An old rich merchant left his loyal wife of fifty years and his children in exile with a small pension. He married a beautiful young girl and invited the princes of silk road to flaunt his wealth and his new bride. Jealous of his wealth and lusting for the young girl the eagle crested prince spoke to the prince of house of Jackals. Can you believe the audacity of such wealth right under our nose and in the hand of our subject, and out of selling what? Black oil lamp? The prince of house of Jackals rose his wine cup and said: would it make you feel better if this was all mine even before the bear crested king has it? Then he whispered in the ears of the Mullah who conducted the wedding and dropped in his hand some silver coins and started the conversation: So tell me Ruhollah (spirit of God) is it true that there is an elixir that brings youth and virility to the old? Yes your royal highness, indeed. There is a tale of a golden jackal with a black tail living in a cave on the road to Samarkand. Anyone who makes a soup of such a tail regains his youth and virility, but it is also a spiritual journey so if it takes fourteen days you must take food and drinks for five days, and you must go on an unfed, thirsty horse. The jackal must be caught by your own trap, and the journey must be done alone. Eager to regain his youth the old man set for the journey thinking that he had spend a life time on such journeys. He rationed his food and water, but the horse was weak and died. He exhausted his rations for he was on foot, but as he deliriously walked towards his path he saw a gathering of jackals, and he chased them and they ran, he chased them and they ran until he had no more strength and fell unconscious. He opened his eyes with the pain of his foot being cut by one jackal and his thigh by another. Being alive but weak the jackals dared not devour him, but without legs to stand he was left with the congregation of jackals inflicting him with unbearable pain. So he looked to the sky and shouted “Allah Akbar” dear god send me a Rohani (spiritual) sign and relieve me of this pain. At that moment a pair of wide wings spread on him held his wrist and lifted him to the sky. Legless and bleeding he landed on a piece of rock. Before his eyes were plucked by the vulture, he turned his head and found the carcass of bandits, merchants and holy men alike. He sighed alas this “Rohani” sign was as deceiving as Ruhollah’s words. The vulture rescued me from jackals to make me his own prey, and I who prayed for youth now pray for a quick death, and as I die in pain the prince of jackals is devouring my wealth and my young new wife. Nature has no prejudice towards your wealth, status or spiritual cleansing, a half dead creature foolish enough to walk in the jackal’s path is meat for competing scavengers.
I have a confession to make: I am not human. I discovered it by accident. I came very close to death a couple of times and inexplicably survived. Like the night my parents were away and I didn’t listen to them and did not go to bed, only to find that if I had the rain would have collapsed the roof on my head, or when a carjacker in Africa tried to pull a gun on me and the gun got stuck in his belt, or being late on the train and therefore missing my usual commute which on that day got blown up by terrorists and I could go on but I won’t. Then there was the way I did and thought things and I felt I was different from everyone I knew and sometime because of this I fell low, really low like I was trapped in an abyss, but when I was having an existential crisis I figured out that an invisible was helping me. The serendipity and the chain of events that made me experience unusual things could not be random, I didn’t chase those adventures they often came to me. I was too rational to start believing in some sort of deity watching over me; after all when you see that the world is full of horror and that there is so much pain inflicted on the innocent you conclude that there is no purpose or god. However, the coincidences were far too many to be considered random so the logical explanation was that this world was not real, none of it was real. With maturity and after living in my current form I said to myself that If I was having the best seat and going through these unusual low probability events like I was watching a movie or playing a video game then someone, perhaps me must had paid good money for this seat, and life taught me that I better enjoy the good view. One day after one of those coincidences which was yet another near death experience I decided to talk frankly with someone who I suspected was one of my guardians. There was a risk that he would think I was mad. There was also a chance that he was not real and he was merely a character designed to watch over me. Then out of nowhere and before I approached him with my mad questions the truth came to my head like a revelation and like I always knew, but deliberately kept the truth from myself. I became self-conscious that I was an observer of humanity. It was my choice to live as a human. I was collecting information about emotional experiences. If we measure time by their scale humanity died billions of years ago. Where there others like me? I don’t know. I was a historian and the only way I could study humans was to be one. We captured their behavior and constructed a model and I was living in that simulation. Everything that happened to me, my birth, my tragedies and happy moments, the people I met, the ones that I loved were all part of this simulation. The only thing I hadn’t planned on was that I would keep falling in love with them and that since I couldn’t keep them or take them with me I stayed here and lived with them life after life. after all, love in simulation or not is still love.
