tips of your fingers?’

Some people say, ‘Come on Christmas is not a religious thing, it’s just tradition.’ Excuse me? Celebrating the birth of Christ is not a religious thing?
Although in a way maybe they are kind of right; from what I’ve seen, all Christmas seems to be about is people watching crappy movies on television and buying shitty presents for other people and getting pissed off when they receive shitty presents from other people in return.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It’s always a bit unsettling when plumbers leave your lovely bathroom in this state and go off to buy “parts”.

That two hours that they were gone was one of the longest two hours of my life. It’s nearly half four now and the bathroom still looks more or less the same as in the pictures.
We haven’t had water all day and haven’t been able to use the toilet. Kamyar is happily using his camel qualities which means not drinking a single drop of water all day and still being able to function perfectly.

The worst part was definitely this morning when the plumbers had first arrived and Kamyar had gone to buy a sink and I was in the living room happily doing my little drawings ‘la la la’ and at the same time eavesdropping on the plumbers’ conversation and all I could hear was them going, ‘Oh that can’t be done can it?’ ‘no it doesn’t fit.’ ‘maybe we should put it on the other side’ ‘We might have to raise the tank a little then if we want to do that.’ ‘No but we don’t really have time for all that do we?’ ‘Let’s just try it this way and see what happens.’
What a nightmare! To me it really sounded like they didn’t know what they were doing. So I had to go over there and do that whole, ‘Gentlemen I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Is everything alright?’ And then in a roundabout way tell them not to mess with my lovely bathroom if they don’t know what they are doing, or else.
The younger one (the son) was very sweet and started explaining to me how the pump works and everything but unfortunately my mind started doing that thing that I really hate again which always happens when someone is explaining something technical to me. It goes like this: my brain goes into a kind of standby mode and all I can hear is, ‘doo dooo doo doo…’ until they stop talking. It really is very annoying. Which means when he stopped talking, as usual I just smiled and said, ‘Sounds like you know what you are doing then. Tea?’ They didn’t want any tea, which was a very good sign I thought. Hard workers. They just wanted to get stock in. Stock in to ruin my bathroom or sort it out? We will just have to wait and see.

PS We are trying to change our cracked bathroom sink and put a shower in.

Now the downstairs flat’s sealing has stared leaking :-( We have angered the Palestinians.

They are still here. There is another leak. I’m hungry.

Finally we have a shower. But I’m too weak and hungry to appreciate it properly.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Due to a sudden disappearance of any form of elasticity in my other two bras (ok one was about sixteen years old but the other one was only about nine; they really don’t make them like they used to) and my mother’s veto on crop tops (apparently they flatten everything and that is not good) and also my reluctance to go and have my breasts fondled by some specs wearing chubby middle-aged woman (yes I still don’t know what size I am. Do you? Really? Does anyone? Even if you know it they all change from style to style and from shop to shop, let alone country to country. What’s that all about? Makes me wonder what those guys up in the UN have been doing all these years) for the past five moths I have been left to choose between a padded-bra and nothing.

This is of course a very misfortunate situation to be in. However since I have been forced to wear the padded-bra, day in day out, I have noticed that there is something very special about this item of clothing.
In short, padded-bras have some sort of strange power that can for some reason turn a perfectly nice and sensible man momentary into an imbecile. I have been doing a bit of research on this which I thought maybe I could share with you today.

Don’t worry I’m not going to do that whole thing about men liking breast. Yes we all know that men like breasts. Women like breasts too. Who doesn’t like breasts?
I for one think there is nothing more entertaining than a woman with big breasts, jogging. It’s just so nice to watch and I believe it’s one of those things that can make absolutely anyone happy. I once saw a naked man, wearing only a beret, riding a bicycle with a poodle in his front basket. And another time I saw this (which I think is quite self explanatory). These were pretty entertaining too. But maybe these are the kind of things that you could watch once and enjoy but unlike the jogging big breasted woman they would get kind of boring if you were to see them everyday.

Ok so it’s common knowledge that everyone likes breasts. Before we go any further let’s just remind ourselves of the reasons why we all like breasts so much:
One, they are beautiful
Two, they are soft
Three, they jiggle
Let me just say that these are just my personal reasons for liking breasts so if you have anything else to add to this list please feel free to do so. However if you agree that these are pretty much main reasons, maybe you can also understand my confusion about this whole business with padded-bras.
Is it not true that by putting breasts in padded bras, we are taking them as far away from all those things that are nice about them as possible?
Just think about it. Do they still jiggle? I think you find that the answer to that question is, not one bit. Are they still soft? Again, no, not at all. Are they still beautiful? To me they are not really. It’s like someone strapping two coconuts to themselves and walking down the street; ok so they are two hard, round things, so what?

Considering all this I came to the conclusion that the moronic smile that appears on the face of a man (faced with a woman wearing a padded-bra under her clothes as apposed to one wearing no bra) and the absent look in his eyes may not be the product of him just enjoying this experience. And as the sad and disturbing results of my tests show, I was very right to think that.

