After more than one year that I hadn’t left the city of Trondheim, for a couple of days eventually I traveled to Oslo. This was to give a talk at the event Human rights, democracy and the students’ struggle in Iran, organized by SAIH. Not to cover the story from one side, the opposition, the Iranian embassy’s representatives were also invited to give a speech at the event, but they chose not to take part.
Iran is essential to development in the Middle East in the years to come and may both solve and aggregate existing and future conflicts in several countries. What are the interests of the Islamic Republic?
Iranian students have a unique position in the current geopolitical environment. What is it like to be a student in Iran? The participation in the development of a republic of 80 million inhabitant and several large ethnic minorities are underreported issues in Western media. Students advocating democracy and human rights often do so at great risks to themselves and even their families.
To further understand these issues, we invite you to this seminar where the current political situation in the area will be debated.
Mahmood Reza Amiri Moghaddam – Iran expert and researcher at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, UiO
Nima Darabi – data scientist, Zedge
Josef Asad Taghizadehnaser, politically active Azerbaijani
I never had a commitment device. Neither I was ever taught how to get one. In that sense, sacrificing my future in favor of my present has always been of my habits. As time goes by present becomes past and now I look back: my present self has already lost the battle against my past self (my past has won, to put it nicely!).
Now if I regret and if make myself commit to future, my present self will again lose, this time in a battle against my future self. This means that my present is the loser of all my lifespan, and life now sucks more than ever. If this is me at my worst, which is quite pleasant, then let’s drink a toast to all my selves!
Believe me I’m not bullshitting! This man who calls himself Eloi is right. He had left the future long before my departure. He arrived later, however, since he couldn’t time-travel directly and had to stop a couple of “time”s.
I actually met him back in 2076. I was a kid when he picked me up and flied to a far old café: “You’ll make this place happen!”, he said. And I thought he’s mental. Eloi claimed he knows me and I don’t know him yet: “Not yet!”, he was repeating. He wished he had brought me to that weird place only two years earlier, to show me an old man who so wanted to visit me but he was told not to, strictly:
You could see your-old-self!Nima died without knowing that he could see you.
It was the first time I heard this name. Let me keep the details but he told me some stories, and that after the old man died, things turned out to be very different: “Nima should have come to tell you what he knew”. And then he gave me a note:
[You will grow and this time, remember you MUST meet that little kid to tell him what you will know…]
For many years I kept that note, but it was lost before I had to escape my homeland. I knew Persian from my biological mom. So it was not hard to make up stories after I arrived here. And the note was right! Many things indeed became clear throughout my life. But I never figured out what is that I will know and how long I should wait…
My Back-scratching cult highlights one of the best and yet most ignored joys granted to us by the mother nature. Unlike other religions, it is consistent with known scientific facts given a strong revolutionary explanation. And its ideology addresses one of the most essential problems of human being: Why do we itch and why we enjoy being scratched? In this religion, I’m not only a holy prophet but also a living evidence. And all of you can be!
What I have not yet decided is if the act of back-scratching should be a core concept or just one of the rituals. I will prototype my idea sometime soon anyways. Messengers don’t need to meet deadlines. God decides when it’s time for my revelation!
p.s. Guess what’s the latest album by Peter Gabriel called: Scratch My Back. He will dedicate it to me once he gets his hands on me!
This is a victorious variation of Rossini’s barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) [I think] in the middle eastern Homayoon scale played by hot chicks two centuries later! kitschy, but still delightful:
My auditory processing unit seems to be too melody-oriented. Styles, accompaniments and orchestration, and even the lyrics are usually filtered out. A brilliant sequence of notes can’t be cheesy or kitsch anyhow. And seriously, that’s not really cheesy compared to what I listen in some saddest and deepest moments of life!
I just got my shoulder relocated after two hours of suffer and torture. I was just waving hand for this legendary dude at Stanford’s Coffee House (aka coho) and this simple move completely popped out my left arm! So weird.
It could occur in three different ways and happened to be a posterior type (backward?) which is one of the rarest and according to the doctors the worst type of shoulder dislocation! Now it has been two weeks that Morphy rules my life and honestly I am not used to that.
Since I was a child this left arm knew how to place itself back in (may be forward dislocation) till once that it was dislocated (perhaps backwards) during a seizure and since then relocation was never easy. I’ve had to go to a hospital each of a few times it happened ever since.
Back to the campus scene, as I was shouting out loud after waving hand, students were laughing at me like I am joking. As they realized something wrong is seriously going on, many disappeared. The rest stepped back and looked at me. I dunno why almost no one dared to approach when I asked them to make a phone call. Could involvement bring liability? The ambulance finally arrived. They wanted to take me to a close hospital, but missing by one letter took me to a closed one! Then we had to drive back all the way to the main hospital of the Silicon Valley which was open but super expensive. This was where tech celebrities would give birth to their offspring. On the way the nurse was holding my arm in a safe position and upon her request I was dropping numbers like 0, 1, 3 to inform her about my pain level out of ten. A loud 9 on each speed bump. She asked why not 10? I said you know I’m humble.
