Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Shuffling Through Tehran & Esfahan

I like to get away with things. Nothing serious - just little devilish acts. So when I loaded my iPod Shuffle for the trip to Iran I purposely selected songs that would set a stark contrast to the Islamic Republic street surroundings.

And what a rebel I am. It’s an eerie feeling to stand on a busy street corner in Tehran under the watchful eyes of the nearest Khomeini & Khameini billboard while grooving to DePeche Mode’s “My Own Personal Jesus”. When the next song shuffled to Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf" however, my skin overloaded with nervous tingles. Stares coming at me, bodies brushing by me, but no one knew the devil that lurked between my ears as the background singers moaned full blast. It felt illegal.

And later in the trip I was told that it IS illegal, which accounts for why I was the only one walking around Tehran with cords from my ears. Still, after a few days of carefully wearing the mandated hejab over my head, it felt to me like a healthy rebellion - not to mention the fact that wearing a scarf on your head is the perfect concealer for a strategically placed iPod.

That little iPod gave me another wonderful memory - in Esfahan.

Strolling the Si-o-Se Pol mid-day, I crossed paths with some young boys hanging out in the sun while playing around with a volleyball. When my Farsi ran out, I looked around for something to continue the conversation - my iPod shuffle. Setting the song to something by Lenny Kravitz, I passed it first to the oldest boy who winced at the sound of it and pressed every button to find something new - not the reaction I expected - especially since his shirt displayed "Eminem". So I reset the track to play a poetry recital of Omar Khayyam's "The Rubaiyat" and handed it back to him. Labkhand bozorgtarin bood (He had the biggest smile) then his eyes stared into space and his demeanor changed into a tranquil zone far away. This was cultural exchange at it best.

THOUGHT: Taking an iPod for a walk through San Francisco downtown, I’m just blending with the crowd, but in Southern Tehran iPods are a cultural anomaly. Now suppose there were 10 or 20 others like me in Tehran, grooving down the street, braving crosswalks at the speed of U-2 or Madonna. I wonder how that would affect the street culture over the span of a couple months.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

More people not paying attention to their surroundings/inner thoughts? Let's be glad this trend hasn't caught on.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Raha said...

Such a nice post! :)

3:33 AM  
Anonymous Ali Khalighi said...

I am an Iranian living in canada , hope you have fun and enjoy your trip.

You are now going toward the hearth of persia - Shiraz , you'll have so much fun there. it's great to see the heart of empire of persia. Please take some more photos , I did not see any photo from Tehran yet.

You know ... people think Iran is a desert , please show an actual picture to your people.

Thank You
God bless you.

Ali K.

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Mohsen said...

Healthy rebellion... Such a concise phrase to describe the life in the streets of Tehran. Iranian people are constantly clashing with the Islamic codes enforced upon them. Where else in the world you can violate the rules while you are confident you are doing the right thing?

Now in Vancouver, I just drop by the nearest liquor store and buy a quality wine, but it doesn't come even close to the taste of the murky, bitter Aragh (Iranian Vodka), which I used to bring home under the "watchful eyes of the nearest Khomeini & Khameini billboard"!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Amirَ said...

Greeting from and Iranian in Texas. I was on iranian Digg (Balatarin) and someone just said that your blog is filtered in my country (Iran). Wanted to let you know just in case if you have any Persian reader/subscriber.

If you like to remove you blog from filtering system you better make sure that your entries are free from forbidden terms, such as "sex", "Filter", "god" and things of that nature.

With best of wishes for you

10:05 AM  
Anonymous persian said...

Just for your information Most Iranians know what an ipod is and if they had jumped in hearing the sound in their ears it was probably for the loud noise!! By the way listening to an ipod is'nt illegal and the reason that people were staring at you was because you were a foreigner.

1:59 AM  

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