Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unleashed Misogyny and Women's Responses

US wants to save the Women in the Islamic world but fails to do so when it comes to its own women. Jessica Williams wraps it up ironically on the Daily Show. Women are not the victim but the ones who provoke sexual harassment and thus are responsible! Yeah, that's right, that's what you hear on the mainstream news debate about sexual harassment, which is not different from what the Islamic governments or even Indian officials say when it comes to rape, violence and sexual harassment. Women are incriminated instead of rapists. Meera Vijayann gave a brilliant TED talk on gender violence in India.

The absurd misogynist part comes not only from men but surprisingly from Foxnews women who in response to catcalling say: "they mean it in a nice way", "they wanted to pay a compliment", "when I was younger, I didn't like it, I thought it was sexist, blah blah blah, but now if it doesn't happen I'm like 'excuse me?'" Watch the part by Jessica and you'll see where the depth of the problem is.

It's not only on the mainstream news that sexism is encouraged and women are criticized for being too fussy about it, but also the popular culture is actually endorsing date rape. Robin Thicke's horrifying "blurred lines" music video is an epitome of misogyny in the pop culture. One wonders, how can a woman, in a right state of mind even play in these videos. "I know you want it"? really? That's how you rape women because you know better what they want?

This is just a few part of the lyrics:

You hear this song in the supermarkets or retail stores. How does that make you feel?

I'm glad some women made parodies to this song. This one is a smart one by Law Revue Girls. If you wanna know why they made this and before criticizing women for misandry, you gotta watch the original one by Robin Thicke first. 


There is also another short video some women made in which they try to show what it would look like if women catcalled men. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Leonard Cohen

Happy Birthday poet!

You filled my silent moments with your husky voice that ages like whisky and becomes evermore tender as you get older.

I don't know where to start... from finding your house near Marie-Anne street in Montreal, or the tears I shed in Budapest while sitting in the first row, watching you perform 'Lover, lover, lover' with that amazing lutist? From the depth of a kiss to how you say 'I'm your man'? From the flaming words of 'A thousand kisses deep' to the blues of 'famous blue raincoat'? From the excitement of 'First we take Manhattan' to then taking Berlin? I don't know which one... I have memories with all your songs... memories in different places, memories that travel.

Happy Birthday poet
Happy Birthday!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Wojtek, Krakow, me, and my host


Krakow had been on my list of cities to visit since more than a decade ago. The reason being its beauty and the fact that I heard a rumour that it was so beautiful that Hitler didn't destroy it. This was a nonfact indeed. The fact was that Krakow was invaded in the first week of September in 1939. Of course I told this to my courchsurfing host in Krakow, when he asked me : why Krakow?

My host's profile on couchsurfing was the one I had spent the longest time reading since I joined couchsurfing 4 years ago. I clicked on different links that he shared to intriguing ideas and the group he had started on couchsurfing, to gather TEDers as I coin the term and couchsurfers to share ideas.

My host was a British living in Krakow. One of those amazing travel stories was that when he was driving me to his place, he told me that he was involved in a project to commemorate Wojtek, the Syrian Soldier bear that was found in 1942 in Iran by the Polish refugees from Stalin's gulags. Richard told me that the statue of Wojtek was unveiled the day before, i.e. the day I arrived in Krakow. I was astounded. What were the odds that I, an Iranian travel to Krakow and be hosted by the person who had a significant role in making this project happen, and Wojtek's statue be unveiled the day of my arrival in Krakow? Richard's goal was to use Wojtek, to draw attention to the history involving Poland, Germany, Russia and Iran. He created a facebook page for this project.
Can the statue of Wojtek be built in Iran?

Here's a part of an article on the untold story of Soviet deportations during WWII.

