Author Archives: Manata

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obama’s message to iran

I’m so glad to see that the U.S. is finally engaging in direct communication with my beloved country and that there is some degree of cultural engagement going on. I would love to read your opinions about this:


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where the hell is matt?

A testament to humankind, kindness and compassion.  This is what life is all about. With best wishes to all of you for the new year:

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scattered thoughts

As I was walking home from campus the other night, the beautiful sound of the Islamic call to prayer, the Azan, filled the entire UC Berkeley plaza. Surprise gave way to happiness as I the entire campus scene before me changed with the rhythm of the prayer. Couples holding hands, undergraduates passing out flyers, the movement of the leaves of the trees all seemed to be in harmony with the music. As a practicing Muslim, there have been many times in my life where the true depth of Islam and its protective embrace have really touched my soul. That night was perhaps the most mystical and beautiful of them all. 

As I continued on my home and as the prayer gradually faded away, I slowly began to become aware of the fact that there are very few, if any, places on this earth where religions, races, and beliefs of all kinds are not only tolerated, but embraced whole-heartedly. While the call to prayer may certainly have not been welcomed by many individuals on the UC Berkeley campus, it did increase awareness and knowledge of the faith. The recent election of a black man as the President of the United States, while too certainly not embraced by all, has defied stereotypes, opened new spaces for dialogue, and renewed hope for those marginalized individuals who believed that they could never make it. Yes, it is a time of hope here, a time of prayer for better things to come. What are your thoughts?

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i am home


Playing ping-pong in South Tehran. All rights reserved.


“Manata, tell me, where do you like more, Iran or America?”
“I like both the same.”
“Yes, but where would you rather live?”

As an Iranian who has lived the majority of her life in America, I have been asked this question more times than I can recount by family and friends in Iran. It is not a simple question and the answer entails a deeper understanding of the concepts of home, location, and identity. These motifs are interwoven in the daily lives of those Iranian émigrés too assimilated in the host country to return to the land of their birth, too “foreign” to ever feel at “home”. Further embedded in this question are the intricacies associated with a life in exile. Feelings of nostalgia, marginality, and longing for return often characterize such persons who leave their homelands by force, voluntarily, or by necessity of circumstance.

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happy wednesday

Eid ul-Fitr mubarak to those of you who observe Ramadan. Happy Rosh Hashanah to those starting the Jewish New Year today. Happy Navratri to those of you who are Hindu. And a blessed and happy Wednesday to everyone. Please take today to observe the common threads that runs through us all.


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A beautiful song to the end of a beautiful day. I came across this soulful song by the young Iranian artist, Mohsen Namjoo, a few days ago and have not been able to stop listening to it since. In the most humble of settings, Namjoo sings directly to you and although you may not understand his words, you cannot help but feel the depth of the emotion behind each word.

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