White Balloon

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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy 2007

As 2006 is getting closed, it's fun to look back even for a short while and also think about what's coming up:

The most important change in my personal life was the start of a self assessment and getting a more active attitude about my personal destiny. Last spring, I went through a serious review of my personal relationships and my insecurities which was very helpful. With Reyhaan we had a bumpy ride this year. Probably this year had the most number of deep and friendly conversations, arguments and verbal fights, physical interactions, etc.
We both have felt the threats that have been coming to our relationship.
We're working hard to define many aspects of our married life and it's certainly takes whole a lot of effort and energy. My wish and optimism in 2007 is for bridging the gap and get to a better understanding and a happy feeling. What's clear that a strong love and care that exist in both of us never allows us to push too much and that's the reason for my optimism.

This past year, I was more active in my career and finally started a direction in my research and finally did the PhD comprehensive exam (the oral part is still left to be done in a few weeks). I was able to finally reach a conclusion about my relation with my adviser and people around me at work. This was one of those issues that bothered me big time and made me quite insecure about my personal capabilities. Now at least I have a better understanding and expectation about the whole situation.

What to say about the world in 2006: It's too early to be completely be optimist about the recent developments, but at least I'm less pessimist. We live in a world that is filled with lies and propaganda and humans are generally going through a fight of survival. Last week, I went to Las Vegas which is the capital of lie and shallow culture and is the best place to observe the confusion of my generation in dealing with
illusionary pictures of happiness and success. From one side the
globalized corporate world is bombarding us with a fast paced message of greed and commercialism. On the other side of the aisle are the liberals and leftist intellectuals who are still lost in analyzing this complicated globalized world and can't really come up with a well established agenda. The results: People with the lowest understanding about the world, culture, history and humanity are the most influential people of the world: Ahmadinejad, Bush, ...

Was it too dark? Maybe! But I see the bright side of things: The year has been filled with strong resistance of the humans against this trend of aggressive economic, religious and political domination: From students of Tehran to the voters in US and south America, from the individual blog messages to mainstream movies like Babel, I observe the displeasure and resistance is there and is building up.

I traveled a lot this year: Cairo, Dublin (Ireland), Tehran, Kurdistan of Iran, Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, Hawaii, Washington and Vegas. And probably these trips were the most helpful channel for me to broaden my vision towards life and our world. I still strongly believe that the best way to spend any saving for myself is traveling.

There were sweet and bitter memorable moments in this year both in my life and generally in the world:

- Retirement of my father and having my parents at my place for a month.
- Observing the interaction of the western pop and commercial culture and deep traditionalism and fundamentalism in a shopping mall in Cairo.
- A memorable morning in Dublin with Reyhan, breakfast at the pancake place. It was definitely start of a new chapter in our married life.
- Zidan's head-but at final game of world cup and his departure.
- Watching a powerfull Iranian anti-war movie in Tehran. The movie is named "table bozorg zire paye koochak". It shaked me.
- Visiting the Prague Castle and the area in front of it. It was one of the best sceneries that I have ever seen.
- Hearing about Morricone's concert in NYC (I'm going there in Feb.)
- Hearing Reyhaan's happiness when she heard about my surprise trip to Hawaii.
- Hearing that my brother got a full time position.
- The student protest against Ahmadinejad in Amirkabir University of Tehran.
- Execution of Saddam which was definitely an important point in modern history (I'm still digesting that).

A new year is arriving. Although a symbolic moment, but certainly an important change. Let's hope for a less bloody year. For less of poverty and more of peace and wisdom. For less of superficiality and more of spirituality. Happy New Year to all of you and your loved ones.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Saddam's execution

The media reports that Saddam Hussein is going to be hanged in a few hours. I still think this is a strong political bluff by to pressure the Sunni circles to give up their position (as part of new Bush strategy in Iraq).

But if American allow the execution to be carried on, this will be one of the most stupid mistakes of them in Iraq. What would be solved with his execution? Why Americans let Saddam become a martyre in the Sunni world? This will only streghen his position as a herioc leader.

Saddam should be taken to court rooms over and over for years to answer thousands of his atrocities. By such a quick sentence and execution, he'll be relieved from his shameful life. Saddam should get a life sentence and be forced to live in prison to finally see a new generation of Iraqi who won't give a damn about him. I am against death penalty, even for monster like Saddam.

Movie: L'Enfant

I watched the French movie, L' Enfant tonight. Generally speaking the movie was pretty good: a simple plot, simple structure, no music, etc. One of those films that I call them pure cinema. It remind me Kiarostami's Ten that is another great example of that style. Something great about the style is its effectiveness in influencing the audience right at the moment of watching. In L' Enfant there were parts that I deeply felt the sadness and loneliness of the main character. And it all comes from the powerful picture with no music and special effect. In this pure cinema, unlike many of the mainstream movies, the director is an artist and not an art engineer.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oscar for Morricone


Ennio Morricone to receive honorary Oscar!