Not many people know this but many Iranians mourned 9/11. Yeb you heard we stood out in the cold and had a candle vigil. We knew what it felt like to be zero grounded.
And guess what? Our friggin ground Zero keeps following our tail around the globe. Sticks to our shoes like a chewing gum. Messes with us on happiest days. Son’s birthday. The first big date. Like it’s got one of those radar-tracking systems they put on rental cars. Comes up when you least expect it and says – Gotcha.
You think I’m kidding? Just follow me to the airport and see who gets RANDOMly selected for the security check?
I don’t know what kind of Karma shit we pulled. I don’t know maybe messed up some Babylonian priests three thousand years ago and those mothers passed the curse of Babel to us. Because I tell you – when one Iranian hears another and we need to fix the country it just comes out as: Bla Bla! or maybe when we took the cursed Darya-e-Nour diamond off our Indian cousins we got all the damnation that went with it.
If you wanna hear my story, you’ll have to get your foot dirty and follow me down the rabbit hole.
Our story starts with Jeff Rohani, or Jafar Behnamloo Rohani if you want his full name. Known to his Iranian friends as Mashty Jafar . Poor Mashty did three jobs to get through college and worked his socks off for seven years. He was the first in and last one out of the office. A total whiz in futures trading (very ironic) but he finally gets time to see the outside world, goes out once and dates a cocktail waitress, balances his Chi and gets some colour back on his cheeks. Two days later he’s in the office and talking to his buddy again (that would be me) on the phone this time about another date with this new total knockout Brazilian (a BEYONCE look alike) and wham the building shakes and the tower is hit. Panic. Panic. He can’t go down and fire is coming up. He now has to make a choice. Jump or get burnt? So he’s standing on a ledge and talking to me (Mr master mind!) asks me for advice. “Shall I jump Asghar? I’m going to jump” he says. To which I answered “bache magar khol shodi toro khoda napar?” And a second later he jumps and I heard him fall!
Shit- it took me five years of therapy to get over that! The fact that I told him not to didn’t help! He jumps and ends up as one of the jumping men of 9/11 and his body never to be found, except that being Iranian they chased his tail back to his family and tried to stick it to him beyond the grave!
After his funeral I went home and for four weeks cried like a baby. If I hadn’t cancelled our fishing Holiday we would be watching 9/11 reruns and would say: “shit Mashti that was almost you” but that didn’t happen. Did it?
Walking in a daze for weeks, I went to a Zoo. I saw a Chimp on her own and she had her finger in her privates. You see in the wild Chimps keep doing each other to get reassurance, like hey one chimp does it and says I’m here to protect you. The poor thing on her own didn’t have that so she had to stick her finger in there herself. That’s how I felt. Iranian in New York after 9/11 walking late in Central Park like I was a chimp, like I had to hold my jewels as nothing else made me feel alright! I guess finger in our privates equivalent for us humans is belief in God! Any such illusions disappeared after that episode.
What is really sad is that Mashty who was raised by an aunt had lost his parents in the Iranian ground Zero.
You might ask what Iranian ground zero?
So you only care when it happens to you! Right?
Back in 78, the religious nut jobs under the order of mother of all evils the original anti-Christ (I am talking about the very famous one and only A.KH. like voldemort I dare not repeat his name or he may pop up like an evil jinny from beyond the grave!) ordered his thugs to barricade the doors of a cinema in the lovely city of Abadan, Iran and burn 400 people alive. He did this to ignite the Islamic revolution by blaming it on the King’s security service. It worked. Poor Mashti Jafar’s parents who thought they were lucky for getting Gran to baby-sit got melted to the carpet and had to be scooped out. The Islamic fundamentalists then took over the country. A week earlier Jimmy Carter, Dennis Healey, and Giscard d’Estaing (The French bloke) decided hey let’s get rid of the king he is getting too cocky in OPEC and do it before the Russians take over with their lefties (they still had the cold war) so they backed this mother of all antidotes his holy A.KH.