One could argue that what men like about the padded-bras is the element of surprise. And this is a very valid argument too (especially because it very nicely takes me to the point that I am trying to make).
Let me give you an example that explains this argument a little bit better: A child begs his parents for weeks to buy him the latest model of Spaceship Blah blah. One day his father walks in and hands him the Spaceship Blah blah, the child becomes very happy, takes it and goes off to play with it.
Now replay this scene. This time the father comes in with the same spaceship but it has been gift wrapped. If you look closely, the look on this child’s face in the first few seconds after his father has walked into the house is very similar to the one of a man passing a woman wearing a padded-bra in the street. This is the end of the Surprise theory. And interestingly it is only the beginning of mine which I like to call The Stroke theory.

If we were to take electroencephalograms of both the child (facing the present) and the man (facing the padded-bra) at those first few seconds you will find that while the child’s brain is working super fast counting all the possibilities of what could be in the box, the man’s brain has temporarily been stripped off all thoughts and has actually become completely frozen in time.
What this man is experiencing is a very minor stroke which will blow away on its own in a few seconds.

Any men reading this will as sure as God made little green apples at this point start saying, ‘What nonsense’ and all that. And that’s fine. How can they remember something if their brain had not been working at the time it had happened? And men please don’t get defensive; I’m on your side. By speaking out about this I’m trying to raise awareness of something that I believe is hurting you.
If any women reading this have doubts about my new discoveries, I have devised a simple exercise which I am going to put at the end of this article. Those of you who will try this exercise will undoubtedly think that there is some magic or trickery involved. But no, this is not magic. This is just science.
The only thing I would say about this exercise is that please do not try this on the same person more than twice in twenty four hours since we still don’t know the long term effects that these minor strokes have on a person’s brain. I personally think that they can do a lot of damage but of course the billion dollar padded-bra industry disagrees.


For this exercise you will need:
2 people, one male and one female
1 padded bra
2 rooms separated by one door

The male stands on one side of the door, facing it and looks straight ahead. The female goes to the other side. She puts on the padded-bra under her T-shirt. She opens the door and at the same time asks, ‘What is your name?’
The man will not be able to answer.
She counts to five then closes the door. She takes off the padded-bra and comes back out again. The man will still be standing in his original place.
He will not be able to recall the previous incident.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I have some tragic news. Yesterday at broad daylight, both the landmark of the Great Standing Discarded Refrigerator and the beautiful monument of the Broken White Toilet were stolen from right under our noses. No one yet knows how and why these beloved landmarks were taken.
As you probably have guessed, right now I am kicking myself for not having gone to the police the other day when I noticed that someone had tampered with the beautiful Broken White Toilet. But there is nothing I can do about that now and just sitting here feeling bad and getting upset about it is not going do anyone any good.
At the moment I am still hopeful that our landmarks are going to be found and the perpetrators arrest. I will let you know as soon as I receive any more news on this.
Meanwhile those of you who had planned a trip to Oxford, I know that right now you are thinking ‘what’s the point of going on this trip anymore?’ but please do not run to your travel agencies to try and exchange your tickets. Yesterday Oxford suffered a great loss and in the weeks and months to come we will no doubt feel the effects of this on the tourist industry but please remember that Oxford still has many great places for tourists to enjoy.
O who am I kidding, without these two landmarks Oxford is nothing. Sigh.

Friday, September 16, 2005

I was walking down our road yesterday. A full-on goth girl was walking in the opposite direction. As I watched her, familiar thoughts started to circle around my head, ‘How long does it take her to get ready in the mornings? How long does it take her remove her makeup at night? Does she even bother taking it off at night or does she just go to bed like that? Did she become a goth because she is into whatever it is Goths are into or is it because one day she realised that no matter what anyone says, nothing tackles teenage acne better than a tub of white paint smeared generously on the face?’
But then I felt an unfamiliar thought entering my head and that was that despite all the efforts she had gone to, to look threatening or rebellious, to me she just looked, well sweet I guess!
This surprised me of course but then when I thought about it I noticed that somewhere along the line, goths had lost all their credibility as scary freaks and had simply become our sweet friends with a liking for makeup and black clothes!
When I thought about it some more I realised that this feeling affectionate to a group of people that we generally found threatening, was not specific to goths, the same could also be said about Punks, Skinheads, football hooligans, white-trash teenagers hanging out by the landmark of the Great Standing Discarded Refrigerator; spitting, effing and blinding and beating old ladies. O how we love’em all nowadays. And how beautiful and friendly they look to us since the emergence of the suicide bombers.
At least with this lot we know what they are about. Football hooligans for example. Those guys are just the best. They like football, beer and beating people up. Mix those three together and you have yourself one happy football hooligan. I know they can be a bit of a handful sometimes but what can you do? Boys will be boys.
On the other hand we have these suicide bombers that no one even knows what they want. They kill people but it’s not because they are drunk or need money to go and buy booze or purely that they don’t like people, they have other reasons for it apparently which we simply don’t care to know about. We all know that the only proper and just way to kill innocent civilians with the use of a bomb is to throw the bomb on the innocent civilian from a distance while wearing full army uniform. Anyone who does it any other way fails to attract our attention to his/her cause. And since he/she has cheated, now we will refuse to hear what the whole thing is about by sticking our fingers into our ears and shouting, ‘La la la la, I can’t hear you, lalalala’

