Monday, May 26, 2008

Ground Zero

As I was standing there looking at the big hole in the ground I could not help but to imagine the dead bodies lying around on the street, the screaming, sheer terror and utter disbelief. When I looked up at the sky I imagined people jumping out of the buildings one after the other, dark smoke and burning fire. After almost 7 years the feelings and images were still there, like they had never left. Even though the area has been cleared and the buildings were not there any longer, the emotions and the spirit of what happened in that spot has remained. Even though I had never been to the World Trace Center I could feel the Twin Towers' void, the emptiness and the silence around where they used to stand.
We all watched it happen on the television, we all felt the shock and we all grieved. But standing there that day staring into the nothingness where it all came down made me realize the magnificence of it that we missed as distant spectators. The thought of that day gave me chills as I saw the pictures and names of the victims displayed on the walls. The victims who got up that morning and went to work just like any other day. The victims who got on a plane for yet another fligh. Little did they know that that day would go down in history and they would end up with the title of "victim".
I know that the human race has always been barbarik, but I had imagined that we have evolved from the days when men charged into each other with sharp swords. I had imagined that with experience, brain advancement, growth and realization of mere substance of humanity we had passed the days of bloodshed. It must have been naive of me to think that the days of uncivilized murders are over.
To be able to murder thousands of innocent people purposly to prove a point to another could place some one in the Psychotic band, but what if an entire group of people have that thinking? That thought is terrifying to me.
I guess not only have we not evolved from hundreds of years ago when men went to war and people were hung for their beliefs, but we have advanced our techniques for doing it. We still go to war, kill each other and feel no guilt or shame.
I wonder if the world still would be the same if there was no religion and women ran the show instead of men.

Friday, May 23, 2008

American Idol

Although I cannot stand most reality television one of my favorite shows is American Idol. I am officially hooked where I watch every episode religiously each season, I even manage to vote here and there for my favorite performer. I see the puzzled look on your faces so I'll explain why that is in order to help you sleep soundly tonight.
The reason why I believe that American Idol is a great show, other than the fact that it is entertaining, is that it is the best way for us to chose our own entertainers. Think about it, did we ever have a say in people like Paris Hilton, Carrot Head, or Hassan Shamaeizadeh's claim to fame? No. If we did, would we have committed such a crime? I would hope not. Most people achieve fame by either having a lot of dough, having great connections, or just plain luck, and a few number reach fame through actual talent and hard work. But here through this show we as the public, the intended audience have the power to chose who our next singer is going to be. We decide to not chose the screeching voice, the big ego or the no personality get through the doors as we have the power to pick our next entertainer. I so wish that we the tax paying citizens of this country had the power to choose all of our entertainers with our own hands (fingers in this case), so that we would not be forced to look at, listen to, hear about another like Tara Reed or Britney Spears.
Another reason why I love this show is that we can witness our next entertainers when they are humble, grateful, simple and real. We can see them before their egos grow to the size of a country and before they become too good for their music. We see their transformation as they are mutated from a simple country girl to a diva, from a nice boy to a hard core egomaniac. Now these kids remain their true selves until the season finale, cute, nervous, excited and wide eyed, but we all know that after the season ends it is over as they are on their way to Egoville.
I love the show because I am entertained by Ryan, the judges and the basic intensity of it. We are not just entertained in the evenings in front of the television set, but we are also entertained the next mornings when discussing the performances, the results and what Paula was wearing with coworkers, the cafe lady and the car wash dude.
Now that the show is over for this season the big question that we (the A.I. fans) are faced with is what the hell are we going to do with ourselves on Tuesday and Wednesday nights?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Phantom