"...When Stalin switched sides after Hitler’s surprise attack on Russia in June 1941 and granted the Polish exiles a short window of so-called “amnesty”, only a small number, about 115,000, led by General Anders, managed to escape to freedom through Persia (Iran) in 1942. This is the untold story, Ms. Golubiec believes, that the film “A Trip to Nowhere” captures so eloquently in an animated collage of images, songs, sounds and voices of the survivors."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A shared New Year's Resolution: Talk, Look, We're Still Physical Creatures in a Physical World

Last week, while I was watching The Daily Show on Comedy Networks, I saw a commercial that was quite different from what we usually see. A woman was recording a message on her voicemail, saying that she was not available that day and gave instructions to callers to either leave a message or call her other colleague. The camera zooms out and we see her in her kitchen. She hangs up and almost burst into tears. Then we see a bold line appear, "Everyday, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a form of mental illness." A curious as I was, I searched and realized that there is a "Let's talk" campaign and in Canada, it is actually a serious problem. The sad part is not only this but that it became a serious problem only when loss of capital is calculated to be enormous. "With 500,000 Canadians missing work each day because of a mental illness, the impact in lost labour -market participation was an estimated $20.7 billion in 2012 alone."

It's the age of loneliness. People do not die from plague anymore but dozens of mental illness, especially in the west are plaguing people. It is becoming more and more difficult for people to communicate with each other, not only verbally but by looking and smiling at each other. I was talking to an American friend of mine in Berlin who's been living there for the past 5 years. She told me that one of the things that she learned there about Germans, was that when she walked in the street, if there were people in their balcony, she should NOT look at them because then she would be invading their private space, "so I look straight ahead," she said. Another instance came from my uncle who lives in Norway and told me that one out of four Norwegians take pills for mental illness, the most important of which is a result of lack of talking.

There are a few commercials and projects that deal with people's issues with human contacts and how they have changed in our times with the ubiquity of smartphones and social media. I do not think that we should stop using them cuz that is retrograde. I just think we have to know HOW to use them in order to avoid sad consequences of loneliness, loss of eye contact and actually talking to each other.
Since last September, I've been spending a lot of my time working and studying at home with no real human contacts except with my classmates in class and people I see in gallery openings.  I can see that when I go out after a while, I become excited to see people but sometimes became upset that most people are playing/working with their smartphones and are so aware of keeping their distance from each other.

A few months ago, I was introduced to someone in a gallery and while I was talking, the girl just pushed me away from her and said that she needed her space because she had a bubble around herself. I was so shocked at that moment and became doubtful about my physical distance from people. As soon as I left there, I called my closest friend and asked her if she thought I stood too close to people when I talked to them. She thought for a few seconds and as surprised as she was at my unanticipated question, said, "No, why do you ask this?" I told her the story and said, "I guess people here are very outright with saying how they feel." But it was not about being outright, she thought it was rude, "I wouldn't push someone if I feel they're too close, I would step back myself; besides, I don't think you stand too close to people. This is an extreme encounter and it's the first time someone tells you this, so don't worry." But then, I could not stop thinking about this. I even thought it could be because of a cultural difference but again, I lived in different countries west and east, and it never happened to me.

I found these videos interesting, so I just share them here. I just wish that we become closer to each other, look at people, exchange smiles, feel at ease to start a conversation in public transport, and less concerned with our physical space in 2014.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

When the bubble magically bursts

After I closed my music weblog on the 69th day of posting a song, something magical happened for the second time in my life. I was thinking about it since yesterday that it happened and when I decided to write it here, I realized that there are some experiences in life that unlike the title of this blog, repeat in one way or another, though that doesn't make them alike. I write it as a witness to remember, though I can't promise myself that I will learn from it and that's when the unrepeatability of the experience comes to the fore.

Has it ever happened that you found out that you were in a bubble for a while, protecting yourself from the existing realities? A bubble that floated in the air, carrying you over the clouds, leaving you with positive thoughts about things and people around you; a bubble that acted like a shield and helped you to avoid negative thoughts and to see people through rose-tinted glasses. Then suddenly that bubble bursts and you fall, you will most probably fall on a hard surface and will find it hard to get up. You will feel numb and it will take a while to understand you're no more in a bubble. Then you will feel pain in your body, a kind of withdrawal pain, in the most dramatic case, a kind of pain that a heroin addict might have while trying to quit. Then if you're strong enough, you gather yourself for a leap. Your vantage point when you stand up on your feet is different from the one inside the bubble. The rose-tinted glasses are smashed and you look at life with no filter in front of your eyes.