As I walked back home last night, I saw something that I would never have believed if I had not seen it with my own two eyes. The old lady from 105 not only went and voluntarily gave her handbag to the bunch of teenagers hanging out by the Standing Discarded Refrigerator, but also gave each of the little rascals a big loving, grandmotherly hug and invited them over to her place for tea and biscuits.
Now that I think is a beautiful thing. Peace out.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Yesterday Kamyar and I went to the Isis pub by the river, just the two of us, something we hadn’t done for a long time. We got our two pints of Guinness and went to sit outside. There was the faintest hint of autumn chill in the air that always almost simultaneously makes me sad (as I remember the feeling such weather used to give me when I was little) and extremely happy (as I remember that I am now thirty and do not go to school anymore). We sat under an apple tree by the little pool and fountain.
As I took my first sip from my pint Kamyar said, ‘So I turned you into a Guinness lover too.’
‘Yes you did.’ I said and then got thinking while taking another sip. ‘I can think of a good few other things as well that just because of you I became familiar with and now like a lot?’
‘Like what?’
One finger ‘Guinness’ two fingers ‘Grand Prix’ Three fingers ‘Names of cars’ Four fingers ‘Tom Waits’
‘That’s good’ he said, ‘I think it’s really bad if a person doesn’t know the names of cars.’
‘Now can you think of anything that you used to dislike or didn’t think much of but now like or find interesting since being with me?’ He got thinking for a while.
I finally came to his rescue, ‘How about lamb?’ He seemed relived and very thankful, ‘yes lamb’ he said, ‘I never used to like lamb before and now I love it.’ He took another sip. ‘Khoreshteh aloo esfenaj (lamb spinach and plums stew with rice)’ he said a few seconds later, looking very pleased with himself for remembering this. ‘Yes’ I said, raising my eyebrows and shrugging my shoulders, ‘but isn’t that just the lamb thing again? You probably didn’t like that because you didn’t like lamb.’
‘Can you think of anything else aside from food though?’
There was silence again for a while as we both got thinking. ‘How about hanging stuff to dry?’ Asked Kamyar, ‘Does that count?’
‘If you consider hanging clothes to dry to be one of your hubbies or favourite pastimes now days, then yes I guess it does count.’
A fly landed in Kamyar's pint. He rescued it and flicked it out into the garden.
‘But I think you should definitely count Khoreshteh aloo esfenaj as one because I never used to like that dish but now it’s in my top five most favourites.’ Pause ‘I think maybe I could even go as far as saying it is my number one.’
‘Ok I’ll count that as well’ I said ‘but even so the bottom line is that at best I have managed to change your mind about a couple of food dishes while under your influence I have gone from not even knowing the name of a single car to watching Top Gear and Fifth Gear to not only watching the Grand Prix but also knowing the names of nearly all the drivers and knowing enough about the whole thing to be able to make comments like, ‘I think Kimi Raikkonen is a better driver than Alonzo but he has just been very unlucky with his car this year.’ I knew I wasn’t being fair. I’m sure if there actually was a Formula 1 type race for Aloo Esfanaj Kamyar would become just as fascinated with it as I had become with Grand Prix. ‘to’ I continued regardless, ‘even allowing your toy cars…’
‘… whatever, to be put around the flat. Now that my friend is what I call taking an interest in what the other person is interested in.’
‘How about leaving Iran and coming to live in England?’
‘Yes now I really had to twist your arm about that one, didn’t I?’
‘Cuddling’ he said at last, ‘Now that is something I never thought I would one day want to do so much of.’
What a cutie.

PS We saw Bambi as well while we were in the pub. She was having a little wander in the garden, only about six meters away from us. Then she got frightened by a squirrel and jumped into the bushes.

Monday, September 12, 2005

If there is one thing in the world that I absolutely cannot stand, it’s vandalism; it’s having no respect for other people’s properties; it’s thoughtlessly destroying what others have ever so lovingly created. Ladies and gentlemen, you cannot even begin to imagine how I feel right now as I write this and how saddened I am to have to be the one to tell you that last night our beautiful monument of the Broken White Toilet was vandalised ‘By a bunch o’ youfs probly.’ Said Jeff, shrugging his shoulders as he went back to pulling at the lavender bush.
‘I am not even going to pretend to understand what goes on in the minds of the people who would carry out such barbaric acts.’ Said I, and walked off to try and document what was left of our beloved monument.
At that moment I could feel exactly how a photographer who had arrived at Bam a week or so after the earthquake must have felt. Of course I know that comparing the Broken White Toilet with the historic city of Bam is not really fair. For one, there are thousands if not millions of photographs of the great Arge-eh Bam from before the earthquake but as far as I know there is not even a single photo of the Broken White Toilet before it was vandalised.
Why did I put off doing this for so long? Why had I not come down last night to take photographs, just as I had promised Behrooz, Amanda and the Crazy Chef?