In the hospital they asked if I let them inject different random stuff into my veins and I asked them not to do it please. They injected them all. I don’t know why they asked. They gave me a shot to relax my muscles plus some general pain-killers and local pain-relievers. I don’t remember but I think they injected swine flu vaccine too, since they told me something about it and I didn’t get how it could help relocating a shoulder. If that’s the case, I guess I know what caused my fever and the consequent sickness. I think my blood pressure was taken hundred times and my fingerprint a couple more. And yeah, eventually after I answered a series of basic health questions for the fifteenth time, the doctor decided to pop it back in. They tried three times and it worked the last time. I told the doctor after that how much I love him. He was straight!
I could have fixed it on my own, to avoid a hell of severe pain and an expensive bill. But it would’ve had its own risks. I know I should be thankful for the nurses, doctors, etc.
p.s. Three months later I settled the case by paying 25% of the bill. It was according to the hospital rule that gives you 75% discount of you don’t have an American valid insurance. The Norwegian insurance system refunded me that 25%. Soon, there will be a surgery here in Norway to fix the problem forever and that will also be completely free!
Kharanoo, the best pet ever, was found once lonely passing an overcrowded street in Tehran metropolitan.
It was a 7th of July, right before my departure to Norway, when I received a phone call: “Nima! I found a lovely creature! You have no idea how cute!” My sister excitedly said: “We don’t know how to feed it. What does a hedgehog eat?”. She was really worried and I should have taken care of the emergency situation: “- How on earth should I know what hedgehogs eat?!”. I answered wisely and hanged up!
At night we had already started to call societies of animal protection in the capital and some related NGOs but no useful information. I even called an NGO that we had tried recently when Mishoolak, a found kitten, died due to drinking fat cow milk according to their advice. The lady over the phone said: “- Sorry, We know nothing about hedgehogs. We’re cat professionals!”.
Some others were more informative: “- You might find a local zoo!”. A zoo? Good idea. The closest one was Darabad museum of Iranian natural history, full of snakes. We discussed and finally suspected that if they can’t manage to find room for Kharanoo, their disgusting reptiles will have a dinner party over Kharanoo. Never!
Thankful of everyone’s hospitality, he survived. Kharanoo made it finally, being treated to dead insects, cat food, and water. He became a part of the family, sleeping in daylight and clattering at nights. He was a hunter, or at least was pretending to be harmful to cockroaches. He was really polite but too shy. Whenever we entered the room, by turning on lights on he would run away and hide himself for hours! But despite all the cultural differences, he was happy and we were happy with his happiness.
Kharanoo was really fast in response to auditory stimuli. You could make him dance with any rhythm, just if simplified to a bunch of click sounds:
One week before I left Iran, We made a farewell trip with my parents and my sister. To the green lands in the north of the Alborz mountains. We had concluded that Kharanoo is an Erinaceus Concolor (known as “European hedgehog” in Iran). Google had informed us that they are widely spread in the southern woods of the Caspian sea, where we were heading to. We took Kharanoo with us to set him free.
We loved each other but he had to continue his natural life with creatures of his own type. We offered him food, shelter and security but no nature, friends or relationship. Though he was not very social, we knew he will take care of the rest if we leave him were he belongs.
Honestly, I was mostly thinking of myself. He was not the only migrant in the scene. Becoming dramatically nostalgic I was more in love with my homeland than ever before and really didn’t want to leave it to elsewhere. Eventually under the moonlight, He became a symbol of immigration for me. Each time I missed home after that night Kharanoo was present in the back of my mind!
Let’s get back to Kharanoo. We went deep in to the forests and set him free. He left us to find friends and start a new life…
Every thing was fine! At least for us. But sadly, this was not the end of the story.
Last week I was back home again, forgetting all about symbolic aspects of Kharanoo: migration. I was flipping pages of a reference book, “Mamals of Iran”, something laying there that I had missed out. And suddenly the bitter truth revealed itself…
Kharanoo was not an Erinaceus Concolor. He was a Paraechinus Hypomelas (known as Brandt’s hedgehog). The crazy thing is that the geographic range of those two look-alikes in the map was just partitioned with no intersection! Two completely opposite climates. One species lives exactly where the other does not, as if they have divided the country to their territories! Those who have been to Iran know how different climates these two regions have…
We had confidently taken the poor thing from the dry ecosyatem he belonged to, leaving him in the foggy forests of the north.
Kharanoo, you have my guilt… and my love, forever!