Friday, November 21, 2008

Helia, don't let them judge us...*

I have been presenting a lot lately…my research results, that is!

But it was not only my work related research results. Three out of four were, three weeks in November, in different conferences. Then there was one, which was very personal, sort of a personal vow.

You see, I had a favorite Persian author in recent years. I had read most of his books, watched the only movie which was shown from him, and had hiked alongside of him and my father in my early youth years; when hiking with Mr. Alchemist had not started yet! He was a true master of Persian words. There was even a funny story about him, when he was a university student, he had written a text in the old Persian style, and had convinced his teachers that he had actually found this text on a piece of paper inside a book in the library. Everyone was fooled by his strong style of writing and had believed the story.

I loved his books, his characters and his words. So when he passed away – strangely, because of a brain tumor which made him unable to write or even to speak – I felt responsible inside to give a talk about him, and I did.

But this was not the whole story. This made me think about something else. While I was going through his books after a long time again to prepare for my presentation, I found out that I have changed, and so now I have some contradictions with his ideas. The same ideas which 10 years ago while reading his pieces made me nod and think to myself: “Yeah! Right… I know what you mean…Exactly…”; now seemed different. I couldn’t accept some of them. They made me object inside.

I know this is certainly because I am not the same person as 10 years ago, but then I thought, am I allowed to think about this person’s beliefs as well? I mean, he was a writer; a strong story teller. Now that I love his stories, do I have to judge his beliefs and thoughts too?

There are so many of these examples out there. The amazing poet who doesn’t have a good reputation in his relationships with women, the great singer who supports this or that political party which are not in parallel with our beliefs, or the perfect scientist who is not successful in his marriage. Are we allowed to judge them?
There is another side to this story, which I have also seen very often: those who are good/great in one subject and think that this makes them eligible to make speeches and theories about everything else in life. Like the mathematics/physics/chemistry genius who thinks everyone should hear/consider his opinions about politics, or the classic example, the elderly who think just because of their age, they are eligible not only to advise the right life style, but also for royalty respect!

All what I mean is, I don’t think doing well in one aspect of life, makes us equally well in other aspects. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to judge people not concentrating on their specialties, but considering a general figure. Although I know it’s very difficult to get to this stage, believe me…

But whatever his beliefs were, I’ll always remember his stories, and some of his quotes, “Happiness, is not the lack of sadness. It’s having the sadness in life, and dominating it.”

*PS: The title is another quote, from one of his books. One of the most romantic books I have ever read in persian.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A getaway, even if for a couple of hours...

Some people get drunk and some get high to forget, I watch movies…

I also watch movies "just for fun", but I have recently noticed that I use watching movies, as a getaway from whatever is bothering me. Not that I tend to turn my back to my problems, in fact, I am someone who jumps in, head first. On the other hand, there are always issues which bother you, annoy you, scratch your safety and security, and yet you cannot do anything about them. You are sentenced to wait, and god knows how much I hate waiting to see what happens later without being in control.

I guess this is why some people need something to distract them from the problem, whatever it is. So they become workaholics, shopaholics, alcoholics, or addicted to whatever gives them some kind of "forgetting temporarily". This becomes some sort of escape, an opportunity to forget, even if for an instant, or for as long as the effect stays. These are mostly very destructing activities, and can seriously damage body and/or soul. The common downside is that you have to face the problem again. It won’t go away. You have to finally deal with it. Either solve it, or let it be. But you can never turn your back to it, forever.

Still, every now and then, we might try some of these getaways. For me, it’s watching movies, or reading books. Both can distract me from my surrounding annoyance. Especially if they are fictional. You see, a more serious book or a documentary still attracts me, but it engages mostly my "serious" side. I need my inner child to be entertained. So it’d better be/have a storyline.

Those books, as well as for some movies make me forget what time it is, where I am, what I was doing at the time. Sometimes, I literally have to shake my head to get back to real life. But even with a storyline, not all the books or movies are engaging. Some always keep you at a distance, "Hey! This is not real, this is a movie, this is only a story. What? Yes, there is some smell/noise/scene going on in the background. Did you notice that? I guessed so. See? You still have your nerves in your surrounding world. Told ya!"

But there are few books or movies (or few episodes of some TV series, for that matter), which literally "swallow" you inside. You forget any surrounding parameters, not hearing any noises, not smelling or seeing anything else, you become part of the movie, part of the book. You go behind the eyes of one or some of the characters, and you start to live in that world. You get lost in between the pages, the frames, the dialogues. For 45 minutes, 90 minutes, 2 hours, 5 hours, or as long as the program/movie/book lasts, you forget about everything in the background. Then, you’ll have enough time to deal with your problem later.

Problem is, since I have grown up, less and less movies and books engage me with the same intensity as they did before. Maybe I should add this to the list of all the sharp and deep senses which we loose alongside of time, "smarties" smell less and less chocolaty sharp, the last bite of sandwich bread does not taste as delicious, less stories make me get lost in their world.

Still, reading an engaging book, watching a smart movie, or an episode of a well made TV series, helps me forget about what bothers me at the time. Then, I’ll have time to get back to it later… "Tomorrow’s another day!!"*

*Scarlett O’Hara, "Gone with the wind".

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The spell of the mirrors...

Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors…

I am standing in a room, full of mirrors. The room has the classic-cube shape, with the walls covered in mirrors. I can neither find the door, nor remember how I entered this room in the first place. It’s as if I was brought here when I was asleep, or even maybe born here, but never noticed the mirrors. Whatever the reason, I am now surrounded by mirrors.

