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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.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Spies, all Spies

My friend and I think our school is brimming with spies. After all, don't spies usually pose as students, journalists, employees of an international NGO or business? Of course, we are making this assumption based on information we've gathered from various students. It's all speculative, but the whole premise is quite entertaining for us.

First off, we've got people ranging from their mid-to-late 20s, up to their 50s. They come for a variety of reasons--business, university, diplomatic engagements, to learn Farsi, development efforts, and more. Students from S. Korea, Vietnam, China, Japan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, U.S., U.K., Brazil, Spain, Italy, France, Amsterdam, Poland, Germany, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Russia, Ukbekistan, India, and many more countries attend Farsi lessons here.

There's that group of kids, one of which says he's an anthropologist, who're in Iran on a grant from their government--they all happen to speak Farsi quite well, and are enrolled in the advanced/literature courses; then there's that older mysterious man dressed in a suit everyday, and always carrying a suitcase, who speaks all the critical languages--English, French, Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, and Farsi--enrolled in the institute's art and literature courses; and what about that trio of men, all with families back home, who first claimed they were here to learn Farsi for the purpose of working in their country's embassy, but now insist they came mainly out of appreciation for the language and the historical sites of Iran? These guys also happen to hold high military ranks, which they accidentally told me during a class discussion.

And finally, there are those two men attempting to learn Farsi, after returning from missions sponsored by their government's sports ministry to help form soccer teams in the Farsi-speaking states of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Yea, I'm sure that's what Afghanistan and Tajikistan really need right now, soccer. Why are these soccer players here learning Farsi? Because they plan to head over to Bam (site of the massive earthquake two years ago) to aid in the reconstruction efforts. Well, they may not be able to do this, considering an Iranian official announced this week that the international NGOs stationed in Bam have been found to be engaged in missionary activities and espionage, rather than in reconstruction efforts, and will be kicked out, accordingly.

Of course, it's to be expected that spies from all over the world would be here trying to gather intelligence. But as my teacher said, "The Ministry of Intelligence is so strong, that if a foreigner takes a sip of water, they'll know about it." I think spies in Iran would be ineffective, anyway, because it's perplexing enough to get information for Iranians themselves, let alone foreigners. Bureaucracy owns about 70% of the economy, so inefficiency is a major issue, hence the difficulty of getting answers to your questions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really liked this sentence: "I think spies in Iran would be ineffective, anyway, because it's perplexing enough to get information for Iranians themselves, let alone foreigners".

6:13 AM  
Blogger Hydra said...

Spies are everywhere. European spies in Iran, Iranian spies in Europe.... It's a part of the whole political scene. However, I doubt if those army people you mentioned were really spies, unless they send DUMB spies nowadays.

I don't know anything about the role of the NGO's in reconstruction of Bam, but I know that generally most NGO's function as ambassadors of the neo-colonial policies of the West. I'm extremely negative towards the western developmental aid policies in general.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what institute you taking farsi classes with? Dekhoda institute?

12:41 AM  
Blogger Olivia Twist said...

We posted on your one of your recent posts that you had...but meant to put it in the latest one..which is this one.
Lexie and Richard.

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Pouyan,
Yea, that sentence pretty much sums it up. I've had more than my fill of experiences for that to ring true.

Hi, Hydra,
Yes, I agree, spies are everywhere. I dont't have a clue if these examples reflect espionage activities, but if they do, then I guess these spies would have effectively fooled you. Tee hee. And yea, I think you're right about developmental aid policies being tied to other, non-altruistic agendas.

Hi, Anonymous,
Sorry, but who are you, and what do you want from me?!?!?

Hi, Lexie and Richard,
People unintentionally leave comments under the wrong posts all the time. Don't worry about it, it's not a problem. Thanks for visiting my blog.

10:05 PM  

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