The best possible person to burst that bubble is the very same person for whom you put yourself in that bubble; the same person for whom you put those rose-tinted glasses on, for the sole reason of not destroying your good memories and positive thoughts about them. When that person bursts your bubble with a simple touch, you wake up into reality and see them the way they are, not the way you wanted them to be.

To go over the shock of the fall, the numbness and the pain, you have to overdose yourself with the very same thing that made you reminisce about the past and stabbed your heart. You have to overdose yourself with it and shatter your heart into pieces. Then you will feel like a patient who had just been recovered from a surgery; or a person who had just thrown up after feeling inebriated. The wounds heal and your mind clears, you're ready for a new view.

Through your fall, that person also falls and breaks like a glass and his pieces scatter away. Unlike your heart that is still alive with the blood that runs through it, and gathers all the torn pieces to heal your wounds, that person will never be the same person in your mind. No, you will not hate him, but you will become neutral as if he never stepped into your life; as if he never told you those rosy words; as if he never kissed you for half an hour; as if he never stayed in your arms the whole night twisting his legs around yours; as if you never felt feverish sitting on the couch, talking to each other, listening to music till four in the morning; as if you never massaged his feet; as if you never danced on the table for him wearing garter belt and high-heeled shoes; as if he never touched his forehead saying "oh God" after seeing you on skype; as if he never gave you any of those compliments... Instead, you will remember how unnecessarily kind you were. You start remembering all those words and acts that hurt or disrespected you and you never thought about them until he burst that bubble around you and reminded you of what was going on.

After I recovered from overdosing myself for one day with THE song, my view was clear. There was no mystifying element about him and about what happened or didn't happen. There was no question mark. All was gone... It was time to sing.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Taken 2

I wrote this on April 22nd.

A friend once said that it's a sin to watch a decent film on the plane. So I decided to watch a Hollywood  style movie (if you know what I mean) on my way back to Montreal from Edinburgh. I watched Taken 2. When I watched Taken a few years ago, the film did not have its Muslim vilification flavour. I guess a lot of things have changed since then. At the moment that I'm writing this, less than 10 days have passed from Boston marathon explosion and  already a considerable number of Muslims have been the target of disdain by some ignorant people in the States.
Taken 2 is another cinematic attempt to vilify Muslims by taking advantage of the current political atmosphere against Muslim and as a consequence, it consolidates the existing Islamophobia.
For those of you who haven't watched it, in Taken the daughter of an x-CIA agent is kidnapped by a Albanian gang in Paris. Since Bryan's daughter is virgin, instead of being drugged and exploited as a prostitute, she is saved to be sold to an Arab Sheikh for a high price. Why an Arab Sheikh? Because some of them think that having sex with a virgin girl will prolong their lives. The gang functions in Paris since they have a connection with a corrupt former French agent.
In Taken 2, the story happens in Istanbul and we realize that the gang was Muslim when the father of the guy who kidnapped Bryan's daughter, announces that he wants to take revenge at the burial of his son, after saying some prayers in Arabic. Then we see Hagia Sophia's minarets, we hear azan in the background that all together prepare us for the theme of the movie and decide for us the hero and the villains. By the time the 3 members of the family are in Istanbul, we know that this innocent American family is going to be the target of kidnapping by some ignorant Muslims who are led by a father who is filled with feelings of revenge and hate. The daughter, Kim, has failed her driving test several times but she's a stunt driver in Istanbul's narrow alleys, drives like James Bond and passes in front of a train within a few milliseconds it crashes the car. Don't worry if you don't pass the driving test in America, you can still drive like James Bond in the Middle East! Your father keeps his cool even when your mother is hung upside down with a rope in a dungeon in front of him. He calls you, gives you the directions, tells you to detonate a few grenades here and there and guides you to his location with an accuracy more precise than a GPS. Heaven knows how he came up with that while he was blindfolded in a car. Oh no, I forgot, he's an American, a superhero, this is a piece of cake for him.
The movie ends with a happy ending where the family is reunited and everyone has a milkshake. How lovely! How innocent, how intelligent these Americans and how villain, revengeful and corrupt these Muslims are!
I wonder, I just wonder why we never see any movies about Rais Bhuiyan, a victim of hate crime after 9/11 who instead of hating Mark Stroman, the man who shot him and left him with severe injuries in his right eye, launched a campaign requesting Stroman's death penalty be commuted to life in prison with no parole (read more here.) Why there is no film on the outrageous Khandahar Massacre in which Robert Bales, the American soldier killed sixteen Afghan civilians, or similar events?
It's a sad reality. May we all be conscious of what's going on in this world and not be transfixed in front of the screens of leading film production companies.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Granny, the house feels empty without you