They are somehow different from my memory of a regular mirror, which should naturally reflect my own image. In each, I can see my own image, but somehow changed, tiltled, alternated. Thank god they are not scary, or too fat, or too thin, or bald! They are just…how to say it…different.
In every mirror, there is a me. Cooking in a kitchen, typing behind a computer, marking some papers in a classroom, feeding a baby, waiting in a long queue for a bus, in the middle of a conversation, shouting and waving hands (this one seems angry!), trapped in traffic, sitting in a cottage looking at the flowers, in the middle of a party…
As soon as I look at each one of them in their mirrors, they pause whatever it was they were doing, look up, and stare back at me through their mirrors, seemingly deep in thought, and then back to whatever it was they were doing…

OK, now it’s getting a bit scary. I have missed the sense of which one is the real me, and if I don’t focus on myself, I can mistake myself with any of the other reflections in the mirrors. They can all be me, and yet I am myself. I am the one who is looking at all of these mirrors, freaking out. I should leave this room. I cannot recognize myself in any of them, and yet, they all look familiar. The thing is they are not necessarily “me” who chose any other path on the way. Some of the reflections, I have no idea where they are coming from…I’m freaking out. I should leave this room.

I walk around, touching each mirror. They are solid. They don’t move. There is no button or key around any of them. I try to break them, they don't break. I’m frightened, lost, frustrated, desperate. I sit, close my eyes, and lie down. Maybe this is a dream, a nightmare, and I can end it by opening my eyes. Let’s count to ten; one, two, three,…

Opening my eyes, I am still in the same room, with all the mirrors and all my reflections. But there is some hope. Looking up, I see the ceiling. There is no reflection in the ceiling. Just the sky, bright and blue; and the clouds, puffy and white. Maybe there is an escape after all. I take whatever I can find in the room, piling them on top of each other, making a tower to go up toward the ceiling. My hands are scrached and my back hurts, but I am going up, up, up… and then to the ceiling. It’s made of glass, but I take one of my heaviest books and hit it hard…so hard that it breaks with a loud crack, and the glass sparkles around everywhere. A nice breeze blows in. Finally! I grab myself up the side, and look outside…

Everywhere is filled with cubes, covered in glass and mirrors. Every mirror is a wall between each two rooms. The life is going on in each room, reflecting in some mirrors, and observing other reflection of it’s own. Each image is slightly similar, and slightly different from the other reflections. Every now and then, in each cube, people pause, look up, stare for a couple of moment into the mirrors, and go back to their lives. Apparently this was not a nightmare afterall, it was the life itself...

And I’m on the top of the roof, looking at the infinite number of the cubes, and amazed by so many different reflections, so similar; yet so different…I’m not scared anymore.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Me, Myself, and I

"Self" has been described and discussed vastly in different fields. Philosophers, psychologists and sociologists have defined the word, explained the concept in details, and analyzed it with different approaches. Many people in a broad field of sciences, from Avicenna to Heidegger, have worked on it.

I am no philosopher, but I have my own theory.

In my opinion, "Self", as well as many other physical materials, can be described as having the dual wave-like and particle-like property. Now I’m not only talking about the small components of body, as in the organic ingredients, which can in detail be a composition of atoms, so electrons and nucleus and hence smaller particles, which can have that dual property. I am as well talking about the good old "Self", the one who sits behind our eyes in our brain, and senses stuff. The king of the kingdom. The one in whose eyes we look while looking inside the mirror. The one we are alone with at night right before going to sleep and review the day’s events once more. The one we make promises to, while making the New Year’s resolutions. One’s own Self.

This so called "Self", although is not definitely mere matter (and I’m not quite sure if it is some sort of energy, or just a result of different interactions and synapses inside the amazing brain), can in my idea have both properties of a wave, and a particle, with different quanta of energy.

I describe it in this way. I am the same person in this body since I was born. Sure I have grown and changed, but this person who is typing these words, is the same person who once was 4, 12, 20 or 30. The same person who almost was drowned when she was four, hated her new school when she was 14, read like crazy in odd hours of day when she was 19, and fell off the bike when she was 30. The same person who chose a wrong path on an important turning point in 17 and still regrets it, took the right path in another turning point in 25 and is still happy about it. I am the same person. I am a whole.

Still, I cannot believe I am the same person I once was in my early 20s. I cannot believe some of my choices back then. It’s as if someone else made those choices. Someone else has lived that life; someone else experienced those events. It’s as if at some points in my life, quanta of energy have knocked me off my state at the time, sending me to another level. Whether it’s a higher level or not, I cannot judge necessarily (although one can argue that "being happy" can be a good scale to measure the level of the state) but still, I can say for sure that it’s another level.

One specific experience that sometimes can mark these different states, is meeting an old friend. When there is a friendship that has reached to the expiration date, and you meet that friend after awhile, there are moments that you cannot believe you were once so close to this friend and actually had a pretty good time together. What has happened is simply that you both have changed, and the change is not only in your new high-lights, or her nose job. It’s something in different levels of each one’s state. Something that makes you disappointed, when you both look deep into each other’s eyes, while chatting from here and there, unable to find the other one’s familiar Self…It’s not only the disappointment from not finding the old friendship, but a horrible feeling of being torn into parts in time. The more the change and the farther the friend seems, the more painful the feeling. "Who the heck was I back then?" won’t leave you for quite some time…

But it will pass. The continuity of the life routine will ease the pain. One, gets quanta of energy again, changes levels, and continues to be the same self over and over again, experiencing all those ups and downs, in one whole life…

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dark or white chocolate, or ... maybe none?