Half of his face is hidden behind a white mask covered from brow to chin. The exposed half of his face is beautiful and enchanting as his big brown eye, strong nose, high cheek bones and full lips drew me in. His broad shoulders and tall strength determines his power, confidence and exuberance. But what captured me the most and put me in utter awe was his voice, his strong, big, beautiful and liberated voice. He gave me chills when he sang, pulling me to him with the mesmerizing notes. His confession of love through song made me weak in the knees as the words made my heart flutter. Through soft notes, majestic sound and hypnotizing words he overpowered my senses putting a spell on my entire body and soul.
He taught me all I know, he taught me all he knows, he taught me lessons of song. I learned how to utter a word, how to produce a note and a way to capture the rainbow of my inner soul. He was my savior from the dark as he gave me the gift of song. He loved me so as he presented me with the gift of voice.
Though kind to me there are demons inside of him taking over his body. His cruel intentions and hurtful actions are frightening, isolating him from the world he lives in, from the world I live in. He is trapped in a dark space unable to see the light, unable to feel his heart. He hurts others as he is so deeply hurt within himself. To live a desperately hurtful life, to be attacked and harshly trapped by the lucky souls, to travel on the most tragic journey will make a man mad. How can I love a mad man?

I am sorry for leaving you. Although you gave me the gift of talent and fame I am in love with another. You are a monster and evil, leave me, leave me. Go to your dark space and rot there as others have sent you before. Your tragic story, your hideous being shall remain unseen and unheard, as is the other half of your face that is hidden under the white mask.
You shall love me forever, yet I will live a life of beauty and grace without you. I will leave you in your misery as the rest have, even though you gave me the world. I will sail into the sunset with my lover and with the gifts you gave me as you shall die in your misery. Though as long as I shall live I shall never forget you for you have showed me life.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Statue of Liberty

I was on the boat going from Manhattan to Staten Island when I walked out on the deck in order to get the best view of the Statue of Liberty. It was raining hard so the deck was deserted as every one had found shelter inside the boat. I being such an adventurous person that I am walked out to obtain the best angle and view closest to the symbol of freedom.
As I walked toward the edge of the boat to the rails and as we sailed closer and closer to the green lady I imagined what the immigrants had felt as they sailed toward the symbol of a new life. A new life full of hopes and dreams, a life away from all of the misery, poverty and disgrace in which they had left behind. For hundreds of years this lady holding a torch led the path for millions of lost soles who left their homes, families and past behind for a better future. So many life stories lived where I am now, so many new adventures started right here, so many emotions were felt here, and so many endings and beginnings took place here. I felt closer to the people who had watched this lady decades ago as I watched her now.
Suddenly my utterly poetic and romantic thoughts came to a screeching halt when my attention was caught by a familiar however odd sound. For the first few seconds it did not dawn on me because it was a familiar sound, however on the 4Th second I was taken back. It was the sound of the Islamic prayer, rozeh khooni. Was I imagining things? Was I hearing things that were not there? After I looked around I noticed a young man crouching against the boat rail with a big coat holding a small devise where the sound was coming from (damn, it was not a sign from god). He was dark, had grown a good size beard and his eyes were looking up while his head was bowed down and listening to the prayer. He was standing exactly where I was standing, across from the Statue of Liberty, having the best view of the monument. "I am dead" was my first thought.
"That is it, I am dead. This is how I am going to go, on a boat in New York while getting a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. A victim of a suicide bomber. I did not even see the sunshine on my last day on this earth". The thoughts ran through my head as I stood there in shock. "Could it be? Is this happening? What if I tell him that I am Muslim too, would he spare me? No, it must have taken a lot for him to get here, he is not going to stop. This is probably ashad that he is listening to, I should probably listen to it as well if I am going to go with him. What dumb luck".
I still took a picture of the Statue of liberty in case if I did not die that day, at least I have my picture. And if I did die, maybe some one would find my camera (I should have bought the waterproof camera). "Man, out of all these ferries I had to get on the one that was going to blow up".
The boat sailed on as we passed the Statue of Liberty. I watched her get smaller in size as we sailed away and she remained in one piece. I thought "Maybe his bomb did not go off, maybe he changed his mind, maybe he chickened out. Maybe this was just a practice run". However, it seemed as though I would not die that day.
Yes, I did not die, the boat did not blow up and we reached Staten Island and walked off the boat alive and in one piece. Now to this day I do not know if that man was a real live suicide bomber or a random person who decided to listen to rozeh khooni on the deck of the boat (while it was pouring rain) which was passing by the Statue of Liberty. Who knows?
Putting aside stereotyping (oh we all know that it is them) and assumptions I just want to thank the universe for keeping me alive as I still have plans for my life (I have tickets to Wicked). All I know is that I could have been a victim of a terrorist attack and az beekheh goosham dar raft. Hal eh loo ya!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Spider Killer

