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The thing with feathers

September 29, 2013 3 comments

Emily Dickinson called hope “the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” It is. We’re not believers, we’re hopers. Witness the response to Rouhani’s trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, the groan heard around the world when he eschewed Ban Ki-moon’s luncheon for heads of state—missing a great opportunity to high-five the U.S. President—and then the shying away from a chance meeting with Obama who, obviously the bigger man, had no problem taking that extra step. But all was not lost as the two men did have a 15-minute long friendly discussion over the phone. feathers

So, is a door opening there? Rouhani’s election certainly was a turning point, not least because of the contrast he offers with the miserable Ahmadinejad, his predecessor. Indeed, Rouhani’s well-tailored clerical robes, pleasant expression and measured tone are far different from the rumpled polyester sports jacket, close-set eyes and irrational rants of Ahmadinejad. Read more…

Categories: Daily life

Obama has Iranian blood

September 14, 2013 2 comments

American we knew and Kenyan we knew, but Iranian? Trust me, now we know. Let me explain. Iranians famously don’t like to fight. I’m not talking about actual killing—since its inception 34 years ago, the Islamic Republic has amply demonstrated that it has no qualms about that. No, I mean street fights. On a Naples or Medellin or Peshawar street, no one would think twice about engaging in fisticuffs in retaliation for a perceived offense but when an Iranian male feels insulted, his first reaction is to look around to make sure there are enough buddies nearby to restrain him and prevent him from jumping on the offender. street fightWhen living in Iran, I used to see any number of these displays—two guys yelling bloody murder at each other and occasionally turning to the people subduing them to say “hold me, don’t let me hit him” (begir mano, nazar bezanam), as the last thing on their mind is to actually fight. Read more…

Either/or

September 1, 2013 1 comment

(I don’t have anything to say about the pending Syrian intervention. Everyone and my cat seem to have an opinion about whether we should go in or not but no one can predict the outcome. Madame Sosostris herself has been staring into her crystal ball for days and still doesn’t know, so I’ll abstain.)day and night

On to what’s on my mind today: certainty, or rather the lack thereof. Until not so long ago, maybe a couple of decades, we could still be certain of a number of things, mainly through the thousand-years old dichotomy that had served us humans well till now: two of everything in opposition. Good versus evil as ancient Zoroastrians professed; night and day; heaven and earth; male and female; land and sea; Republicans and Democrats; good guys, bad guys; tyrants and legitimate leaders; democracy and dictatorship. This is how our minds work. Given a frame, we can happily fit into it tidy concepts as well as great ideas. But when we try and wrap our arms around less well-defined notions, we’re flummoxed. Stark opposition, “yes/no,” we understand; “maybe but”? Not so good. Read more…

Categories: Daily life, United States Tags: ,
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