Parisa is a journalism graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently a MA candidate at the School of International Service at American University. She began writing about her native country, Iran, at her personal blog IranStories.com to share everything she loves about Iran and Iranians, minus all the politics (if that's possible). Tired of being asked the most basic questions about Iran, all based on stereotypes and lies, Parisa ust wanted to provide a pure image of what life is like in Iran...what is it like to be an Iranian woman.
Now, Parisa brings her I Heart Iran section from IranStories.com exclusively to Aslan Media.
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A rather blatant grammatical mistake on this announcement is yet somewhat true and worthy of notice.
An old trick in Iran when a couple are pulled over or questioned about their relationship is to tell the morality police or the Basiji that “we are cousins” or “we are family.” This is a widspeard and well known trick that sometimes works and other times doesn't. This piece of paper, placed on the front door of a business (perhaps a cafe or a motel) reads:
“Followed by the orders of the Union, we can no longer offer our services to the families who are not related.”
Can you imagine having “unrelated relatives?!”
A young girl kisses her boyfriend as they are arrested and put in a Police Car....probably being in public together (and kissing).
The variety of paradoxes I come across in Iran can only make me smile and love Iran. Look at the name of a barber shop adorned by a picture of Mohamad Reza Golzar, an Iranian actor known for his looks- and lack of acting talents:
Mahdi’s (May Allah Speeds Up His Return) Castle of Make-up
Mahdi is the twelfth Imam of Shia Muslims. He is currently absent and is believed to be the redeemer of Islam. It is said that his coming alongside Jesus Christ will spread peace and justice in the world.....or a good makeover, depending on your perspective.
In an Islamic context, "Hadith" are the sayings of the Prophet and the Shia Imams. The accuracy of them, however, is very difficult for the average people to prove. One must have extensive theological education to do so, and often only the clerics or those who study the Hadith could say whether or not a phrase truly belongs to the Prophet or Imams.
I found this image of what seems to be a more religious, conservative Iranian woman participating in a march. Her sign indicates the Hadith she quotes is from Fatima, the daughter of Prophet Mohammed. Or maybe she just made it up herself?:
Ayatollah Janati is known for being a hardliner and having conservative beliefs, often reflected in his somewhat daring comments. In the Nov. 29, 2008 issue of Sarmaye Newspaper, this appeared; A succinct and to-the-point quote for a nation whose women occupy 60% of universities and hold 80% of Math and Science degrees:
“Ayatollah Janati pointed to the statistics showing an increase in the average age of marriage: Girls attendance in universities is one of [our] miseries.”
Remember the first Morality Police ad from my blog? I found another one on Facebook. This one is called “Clothing and Personality.” Besides the cartoon image which I think is brilliantly similar to what one could come across on the streets of Tehran. It is the text on the bottom which I think deserves recognition:
I came across this little quote on a Facebook status update. It is a simple, yet accurate (I think), message capturing the attitude and ambition of Iranian women today:
"The strongest person in the world is not a man who lifts 250 kilos in one attempt...She is the Iranian girl who despite threats, gang rapes, splashing acid in her face, morality police, catcalls and abuses on the streets, is still going to college, drives a car, works, falls in love, trusts, becomes a mother and teaches her child to be a decent person in this country."
In one of the October issues of Keyhan, a conservative Iranian newspaper, the headline read, "Supporters of Gaddafi Yesterday Are Claiming Libya Today".
Photos of four presidents and national leaders on the front page adorned the article about the "West's effort to take over Libya." The Iranian public, however, was quick to send out a viral email with the following photo called "The Picture Keyhan Left out"
Iranian people keep an eye on their own society and can sometimes be critical of themselves. A criticism I personally heard growing up in Iran is how passive and insensitive we could grow toward our country’s problems.
This passivity and frustration increased after the brutal crackdown following the 2009 presidential election. A friend of mine recently posted the following piece on her Facebook wall. The interesting thing is that, finding it to be very well said, I ‘liked’ the post and asked whether she had composed it (or if it’s a joke going around the country). She was --I gathered--somewhat offended and commented on my question that “for someone who lives outside of Iran, it is a poem or a joke; for Iranians it is the truth of living in this country.”
Poetry is an important part of Persian culture. Not only it is popular among the educated, but also the less educated (unlike in the "west"); in Iran, even the illiterate understand the language of poetry. While we have a wide range of poets with different styles of work, from classic to more contemporary, people of all classes and backgrounds are familiar with a number of leading Persian poets.
One poet whose poetry is cherished and recited on daily basis is Sohrab Sepehri. Known for his modern mystic poetry, Sohrab’s delicate view on life and nature invites the readers to constantly question their beliefs and views.The Water’s Footsteps in which he cherishes his simple life and appreciates what he has as well as questioning the most basics traditions and beliefs of his reader, is one of the most famous and widely memorized poems in Iran.
About the Columnist: Parisa Saranj
Parisa is a journalism graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently a MFA Creative non-Fiction writing candidate at Goucher College. She began writing about her native country, Iran, at her personal blog IranStories.com to share everything she loves about Iran and Iranians, minus all the politics (if that's possible).
Tired of being asked the most basic questions about Iran, all based on stereotypes and lies, Parisa just wanted to provide a pure image of what life is like in Iran...what is it like to be an Iranian woman. Now, Parisa brings her I Heart Iran section from IranStories.com exclusively to Aslan Media.