Early in the afternoon, nice breeze through a window, two big mugs of freshly steeped tea. After a pause in front of the fridge, I pick one "Kit Kat-dark" to accompany with my tea. Offering it to Mr Alchemist, he tries one stick, and he hates it! I love it, and we break into a discussion about why we feel so differently about the same thing. He thinks that this dark version of Kit Kat, or any dark chocolate for that matter, is not sweet enough as a chocolate is supposed to be, in fact it leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth after one eats it. He says that’s the main reason why he dislikes dark chocolate. I love dark Kit Kat, or any dark chocolate for that matter, exactly for the same reason.

I’m talking over the phone with my father. It’s more of a discussion rather than a chat. We are discussing over a family-relations subject. Somebody has told a lie and expects everyone not only to accept it, but not to investigate it anymore. He believes it’s just some type of a game, which shouldn’t distract him from his more important issues in his life. I believe although there are important issues in his life, but so many of his obstacles originate from this childish game, which he should notice and care about.

I have two friends, both with kids. They have both been treated the same when they were kids themselves, meaning they were both being punished physically for their bad behaviors. Now after becoming adults and having kids of their own, for the same concept, they have concluded two different conclusions. One of them punishes her kids physically ("It was the same for me, and I turned out to be fine. I know it was for my own good back then, and now this is for the kids' own good."). The other one doesn’t even touch them when she is angry, worried that her touch may not have the same "gentleness" as her regular hug and care.

You can find thousand and thousands of these examples in your everyday life. From the smallest issues like selecting the pistachio over vanilla ice cream, to the bigger concepts of politics, ideology, or society. This could be seen as different perceptions (Hello my friend MH!). But my point is, who can decide what is good and what is bad for a whole bunch of people? If the results for me is totally different from my father's, my brother's, or my friend's, who can say that having 12000 calories per day will have the same effect on our bodies as it has for
Michael Phelps? Who can guaranty that walking up and down the stairs for 30 minutes straight which is good for my chubby friend, does the same for me, and won’t hurt my knees? Who can say that this ideology or that social concept works for all the people? And more practically, aren’t we observing the result? Which nation is totally/totally happy and successful? I’m not talking about the surveys based on one person or a group of people’s perception on happiness and the conclusions, I’m talking reality. What makes the Danishes the happiest nation in the world, may not work for the people of Zimbabwe.

Maybe if we observe more, an unbiased observation without any prejudice, then coming to a pattern and then deciding upon that pattern helps us much more than deciding upon one person’s belief, or a group’s ideology, or a nation’s way of living. Maybe then we can come to some general rules to be happy and live happily, or maybe not. But at least we may come to the conclusion that we accept our differences and live by each other, without the urge to convince the other one to accept our beliefs.

Maybe the world turns out to be a better place after all

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The salesmen in the swamp...

The frogs were selling all sorts of stuff in the swamp.

"We have power, fame, and ultimate happiness. We also entertain you, tell you what’s going on outside. Let us show you how the outside world really is. Ask us. It’s easy; just know that everything comes at a price. Pay the price, and we’ll be happy to serve you."

"How much is the price?" asked someone.

"Just a tiny little bit of your soul, and we don’t actually take it forever, it’s like a rent. It won’t hurt, we borrow it for some time, as long as you listen to our stories and buy power or fame or simply a comfortable life, and then you can take it back. Think about it, with such big souls that we all creatures have, there wouldn’t be a problem if we get some of it only for some time..."


"….and they are really buying things from you?" asked a lady frog in their huge luxury house in the middle of the swamp.

"Of course, what did you think of me? I am not only selling them stuff, but also even images. They are all under the water and cannot get out, or they’ll die you know. So I am telling them whatever I see from the outside world…and you know your husband. What would I tell them?"

"Your own version, you smart frog. I know you, and that’s why I like you, even though I know about your flaws. But I believe in you. But what about the other insects who know what’s going on out there? Mosquitoes and flies are not our problem. They give anything in return of the favor that you don’t eat them. The butterflies are our main problem."

"I know, I know. I have thought about it too. At first I tried to get friends with them, which you know didn’t work. They stubbornly don’t give me any bit of their souls. But then I tried to get mosquitoes and flies to lead them to the good old spider on the far end of the swamp, and for the rest of them who don’t get trapped, I use my "soul-changing" trick, not on them, but on the swamp’s residents. Everything works better when we work from deep within them. That’s why I take a tiny little bit of their souls. I shape them as I want, and return them. They won’t notice it that after awhile, my lies look like the reality, and nothing bothers them any more. They just won’t care about what is "really" going on out there."

They started laughing, such an ugly laugh that one single small lotus behind their backyard, shrank in a heartbeat, and sank in the water…


But it was not completely hopeless yet, as the salesman frog wasn’t noticing or considering the small little caterpillars who were everywhere on the leaves, listening to their conversations, watching the trapped butterflies, getting friends with the nicer flies and talking to crickets, waiting for the day that they could fly away from the swamp, and experience the real reality, with their souls intact. The smart frog was smart, but couldn’t see them. They were there, waiting for the day of metamorphosis...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Feature presentation, feature audience...

