Iranian Girl Smoking Bahram Radan Goldfish Kitchen Couple Nadereh Elahi Angels Tehran a Prison Western Tehran Raees Cafe Persian Food Old Apartments Wedding Videographer Building Under Construction High Heels Iranian "Election" Lamp Chaharshanbe Suri Sabzi Polo Mahi Caspian Sea Villa Leader Woman by the Caspian Sea Fisherman Fishermen and White Fish Mahi Sefid Luxury Cars Cafe by the Caspian Chaloos Road Middle-Finger Tower Carting Missing Finger Fishing Boat
A friend smoking her cigarette and having a nice chat.
Iranian movie star Bahram Radan, in a scene from Santuri. The movie was banned soon after its first screening at the 25th Fajr Film Festival last year. The bootleg DVD just hit the streets before it had a chance at the box office, leaving its producers at a total loss. This is a classic case of keeping filmmakers bankrupt and dependant on government subsidies so they die a slow death.
Goldfish is sold on every other street corner in preparations for Nowruz, the new Iranian year that starts on the first day of spring.
A couple in the kitchen. I showed my short films to a few friends one night. I am at a stage where I am embarrassed to show them, because I should be making bigger better films by now. Quite frankly, when I watch them myself, I see nothing but flaws and deep down I have this urge to prove to myself (and others) that I can do better.
LA is not the only city with angels. An angel series by Iranian sculptor Nadereh Elahi. Since this photo does not do the series justice, fly on over to her official website over at Elahi Studio.
For the first few days back from Europe I was feeling down and hopeless. I kept thinking about how "we deserve better." About how Iran looks more like a prison where everyone wants to get out and can't. It took a few morons cutting me off on the street to snap me back to reality and the realization that we deserve everything we have and we don't.
An angle on the western Tehran skyline. Winter is over. Spring allergies have started. Running low on Claritin.
There are no Starbucks in Tehran. But you can buy overpriced Starbucks coffee at a cafe named Raees (Boss in Farsi). They have altered the Starbucks logo to read "Raees." It's a popular destination in central Tehran for northern Tehranis who can actually afford it.
Every now and then you run into a car on the streets of Tehran and you wonder where the heck did that car come from?! This was one of those instances. The writing on the side reads "Chelokabob Nosrat." I guess its a delivery truck for Nosrat Kabob Restataurant.
A pair of old apartment buildings in central Tehran.
A female wedding videographer endangering her life for perfect traveling shots of the bride and groom's car on Haghani Freeway. (And me endangering my life for a shot of her by shooting while driving!)
A construction site near Seyyed-Khandan. You can't go for a block without seeing something under construction. I wonder if Tehran will ever be "done" and ready to be lived in!
Around here, wearing high heels isn't just a fashion statement, it's revolutionary!
After only a week of "campaigning," 4700 "candidates" ran for "seats" in the "parliament" with hopes of being "elected" to one of the 290 available seats. The "election" gives "people" the "choice" between ultra-conservatives and ultimate-conservatives. Most moderate-conservatives (known as Reformers) were disqualified by an unelected assembly of "experts."
Even the most ordinary things have an angle in which they look presentable.
On Chaharshanbeh Suri, the last "night of" Wednesday (meaning Tuesday night), an ancient pre-Islamic Zoroastrian tradition of jumping over fire takes place. But in recent decades it has turned into a massive display of illegal fireworks, explosions and all things that can explode or burn in the fire! This year the 200,000 strong police force helped notch it down a bit and reduce fatalities.
The last meal of the year is traditionally Sabzi-Polo-Mahi (Fish with Vegetables Rice). The dinner is similar to the Thanksgiving dinner in the US where families gather and are thankful for the year that passed.
I spend the first few days of my Nowruz holidays with a few friends at a villa in a gated community by the Caspian Sea called Khaneye Darya (The Sea House). Walking in its streets made me feel like I was in a town in Southern California. They don't even have walls separating the villas! The cars were nicer, the people more well-off and the mindset less traditional.
Instead of having midnight of the last day of the year serve as the moment in which the new year begins, in Iran they calculate the exact time of the spring equinox, down to the exact minute. This year the year turned on March 20th at 9:32am. And what better way to start the year than have "the Leader" give his speech about how everything is so wonderful and rosy in the country...
An Iranian woman staring at the sea, much like the Spanish woman in Barcelona featured in last month's issue. I immediately thought of the email a visitor by the name of Gaby send me from Barcelona. This would be that sea Gaby...
A tractor pulls a 4 kilometer long fishing net by the Caspian Sea. A group of 80 fishermen were on duty helping bring in the massive net. The Caspian Sea in general, and the Iranian side in particular, is home to the world's best Caviar. Unfortunately, Iranian caviar is mainly for export to other countries and average Iranians don't get any.
Fishermen collecting hundreds of Mahi Sefid (White Fish), which is the signature fish of northern Iran and one of the most popular fish in the country.
They collected 1.2 ton of fish in one swoop! From here they wash them, then take them to the local bazaar and sell them to the general public at about $1.50 per kilogram.
A car's rekaab is that car's rapport with girls. The more rare or expensive your car, the better its rekaab, the more gold-diggers it attracts! BMWs top the list of cars with best rekaab as they do with LA Persians. The main street of Khaneye Darya turns into a Sunset-Blvd-esque "pussy spin" zone at nights, much like Jordan Street back in Tehran.
All was well at the coffee shop by the sea in Khaneye Darya when a passenger van belonging to the Moral Police came and took away (arrested) 20 young boys and girls for not obeying the Islamic dress code and behavior, demonstrating that no one is immune to the all gazing eyes of the Islamic rulers.
On the infamous Chaloos Road back to Tehran. The roads to Shomal were safer this year. Thanks in large part to a strong police presence on the roads as well as a campaign to feature totaled cars on the side of the roads to remind you of dangers of driving fast and erratically.
Considering our foreign policy and the third round of UN sanctions, the Milad Tower now stands as an official middle-finger to the world!
Carting at the Azadi Stadium complex costs $10 for 6 minutes. But for some reason its worth every penny of it. This turned out to be my last fun activity as a whole person.
A couple of friends being goofy and pretending to be Iranian pop stars in a sing-along to a cheesy Iranian pop song from a cheesy LA-based singer.
I have never in my life experienced as much pain as I did when I lost the tip of my finger in a freak accident involving my hand and the back steel gate of a pick up truck. I have been cursing everything from my luck, to the makers of the old jalopy known as the Zamyad trucks to the emergency services and the healthcare system that couldn't do a damn thing. What a way to start the year... (Update: This was an April's Fools joke!)

The poor men and the sea.

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