Yesterday I called my dad while I was still in bed, before getting into town and discovering Edinburgh on foot. "I have a bad news for you" he said, making sure that my conference presentation was over and that I had already submitted my exams. My heart started beating fast. I was silent. "Your granny passed away two days ago," he said. I burst into tears. "We didn't want to tell you to distract you from what you were doing." For a moment, I thought how considerate of them but how distant I was from them.

Granny was my grand grandmother, a selfless beautiful woman inside and out, who had stayed in home for almost twenty years, because she had problem walking, yet this imposed confinement did not make her grumpy nor did it create any sort of complex in her character. She lost her husband at a young age and never remarried. She was forever in love with him and because she was religious, she had one wish only, and that was to reunite with her husband "if I deserve to go to heaven" as she said.

When she talked about him, tears ran down her eyes. She lived with her only daughter and was the light and joy of the house. She thought about everyone and her arms was a refuge for all of us, her grand grandchildren, her grandchildren and her daughter. I never heard her lie or give an unfair comment about anyone. She was an honest storyteller whom I always trusted without a shadow of a doubt . Whenever we were leaving the house, she said "I entrust you to the hands of God." I could never find an equivalent in my own words but I could feel the beauty of her words in the mind of a believer. It was the best kind of farewell. One could tell someone, "I entrust you to the powers of the good," or "I wish you safety on your journey," or "I wish you a safe journey" or… I don't know.

My granny was going to hospital back and forth in the past few months. Every time I called my uncle, I was hoping not to hear a bad news. She was suffering from heart, lung and kidney malaise. My aunt told me that when they were after the 13th day of the year (in Iran, the new year's holiday ends after the 13th day), she had told her: "now that the 13th is over, I can die; I won't ruin your new year's holiday." I sobbed when she said this. How thoughtful can one be to even think about the time of her death? My auntie also told me that the night before she died, she had dreamed of her husband telling her "you have suffered enough; it's time you come to me." She died peacefully the next day. Now that I'm writing these words on a train and watching the scenery passing the train by, I'm thinking about our journey in life, how life passes us by with all its good and bad memories, with the pains and laughters. We know about death, it's been there for zillions of years and yet we feel so weak and helpless when we face it, when one of our closest ones dies.

I was thinking about the first time I faced the death of a person whom I had seen in real, my father's uncle. It was weird and uncanny. I did not comprehend that he did not exist anymore, that he was simply not there and was not going to be there. I went around the house and came back and wanted to call him but kept silent when I realized that he was no longer sitting on his armchair.

It will still be the same when I visit my granny's house. I will still be searching for her in that house, on that chair near the stove where she cooked the most delicious foods for us, on the floor where she sat and knitted pullover and scarves, and on the leather chair she sat where I combed and plait her beautiful all white hair. I never wanted to think that I wouldn't see her when I said goodbye to her last year before leaving Iran. My granny, my sweet, kind granny, that house should feel empty without you. I don't know how I'm gonna enter it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Cherry of Her Lips

When I took a course in creative process, we had to prepare a poetry portfolio besides one for screenplay and one for fiction. I wasn't that excited to write poetry cuz it's not my cup of tea. Not that I didn't like poetry since I devour some from different corners of the world but I wasn't the one who would write poems. I was content with reading and enjoying the lines from Hafez, Khayyam, Baudelaire, Poe, Darwish, etc.
I contented myself with the last poem I wrote and breathed a sigh of relief that I didn't have to write anymore poems.

Later, when I showed it to one of my friends who is a poet herself and started a website of "The Poetry of tomorrow, 100 Days", she told me that she wanted to post it on her website. We translated the poem together from English to French on a weekend over a tisane, at a cozy cafe, because her website was in French.