Apparently February is going to be Morricone's month (at least for me)!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Person of the year

Bravo Time magazine for the smart choice for:

1. Electing US (the people) as the person of the year.
2. Not electing Ahmadinejad for the title. It would have been such an embarasement!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


I watched Babel tonight in small local cinema.

1. For film lovers like me, it so naive to think that the joy and fun hat we get from DVDs and home theaters is even close to the experience of watching a movie in Cinema. It's a matter of fact that with the growth of home theater solutions, cinemas and theaters are a dying industry and not many people tend to go to cinema as they did years ago. Tonight I promissed to myself to be less stingy about cinema and leave my saving attitudes to other places. This is one of the few things that I really love and can not see its deteriotation.

2. Babel directed byAlejandro Gonzalez Inarito is about quality of human interactions. In a world where quantity is the major trend, Mr. Inarito creates a beautiful picture about life and destiny and a world where misunderstings are the superior to understandings. The movie has a similar strcuture to director's recent work 21 grams. A Juxtapositional story line and montage that pull the viewers mind as long as 140 minutes. The movie is quite emotional and its difficult not to be impressed by the emotional exchanges.

3. Disfunctionalities of relations are everywhere. In mountains of undeveloped mountain life of Morroco to modern streets of Tokyo. And we human are thirsty of love and attention and our desperate effort to simulate human qualities are nothing but failure. The movie takes a critical attitude specifincally towards America and modern world where media buzz constantly makes people creep to the grounds of materialistic life.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Me, Myself and Mahaan

The letter that I had written for Mr. Bayat, brought me an emotional letter from my cousin. He has been my buddy since childhood and big part of my best memories in Iran are shared with him. We loved cinema and enjoyed it together. Also my passion for film music and piano had a lot of overlap with him. Anyway, he wrote me a nostalgic note about those old days of waiting in the long queues of the Fajr Film festival to get a ticket and watch as much as possible movies. He wrote about my passion for Morricone, etc. And he told me about the concern that he has about both of us: We are missing all of our passion and what we were about. He reminded me about my passion for music and told me not to stop it.

It has been a while that I feel empty from inside. It's a very confusing state that I don't know even what to blame. But there was a morning about 2 months ago that suddenly I asked myself: What am I all about? What is my identity and where is my individualism? What qualities do make me different than the guy next to me? Certainly not my PhD and my research, since I am neither crazy about that work, nor a big shot researcher. Then for a moment, I really missed my teenage years when I had a more defined "self". My friends had a definition that this guy is crazy and passionate for this and that and his life is about those. In that morning I looked at myself and found nothing there. A bunch of random little things here and there with no clear structure.

Certainly relationships have a big role in my problem. Back home, I had more choice to pick the people that I wanted. I had a clear definition of my ideal friends. As I grew up and life became more complicated, the choice of people around me also got more strict and complex. Conflicting priorities came up and as the result the people that I hang out do not share all my interests and my passions get to be pushed into the background. The result, me as a big film fan, don't watch one movie a month! Don't touch the piano once in 3 months! Go on for a week with no music!

On the other side, life and generally responsibilities are also over extended. 15 years ago, when I was crazy for films and was able to watch 40 movies in 10 days period of the film festival, I never had to care that much about the future life of my brother or my brother in law. Then, I didn't care for credit card bills, buying this thing cheaper from Costco, etc. Life was certainly simpler.

Long story short, I miss being passionate about some artifacts like a movie, an artist, one piece of music. I don't want to accept this state as the matter of fact. And I need to wake my "self" up soon.

I close this passage with the news that my all time favorite film music composer, Ennio Morricone is finally coming to US for his first time concert in NYC. Actually, I got quite crazy and spent $150 for each ticket to see his program with Reyhan at a very fine seating. So you see, I still can get a little bit crazy!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Supidity of mind manipulation by media

If you follow the news in US these days, you hear a lot about one upcoming meeting of the president regarding the situation in Iraq. For 3 weeks, we were bombarded about the upcoming meeting of Bush with prime minister Maliki of Iraq (practically a US approved element). Then there was the trip of President Talabani of Iraq to Iran. Now they are talking about the meeting of Bush and top Shia politician (Hakim). What is really the significance of these meetings? How many of these meetings have taken place with no bit of improvement in Iraq's situation! Considering all the formality around these meetings, you would think why do they really matter in this dangerous situation in Iraq. For three weeks, we hear daily bombings with tens of civilian casulties and media diverts our mind with one upcoming meeting? If some sudden change is going to happen, can't a meeting at ambasador level cause that? If Bush is going to cause a real change of course in Iraq, can't he pick the damn phone and discuss with Maliki instead of:
1. Talking for 3 weeks in the media about a one hour meeting
2. Flying to Jordan
3. Delaying the meeting for one day (make it: "Oh, my God, this is really significant meeting").
4. Meet the guy over breakfast
5. Give a totally BS press conference, saying Iraqi forces are going to take the control in 2007 (Didn't Bush say the same crap before the 2004 election?)

And I blame the media big time for these types of audience manipulation. All they care is to fill the air and keep the audience tunned to watch the comercials. Nothing really more.
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