Sunday, October 26, 2003

This is the last entry in this weblog. Anything more, and I'll add a link to the bar on the left.

Today I visited Bank Melli in Niavaran and closed my account. The largest denomination bank note in Iran is 10,000 rials, which is $US1.20. I changed my mind after closing it and decided I wanted a 500,000 toman check, the highest denomination they have there (dunno about other banks). It took about half an hour more just to queue and count the 800 or so notes (5000s and 10000s) by machine. This system is good for some, that is, people who don't like to think about their job and people who make note-counting machines, but thousands of hours (lives?) are lost, just for counting notes, why hasn't anyone come up with a solution? The answer is as always, it just isn't a high priority here (cf traffic).

Oh, I will miss Iran and all my friends!! I don't want to go!! But as I wrote to my boss, it's much easier to live in Australia and visit Iran regularly than it is to live in Iran and visit Australia regularly.

OK, I hope you enjoyed reading the weblog!! Even if I did just type in the first thing that came into my head all the time. Or upload a picture of what I ate last night ;-) If you live in Tehran, please start another one in English to replace it, there are all too few. And if you don't live in Tehran, you should come and visit! Bye.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

5,693,584 rials.

I am looking at my last paycheck in Iran, for the month of Mehr. That's $US680. This is what a mathematics post-doc gets here. The question is, why did I stay so long? This is left as an exercise for the reader!

I hate to be harsh, but if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. The reasons for the brain drain are obvious.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Last night I decided to go to Casa Mia in Gandhi shopping center for dinner. The menu was in English. I became curious and asked why it wasn't in Persian, and the waiter said because everyone who comes here is a foreigner!!

On the way back home I decided I simply had to get a photo of the guy who dances all the time outside Cactus Pizza on Bahonar Street near Tajrish. He has lips almost as big as Mick Jagger, and is almost as photo-hungry as J Lo!! I don't know if it is a good job economically, but he is certainly very enthusiastic, frolicking across the road to pose beside my friend's car as well.

Mahathir denigrates Muslims, praises Jews!
In March 2002 I visited Hosseiniyeh Jamaran (Khomeini's old house in Tehran, now a shrine) and the guardian gave my friend a book about "Palestine in the view of the Imam". I see that this bovine excrement is online in English now. Flicking through it, it did teach me a new word, the only word that was completely new to me in the last 18 months, I think: tergiversating.

...these tergiversating pseudo-revolutionaries of little dignity have, in the name of freeing Quds, turned to America and Israel.

Ooooh, someone has been reading the thesaurus!! Words like Quds and Beit-ul-Moqaddas make no sense to most English speakers but tokhme Arabs insist on using them.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Concorde to be grounded. Did you know Concorde used to fly from Paris to Kish Island in Iran? A Paris - Kish memorial card is for sale on ebay for a little while.

I read something pretty funny searching for that. Kish beaches are segregated by sex.

But Saeed, a ladies man who has lived in Paris for a while, seems a bit uncomfortable.

Borzou: What do you think of the beach?
Saeed: It looks like a gay beach.
These signs have been in Tehran for a while, but I failed to notice them until recently.

Father, you arrived home safely!

Of course I did, and it had nothing to with the fact I wore a helmet. Everything is in the hands of Allah, and if something bad did happen you could always blame it on western conspiracy.

Getting back to the earthquake article... this quote is interesting:

Most people think what God wills, will happen. This is absolutely wrong. This thinking is poisonous.

It is a surprising thing to say here (people from Qom must be calling for his head), but one of the reasons 99% of Iranian motorcyclists don't wear helmets is this belief in fatalism.

I was in for a big surprise when traveling through Iran, for some reason I expected little habitation, but found it to be quite modern with numerous fuel stations and very cheap fuel. This was a big change as Turkey had massive fuel shortages that would remain for a number of years to come.[ I did get to have a look in Tehran, the capital of Iran, then still controlled by the Shah. I really liked Tehran, we frequented a great bar with nice mugs of frothy beer, steaks and pizzas. The women in Tehran were beautiful, the ones I noticed were as they had piecing eyes, and appeared to flirt, or was that my imagination. The nice looking ladies at the Tehran telephone exchange were all flirts, but I was aware that playing with these ladies was like stepping into a minefield. While flirting at the telephone exchange, I rang Mick Carroll in London and told him that I could live here in Tehran, I was so impressed with the place.

Trevor Carroll of Australia, April 1978

Saturday, October 18, 2003

True Story!

Once upon a time in Tehran, there was a consul of a small European country called M. M used to throw big parties, and drive down Jordan giving out invitation cards to any pretty girls, and he didn't know most of the people at his parties. At one of his parties one night, he noticed some people out on his verandah smoking grass. He went out and said hello, and one of the guys turned to him and introduced himself to M, and said "Oh by the way, this is my party!!!"

Nojavan recently revealed he isn't human at all - he's from Jupiter. I have a surprise confession too, I'm not human either, I'm a pig. But from hanging around humans so much, I have learned to walk on two legs like those in "Animal Farm" and I really enjoy human food so much more than what I used to eat. Here's some pictures of what I've been porking out on lately.

Last night I went to Borj-e-Sefid restaurant for dinner. I put my bag down and fifteen minutes later I reached down for it to get my camera out for pictures. But it was about 10 feet away!! My companions reminded me that it's a revolving restaurant. Here's a view of Pasdaran from downstairs:

And here is some of the food I and my fellow pigs ate. Jever tastes much like normal beer. Here it was 2150 tomans for the can, which is quite high... but this was the restaurant where you could have caviar for your appetizer (29900 tomans for 70g) or book ostrich meat in advance (~11500 tomans).

Yesterday lunch, I went to Taj Mahal restaurant.

Wednesday night, I went to Penguin restaurant near Enqelab Square.

And a bit before that, I went to Ladybird restaurant near Shemshak. Surprise, a fellow diner paid for all three of us, being deeply in love with my friend's twin sister. My friend interpreted that as a "gentlemanly" act I think, I am concerned about how "gentlemanliness" is often connected here with the willingness of the man to pay. But maybe more on that later.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

I just finished reading the report. It's worth 100 political English weblogs by people in Iran. It's so difficult to get a quality ranking on information on the Internet, but trust me, this is the best there is about the Iranian situation now. It captures everything I could possibly say. I kept saying something like "Right On!" all the time, it is all so true, unlike so much neo-con reporting, (glad Ledeen's shut up recently though) wishful-thinking (cough NITV, cough SMCCDI)-type reporting, this is all objective, all factual.

It's the product of people who've interviewed people in Iran over a long period of time, not just foreign journalists who jet in and out. That's why ICG analysts are so highly paid.

One caution though, foreign diplomats here can be pretty out of touch. I've been to this one Western consul's parties a lot and he earns an order of magnitude more than I do. Of course he's out of touch with what ordinary people think, it can't possibly be otherwise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Iran: Discontent and Disarray. The International Crisis Group's report is finally here!

Just a comment on the title... a veteran Afghanistan traveller spoke about Afghan culture...

"Western policy strives to find a unity of order in Afghanistan; however, the prevailing trend is a unity of chaos. Used to order westerners see chaos as failure. It is an alternate system alien to western thought, but that does not mean it cannot work."

It must be some kind of updated "noble savage" theory. Chaos is failure, come and look at the traffic here, look at the traffic death rate 10 times the US. "Organized chaos" is everywhere, things happening at the last minute, Iran can't compete... OK too much politics, back to everyday life.