There are always two major parties in a presentation; the speaker, and the audience.

I have personally read and heard a lot about the speaker; various styles, different manners, regular routines, interesting or boring presentations. How s/he is supposed to look the audience in the eyes, have a loud and clear voice, use the body language properly, be entertaining, etc. But I’ve not seen much about the audience. Supposedly they are there to listen, and apparently there are no “specific” styles of listening, right? But believe me, there are!

I was recently at a presentation, and for some reason, I started looking at the audience. We were sitting all around in not such a big room, so it was easy looking at people and observing their styles of “listening”, without being noticed.

Some were simply listening; looking directly at the speaker, blinking their eyes every now and then, hearing the words passively. Didn’t look that it mattered too much for them if the speaker was talking about the history of philosophy, or the latest political news in the world. He was there to talk, they were there to listen, simple as that. They usually continue their passive listening all the way throughout the talk, up to the questions. Their necks turn toward the one who asks the question, and back again to the speaker. They are the most boring audience god has ever created!
(Also in the same category, those who start listening with open eyes, and half way through presentation go to a nice comfortable sleep.)

Another group of audience includes the ones who actively listen, and even react. Laughing at the jokes, eyebrows frown in concentration, shaking their heads either in agreement or disagreement, they actively participate in listening. They become a part of the talk, enjoy it, and interact with the speaker which provides the necessary energy for the talk to go on. They often raise questions, to understand a concept or discuss on a belief, and listen to the answer, giving the speaker the chance to explain the issue. They are the best audience ever.

And somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, is the “naughty” audience. They are participating in the talk, either just to refer to it later (“…Oh, that one! Yeah, I know, I was there myself, but it wasn’t that interesting…”), or were enforced by somebody else, a spouse, a friend, a parent. They usually cannot stand not being the center of attention. They get bored very soon, maybe in the first ten minutes and then start talking or joking with their friends, giggling at something not very funny, looking at others, and making a comment every now and then about one sentence of the talk which they grab on the air. At the end of the talk, they usually ask questions, sometimes even not related to the subject, to attract the attentions from the speaker back to themselves. Then, no matter if the speaker has answered the question or not, they (often starting with “…thanks for your answer, but let me add my opinion to it…”) become a junior speaker and talk endlessly about their ideas and opinions, which could even be irrelevant to the talk. They make people annoyed, and even enjoy it. Anything that shifts the center of attention to them is worth the try!

And then, there is me. Listening to the talk, observing people’s manners, and taking notes, careful not to bother the speaker, or awaken the sleepy beauties!

How many other categories can you add to these?

Thursday, July 31, 2008


With pieces of memories, one can write history, but one certainly cannot live.
(Maral Aghoilar)

The quilt was made of hundreds of pieces of memories, in different colors, different shapes.. It was her comfort, her warmth, her whole life. She would hug it, put it on herself when she was cold, fold it to lean on and go through all different pieces. She could tell by heart which one was sewn there when. She had started sewing pieces since she was very young, almost a kid, although those pieces were very small. Then there were more colorful ones, in all vibrant lively colors. Those were from her younger years, when she was young and dynamic and full of energy. Then there were the more shaped ones, nicely shaped and clean, souvenirs from her middle aged years. But then recently, she had less and less pieces sewed to her quilt. Well simply not much was happening in her life. Except for that time when her favorite grandkid was getting married, or when her favorite nephew visited her after so many years with his wife and kid…and god knows how that little kid reminded her of her own belated brother…
Otherwise, not much had been added to the quilt.

But she was still happy. Going through the old pieces of quilt, made her busy for hours in the day and could protect her from this uneasy, boring life. Although there seem to be a problem recently, some of the pieces were not as colorful as before. Some she couldn’t even see clearly, some had become plain white.

"Her brain is shrinking. She has already lost her short term memory, and before you know, it will expand to her long term memory too." She could hear the doctor explaining to her kids about some ridiculously silly stuff. Why were they so stupid? There was nothing wrong with her, or her quilt. She just wanted to be left alone with her quilt to go through older pieces over and over and over again. And she was sure, the day that they all became white, she would lie underneath her quilt and would go to her most comfortable sleep of her life…


The man went to fill up his watering can from the bathroom. He felt tired, very tired. In fact, he was exhausted. As he was filling up his can, he could overhear somebody talking in the stair case. It was the lady who would go to his apartment once a week to clean and cook for him, talking to one of the neighbors, "…you know, he is a gentleman, one of the expired generation of the true gentlemen. But he is kind of strange", she lowered her voice, "and creepy sometimes. All day, he slowly walks in the apartment. You know it’s difficult for him to walk, with that cane and after his stroke, and you know how he is always fully dressed in a formal suit. And then he stops, bends over a little, does something which looks like he is, I don’t know, maybe pouring something on the floor from a pitcher or something, and he talks in a low voice, and he keeps doing this forever."

"You should have seen him when he used to throw the best parties in the neighborhood, and invited everyone, so that no one would complain from all that noise, and he danced and danced and danced, with everyone, young or old, girl or boy. He always had three different shirts for each party, because he had to change them as they became soaked in sweat after each round of dance."
The voices were farther and farther, maybe they were going down the stairs.
He smiled, "Creepy…an exhausted ex-dancer creepy gentleman, hmm!" and looked at himself in the mirror. His purple tie had loosened a bit. He fixed it, although it was a bit difficult with the watering can and the cane and everything, and then he went to the living room, and started watering his plants, in his garden of memories.