While surfing the net a few weeks back, I stumbled across an interesting fictional story called "The Spider Killings" by Laleh Haghighi. After reading "part I" I was so utterly hooked on this story that I made daily visits to the website in order to find the next entry. I eagerly and impatiently awaited for each part of the story in order to discover the fate of the characters who had intrigued me.
This writer has the very special gift of being able to grab the reader tightly with her amazing use of words and her detailed description of the plot. She also has the wonderful talent of tying numerous scenarios and separate small storied to one another making one great assembly. I for one was completely impressed by her writing and the way she was able to take the reader into her story and to provide them with the related feelings and emotions. Even though at times the story took us to such dark, gruesome and disturbing places (decapitating and mutilating bodies, murder and evil dreams) I could not take my eyes away from the monitor as they were widely glued. The story was told so realistically that it felt as though I was reading a documentary. I later discovered that though fictional, the tale is based on a true story. Then I was even more intrigued!
The story "The Spider Killings" is about what happened in the holy city of Mashhad where a serial killer roamed the streets killing prostitutes. His goal was to rid the city of the unholy evil that was spreading with great rate. He was guided by the voice in his head encouraging him to wipe the infested streets clean by taking the drug addicted molds off of it.
The killer would lour the women to himself by pretending to be a "customer" (like a spider), then choking the poor souls to death using their own head scarf or veil when opportunity availed. And that is where he received his title.
The writer not only told us about the killer and his victims but she also took us to the lives of the police officer and the detective on the case, the reporter, the city officials trying to keep the killings under the raps, and many other little stories around town. She then brought all of those stories together at the end making a beautiful conclusion, tying them all with one another with great tact.
As I had imagined I was not the only one following this story as many comments floated in for the conclusion piece. In response the author directed us to a documentary ("And Along Came a Spider" by Maziar Bahari) based on the real events of the Spider Killer which had inspired her to write this.
His name was Saeed Hanai, a 39 year old construction worker living in Mashhad. When a taxi driver mistook his wife for a prostitute he decided that he will take cleaning the streets up from the scums into his own hands. He accomplished that by brutally murdering 16 women from the summer of 2000 to the summer of 2001. After choking the women to death he would either bury their bodies or leave them where they could be found. He was interviewed while in jail awaiting his sentence, and I watched this killer talk.
He was calm, smiling and speaking with great confidence while describing with such detail his tactics of killing the women, down to their last breath. He did not like to be called a murderer, but some one with a mission of good deed. He did not believe that he committed a crime or an act of disgrace, as he called himself a martyr. He would usually return to the sight where he had discarded of the victim's body the next morning to watch people's reaction when they discovered it. He said that watching the people around the body gave him encouragement, satisfaction and motivation to continue his deed.
The documentary also talked about the women, the victims of the Spider Killer. Poor unfortunate souls who mostly were married off between the ages of 10-12 to men who were either addicts, abusers or possibly both. Some were forced to sell their bodies by their own husbands for extra income to support their habit. Some had become addicted to drugs themselves and had to find a way to buy their fix. Some had 6 or 7 children with a husband who was too busy with his other wives and children, so they had to "work" to feed their family. They were uneducated, unhealthy, underprivileged and the lowest one can go as far as class and power. They were mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. They were defenseless, weak and forgotten, results of a failed society. And they were the ones who received the blow.
Saeed Hanai was a disturbed and sick individual who heard voices and could have easily been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. So what amazed and disturbed me the most was not hearing the murderer talk about putting his foot on the women's necks and pressing hard, it was seeing the rest of the residents of Mashhad who were interviewed in this film react to him. They praised this man for what he did, calling him a hero and a savior who dared to clean up the city. One individual said that Saeed did not kill people, as they were not human, they were dirt and evil. Another said that Saeed did not do any thing wrong, he merely took on a responsibility that they all wished they could take up but did not have the courage to act on. Saeed's wife believed that her husband was a good man who would never hurt a "decent" individual, as she was awaiting his return from prison. Saeed's young son was the one who defended his father the most, wishing that he could be granted the courage to continue on his father's work and mission. He said that because the authorities were unable to take care of this problem in the city people like Saeed had to do the job for them and for all to know that there are others out there like his father who will take this responsibility into their own hands.
I am disturbed because these are not people from 100 years ago, these are people from 2002 living in our world. These are people who will never change their thinking and their beliefs as they are set on their ways. These are people who will raise children and teach them right from wrong and good from bad. I am disturbed, but most of all I am frightened.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Different Worlds