On a closer inspection I realised that not much damage had actually been done. It was just that the lid for the toilet flush which was previously ever so carefully placed in the front of the Broken White Toilet, had now been carelessly thrown to the side, about half a meter away from its original place. Therefore one is no longer able to appreciate the true beauty of the Broken White Toilet as one stands in front of the entrance to the building by the buzzers.
I’m sure right now you are thinking, ‘this is not something to get so upset over, why don’t you just pick the lid up and put it in its original place?’ But I can’t help thinking what if these were not merely vandals out having a good time at other people’s expense? What if they were trying to steal our beloved monument but their plan was disturbed by someone walking by or something?
Think about it, first there is all that business in London. Then as the eyes of the whole world are on London to try and prevent such attacks from happening again, some people try to steal our most loved monument in Oxford! And when does this failed robbery attempt take place? On the forth anniversary of the September the eleventh attacks. Coincidence? I think not.
The way I see it (as I said to the Zimbabwean lady upstairs as well) this has all the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Although some of the flats in our area have been bought by private owners, the whole place is still very much a full-on council estate complete with its own authentic council estate landmarks which I thought was something that we could discuss today.
Ask anyone on our estate and they will no doubt tell you that our most precious landmark is the Great Standing Discarded Refrigerator on the east side (which I am proud to say that we are lucky enough to have a perfect view of from our living room window).
I have asked around to try and find out when this landmark was created but unfortunately no one on the estate seems to know the exact date. So far the most accurate and reliable answer that I have received has come from Jeff who has lived here for 22 years and who said, ‘Been ‘ere a long time, in it?’ and judging by the thickness of the moss covering the Great Standing Discarded Refrigerator, he is very right; it has indeed been here a very long time.
Sadly The Discarded refrigerator is no longer in its original place since that night a couple of months back when it was jolted out of place by the drunk from two floors up who allegedly walked straight into it while singing, ‘Dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen.’
The guy had to have six stitches on his forehead. He is fine now. Although he does stare a lot now days and sometimes tries to catch imaginary flies. But the most important thing is that the refrigerator is fine.
Next up is the Fallen Refrigerator, situated on the north side of the estate just behind the playground and in front of the garage door number 346 by the dirty yellow light with the word NO carved into the scum covering it.
There really isn’t much to say about the Fallen Refrigerator. Except it is relatively new and that it must be nice for the people on the north side to finally have a landmark they can enjoy and call their own.
And last but by no means the least; we have the beautiful monument of the Broken White Toilet which I believe is the contribution of one the upstairs flats to the humble entrance of our building. This monument is at least five months old and it has been perfectly positioned so that it can be best viewed from just outside the door and right by the buzzers to the flats. Yes we do believe first impressions count. I personally think that the Broken White Toilet has added a touch of class to the entrance of our building that it was desperately in need of.

