Monday, February 16, 2009

He Love’s Me, He Love’s Me Not

Valentine's Day Activities for the Single

  • Watch BBC production of Bleak House
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Go to International Cinema with my roommates boyfriend (my roommate is currently in California so he was alone on Valentine’s Day)
  • Butterfinger blizzards
  • Read feminist theory - I was supposed to read some feminist theory for class and I wanted to read it on Valentine’s Day to make it more ironic, but my laziness got the better of me.

Valentine Awards

  • Worst Movie Kiss: 2007 adaptation of Persuasion – I’m not exaggerating when I say that it’s the most uncomfortable kiss of my life. It takes about 20 seconds - again no exaggeration - and during those twenty seconds she works a cm at a time towards his lips with her mouth open and lips quivering like a fish on land. It’s disturbing.
  • Most cliché gifts: Stuffed animal, heart shaped box of chocolates and a dozen red roses.
  • Favorite Valentine’s Day Food: Heart shaped sugar cookies
  • Favorite Valentine’s Day Film: He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not
    This is a French film that I saw at International Cinema and it deals with love...but a psychotic love. It basically deconstructs the techniques of filming to unnerve the audience’s perception of reality and get laughs out of terrible events. If you have not seen it I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Reading Lolita in Tehran

"I do not feel suppressed," pronounced the woman speaker indignantly. Her words contrasted ironically with the lacey black scarf covering her hair. Did she not perceive the irony of her statement? No, we were the blind ones who did not understand. Like many Americans, my view of Islam derived from the media’s concentration on extremist branches of Islam. However, this female speaker displayed a new dimension to the religion for me, as she served on committees for her community, attained a high education, and expressed her opinion freely; she was not suppressed because she chose to cover her head for Allah. Living in the Middle East I came to correct my one-dimensional view of Islam by finding sources outside of the American media. And when I read Reading Lolita in Tehran I appreciated Nafisi’s narrative of extremist Islam. Yet, I’m afraid that American audiences will not realize that this book only represents a small portion of the Islamic faith, and for this reason I will follow Nafisi’s example and share my own memoirs of veils and Islam.
My socks poke out of the black material cloaking my body and create friction scraping the surface of the carpet. I do not feel invisible wearing the black material cloaking my body. Instead, I feel a unique spirit sitting on the carpet in a mosque where Muslims come to pray daily. The ancient melodious words, amplified across the old city, call everyone to prayer five times a day. They drop sleep, work,
everything to pray to Allah. Our driver recites the call to prayer over the microphone to express his deep faith. World renowned for reciting the call to prayer, Atta must work as a bus driver because he would not accept money for singing; he sings for Allah.
Besides Mormon families, I have never found a more family centered religion than Islam. Visiting the humble home of a Palestinian family we were welcomed into their home as we celebrated the birthday of their son. The mother traditionally dressed in a veil gave us too much delicious food and the father sat on a couch teasing his sons and young daughters whose beautiful long hair shown as brightly as their mischievous and playful eyes. That hot day at Karnack I could only see the eyes of the cloaked woman as she handed me her beautiful baby. Drawn to my blond hair, they wanted me to take a picture with their child. "Thank you" they said through their smiles "affon" I replied, sealing our respect for one another.
"I have heard about the death of your prophet" my Muslim friend Iman says to me after the death of President Hinckley. "I am sorry for your loss." I have seen this kindness so many times - like that time in Jordan when our small group was lost in Amman and a father and son stopped to assist us. The father and son took the time to drive us in their car trying to get us to our destination. Soon the destination did not matter as we talked about movies and politics.
Words do not fail me often, but they do as I attempt to convey my feelings about these unique experiences. I do not deny the existence of the horrors in Nafisi’s narrative. I cannot dismiss her experiences, but I cannot dismiss my own experiences. I can only hope that in sharing my encounters with Islam, I can expand people’s view to acknowledge another view of this religion that exists outside of the extremist regime of Iran.