Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Long Expected Entrance

Finally the new main entrance of our university was today inaugurated with an official ceremony in which Mohammad Ghalibaf, the Tehran mayor, was among the invitees. The entrance structure was undergoing construction for about three years. I like the new entrance, even more than the famous entrance of Tehran university. You can see a picture of it in the above picture (If you want to compare it with the Tehran university entrance, there is a small picture of it on the the main page of their website.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Blacksmith (Episode I)

There is a large crowd of people gathered around the palace. Inside, all leading men of the kingdom are around the large hall. At the end of the hall the sorcerer king is sitting on his throne. The two serpents who had grown long ago on his shoulders are still slowly moving around his head. The hall is now in a fearful silence as he starts to speak. "You are all aware of my deeds, men of my kingdom," he says, "and you're aware that I have done nothing but good, for you, and for our people, and for our land." The hall is still in silence.

"So you are now signing this document, testifying this. That I have always been in the righteous path, that no harm has ever come from me to any man, that the world has always been in peace under my reign."

Now, the men in the hall are doing nothing but silently signing the document, without the slightest defiance. It was then that a voice of tumult is heard from the hallway, and suddenly a man, wearing a blacksmith's apron, enters the hall shouting.

"O' King! I am Kaveh, the complainant," he calls out, "I have come to complain from you, for I have had eighteen sons seventeen of which have been killed by your men and whose brains have been eaten by your shoulder serpents, and now the last one of them is in your prison to be killed the same way soon. If you are the king of the world, and you are the snake-shouldered, why should we people suffer?"

Zahhak, the snake-shouldered king, shocked by the man's move, can only call for freeing the blacksmith's son. Then, angry in his heart but unable to do anything, he hands the document to Kaveh and asks him to sign it. "Now sign this, as you have seen my justice," he says.

Kaveh reads the documents and gets angry. "You have all become the agents of evil, having signed this document of lies for the fear of the demon," he says to the men in the hall, then he tears the document apart and leaves the hall along with his son.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Irony of Names

The insistence of the the Islamic government of Iran to name the streets of the cities after Islamic figures sometimes causes ridiculous situations in which not only no one uses the name, but many cannot even pronounce it! Probably the most interesting one is the "Hojr ebn Oday" street in Tehran. Almost no one uses this name to call the street (it is very strange to many people), few people know who this Hojr has been or even know how they should pronounce the name (because in Persian, short vowels are not ordinarily written), and more ironic than that is that it seems that even the city officials, at least those in charge of the signs at the beginning of the streets, don't know what this name is all about, because the signs are inconsistant (in their English section where the pronunciation is clearer) and almost all of them are incorrect! If you take a look at the picture I've taken, you see that it reads "Hajar ebn Oday" and I've even seen some places where the signs read "Hajar ebn Adi", while Hajar in Arabic means "stone" and I don't think even Arabs call themselves stone!

The people of the area call the street "Tir andaz" (which means "the archer"). In fact, the street was originally called "Arash-e Tir andaz" (Arash The Archer) in honor of Arash the great Iranian legend (the same one I had two posts about) and was later renamed after the Islamic revolution. And who is Hojr? Hojr ebn-Oday (Hojr son of Oday) was one of the close followers of Ali (Mohammad's cousin and son-in-law) who was killed by the order of Mo'avieh the Omavi caliph. But no matter who he is, the important fact is Hojr does not exist for the average Iranian and really few people know about him or care about him (and the fact that I do know about him proves that I am not an average Iranian! :) ). Of course, due to the government's deliberate neglecting of Arash's story in the media and at schools, even a great legend such as Arash is getting overlooked by the average Iranian, but I think still there are more people who know Arash and almost all who know him surely respect him, while this is not true about Hojr, that is clear by the naming issue I mentioned, and many other figures whose names (or their erroneous name!) pose on the street signs.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Frightened Government

The Islamic Republic government has officially ordered all broadband service providers to stop providing broadband services with a speed higher than 128kbps. I haven't heard anywhere they have announced the reason, but I think I know it: fear, great fear of their citizens. Why else they may want us not to have a high speed internet connection other than that they don't like the internet itself and they are just understanding that the internet is not something they can restrain easily. They are spending millions of dollars for all the equipment they need for filtering and controlling the internet but still it slips from their hands easily. And they have been probably thinking if we cannot control it, at least we should do our best to minimize the use of it. Then someone tells the big guy, "Hey! Take a look at this. This ADSL stuff lets them to access the enemy's media so easily and with such a high speed. You must do something about it." And then they got more afraid. The result, is another tie they are trying to fasten around the internet.