Friday, September 09, 2005

So every time I have complained about copyright issues in Iran people have said to me, Look, it’s all legal; Iran has not signed the copyright act.’ Of course not having copyright laws is great for the average Iranian who is not an artist of some kind. And most people are quite proud of the Islamic republic for not having signed the International copyright laws or whatever and see it as a kind of ‘Zerangy’ (being clever) as the Crazy Chef (aka Roya) pointed out in a comment on my last post.
Nevertheless if you ask these exact same people how they feel about the law that says people could be stoned to death for adultery, even though most of them have never committed adultery and are not planning to do so either, they will no doubt tell you that they are completely appalled by it. Or if one of these same people is complaining about being whipped seventy times for having drunk alcohol and I say, ‘Well that’s the law, isn’t it?’ they will no doubt look at me like I am a completely crazy person who has escaped from the loonybin just that morning and needs to be put back there as soon as possible.
But exactly how are we to know which laws are good and which ones are bad and which ones to follow and which ones not to?
As a child growing up in Iran it was sometimes very hard for me know exactly what was right and what was wrong. For example one day people were going out to bars drinking shots of Vodka and munching on assuages, the next day consuming alcohol was illegal and people would be punished for it. Or when we got older and started going to school, we were told over and over again by grownups not to ever tell anyone at school that we went to gatherings where we heard music and danced.
We got used to seeing weird things like my grandfather one day sitting down with my grandmother’s nail file and to my little cousin’s horror, filing down the willy off the statue of a little boy peeing, ‘Was it even a crime to have a peepee now days?’ I remember thinking whilst giving my horrified cousin a sympathetic look. Or when my grandmother brought out all the pictures one day and sat there with a pair of scissors, cutting out all the women in swimwear or revealing dresses or anyone holding a drink.
The way I saw it either everyone around me was a criminal or a lot of the laws could be broken and it didn’t matter as long as you weren’t found out. But how was I to know which laws could be broken and which ones could not?
After thinking long and hard about this, I came up with my own rule that I found helped me get through life without always worrying about what was wrong and what was right.
My rule said that just before doing anything, I always needed to ask myself two little questions. If the answer to the first question was ‘yes’ and the answer to the second question was ‘no’ it was ok to do that thing regardless of what the law said. And those two little questions are:
1- Would I like it if this was done to me?
2- Am I hurting anyone by doing this?
In short my whole life philosophy is simply, in the words of Samuel L Jackson (Jules) in Pulp fiction, ‘Don’t do shit, unless-’
Harvey Keitel (The Wolf), ‘-unless what?’
Shirin, ‘Unless the answer to the first question is ‘Yes’ and the second one ‘No’
The best thing I find about this way of thinking is that suddenly everything in life is not so black and white anymore. For example even though I would never in a million years think about taking the life of another human being, if I come across a group men raping and torturing a girl and I have a gun in my hands, I will shoot those bastards down one by one regardless of what the law says.
Or for example even though drugs are illegal, I don’t see anything wrong with smoking a bit of something and taking a bit of other every now and then. However by my rules, if I become addicted to say Heroin then that’s wrong because that will surely hurt the people around me.
So the reason that I do not steal or lie or cheat or blow myself up or use someone’s artwork without telling them, or flirt with someone else’s boyfriend or pee in people’s drinks when they are not looking, is not because I will or will not be punished by law if I do these things, it’s simply because I do not like any of these things to be done to me and also I know that by doing those things I will be hurting other people.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

So 307 people have visited this site since I wrote my last post and out of all of them only five people felt strongly enough about what I had said to leave a comment. And since only three out of the five commenters were Iranian (with one being my own husband), I couldn’t help thinking that I had touched on a sensitive issue there and had maybe upset some of my fellow countrymen. So when I received the following email today, I thought, ‘What the hell, while we’re at it why not have a go at this subject as well and alienate the rest of the Iranians too.’
This is the email I received and it’s about what I have written at the bottom of my homepage just under ‘© 2005 Shirin Adl’

Salam Shirin

Surfing on the Internet och checking link after link then I got to your Internet site. Very well done, it’s a very good page and the content is very good. Just wanted to say that and wish you good luck with developing your site and your art. One thing that I noticed on your site was the;
“And no my fellow Iranians, copyright does not mean the right to copy.” I don’t know the background and why you wrote like this but I found it quite insulting to all Iranian fellows. Of course there is lot of problems in Iran and with Iranian. But writing like this makes it look that just Iranian who doesn’t understand the concept of copyright or they violate it. Copyright issues is a global problem and many people who work with art and design suffer by people who doesn’t respect that.
So as far as I can see it’s not just Iranian who ignore it. Any way…
Of course you have right to write what ever you want. It’s a free world. I just wanted to share my opinion about it with you. In any case I think you are a great artist and wish you good luck and success.

Eradatmande shoma Mr F

Before anything else let me just tell you that I love Iran and Iranians with all my heart. But I am not the kind of person that when in love with someone or something becomes completely deaf and blind to all their faults and sees only beauty and goodness.
I know that as Iranians, there are always so many things that we are criticised about that sometimes when we hear something new, we just feel like, ‘Oh please not another one.’ Believe me I know how that feels because I feel like that myself sometimes but still I don’t think that ignoring the problem or sweeping it under the carpet will do anyone any good.
For example if someone comes up to me and says that Iranians are terrible drivers and most of them have no respect for the driving rules and that they think that a more appropriate name for Zebra Crossings in Tehran would be The Killing Fields, since they are very right about all those things, I wont jump down their throat because I am from Tehran and love it so much. Instead I listen and probably get a bit embarrassed thinking, ‘I wish we weren’t like that.’
It’s the same with this copyright thing. The truth of the matter is that in Iran there is absolutely no respect for copyright. Just look around yourself right now as you are reading this Mr F.
Let’s start with your computer. How much did you pay for your Windows? 200 pounds or 2000 toomans (about one pound)? What about your other softwares? How much did you pay for those? What about your music? Do you not download it off the internet for free? How many translated into Farsi books do you have on your bookshelf? Chances are not even a single one of those writers knows that their book has been translated into Farsi.
I hope you don’t take this personally Mr F as I am definitely not attacking you individually and saying this is all your fault, because it really isn’t. I’m just pointing these things out because sometimes when we are so completely surrounded by something, we get so used to it that we do not see it anymore.
You are right in saying that ‘Copyright issue is a global problem’ Yes, it definitely is but I think Iran and maybe a handful of other countries are the only places left in the world where people can do this totally guilt-free and completely legally.
It’s one thing to copy a software or dvd from a friend for your own personal use, it’s another to make a hundred copies and sell them in a shop in Tadjrish.
But maybe in some weird weird way doing all the above in Iran is understandable because maybe there is no other way about it sometimes if you want to stay in touch with the rest of the world (this still doesn’t make it right). But unfortunately it seems these breaches of the copyright act are not unique to the big companies and have become so normal in Iran that people no longer feel like they are doing wrong when they copy someone’s artwork without giving a penny to them or at least even asking their permission. Let me give you a couple of examples.