There were so many of them. He had collected them for as long as he could remember. Recently he didn’t like to do anything except for watering them, treating them, looking at them and talking to them. They each reminded him of a different stage of his life. Some of them were so big with long green leaves and thick brown stems, some smaller but filled with flowers. There were even some cacti, with sharp thorns. But he liked them as well. It was a long time that even the sharpest thorns couldn’t make any harm to his old hands. They were all representing parts of his life. There were times when he wanted to share them with others, but soon he found out that they were not as interesting for others as they were for him, it was as if only he could see them. and then he stopped talking about them. Now it was just him, and them. And they were so many, that he had difficulty finding a spot for himself to walk through them. He knew that no matter if anyone else can see them or not, when he gets very tired, as tired as he cannot even take another step, they will make a bed for him with their leaves, so that he can rest…and who knows, maybe then he can rest forever…

PS: Didicated to the memory of a beloved grandmother and a beloved granduncle, who recently passed away...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I, and my four caring friends!

My hands and my legs are my old close friends!

Sometimes I just sit there inside my head, behind my eyes and watch them. I watch them constantly in moving, working, doing something.

They are in a good harmony with each other, to do my orders. Amazingly, sometimes I don’t even need to give them orders. I get up in the mornings, yawning and half asleep, leaning on my legs which start carrying me here and there, while my hands wash my face, make the tea and set the breakfast.

I’m still day dreaming and planning up there in my brain while my legs carry me to work, my hands taking care of the tickets and my bags. My legs still carry me patiently everywhere and bear with me when I need to run like crazy. At work usually is where I intentionally give my hands orders, to do the experiments that I want. But still, they can do things without me being involved, like tapping on my bench and making some kind of rhythm while I’m still thinking, or rubbing each other when they get tired or bored. Then I go back home, no sign of disobedience! They still cook for me, wash the dishes, change the channels on the remote control, turn the pages on my book, give me my tea, clean, wash, dry, fold, iron, sort, while my legs keep carrying me, either walking, or sitting down (well I very much tend to sit in lotus even on the sofa!!).

I guess my legs are the worker type, they just do the same thing over and over and over again, trying not to complain. My hands are smarter. They know me better and have developed some sort of brain (a muscle brain?!!) for their own. They do things smartly enough for me to look at them and be constantly amazed. They take good care of me, I try to do the same, but then it’s again them I have to set to work, to wash each other, to apply creams, to put on gloves. They, themselves, don’t want me to sit and do nothing, nor do my legs. All four of them need to be constantly in work, until they pass out, and I turn off the engine and go to sleep…

They make me feel comfortable sitting in my brain, behind my eyes, and while quality controlling their jobs, think about other things. Things like life, death, and people. And how every person is like a book, which starts somewhere, gets read, and stops somewhere, and when their books are closed, what remains for us is the feeling of missing them, and watching their empty space among us. My dear hands let me think about all these and even mourn a bit; when I’ve heard three pieces of bad news in a week from back home about our beloved ones who passed away, while they continue doing all daily routine activities of my life, leaning on my patient legs…

Human is an amazing creature…

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The story of a girl who was looking for her dreams...

There it was, the big fork in the road.

She was standing there, looking, and thinking deeply, where should she go?

One side seemed somehow familiar. Besides, there were a bunch of family and friends standing there, encouraging her to choose and turn that way. That would make them happy, all together.
The other side, was covered mostly in a fog, she couldn’t see very far, but it seemed interesting and adventurous. It sure was different.

She thought to herself, "I already know that I have lost my dreams. They are long gone, and I have looked for them everywhere, and haven’t found them. Should I still continue on the way that I already know won’t have my dreams?" She looked at the familiar crowd on that side of the road.

"What are you hesitating for?" somebody asked, she couldn’t recognize who.

"I’ve lost my dreams. Are you sure you haven’t seen them anywhere?"
Her father answered "Your dreams? No. Did you have any in the first place?"
"Well I’m sure I had some, I just can’t find them anymore."
"What’s the use of them anyways? You have to study well, find a good job, marry a nice man, have some kids, and serve your family when they get old, hoping that you get served by your kids when you get old. There’s no such thing as "dream"."
"I can’t believe it, you never had any even when you were younger?"
He seemed to be thoughtful for a moment, "I guess I had, but just having a good wife and good kids and a nice life, which I have, this was my dream."

Her mother interfered, "What are you discussing about? Dreams? Haven’t I already described you what your dreams should be and will be?"
"Errr…I suppose they were more your dreams than mine."
"What’s the difference, I know you better then you know yourself. I know what dreams are better for you. Now come here and continue. It’s getting late!"
"Oh boy! Not again, getting late for what? I need to find my dreams, my personal legends, something for me, for my soul, for my life. I have looked across that road and know they are not there."
"You are selfish, how do you dare to talk only about yourself? How about your family?" Somebody else said, not very clear who.
"I guess if you all had thought about your own dreams before, you wouldn’t have to be hanging on to mine."
There were shouting, begging, cursing and opposing voices, all mixed with each other. Somebody shouted, "Don’t forget you won’t be alone here, on this road, we will all be together and this is all that matters. Isn’t this important for you?"