Here goes what I wrote

‘’The cherry of her lips’’

Red turns green

steps forward like machines

crossing the zebra garb

on the adorned black street

my eyes followed the wind

through her hair

my steps, her steps

a sudden fall on the stripes

a trickle of blood

down her ghostly face


she ran to her like an angel

and lifted her up

but I only saw her cherry lips

her steps I followed

not to lend a hand but

to pleasure in her presence

her hand I saw, not

the bruised nose she cleaned

her fingers, not

the bloody napkin

on the still white face of the woman

who had fallen

the evil in me wished for more blood

for I wanted to engrave in my mind

the cherry of her lips

* * *
And here's the French translation

’’La cerise de ses lèvres’’

Rouge tombe vert

Mécaniques pas en avant

Tirant le voile du zèbre

Sur la rue noire décorée

Mes yeux suivent le vent

À travers ses cheveux

Mes pas, ses pas

Une chute soudaine sur les rayures

Une chute de sang

Coulant du spectre de son visage


Elle a couru à elle comme un ange

Et la soulevât

Ses pas j’ai suivi

Pas pour prêter la main

Mais pour jouir en sa présence

Ses mains j’ai vu, pas

Le nez couvert de bleus

Ses doigts, pas

La serviette tâchée de rouge

Sur le visage figé blanc de la femme

Qui était tombée

Le diable en moi désirait plus de sang

Pour graver en ma pensée

La cerise de ses lèvres

Saturday, March 9, 2013

East Coast Journal- Last part

For part 5, click here

I met Byron, a 25-year-old guy, at Moncton market. He was kind enough to accept my request about staying on their organic farm on Prince Edward Island for a day. When we arrived at the farm, he told me that he built his hut himself. I went inside. There was dust everywhere. I was looking for a bathroom when Byron saw my puzzled face. “Where’s the bathroom?” I asked. He said, “ummm, we don’t have bathroom here.” As if I was hit by thunderbolt, my eyes widened. I was about to repeat my question but hesitated and thought maybe I didn’t understand what he said. So I faltered, “ wwwhat, well, hhow… wwwhere do you… wwwhat do you do when you wanna pee?” He looked at me and said with a smile, “well, we pee outside.” Trying to digest what he said, I asked, “but where do you poo?” He said that they do it when they’re in town, they, meaning he and his girlfriend. “We go to town everyday and so we do it there.” Astonished and speechless, I didn’t ask where they take shower. Maybe they went swimming in the sea. I couldn’t contain myself and said, “but you’ve been living here for more than a year, right? You didn’t have a plan to have a toilet when you were building the house?” I felt my questions were becoming irritating and I really didn’t want that. He said that they didn’t think it was necessary and they could forgo the bathroom. “It’s been only a few weeks since I set up the solar panels. Before that we did with candles.” I was beginning to think that either I’m too bourgeois or they were really primitive. I tried to remember the old houses of a few hundred years old in Iran; yes, they had toilets. Even the humble huts in small villages I had seen, they all had toilets. Trying to get to know him more, I asked, “what made you come here and start your own farm?” He said, “We always wanted to have our own place and be independent. I don’t like paying bills. Here we grow organic vegetables and sell them at the market. My girlfriend works at a bar and life goes on.” While I was thinking of the meaning of comfort and how it has developed through history, I realized that for some people it has not developed and they adhere to the age-old meaning of comfort. Perhaps, that development wasn’t necessary for them.
Byron pointed at the dusty floor and a rag and told me I could sleep there. I looked at a chair and a table and thought I’d sleep on the chair. When he said that he’s leaving to pick his girlfriend up, I got excited and brought my backpack with me. On the way, I said, “is it possible that you drop me at a bed & breakfast or a hostel when we get in town? I’m sorry, I know you’ve been hospitable to accept me as your guest; it’s just that I can’t stay here tonight. I need a bathroom and a clean place to sleep.” He said, “I’m sorry I should’ve told you about the condition.” I stopped him before he finished, “no worries, you don’t have to feel sorry, I just took certain things that I find basic for granted.” He said, “it’s more than a year since we left city life and got used to this life of our own that I didn’t think it’s not conventional. Let me ask Reggie and see if you could stay the night there.”
Reggie and Stella were the owners of the big farm, which Byron and his girlfriend rented a part of. They were a middle-aged couple. We had soup at their place before getting to Byron’s house.  The first thing I saw in Stella was her penetrating blue eyes and long white hair. She was half native and had a special charm.
I stayed the night at Reggie and Stella’s in a comfortable guest room they offered me. I woke up in the morning with a smell of incense that Stella burnt. She said that she did it everyday. I told them many things about Iran they didn’t know. It was their first encounter and they didn’t really expect to see a backpacker from Iran in an organic farm in PEI. Stella told me a lot about the native Indian traditions, the powwow, sweat lodge and more. I was amazed at the richness of their culture and traditions. It was a pity that I couldn’t stay there more and had to leave to Charlottetown. Byron was kind enough to take me there, where I met my new couchsurfing hosts, a couple from Italy and Japan.
We rode on bike around Charlottetown for a couple of hours and came back home for a delicious Japanese food. The next day, Giancarlo, my host, woke up with me and took me to the bus station on bike.
On the way back to Moncton, I was summarizing my 3-week trip that was almost unplanned. I was thinking how everything happened on the spot and how accidental things were, the encounters, the places that I didn’t originally plan to visit, the sleeping in the wild, hitchhiking, camping by the beach around Cape Breton, jumping from the waterfall, skinny-dipping in the crystal clear water of the ocean surrounded by cliffs and lying on a rock in the middle of water under the sun, and last but not least, the people. The diverse people I met, the talks we had and the drinks we toasted. It was a unique trip, in the real Canada!

