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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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After hearing about how great a movie ‘Slumdog Millionare’ was, my husband and I decided we had to see it for ourselves. Yes, it’s a good movie and if you have the chance to see it, you will enjoy it. As we left the theatre, those around us were whispering how wonderful a movie it was and people were filing out with lingering smiles on their faces. But other than the main story line, we wondered how much of the subtlety the general english-speaking and American audience would understand. Could you understand what it meant for those children to live in a slum if you have never smelled the stench? Or to understand the ultimate achievement of Jamal if you have not witnessed how the impoverished are abused? Could they understand how cruel the child begger mobs are until a legless child holds out his hand to you for change?

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happy halloween!

Happy Halloween to all!


This is going to be a particularly exciting Halloween here in America, 4 days before the presidential elections. I suspect many will dress as one of the candidates. The talk of the town is who to vote for and what to do if the other gets elected. Here in California, many are wondering if they want to vote for legalizing gay marriage in the state and argue about details of the existing abortion laws. We are going to have a highly political Halloween this year as we fasten our seatbelts and impatiently wait for the outcome on November 4th.


Photo courtesy of happyhalloween

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game of your dream

We had a football game between UC Berkeley and UCLA today.  Typically, these games have quite an impact on everything in town, most importantly transportation and parking become almost impossible.  How lively it is to fight for winning, to have a favorite team, and to show your support for something you relate to.  Today, while I work at a café next to the football stadium in Berkeley, I am witnessing hundreds of students and alumni from both universities walk by wearing UCLA or Berkeley shirts, hats, or shorts.  Many have brought their children, and of course the children are wearing shirts with the name and colors of their parents’ favorite school.  As I write, Berkeley’s marching band passes by with the loudest drums and a few hundred uniformed students marching Bancroft Avenue while the crowd waves at them with open smiles.  I am automatically a part of the excitement as I hear that Berkeley has won the game: 41 by 22.  Why do I care? What is it that is so exciting about being a part of a community united for a purpose, a community that has a team and is relating to that team to feel better or to fight against something in common?  Would I be disappointed in Berkeley if she had lost the game? Perhaps but I think not for long; I would probably continue smiling and congratulate the UCLA folks passing by.



 Photo courtesy of nybox6

I recently had a job interview in England and did not get the job.  When I was invited to interview for a faculty position that seemed to be a dream job at the time, I remember getting extremely nervous to even attend the interview fearing for the outcome.  I wished I had not applied for the job at all and thought it was too early for me to do this as I was not prepared and not even close to graduating.  My father told me something that completely changed my attitude, which is why I want to talk about sports.  He said: “this interview is like a football match of your dream.  You are invited to play in your national team against another excellent team.  What matters is that you play for the sake of playing, the excitement, the glory of the game in itself – pay no attention to the results.  Life is not about the outcome, it’s about the game.  You will go and you will play your best and will enjoy the game regardless of the results. Do not pre-judge, judge, or post-judge the outcome.  Just play…”

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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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tale of “change”!

My aunt sent me this letter to share with our blog readers.  It is about hope and change and has a strong message for all of us, whether you are from New York City, Tehran, Tokyo, Cairo, London, or Los Angeles, even though the topic is on the existing situation in the United States.  Enjoy reading it and send us your own thoughts and experiences:

On the 28th of June 2008 I made all the possible arrangements to attend a party in Berkeley for Obama. I wanted to participate in that party to unite with the community I felt a part of. Being with the people who are seeking change; who are promoting dignity for mankind irrespective of their race and ethnic back ground. The thought of this understanding coming from American people really excited me for the wonderful world my children and their generation are going to have ahead of them. This all had come at the time when they had lost hope for the future. People of this country were about to have compassion for themselves and for the people of the world. How incredible.
The people at the party were obviously mostly the elite group from Berkeley, fit, outspoken, and open minded of all ages. The refreshments were generously presented along with very efficient display of stickers, pamphlets, T-shirts, etc.

It was a wonderful feeling to be sitting with this group under the same roof. The speakers informed us of all that was happening and all that is needed to be done in the few months to come (just a few months). The questions and answers followed the introduction and it gave way to comments about international affairs.

As one of the speakers started commenting and joking about Iran, I found myself feeling very confused. What is going on here? As the jokes about my country continued, I felt as if the walls of the room were closing in on me. I felt even dizzier when I looked around and saw these well intentioned people, or so they seemed in the beginning, as the same prejudiced people they are trying to oppose.

My confusion continued to the point of absolute disappointment not because I was being insulted as an Iranian and not because once more I was witnessing a great civilization like Iran was being mocked by ignorance, but mostly because I was loosing hope.

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