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Welcome to my blog! True to my name, Shiva the Spy, I will be your eyes and ears in Iran, bringing you detailed accounts of everyday life from my perspective. You'll have a window into the social, cultural, political, and historical aspects of the country. I will bring you the stuff that American media can't...or won't. So, check back regularly for stories, photos, commentary, and anything else your curiosity calls for.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, Dun-Chtz, ...

Imagine rapidly thumping, bass-heavy techno beats permeating the afternoon air like volts of electricity, with the rhythmic consistency of beatboxing at volume levels fit for a house club. Now picture the charged sounds emanating from an indigo booth, similar to those seen at the county fair, adorned with elegant strokes of Persian calligraphy, smack-dab in the center of one of the busiest squares of Tehran.

Stretch the confines of your creativity even further. Try to envisage the pulsing techno beats as supplementary to an even more compelling sound--the solemn recitation of Qur'anic verses.

Streets of Islamic Republic of Iran + House Techno Music + Qur'anic verses = Intricately Woven Quilt of Irony...?

This raging anomaly left me stunned and confused. I had no idea techno was so compatible with the Qur'an.

The temporary booth stands erect this whole week, making up one of many attractions held in commemoration of Hazrat Ali, the first Muslim man (as mentioned in another post, Hazrat Khadija was the first Muslim woman). Today, the 21st day of Ramadan, represents the day he died, thus qualifying as a holiday, meaning no work and no school!

Hazrat Ali was known for his piousness and his generosity toward orphans. Every single night, he would visit orphanages, and leave bundles of food at the doorstep. He kept his identity secret by using the darkness as his cloak as well as by knocking on doors and fleeing before they were opened. It wasn't until the orphans became worried for their mysterious benefactor, after he failed to visit two nights in a row, that the public learned his identity.

Ali was gone for two days because he was in a coma. People discovered that Ibn al-Moljam Moradi, who was loathe to the spread of Islam, had attacked Ali (the leader of the expansion) by heaving his sword and bringing it down on the benefactor's cranium.

In remembrance of Hazrat Ali's generous behavior, the day he died is also celebrated as a day for orphans, in which people focus their charitable efforts specifically towards orphanages. In Iran, all day long, crowds of citizens have been visiting special centers set up to receive gifts for the country's parentless children.

Side note: I just realized there are many celebrations in Islam, with almost all of them rooted in a tragic and appalling death.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Shives, isn't it funny how other cultures will take something American and put their own spin on it? When I was in Taiwan, I saw many an "SFC" type restaurant, disfigured star included. I can't wait for part II!!

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Shiva. Yes, these last two posts have been fun and interesting. Welcome to the world of hybridity, in which cultures do not clash necessarily, but mesh sometimes incongruous elements to make a (sometimes hiliarious)whole. When I was in Egypt, I found myself photographing movie posters and political propaganda. When I get to go back there, I'm going to take a wad of cash, hit the desert monestaries of the Copts, and come back loaded with all the religious kitch I can find.

On a more serious note, I can't say I'm too surprised regarding the techno/Qur'an verses, given the rhythmic nature of Qur'an recitation. Did it sound good? I know that Indian techno starts out first as Qawaali chants from the Chisti Sufi order (think Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan),then some wiseacre got the notion to mix up the local rhythm with some bass heavy dance beats.

Khadijah is significant for being the first wife of the Prophet (pbuhahf), and for being the first Muslim after Muhammad (pbuh), really.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading all you entries soooo much!!!
I crave the immersion of Islamic culture that you are experiencing!

You entries are a pleasure to read...
I can't belive Eid is only 6 days away...
Thi has been the fastest Ramadan ever!
Hope you are well.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Hydra said...

Although it doesnt't have much to do with thi spost, I wanna respond to Meri about other socities integrating American cultural elements in theirs. American do that as well, for example they borrow hamburger from germany and french fries from belgium, make Mc Donald's, and sell it back to the whole world.

2:23 AM  

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