This surely annoys me and many others, but who cares. They may even get happy if this causes a few more of us leave the country. I heard Haddad-e-Adel (current head of the parliament) has said "Even if half of the 'brains' leave the country, we shouldn't worry, because the other half would be enough for us!" This is their logic, and it surely makes sense from their point of view. But they are making the same strategic mistake every dictator makes. "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers," as Princess Leia said in Star Wars and I believe this is what they are going to get.

Fear is their powerful weapon, yet they are themselves beaten by it more than anyone else.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Simulated Real Life

“A master programmer passed a novice programmer one day. The master noted the novice’s preoccupation with a hand-held computer game. “Excuse me”, he said, “may I examine it?”

The novice bolted to attention and handed the device to the master. “I see that the device claims to have three levels of play: Easy, Medium and Hard”, said the master. “Yet every such device has another level of play, where the device seeks not to conquer the human, nor to be conquered by the human.”

“Pray, great master”, implored the novice, “how does one find this mysterious setting?”

The master dropped the device to the ground and crushed it under foot. And suddenly the novice was enlightened.” –The Tao of Programming, Geoffrey James

This is how the master programmer talks about video games. Probably if he could find me spending so much time in a video game, he would crush my computer under his feet, too! Of course, the master programmer does not completely reject video games (“…[The Tao] is even in a video game,” he says somewhere else), but anyhow I know I should do something about it since I have been spending much of my spare time playing The Sims 2 in the last few days. I have so much other things to do, and I plan to do half a dozen of them from noon to night, then at midnight I find that I have done almost nothing but guiding my sims through their lives for a few days! The interesting point is that it’s somehow like the game the master programmer explained, “where the device seeks not to conquer the human, nor to be conquered by the human”. Yes. The Sims is not an ordinary game. It’s “real life” simulated. I remember what some Dark Throne players say, “RL is more important that DT!” (that is, real life is more important than playing Dark Throne). Now I think I should say to myself, “RRL is more important than SRL!” (Real real life is more important than simulated real life.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Arash, Another Lookَ

My previous post was about Arash the Archer. It was a short retelling of the story in English by myself and I hope I have done it well, since it is one of my favorite stories. I believe, of course, the best narrative is by Siavash Kasrayi who told the old story in verse so beautifully. I think, there is an English translation of Kasrayi's narrative, although I have not read it.

The story, as you may have read from my previous post, tells the story of a man who puts his life on an arrow and throws it so far that it frees the entire land of Iran from the occupation of the barbarian Turanians and, believe it or not, every time I read the story it brings tears to my eyes. I'm not sure why. Probably because of the beauty of the story, or probably because of the great devotion of Arash, or probably both and much more. If you like the story, here's some more information about it.

The battles between the uncivilized people, called Turanians, who lived east of Iran in Central Asia shapes a large part of the Iranian legends and mythology, especially those narrated by Ferdowsi in his grand epic Shahnameh. Ferdowsi has referred to Arash in his book several times but has not mentioned the story. The story is attested in Avesta that shows how old it is (at least 1000 B.C.). In modern time, the story came into popularity again after Siavash Kasrayi published his narrative of it in verse.

Let's take another look at the legend.

The story starts in a time that Turanians have moved forward far into the Iranian territories and have reached near Mount Damavand. Damavand is usually considered the heart of Iran, and Iran at that time was a very larger country that its north eastern border was the Oxus river in Central Asia. Turanians, eager to smash the hearts of the peoples of Iran, suggest that the border between the two countries should be set upon the place an arrow, thrown by an Iranian archer, lands. No one in Iran is willing to accept the arrow until it comes to Arash, an ordinary man from an ordinary family. He goes upon the mountain and, knowing that no mere arrow can fly that much to cover all Iran-Zamin, puts his life on the arrow and throws it. The arrow flies by the power of his spirit and goes as far as the far bank of the Oxus and sets the eastern border of the empire for many centuries, while Arash's body is turned into many pieces and spread all over the land.

It is said that the spirit of Arash still dwells in Mount Damavand and helps the lost people find their way.

The One with the Arrow

It is a dark time; the time of ruin, the time of corruption, the time of the decline of the civilized and the advance of the barbarian, the time of the going of the light and the coming of the dark. Wherever you look, you see suffering, you see sorrow, you see despair.

