White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Yalda Night

Tonight is Yalda, the longest night of the year. We Iranians have a tradition of celebrating this night. Traditionaly we stay up late, read beautiful ghazal (poetry) of Hafez, eat watermelon and pamegranate and nuts. For me this night has always had a special meaning. During the years of primary, secondary and highschool, it was always concided with end of semester exams. The tradition of reading Hafiz poetry based on auspices, mixed with the typical exam night suspense was so sweet and sour! And thinking that from tomorrow, slowly days are going to be longer and longer. Yes, it's the start of winter, but already the hope of spring is reflected in the length of the days!

Happy Yalda! Happy Holidays!


Last night I watched Syriana. The movie is one of the few examples of a thorough examination of US policies in the oil rich Persian Gulf region. What we observe in the movie is a series of negotiations within the US government (DOJ, CIA) which is mainly directed towards securing the profits of the oil and military corporations. This is one of those movies which benefits from a fairly good screenplay, but lacks a solid structure and direction. The screenplay does a good job in showing the complexity of politics of the middle east, but to some extent over-complicates the plot and makes the audience some how lost. The film has a parallel multi-story plot similar to successful movies like Traffic and Crash. However, many of the episodes of each story lack any dramatic moment and keep the audience in an endless state of illusion. As an example, Iran is one of the important pieces of the puzzle that the movie presents. The movie starts in Tehran with some CIA operation that the audience never knows what's about that. Is it a plot against the regime or against the reformist elements or ...? How is it connected to the oil stuff? What's the Iranian oppositions' role there? Practically what I observed about Iran was some sort of whisper about the events in Iranian politics (student protests, nuclear standoff) rather than a clear cut picture about the role of Iran in these oil games.

Outside the complex political frameworks of the oil business, the movie is successful to portray the miseries of the working class families
(Pakistani oil workers) in the region and the way that they can be manipulated by religious fundamentalism towards a tragic fate.
The movie has a slow pace and its strong music is the only element which helps to improve flow. The actings are OK. I have seen George Clooney and Matt Daemon in much better performances than this one. And the Arab actors of the movie do a better job than the American fellows.

What to say at the end? Is the movie sincere in presenting dirty politics of US in the Middle East? Yes. Is it successful in communicating with the audience and presenting such a difficult and complicated story? Not sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Tea with Castells' in the extreme cold

It feel like -12 degree of Celcius outside! What better than staying and enjoying the cup of tea and reading Castells' The Rise of Network Socities. There is a lot to write these days, but I'd rather read more for now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

tragic day in Tehran

Another plane crash. This time majority of victims are from the media: Several TV reporters, news anchors, photographers, etc. And what to say about those residents whose home was crashed by the plane!

Tehran is very tired and seriously needs breath!

Some photos from the scenes of the crash: (1) , (2), (3)
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