Its like having chemotherapy because you don’t want hair on your ass!
Two years later they realized they seriously messed up and backed Saddam to attack Iran and got Mashti’s cousins killed. Ten years and a million lives went pufffff in the air.
After the revolution every ass-hole who was digging tarmac for the city folks because he couldn’t add one and one together put their two and two together and turned religious and started blowing things up for the fundamentalists. All over Middle East they thought “This is fucking great”, we could take over a country just like the Iranian nut jobs. That is how (with some CIA funding of course against the Russians) the world ended up with Osamas in every city.
I could go on forever. Jeff’s family were like hitting the Euro million lottery of bad lucks. His uncle, a lefty gets ordered by his thick-glassed mentor that they are now going to support this Goddamn Mullah A.KH. And never mind that he’s a backward moron, it’s for the greater good, the Mullah will go back to his prayers and they’ll rule the country as worshipped Gods of proletarians! Boy, were they seriously stupid and got screwed. Six month later they were both hanging off a noose, alongside another six thousand of any other kind that wasn’t a A.KH gooney!
His noosed uncle had turned lefty when the Americans send the CIA and did the Operation Ajax in the 50s. That’s when they threw an elected Government because the Prime Minister Mossadegh wanted the Iranian oil money for Iranians! How cheeky!
His uncle watched his uncle get shot. In Iran every uncle has an uncle!
But if you ask me, I’ll say we sit on ground zero. It’s the ground where the curse of oil is. You would think there wouldn’t be anything more blessed than just pumping out money out of the ground. You’d be wrong. It’s no blessing at all when generation after generation they hold a country hostage and have some thugs doing the dirty on you. And if you think we’re just a bunch of peasants who can’t think for ourselves remember this, before the revolution we had the works, good writers, scientists, mini skirts, and Vidal Sassoon hairdos and money in our pockets. When those guys took over we were forced from that to woman looking like black crows, Ak47s, hangings, torture, War, poverty faster than a Bugatti does naught to sixty.
You remember that next time you pump your SUV and think about the price of OIL!
Skype has become my sky, and your face glows like my midnight sun. I watch you, you who are mine and I listen to your velvety voice as you are my La Dolce Vita yonder! Do I want to record this message? No, those crackling pixels that form your smile are carved in my neatly shaped neurons; they shake hands and form a highway in my head that keeps saying: “you, you”. I watch as my WiFi pulses with the beat of my heart, and reaches an excellent connection when the arrow of my mouse strokes your hair. It is a crazy life we’re having; living together but in two cities measuring our life and our conversations time-stamped on a message board. Then I tell you how much I love you with three Xs, and a cheerful smiley face, and I kiss the plasma screen goodnight.
GERHARD RICHTER is known as a veteran abstract painter, but Richter has simultaneously produced abstract and photo-realistic painted works, as well as photographs and glass pieces. His art follows the examples of Picasso and Jean Arp in undermining the concept of the artist’s obligation to maintain a single cohesive style.
There is currently a great exhibition of Persian art at the Rietberg museum, Zurich. The exhibition focuses on the East-West interaction of Iran from the Safavid era to current day. There are some great works of contemporary Iranian artists on exhibit. http://www.rietberg.ch/en-gb/exhibitions/fascination-of-persia.aspx
حال دل با تو گفتنم هوس است
حال دل با تو گفتنم هوس است خبر دل شنفتنم هوس است
طمع خام بین که قصه فاش از رقیبان نهفتنم هوس است
شب قدری چنین عزیز و شریف با تو تا روز خفتنم هوس است
وه که دردانهای چنین نازک در شب تار سفتنم هوس است
ای صبا امشبم مدد فرمای که سحرگه شکفتنم هوس است
از برای شرف به نوک مژه خاک راه تو رفتنم هوس است
همچو حافظ به رغم مدعیان شعر رندانه گفتنم هوس است