She sighed, "I wish somebody would be here to tell me what to do. I am so confused."
Looking around, there wasn’t anyone there, no Alchemist, no Jonathan, no Little prince, no big-wise-person to tell her what to do. It was getting more and more difficult. She looked at her grandma, who was standing between those people, looking at her, not saying anything. "You help me, what should I do grandma?"
"Look into your heart honey, into your heart…"

She looked around more desperate, but suddenly she was not all alone. There was a familiar face standing there, apparently in a similar situation. They knew each other, very well.
"Thinking about where to go as well?" He asked, with a smile.
"I’m glad I see my best friend here too," she said, "You know, deep into my heart, I am so tempted to go the other way, the adventurous one. I’m also somehow anxious and scared, cause I don't know where would it lead. But then maybe I can find my dreams alongside that way."

"Then let’s go together. We won’t be alone, we’ll work, sing, dance, live. We’ll walk together. More than anything, we’ll talk. It makes the road easier."
"And more pleasant." She smiled. Now she seemed more confident, "So are you ready?"
He tightened his shoelaces, "I am. Are you?"
She took a deep breath, "I guess I am."
They held hands, and started walking, into the unknown foggy road, smiling…

It was 5 years ago, today…

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Living in a multiverse

"What if you could find a way into those parallel worlds?", it whispered. "What if you could meet the Richard and Leslie you were before you made your worst mistakes and smartest moves? What if you could warn them, thank them, ask them any question you dared? What might they know about living, about youth and age and dying, about peace and war, responsibility, choices and consequences, about the world you think is real?"
Richard David Bach, One (1989)

…and it shook my world.

I had thought about it since I was a teenager; "what would have happened if I had turned left, not right at that turning point?” Then I grew older, I read more, thought more, learned more; and at some point, I guess in my early 20s, I read One by Richard Bach.

I had read Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions from him before, and I had liked them. I had read The Bridge Across Forever, and had fallen in love with this couple. And then I read One. All of a sudden, somebody else had thought about the same thing, and not only “what would have happened if…”, but also “what happened to the person who took the other direction on that turning point?”

Definitely if I had chosen the other path in any of my turning points, there would have been other consequences. Would I be the same person as I am now? Now, I could define when I said "I was happy by the choice I made on that turning point" it meant I am happy with the consequences and how they changed me. Not all of them I really like, there are a couple of them which I always wish I had turned the other way, but would it make me, me? And another question, more challenging and more fascinating, what happened to the other Nava?

There are theories which say there is a "split" in time, and the world or the existence splits in two whenever you make a choice, as there is the same possibility that you could have made the other choice. So, you are you, and then other versions of you have slipped in other worlds, as multiple parallel universes can exist at the same time. (I’m still trying to find the recent reference which I read on this about 6 months ago.) Multiverses or the multiple universes have been hypothesized in different fields, cosmology, physics, astronomy, philosophy, theology, and fiction. There are even forums out there that people guess what they’d be doing in the parallel universes.

This concept had also another result for me, which is helping me in getting closer to finding some sort of explanation – even if not an answer – for one of my forever questions: is it constrain or choice? (Please let me know if you know the exact philosophical phrase.)
Now, a whole explanation can gradually take shape. Maybe (and I emphasize on this again, MAYBE) there are in fact parallel universes. In each universe, the whole paths are planned, and by choosing any direction on any given turning point, you "slip" in one of them, and continue that particular pathway of life…a combination of both.

Do I wish to meet the other "Nava"s? Maybe a couple of them. I am so curious to know what happened to them, and I so wish for all of them to be happy, wherever they are…

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A short story

The bird had white feathers and a red beak. She was tapping on the window and peaking inside. Maybe she was hungry…

The kid closed the book and sighed. She felt lonely, and somehow scared. But she didn’t dare to leave this room. At least this was her own room, and she knew every inch of it, even in the dark. Although she was never sure about under the bed, no matter how many times she checked it during the day. In the evenings, everything could be different. Specially now that nobody was home, except for her little brother, who was leaning on her and listening to the story she was reading to him, his cheeks still wet from his tears. She was the one who was supposed to take care of him. So despite all her fears, as soon as he started to cry, she tried not to think about her own fears, calmed him down, turned on a candle (Her parents told her it was dangerous to play with the match and the candle but what could she do? The power had gone off, and her brother was scared.) and offered to read him from the book that he liked the most, to distract him from the fact that he was hungry and he missed his parents…Now she was hungry too, and on top of them all, she was worried. What if they’ve had an accident? They used to be home usually by this hour. She looked at her brother. He was asleep still leaning on her, with a couple of tears on his cheeks…She thought to herself, “Maybe I’d better get back to the story, at least I won’t notice the dark that much.” Then, she heard a sound, the squeak of braking, and a car engine being turned off. She had a sigh of relief and awakened her brother: “Hey lazy, wake up, they are here!”…