I was sitting in the lobby of the hotel sipping my coffee, munching on a croissant and watching people come and go. A voice on the lobby television caught my attention, it was a reporter from the local news program. She was reporting on war, killings and poverty in a far east country. It was such a sad and devastating report from these unfortunate people's lives that it brought tears into my eyes.
At the same time a group of loud women walked into the lobby greeting one another with ear scratching screeches. Naturally their high screams, loud conversations and utterly excited hugs took over the lobby area and diminished any sound from the news on the television. Even though I was extremely annoyed by the women, yet I had nothing els to do, it was early in the morning and I was still half asleep, so I remained in my seat.
Two of the women were animatedly talking about how devastated they were due to the humid and wet weather. One of them was so upset because she loves her hair straight, but because of the damp weather she is forced to wear it curly. She had even brought all of the necessary products that was needed in order to keep her hair straight, however they do not work properly with this much humidity. The weather had just ruined her time here because she really hates curly hair. The other woman truly sympathized with her friend, her face showing genuine concern, being utterly distraught. That is when both of them uttered the words "this is just so unfair"! Yes, life for them is just so unfair.
I looked back at the television, still showing innocent people being shot in the streets and tanks roaming around in their city. This inhumanity is happening now. I looked back at the women again and their big smiles, I was awake now and thinking. Yes, life is just so unfair for these women.

Friday, May 16, 2008


I have always been bad with money, over draft fees and negative signs in my bank statements were not too uncommon for me. Yet somehow I managed to drive a car, buy clothes and eat. However that is why now my other half is the only one in the household handling the finances. I do not see my paycheck, I do not see the bills and therefore we do not see overdraft fees or negative signs. Although I continue to lack paying attention to prices which feeds into my disability with handling money.
The other day I drove into a gas station to fill up the tank of my pretty little car with the wonderful liquid that makes her run. So I went through the motions: turn off the car, take out the debit card, insert it in the machine and go through the steps, open the gas tank knob and insert the nozzle, press the 91 button and squeeze the handle. As I was standing, waiting and looking around, my eyes fell on the the price tag. WHAT?! No Way!!?? This can not be??!! I stopped the nozzle right away thinking that either there is a mistake or that I am being ripped off by this high priced gas station. Four dollars and sixteen cents, it MUST be a mistake.
I called S to ask him if this is normal, and he said yes. Hesitantly I continued pumping, yet first of all I was shocked at the price, second of all I was highly disappointed by my own ignorance, which is a whole other topic that I will save for later.
Four dollars and sixteen cents for one gallon of gas. Almost seventy dollars to fully fill up the entire tank. In my lifetime I remember seeing one dollar and some cents for one gallon of gas, and at some point I remember filling up my car with $20.00. And I am NOT that old!
When I was too young to drive I used to spend time with an older friend who not only could drive, but she had her own car (it was a shiny red two door Toyota Tercel) and I used to watch her drive and envy her. She was always broke as a joke so paying for any thing was a challenge. So I remember always going to gas stations and pumping $1.00 or $2.00 worth of gas in her car (because that was all she could find in the bottom of her purse or pocket), and that would take us to places. $2.00 worth of gas!
What we as a nation are mostly concerned about is the short time it took the dollar sign to jump up from 3 to over 4 on the gas station signs. But what amazes me is how we all still continue to drive, pump gas into our cars and drive again even with these soaring prices. I wonder how far they can go up with us still bowing our heads and pressing that 91 button and getting our fuel. As a member of the nation of consumers I for one believe that they can go pretty high up before any change stirs.
The sad part is that even though I have moved on and can afford more than $2.00 worth of gas, yet people like my friend still exist. What are they supposed to do?