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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.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Saw Santa Claus

Today, as I strolled up Vali-e-Asr Street towards Tajreesh Square to catch a taxi home, I passed by the usual gas station, banks, fastfood hangouts, and boutiques...and then I saw him, Santi Claus, a bright bundle of Christmas spirit hunched over in his chair behind the display window of an upscale Iranian men's clothing shop. His jolly fire-engine red, authentic velvet coat and pants, oversized and trimmed with ivory fluff, and held in place with a massive charcoal belt and chunky gold buckle made for a convincingly merry image. But under the floppy hat and disingenuous coffee-stained locks, and behind the snow frosted beard and thinly rimmed glasses, was the expression of a desperate Iranian man. He appeared to be in his 20s, bored to tears, unamused by the silent animated attempts of overly eager passersby to communicate from the other side, and seemingly exhausted, even though the entire month of December has bustled by with nary a glimpse of Old Saint Nick.

Why, then, would this boutique suddenly feature this half-baked impressionist, whose Christmas cheer was clearly crumpled up and tossed out with the rest of the used wrapping paper? Why, when many other stores planted a brilliantly decorated Christmas tree (which Agha Havayi alluded to as originally belonging to Zoroastrians--I just learned that--and picked up by Europeans long ago) in their windows for the past 30+ days, did this men's boutique miss the boat?

Perhaps because this shop hasn't a clue what role Santa plays in the highly publicized spectical known as the holiday season. Santa, like the Christmas tree, was likely associated with the West, and by extension, the foreigner, which may imply consumerism, and finally, translate to humongous sales for said shop. I'm fairly certain commerce is the goal of these props. Overall, the Christian community in Iran is quite religious, and based on what I've witnessed, not big on the whole Christmas-goes-commercial ordeal.

It's interesting how younger, usually college-aged Iranians will exchange gifts with their significant others, in what one university student dismissed as a lame attempt to imitate traditions of the West.

Usually, I'm all about "When in Rome..," but since a bunch of my friends at school are quite religious Christians (many of them spend their leisure time cuddled up on the sofa reading the Bible), I did a little gift-exchange doo-dad, hence breaking away from my "...do as the Romans do," mentality. But since I couldn't find the appropriate seasonal giftwrap, I settled for a shiny, metallic red and silver cellophane that hinted at Christmas, but had scrawled across, "May God Bless Your Marriage." By the way, I want to extend these warm wishes to all of you, too.

Besides spotting Santa Claus (known in Farsi as Baba [Father] Noelle), another unusual occurrence took place. Throughout the day, I found myself trapped in the same conversation, but with different friends, at different times. Here's how it went:
Friend: So, what are you doing tonight?
Me: Uh...nothing. What are you doing?
Friend: Nothing.

On that note, Happy New Year.


Blogger Hydra said...

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5:15 PM  
Blogger myotherfellow said...

I enjoyed ur post. Great Insight.

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think x-mas has not yet been commercialized in other countries!!!

10:48 PM  
Blogger Manfara said...

I spent a year of my teenage years in Iran when my Dad was lecturing in Tehran University 10 years ago. I was amazed and somehow amused by the country's uniqueness. Your insights has revived all these memories. Mamnunam..

8:18 AM  

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