The audio book stopped. “What went wrong?” The girl thought to herself, “I just changed the batteries this morning! Oh damn! I want to know what happens next. Now I have to wait until we arrive, which is still 3 hours away.” She saw the flight attendant approaching them with a smile. Her growling stomach confirmed “OK! About time!” Then she turned around to wake up her husband who was sitting beside her, “Now where is he?!” She turned back and checked the end of the plane. The washroom light was off. She looked at the front, no sign of anybody standing. “Where is he?!!” She thought half worried, half angry “I hope this is not just my hallucination and I won’t wake up to my miserable life before this.” It had happened so many times in the old days. She used to dream about a calm, happy, independent, efficient, adventurous life with whom she loved, and she used to wake up to a world of bad choices and terrible consequences. Now she had started to panic, scared to make the slightest move “I don’t want to wake up again.” But she looked more carefully, she could swear that the flight attendant, the pleasant smell of food, her motion sickness and hunger, and the CD player with the audio book in her hands were real.
“Hey, go back to your own seat, will you? I was having a bad headache and I went to get a cup of tea. Good thing the food is here too. What do you want this time? Oh boy! You look so pale, did you take your pill? Please tell me you don’t want to throw up on me, please, please!!!” She started to laugh as her husband fastened up his seatbelt while speaking. “Thank god it was not a dream.” She thought to herself. The flight attendant with the smile was now at their row, "Chicken or fish, ma'am?"...

The old lady looked at her watch and changed the channel. She could watch the encore of “Read and write stories” on Thursday again. On the other hand, the kids would be here any minute, and then she had to change the channel, no other choices! They were coming to watch the soccer match all together, with god knows how many of their friends. She took a look outside the window where her husband was running in the neighborhood, still in good shape even in his seventies. She waved at him, who waved back, made a silly face and passed their driveway. She smiled and closed the window; it was getting a little colder and windy. She checked the table “OK! Enough sunflower seeds, pop-corns, and chips and salsa.” Then she remembered “…and my dessert is in the fridge, I hope they like this new recipe.” She went to the kitchen, turned down the kettle which was happily whistling and boiling, and put a bunch of fresh mint leaves in a dozen glasses. “Healthier choices for our own friends, and whoever gets stomachache with all that junk food out there!” She giggled to herself. She went back to the living room and checked herself in the mirror, “Maybe some fresh lip-gloss”…and then, she heard a soft sound of tapping. She looked back at the window, there was a bird sitting outside.
The bird had white feathers and a red beak. She was tapping on the window and peaking inside. Maybe she was hungry…

Monday, June 9, 2008

Days of our lives...

"Well, It’s hot and humid, not such a good weather, but it’s still better than sitting inside. At least I can watch people from here. You know, it’s always been an interesting hobby for me watching people and thinking about them and trying to guess what they are thinking about. Let’s see…hey! Look at that cute little girl enjoying her ice cream and talking constantly with her mother! I bet she is so happy. The mother looks nice, although a bit tired. Maybe she is thinking about her job and how she hates it but she still has to continue to pay of her bills and to make a better living for her daughter.
Or look at that pair, no, no, those ones, on the other side of the street. They are so into each other. I bet they are still friends, not spouses. Why?! Well it’s obvious, look at these other ones, yeah, yeah, the ones that you were looking at first, passing below our window. They are married, or at least living together for a while now. They are walking in sync with each other, sometimes touching each other’s hands, but not talking! They don’s need to show their affection in public any more!
There comes a teenager, head in the clouds, I bet he is day dreaming…but you know what? They are not necessarily impolite. One of them actually got up the other day in the metro and offered me his seat. Sweet boy! Although Mrs Pelletier believes that they all need a good punishment for talking loud and laughing and not caring about others, I think she is just being selfish. She has forgotten her old days…I still remember my days, when I was young, a teenager, how I was free and always a bit confused. I had eternity in front of me, and not knowing what to do with it! And girl, how I hated my face and my figure! It seemed so out of shape and out of ratio…I used to think that I had the longest chin in the whole family! Hahaha!

Oh, that’s the phone ringing, sorry, just a minute!

Hello?...Oh hi honey! How are you doing?...I’m doing fine….Where are you?...Oh yeah?...That’s great….So what are you doing calling me? Go have fun…Oh, that’s so sweet of you remembering me…I know, I know….Sure, sure, you know I never get bored….Yes, I’m still reading “the kite runner”…. And guess what, I have found this new movie club a couple blocks away. They have so many cool movies!...What?...Of course I go out, this evening. I’ll have my dinner with my friends…No, you don’t know them yet. I found them in my Tai chi club…Yeah, yeah!...So how’s the weather?...Good, good. How’s Fred?...And the kids?...Kiss them for me, OK?...You take care honey…. Have fun and recharge your batteries before going back to work…Thanks for calling… Me too…OK, OK!...You too, bye!...Bye.

My sweet girl. I miss her…I’m glad she is having fun.

Oh! You know I forgot to tell you that Teddy sent me an e.mail this morning? He said that he is happy with his new job and recently met a girl! Hee hee! No no no, I didn’t ask him anything. If it goes well, he’ll let me know. I’m sure.
Whew! It’s so warm. It makes me thirsty. Would you like some water? Are you thirsty too? Here, some nice cold water for you, and some fresh lemonade for myself…mmm! So good…"



I jumped from the sofa with Mr. Alchemist’s joyful screams due to a goal for his favorite soccer team. I reached for the window and closed it, not to bother our neighbor lady who was sitting in the balcony, sipping a lemonade and talking to her flower, as her usual habit of Saturday mornings…

Friday, May 30, 2008

LUI: Life Under Influence

Total strangers can play a role in our lives without even knowing it.

There are always those who rule the society or are in the government or are somehow leading some part of the world, which has something to do with us. Who can deny the influence that let’s say Saddam had on our lives? Part of me still shakes inside and panics only by hearing any kind of alarm because it reminds me of bombardments alarms. Fire works still are not as joyful as they are for most of the people, only because of the reminding sound of explosions that I had experienced. He had his specific influence on my life, without even knowing it.