1- As you know my father, Farokh Saramad is a writer. A few years back one of his fans kept going on at him to take a look at some of his unpublished work. At the end my father gave in and gave a couple of his short stories to this guy to read. Two or three weeks later this same person turned up at our house again with a cheeky smile, looking very pleased with himself and presented my father with a magazine. We couldn’t believe it, he had gone and given the stories to some friends of his and they had printed one of them in the magazine. The funny thing was that this guy had really thought that by doing this he was doing my father a favour and could not for the life of him understand why my father had gotten so furious with him.

2- After I got my degree in illustration here I went back to Iran for a while to work and see how it was. As it happened there was a new children’s magazine coming out and the publishers asked me to do some illustrations for it. So I did a double spread page and got paid eight thousand toomans for it (about five pounds), yippee. But that’s ok because apparently I was lucky to get any money at all and I had known about it from the beginning. What really pissed me off was that they had taken one of the doodles I had done while trying to come up with ideas and without telling me had used it for their logo! Needless to say I became very angry when I saw that. Especially because in my view the thing they had chosen was rubbish and not at all logo material. The funny thing is that when I told them this they said that I needed not to worry about anything like that because no one would ever know that the logo was my work because they were not planning on writing anywhere that it was!

Please someone correct me if I’m wrong but I believe there isn’t a law in Iran that says if your artwork or idea or story is stolen by someone you can take them to court. Even if there is a mild little something about it in our law, I can imagine that if someone goes to the police with this kind of problem they will just be laughed at.