The end of the journal.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

East Coast Journal- Part 5

For part 4, click here.

The next morning we started our day by jumping into the water which had still kept its cold temperature from the night before. We were surrounded by enormous cliffs and the ocean was endlessly blue. Skinny-dipping continued as we drove alongside Cape Breton. In Meat Cove, the tip of the island, where you could normally see whales, we went hiking to the top of the hill. This is the view from there! 

We came down and while I was running to the water, Oliver said, “are you sure you’re gonna skinny-dip here? I said, “hell, yeah! Aren’t you?” He said, “I’m not sure, there might be some people around who might not feel comfortable about it or get offended.” I said, “listen! If you’re not gonna do it here, in this beautiful nature, where the hell are you gonna do it? In a swimming pool in town?! Look around you! It’s a sin not to enjoy this. Why would anyone feel offended? I don’t know why it’s such a big deal here in North America. In Europe this is quite common and people feel relaxed about it; western and eastern Europe. Let’s go!” I ran on the pebbles and immersed myself in the most crystal clear water. We swam and climbed up a rock in the water and basked in the afternoon sun while the waves hit the rock every now and then and splashed salty water on our bodies. It was one of those moments that I wouldn’t regret if I died, right there, right then.

We drove for an hour and we reached Dingwall on the east side of the island where there was a sandy beach. It was a quiet place with just a few people walking. We set up our tent and went walking alongside the water with a bottle of wine which switched between our hands. Not long after we watched the sunset, we slept. 

We woke up with the rays of sunlight passing into our tent. I went out and saw the colorful ocean adorned with rays of sunlight. Gosh, it was beautiful! I went on jogging on the beach while Olivier was doing tai chi. We had the whole beach for ourselves. We had become primitives and even our body clock was adjusted to nature.
We drove down the island through Cape Breton Highlands National Park where I saw moose for the first time in my life. 

We also went to a waterfall in the park, also the first waterfall I swam in. 

Afterwards we went to a lodge called Cabot Trail Wilderness ResortWe set up our tent and made our food ready in the beautiful lodge owned by Paul, a psychologist from Boston. He told me that after he got his PhD, he started practicing but after a while thought that he didn’t wanna spend his life listening to the pains and sufferings of people. Therefore he came to Cape Breton and built this place. The lodge was an amazing place I would love to go to again.
The next morning we headed down towards Moncton and bid goodbye to the beautiful Cape Breton.
I stayed the night in Moncton, looking forward to my adventure in Prince Edward island.

For last part, click here