Monday, January 16, 2006

Amazing Women but Forlorn Sheep

So CNN recently mistranslated an Iranian speech that said that Iran should have the right to pursue "nuclear technology" or something similar as "nuclear weapons". Now, CNN reporters and journalists have been banned out of Iran. CNN apologized and all, but come on, that's an egregious error. When the whole crux of the debate and point of contention is just that, weapons vs. peaceful technology, and you translate it as weapons, that's just irresponsible.

I like BBC better anyway. More balanced, and you actually see real world news, the stuff that American media outlets, no matter how liberal or conservative, will never show you. It's just one of a myriad of examples of that air of arrogance that pervades America's self-inflated position in the world. Not that it's not important; it is very much so, but sorry if the rest of the world isn't falling at its feet in awe and reverence... you have to play nice.

Not sure how I feel about banning in general though. Not a big fan of censorship. It *is* funny that troublemaking Iran banned big ole' CNN though. I must say, I also can't stand how websites are banned here. Makes me livid. Especially when I'm surfing and hunting for random pieces of information and then that stupid page comes up and says something in Persian (I refuse to figure out what it says, I just recognize it as the stupid "prohibited page".)

Things that have been prohibited include: Dr. Weil's website,, several different sites with recipes for cooking TVP (textured vegetable protein), the CNN news story about the teenaged boy shot in Florida (because of the word "teen"), the Naked Chef website (even though it's cookery..), any site or pages (including the Google search results page) with the word "tattoo", and though not for us, but for someone else, University of Virginia's website was banned because "virgin" is in it. Lame.

We were invited to dinner tonight at Ali G's place, AliBob's tutor and friend. I met his wife at Mr. Fazl's place a few weeks back. She was all covered up and I barely got a look at her face last time. Tonight AliBob went to the formal living room which was cleverly separated from the ladies' section, where I was. We could still hear them talking clearly but we just couldn't see each other.

In addition to Mrs. G, also present were her mother, sister Yasaman (17 years old), and cousin Maryam (15 years old) there. Mrs. G, who is only 27 and very pretty, already has 2 kids, a master's degree in Fiqh (Religious Jurisprudence), and a job. Mrs. G started cooking at the age of 10. Her mother is only 50 and was married at 14, and had 8 kids. 4 of them died. I was horrified but they laughed at my horror and said it's normal for all the kids not to make it.

Mrs. G's sister won a competition in her hometown of Mashhad and got a chance to come to Qom to compete in the Olympiad. What's interesting is that though she was competing in English, that's actually not her area of study... she just happens to be good at it. She was very curious to know about America and our activities there. She herself is into sports, takes Tae Kwon Do, plays badminton, handball and a bunch of other stuff I forget. She also has a webcam and is really into chatting and techie stuff. I don't know why I'm surprised, I hardly think of Iranian women as oppressed and disadvantaged, but still... even I am always refreshingly surprised when I see these women with a chador tightly wound around them let loose and show their talents and accomplishments. Maybe I too, at some deeper level, equate covering up with some kind of lack of opportunity. I don't know.

Mrs. G's cousin, who is 15, is already married legally and doesn't look 15 at all. She's not living with her husband. What they do in Iran is that, to prevent illicit relations between men and women, they perform the marriage contract, which allows the girl and guy to go out and get to know each other without worrying about being inappropriate. If they like each other and are game, they then have a wedding party/reception to make it official and seal the deal. If not, they break it off so they can pursue other options. It's interesting and really works in this culture... and also, a broken 'contract' isn't looked down up on the way a divorce would be after the two have been living together as man and wife. This way, guys and girls still spend some time alone together and the girl's virtue and honor are preserved.

Maryam's engagement will last another 2 years before she marries. They all feel 15 is too young for marriage, but the bride and groom still need to know each other well before they marry... so 17 it is.

The food was amazing, as usual. There was talk of my having babies.. and I gave my usual answer.. "maybe in 10 years". Mrs. G's mother said that I should have a daughter so they can marry Mrs. G's 4.5 year old son to her. I was flattered that they'd want to marry their boy to our unborn halfbreed girl.

Their kids are gorgeous, a son, Mohammad who's 4.5 years old, and a daughter, Fatemeh, who's 2.5. Mohammad is a brilliant little boy who has amazingly clear diction and speaks *very* grammatically correct Persian. He also has read enough books (or memorized them from his parents reading to him) and enough poetry, that he now goes through his own picture books and creates poetry about the pictures as he goes along. I, not understanding much, could still hear him making the rhymes and vocab work. It was quite amazing. He loves poetry. Already.

Anyway, it was a *really* cold night and remember how I said there were no animals tied up for Eid? Well apparently, there was one sheep just randomly tied up in front of a restaurant. It was sad not only because he looked dirty, but it was also freezing and he stood there, still as death, with his head hanging kind of low. Good thing he had tons of wool on him, I guess. I tried to get a picture, but it was so dark and I didn't want to get in trouble. He saw the flash and looked towards us. Here's that pic where the sign nextdoor, ironically, says "Chelo Kabab", which is a kabab made from lamb.


Blogger huma said...

ohhh this is toooo sad, you should have rescued the lil lamb :(

3:04 AM  

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