Sorry about writing another long and boring post. I promise my next one which will be about our first bomb fright that happened last night is going to be a lot more entertaining.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Congratulations to me are in order as I think I have made my first ever enemy in the world of bloging; Mr Iranianteacher. I’m kidding, we’re not enemies, we just have a little disagreement over something that happens to be a serious pet hate of mine.
It all started when Iranianteacher left a comment on here a couple of days ago. When I went to check out his blog I noticed that I had already been added to his list of links. Naturally I thought about putting a link to his blog on mine but before doing that I had a read through some of his older posts and that’s when I noticed how racist this person really was and so decided not to add him to my links.
I didn’t give him a lecture on how and why he should not be a racist because I didn’t think that would have done him any good. I believe it’s impossible to change a person’s outlook on racism overnight just as it is impossible to invade a nation and force them into becoming a democracy. This kind of thing takes time and a lot of education.
So all I said was that I was not going to link his blog to mine because I couldn’t stand racism.
I can’t even begin to describe to you how saddened I was when I read my comments this morning and found a 790 words (yes I pasted it into Word and did a count. It’s the second comment on my previous post) essay on ancient Persian history and how all Iranians should hate all Arabs because they invaded us all those many years ago.
Mister Teacher, I don’t know if it’s even worth trying to explain to you how I think all that you had said there were so completely irrelevant in my view. And by ‘worth trying’ I don’t mean that you are not worth trying but that we are so on two completely different wavelengths that no matter how much I try, you are not going to get my meaning.
Maybe just try and think about these few things for me though: Is it right for the British to hate all Pakistanis because the people responsible for the London bombings were originally from Pakistan?
Or something a little closer to home: Is it right for the Americans to hate all Iranians because some of us stormed the American embassy some years ago and took hostages?
And if you are talking about war, do you think it’s ok for Indians to hate Iranians because of all those times that our kings invaded their country and massacred their people? If an Indian came up to you and said that he hates all Iranians because of this, would you not think that he was a bit nutty?
Do you think it’s right that everyday thousands of people in Iran shout ‘Death to America’? Probably not right? But you think it’s ok to hate Iraqis because they invaded our country, even though everyone knows that the Americans are probably just as much to blame for the war as the Iraqis.
And if we have to hate Arabs because of the things they did to us, do we have to hate the people in the south of Iran as well? Or are they ok because they are Iranians? And if they are ok how about the poor Afghans then? Is it not true that they were Iranians too up until only 250 years ago?
Well I’m not going to write too much since as I said before I don’t think it will do any good anyway. There is just one more thing though. You asked me, ‘Do you really and honestly have the same bashar doostaneh [Human loving] feeling for every people from every nation around you?’ Again I don’t know how to even begin to describe how much it truly pains me to have to answer to a question like this. But ok for you I will.
Yes teacher, hand on my heart I absolutely love all human beings in the world regardless of their race or nation.
Funny, I had always thought that this was how everyone felt.
Since we’re still on the subject of harassment, I thought I write this little story here.
Time: About twelve-ish in the afternoon on the fourth day of the Persian New-year March 2005
Location: One of those quite back alleys that go from Valiasr to Maghsoodbeik
People: No1- me, No2- My half English half Iranian cousin who is a year older than me and had not been to Iran for twelve years.
Costumes: Me: No makeup at all, a black headscarf tied tightly under my chin, dark blue jeans, black shoes and a very old German army jacket three sizes too big for me; my tramp look as my friends like to call it.
My cousin: some makeup (and she is very beautiful anyway), had some of hair out and was wearing a tight black Islamic uniform.
Shortly after we entered this little alleyway, we were joined by a third person: A man in his late twenties or early thirties in a white Pride.
‘Khanoom beresoonametoon?’
‘Miss would you like a lift?’ he mumbled as he went past. We ignored him and continued with our own conversation. He stopped about four meters down. As we walked passed we heard the, ‘Khanoom beresoonametoon?’ again. This went on three or four times until I thought he was getting a bit annoying and it was about time he got lost.
So I went up to his car and bent down a little to be able to look at him through his open passenger window. ‘Agha (Mister)’ I said trying to keep a straight face ‘stop hanging about here or I will have no choice but to smash your windscreen.’
I stayed there for a few more seconds and continued to stare at him with a look in my eyes that in my head meant, ‘I mean it shit-face’
The more I stared, the more I realised how pathetic this poor guy looked. His outfit consisted of a white pair of trousers with a black belt and a pale pink shirt with fine white stripes. His mouth had stayed in that half open position, frozen, in the anticipation of his favourite sentence (‘Khanoom beresoonametoon?’) But what attracted my attention the most about him was his freshly shaved chin. It looked as though in the process of shaving his beard he had accidentally removed a layer of skin clean off his face which had now been replaced by a new layer which misfortunately happened to be both red and flaky. And when I say flaky I mean proper flaky as in if there was such a thing as an antidandruff beard cleanser, this guy (if he had any sense) should have been first in the queue outside the shop the day it came into the market. O how sore it looked, even thinking about it now gives me goose bumps. Enough about that though because it has absolutely nothing to do with our story.
Open-mouthed, head tilted to one side, looking up at me. He stayed in this position for about a minute after I had stopped talking. Had it not been for the occasional movement of his eyeballs, I would definitely have pulled him out of the car and got him into the recovery position, thinking he was having a stroke.
His worried eyes worked their way around my jacket, studying every rip, tear and stain (made in the hands of either my father and I, or any number of German soldiers who had been its previous owners)
As I turned around and started walking, I heard the sound of a car stopping and a door opening and closing. I couldn’t believe it. I had thought I had scared him out of his wits but what was going on? Was he coming after us? What was I to do now? Was it actually possible to smash his windscreen with my bare hands?
‘Get out of the car’ I heard a man’s voice say, ‘Yallah, get out now.’
A police car with three police officers had pulled up next to the flaky guy’s car.
Talk about unlucky! As if it wasn’t enough that this guy’s whole face was about to fall off or that he was under the impression that it was ok to wear clothes that would have been considered too gay even by a gay man living in Florida during the eighties, or that he had just been threatened by a girl to have his windscreen shattered to bits, he now had to be arrested! Even I felt sorry for him.
‘It’s ok Sir’ I said walking towards the policemen, ‘It’s fine he was just about to leave.’
‘No he wasn’t’ said one of the policemen, ‘He was just sitting there. What were you saying to him?’
‘I said I was gonna smash his windscreen into pieces if he didn’t leave.’ The policeman let out a short involuntary bark-like laugh. ‘Did you hear that?’ he said to his friends, ‘We have ourselves a bit of a Karate Kid here.’ And then he made some, ‘Ooo aaa ooo’ noises as he mimicked some Bruce Lee moves. My cousin, not having been able to understand all the Farsi bits, looked quite baffled by the antics of this chubby policeman. ‘She alright?’ he whispered a little out of breath. ‘Foreigner’ I explained. ‘I see’ he said nodding his head repeatedly a few times for some reason.
Then he turned to the flaky guy and said, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself bothering young ladies in quite back alleys like this.’
Too right Jenab Sarvan (officer) too bloody right.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

My other night’s dream kind of became reality yesterday. As you know my plan was to make Nana jafari karafs (mint, parsley and celery stew). But later in the day as I went to soak the herbs, I noticed that we were fresh out of mint. No worries I thought, I just make the celery dish with tomato puree. But then I realised that we did not have any tomato puree either and so off I went to the shops to buy one. But guess what, I had forgotten my wallet at home and so all the good that came out of my trip to the shops was that I had recycled some bottles and got harassed by some guy.
‘I don’t really feel like going home and walking all the way back again’ I though to myself whilst jumping up and down on the guy’s windpipe (I find that very therapeutic) and then suddenly I had a breakthrough, Baghali-polo (lamb with broad beans and dill rice). And Baghali-polo it was.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

