US Postal Service Homeless in California Seagul Ventura, CA IKEA Andy Warhol Capitol Records Laemmle LA Party International SUV 1950s Diner U Haul Tux Sidewalk San Pedro Wedding Persian Art Sushi Intersection LAX Cowboy American Diner Dubai Airport Tehran Hello Party DEFC Bread Jon Stewart Baghali Sar-e-Kooche 405 and Hemmat
My experience with the US Postal Service has always been a pleasant one. So I am not sure why the term "going postal" is still in use considering their wonderful service.
A homeless man (or a gypsy) fishing off the pier in Ventura, California. I guess if you choose to become homeless (or if fate has homelessness in store for you), California would be the ideal place.
A seagull riding the wind off the Ventura pier. I wonder how many countries she's been to. I wonder if she cares.
Another homeless man sleeping on a bench.
Ikea, the home furniture super store where my mom bought new pieces of furniture for me to assemble. Assembling I did.
I think in order to understand Andy Warhol's Campbell soup series you have to go live outside of the United States and come back. Once you do, you'll just know. I won't ruin the experience for you by putting it into words.
Los Angeles is such a young city that a building built only a few decades ago is considered a "historical landmark." The Capitol Records building is a clear example of an LA landmark that is often featured in movies set in the city (and blown up to pieces!). By contrast, it's common to see a 4000 year old city go completely unnoticed and unprotected in Iran.
At the Laemmle Town Center theaters you can watch the latest in art house films, including at least one Iranian film for the large Iranian population that lives nearby. Above this place there is a hukka joint named The Spot (named "friends" in Farsi) where young Persians, Arabs and Armenians come mingle, hang out and smoke hukka.
I didn't get to go to many house parties this summer. I am sure I would have attended many more had I stayed in Tehran. A few LA hipsters dancing the [Monday] night off in Topanga Canyon.
I think this SUV (or is it a Semi?) was the point of no return as far as production of gas-gozzling vehicles in the US goes. Who needs a car this big other than to make up for much smaller things -- brains for one?
1950s style diners are everywhere in LA and elsewhere around the US. They are an ode to "happier" times.
Moving is made easy at Uhaul. You can rent huge trucks and move yourself without the need to hire a shady driver with a shady vanet (pick up truck) as is still the case in Iran. Trust is big.
A few groomsmen at Friar's tuxedo shop testing out their rented tuxedos. I picked up my own rental in preparations for my friend's weddings.
People will get a kick out of this back in Tehran. Push button for walking?! Year right! In fact, I haven't seen any such buttons in Iran.
The much anticipated wedding took place on Saturday September 13 at an Air Force Base in San Pedro, California. I couldn't help but to hope that the folks who lived on this base will never get the order to fly over to Iran from the evil-doer higher ups.
RK and EK on their wedding night. This was my second wedding as a groomsman and my own wedding is no where in sight! American weddings often feature traditions from other cultures. I have personally seen Americanized Persian, Jewish, Armenian, Indian, Filipino, Lithuanian and Mexican weddings.
You can't go to a Persian home and not find evidence of their "Persian Pride!" You're bound to see at least one item that features Ancient Iranian iconography.
You really can't beat the diversity of restaurants in Los Angeles. Not in Tehran, not in most major cities of Europe or US for that matter.
A quiet intersection anticipating my crossing.
My four month stay in Los Angeles has come to an end. I am ready to go back to Iran. As nice and comfortable life in LA can be, it is not yet for me. I need to be where there is more conflict. Conflict in everyday scenarios that can and will inspire me. The few emails from visitors who have said "I liked your blog better when you were in Tehran" is a testament to that end.
On my flight to Houston where I connected to an Emirates flight to Dubai I noticed this gentleman reading an article in one of the major US newspapers with a huge picture of President Ahmadinejad and a quote by him that read "In Iran we have absolute freedom."
In Houston I had my last American diner experience. Full with the burger, bacon, onion rings, french fries, a Fat Tire beer and a friendly service you can only find in America... "Can I get you anything else sir?"
I spend 7 long hours in Dubai airport. I've never been a big fan of Dubai. As high tech and modern I hear it is, I can never get over the fact that it is by far the biggest profiteer of Iran's international isolation. The more sanctions are imposed on Iran, the more Dubai profits. Should be noted that there is a large population of Iranians who live and do business here.
Back in Tehran. The notion of being in the US one minute, in Iran the next can be disorienting. Politics have increased the cultural distance so much that one feels the two countries are a galaxy apart. But you need to come back down to Earth and realize that they're only a plane ride away. Or in the case of this blog, a photo, a click away.
I picked up relationships with friends and family where I left them. Back in the land of indoor smoking, make-shift dinners, beans, pickles and the three kisses on the cheek.
If I said this was the Documentary and Experimental Film Center in Los Angeles, you wouldn't think much of this picture. But if I say this is the DEFC building in Tehran (which it is), then you will find the picture to be interesting. Because you expect LA to have a film center, but not Tehran. So part of what makes my blog interesting to you is your own expectations and thoughts.
A man carrying a stack of lavash bread as he waits for a taxi. It's actually a common sight! Bringing bread to the table -- literally.
I have gotten in the habit of obsessively following the US presidential race. Much to my disappointment many of the websites I was frequenting are blocked in Iran. Including The Daily Kos and Huffington Post (the conservative Drudge Report is not!). But luckily I can still catch my favorite American journalist/comedian, Jon Stewart, on the international version of The Daily Show on CNN.
Baghali sar-e-kooche refers to the neighborhood mini-market that can be found in every block of the city. Most of them are owned by Azeri Turks who may or may not pronounce your name right. But they do often know your name. They sell everything from Gillette shaving cream to Iranian cheese to Nutella and Marlboro lights.

Traffic on both the 405 freeway in Los Angeles and Hemmat freeway in Tehran. Both freeways take you from Point A to Point B. While everyone is driving in between the lanes in LA, in Tehran the situation is out of control with every driver fighting for every inch forward! Driving in LA is in fact safer, more fluid and more comfortable. But it sure will not push you to your limits -- not only as a driver, but also as a person. By the time you reach point B you may be more agitated, frustrated, annoyed and tired, but at least you have experienced one hell of a ride! Perhaps a modern metaphor for how life goes on in Los Angeles and in Tehran...

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