In the battlefield there is only the huge pile of the dead and a few men standing at the side of Iran with their lord before the huge army of the barbarians, the last of the guardians of the Shah, in the eyes of all of which it can be seen the exhaustion of the battle. It is only now that Afrasiab, the lord of Turanians, has accepted the peace with only one condition. There is an arrow in his hands and a snicker on his mouth while he shouts "Our border shall be the place this arrow lands", and Manuchehr the Shah says, "yes, to the place the arrow flies, it is Iran". But Afrasiab laughs at him in his heart, "You fool! But who is going to throw it?! No man has remained of your archers".

And the arrow is passed by, going from one hand to another, throughout the land and no one dares to accept it, until it comes to Arash.

And it is Arash that, holding the arrow firmly in his hand, is going north to the heart of the land. To Damavand.

A cold wind is blowing. Arash looks upon the mountain as he goes north and although he is walking strongly, a trembling passes his body. "No", he says, "it's not me. It's the wind". And he takes his next steps.

"Wait", a voice calls, "Wait". There's a man running behind him. "That will go to nowhere, Arash. Go back. Go back and throw the arrow towards Afrasiab himself", the man says.

"No", answers Arash, "I will not do that because then another Afrasiab is going to rise and replace him. I'm going to end this once and for all. I'm going to free all with my arrow". And he continues his way as he goes towards the mountain.

And now, Arash is standing on the peak of Damavand, and he looks upon his land, and upon his people, and upon his Shah, and upon his bow and his arrow. And then Arash strains his bow as never before and as soon as he lets the arrow fly, his bow hits the ground.

Tomorrow, when people go searching for Arash, they return only carrying his bow, never finding a sign of his body.

And it was at the noon of that day that people could find an arrow upon the body of an old walnut tree on the far bank of the Oxus river; the glorious sign of a victorious nation.

And it was the only arrow, whose flying made the sun smile, and its falling made the earth happy. It was the flying of the spirit of the one with the arrow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I have started reading The Silmarillion (By J.R.R. Tolkien). I'll have a post about it, as soon as I finish the book. For now I can only say I'm really enjoying it. This is the kind of book that has plenty stuff for being read several times.

Note: If you're curious about the title, Ainulindalë is the title of the first chapter of the book which means "The Music of the Ainur".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tomorrow, and the Day After It

The man said you have lost if you have left the joy to tomorrow so that you will have more of it; you will leave it for more of it to the day after and to after that and again to after that, and you will only stop when you find you're time is over and you have not enjoyed your time even for a day, yet!

The man was still talking but I could not hear him. It looked like I have been taken to another world for a few moments. I felt I've been asleep for a long time. I am one of those who delays enjoying his time to get better things and better time. I am among those who if do not wake up in time, they will find it out some day too late.

The man left the taxi, but his words where still in my head until commonplace gradually took it's place. Yet, it left a landmark in my mind: "What should I do? Maybe tomorrow's too late!"

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Master, His Unconscious, and "The Roast Goose"

It was just now that my mind was struck by something about the title I unconsciously gave to my blog. At the high school literature textbook, we read a short story called "The Roast Goose" ("Kabab-e-Ghaz" in Persian) written by Mohammad Ali Jamalzadeh in which there was a guy named "Mostafa" who nicknamed himself "The Master" (I disclaim any connection between him and me, it's only an accidental "name conflict"). It was a really fun short story, and I strongly suggest you read it if you have not already read it, and you can access a copy of it and of course if you know Persian. I don't know if it has been translated to any other language, but all the fun of the story lies in its excellent use of Persian language.

The Master's Sleepless Night!

This is one of those nights I cannot easily get to sleep. You usually know it from the beginning that your night is going to be one of those hard struggles in which you cannot even easily keep your eyes closed! So this time I didn't tried so much. After several minutes I got up and decided to do something. I was wondering about starting a blog tonight (one or two hours ago), and this seemed to be the right time. So I turned on the computer, connected to the Internet, went to blogger and started a blog, and it seems to me the right way to do things. I hate having to wait for something. When I want to do something, I usually do it, or I never do it. There is no mid point.

I think I have to explain a little about the title, so that it will look less selfish than it does! This was the first title that came to my mind (you may perceive then that I *am* already selfish!). In fact, I often call myself the thing I want to be and consider that the right thing. After all, I am, or I will be someday (hopefully!), the thing I think I am! So the title is correct; sorry!