I have a smiling problem. I smile too much. What can I do, being me is pretty funny. And what goes on in my head is almost always very entertaining. But that is not the only reason that I’m smiley. I’m sure my grandmother’s lessons of etiquette for ladies (ladies do not make rings with their orange peels (whatever that means) and ladies smile a lot. It’s a shame I did not pick up more of these) and also my mum’s transference of her most valuable lesson at secretarial college (smiling) to me have something to do with it too.
Smiling is nice I think. I like it when I’m walking down the street and someone smiles at me. It makes my day. So I do it to other people too. Not just to make their day but also (for a more selfish reason) because I think that person might then go off and smile at someone else and I feel even happier to think that I might have started a chain of pleasantness that one day might come back to myself again. This is not at all a farfetched fantasy considering how small Oxford is.
As you can see I have a lot of reasons for smiling which apparently also means a lot of reasons for getting into trouble. Guys are forever coming on to me in the street and trust me it’s not because I’m beautiful or anything like that whatsoever it’s simply because I’m smiling and therefore to them I look like I’m up for it or something.
I guess I’m getting to that age now when I should start to feel chuffed if some young guy is trying to pick me up but every time something like this happens I get so angry I want to kill the bastard.
I guess it’s more because I know that it’s my own fault and also because I am so happily married and so in love that even the thought of some guy having thought that was flirting with him makes me feel physically sick. The thing is I’m quite flirty by nature I think and used to do a lot of it before I met Kamyar so I know what flirting is and it’s definitely not walking around with a smile on your face because you have funny-looking animals and stories flying about in your head.
So what am I to do about this problem then? Do you think it’s a good idea to introduce a new version of the ‘Gay Hanky Codes’ into the straight community? O how I long for that day.
Meanwhile I shall be working on toning down the smile and looking a bit serious when walking down the street, which trust me, is not at all an easy thing to do if you are wearing a hairclip in shape of an orange and green fish.
Note to self, buy more respectable hairclips.
So last night’s making of Lubiah-polo went flawlessly. Although the end result was not as fantastical as I had thought it would be. I guess I still like my Lubiah-polo plain like my mum used to make. All those spices threw me a little. Now I’m looking forward to tonight’s dish: mint, parsley and celery stew, also yum yum Mohammadreza, no?

Friday, September 02, 2005

I had a horrible dream (well a nightmare) last night. It’s a bit embarrassing because it was all about food. What can I do, I just love food.
Here is my nightmare now: I wanted to make Lubiah-polo (green beans and rice dish) with lamb and the super aromatic spices that my mother in law had sent me. I fried some onions and then took what I thought was a plate of lamb pieces out of the fridge and poured its content into the pan. To my horror I realised that my lamb pieces were actually chicken drumsticks! Eh! I couldn’t believe it. I was so upset because I had really felt like having Lubiah-polo but oh well it wasn’t to be so I quickly changed the menu and decided to make chicken with mushrooms and oyster sauce. I took out the mushrooms from the fridge and threw a good few in the pan. But guess what, the mushrooms had turned into chickpeas!
‘Deep breaths’ I said to myself, ‘no need to panic. It’s probably God playing a trick on you after your yesterday’s post.’ And so our dinner changed for the third time as I thanked God for Ready Steady Cook (that had taught me to think on my feet, when it came to food at least. And also I thought I might get in God’s good books if I actually thanked him for something) and then kindly asked him to cut it out since it really wasn’t funny anymore.
This time I decided to make a Yazdi dish with: chicken, chickpeas, potatoes, turmeric and cinnamon. I took out some potatoes, peeled them, double and triple checked them that they were in fact potatoes and not say, Raspberry jam and then put them in the pan. ‘So far so good’ I thought and added some cinnamon. Suddenly the whole thing turned green and started smelling like fenugreek!
I threw in the towel; I could not think of anything to add to a dish with onions, chicken drumsticks, chickpeas, potatoes and Gormeh herbs to save it. God had won hands down.
I woke up. Phew, it had all been a bad dream.
The Palestinians downstairs were having a midnight feast.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

When I was little I used to say, ‘Dear god, please make this happen and I promise from now on I will do all my homework as soon as I come back from school before doing anything else.’ Now I say, ‘Dear god, please make this happen and I promise from now on I will go for a smear test every six months.’
Needless to say I’ve never done either of these things (not as often as I had said I mean) even though I have been quite lucky with my wishes.
I wonder if I’m getting away with tricking god or if he is so totally obsessed with my education and health that he always thinks, ‘She might actually do it this time.’