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Wednesday
Nov292006

Bollywood Reloaded

Sorry for the delayed post, our internet's been messed up at work and I finally got time to come out to a coffee shop and get a connection.

So, the best way to describe me and Saurabh's party is to see the pictures, which I have just posted on flickr. The party was a great success and we managed not to get overcrowded. The music was awesome--between us we managed a pretty complete South Asian anthology. Of course there were other fun parts, like the fact that we seem to have scared away a number of Americans with the modern music selection and lack of alcohol. You'll also notice it was a grand excuse for me and Saurabh to get pimped out in full party regalia.

Otherwise I have been dividing my time between hanging out with Nathan and Sahar and watching Battlestar Galactica ("the DC refugees" whose compound I have termed farangestan due to the fact that it's more than a dwelling place, it's a cultural voyage to the land of potato chips and English speakers). Because the internet has been down in my office, I have spent the extra time improving my Farsi.

The other interesting thing that I can say about this place is that it is the middle ground between to titanic cultural spheres, India and Iran. The US doesn't matter and much of the West comes filtered thru Iran. For people who know what California is, they assume it's some sort of Iranian colony (not totally wrong) and that we are all Twelver Shi'is. It's also interesting to watch people correct their Farsi around me toward the Tehran/Los Angeles standard. All I can do is embrace my Iranian identity, sometimes I drop the Afghan pleasantries for the urban Iranian version, which both fits people's expectations and makes me anything but American (if they know what that is!). More important that my complexion and hair here is my cosmopolitan affectations, looks don't matter in the way a Westerner might expect, since people here look like everything (I've seen a few people blonder and pinker than me) and the surrounding countries are all equally diverse. I really kid you not, it surprises me just as much, but after a few conversations with people who don't know the difference between France, the US, and even Arab, you begin to realise that perceptions differ greatly! I think the calculus goes: "not Indian, not Western (firangi), so Iranian". In other words, though people might have problems with Shi'ism and Iran's expansionist politics, Iran is still the "near other" and refers to 'good' westerners as opposed to the 'bad' ones who continue to be culturally alien whilst in Kabul. Of course this is a slipshod analysis, but I'm rather surprised at the amount of street cred I get on my block, especially considering how I see my neighbours treat other Westerners and vice versa. It is what it is, but it's cool to have your worldview readjusted!

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Reader Comments (1)

hey scott, i really want to see the pictures from the party. how do i get to your flikr account.

by the way, your writing is hilarious! good work bro !

email me at ezzato@gmail.com

December 2, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEzzat

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