Then there are those who somehow inspire us, no matter if they are still alive or not. Lance Armstrong or Marie Curie (or anybody who inspires one at one stage in one’s life) are in this category for me. They change your perception of life, shape it, or make a new one for you. Strangely enough, there could be even fictional characters in this category sometimes. I have one of these, a fictional character, my favorite one from one of my favorite writers. He shaped my character without even existing in this world, which sometimes surprises even me, myself.

And then, there are total strangers, who don’t seem to be very important in one’s life, but they are. Simply because they are so strongly connected to a special part of one’s life that coming across their name, suddenly awakes thousands of good and bad memories related to that stage of life. I noticed this, when I came across the name of a theatrical Iranian actor in a magazine, in a short simple condolence message for him. His name, took me to almost 10-12 years ago, in an instant. To the time that I used to watch any plays and movies and teletheaters that I could. To the time that I used to read like crazy (not that I don’t read these days, but it never is the same, getting up at 4:30 am, just to read until 6 am before getting ready to go out). To the time I started to know myself…

Is it possible that each of us play a role in somebody’s life, even if we never realize it?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A play in one piece

- Knock, knock!

- Who’s there?

- It’s me, Nava the alchemist.

- Come on in!

(There is a man sitting behind a huge desk in a huge room filled with the sunshine through the huge windows, looking busy, half hidden by a bunch of papers and books)

- So, let me see, what was your name again?

- Nava, the Alchemist. But…

- Well, I cannot find you on the list.

- Yes, I know that. I was hoping maybe today can be an exception for me?

- And what makes you think you are eligible for that? You see how busy we are, with all those desperate prayers and requests coming from all over the world…Here! A new heavenly truck just arrived this morning from china.

- (Smiling humbly) I know you are very busy, but you know, today is my birthday!

- (Looking up for the first time) OK! Happy birthday!....What? What are you staring at?

- (A bit surprised and confused) Nothing, it’s just that…Sorry, no offence; I just didn’t think you’d look like this.

- Look like what? (Gets up from behind the desk, checking himself in a mirror appearing out of nowhere in the middle of the room) Wohoho! Interesting! Well, what can I say? I am your perception of an angel at this special time. Although I myself didn’t think of looking like this at all… I look like…who’s that guy in one of these countless TV series?

- (Still not believing) Dr. Gregory House?

- Yeah, I suppose that’s him! Well, at least it’s no cliché. I was so bored looking like the Blue fairy with blue gown and blond hair or with white gown and long beard, similar to this so called "Dumbeldore", or nice handsome guys and cute kind gals…Oh! Never mind. (Scratching his unshaved face, and still checking himself in the mirror) What’s the reason that you attended "out of order" in the Minitry of requests and prayers?

- (Trying to keep polite and gentle) You see, I was thinking as it’s my birthday, maybe I could have a meeting with God, maybe?

- (Sighs and gets back to his desk) Oh! Humans, humans! Lady, didn’t you check the sign outside? This is the ministry, and I am the responsible angel . Meaning that I can arrange for the wish lists to get to God. There is no direct meeting possible, unless it’s time for your death, which is not related to this ministry.

- (A bit hopeless) Can I at least ask some questions? I have so many questions I want to ask, so many Why’s and How’s and when’s. For example…

- Wait, wait, wait! These are not the questions that can be answered so easily. Oh, god, dear god! How many times you humans should be told that it’s not in your power to know why and how and when? Huh? If there were obvious answers for these questions, there wouldn’t be any fun in running the world, don’t you get it? You should figure out how by yourselves, wait to find out when, and it’s very likely that you’ll never know why. This is how it is. And reminding you again, this is the Ministry for requests and prayers. Now let me see, are you or anybody in your family seriously sick?

- (Looking not very happy) Well, not now, thank god. Although there is this lady in my relatives who is very sick and is suffering herself and make others suffer…

- (Checking some lists) Yes, yes! God knows about her. It’s a matter between herself and God. Nothing much that you could do, although I’ll keep your prayers considered. Anything else?

- (Bringing out a paper with some writings on it) Maybe you could at least consider this wish list? And please add some extra luck? I seem to have missed "luck" recently.

- (Taking the list and reading through the lines quickly) OK! I’ll see what I can do. Although I should say there is no guaranty. God almighty goes along with the special plan and time table for each person, which from my experience, you humans are usually not very patient to go through with it, and want to have your own schedule, you in particular. I wonder if you somehow missed the “Patince section” when you were going through the human production line….Anything else?

- (Ready to leave, and somehow disappointed) I guess not. Would you say hi to God for me?

- I will. (Hesitates for a moment) Do you want a piece of advice? Live your life to the full extent of it. Try hard, be honest, be kind, and don’t want bad for others. Just live. You hear me? This is a precious gift God has given you humans: a definite life with so many opportunities. Use it the best that you can. You have used thirty something years, go live the rest. OK?

- (Standing more straight and smiling faintly) Sure, thanks.

- Good luck, take care. (Going back to the desk) …and close the door behind yourself. Next!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

So you think you can sleep?!

In our small household, an early bird lives with a night owl.

I am the early bird. I often turn off the clock alarm before it starts beeping, a good 10 minutes before it. My head is clear and well organized, I have the motivation and the energy to do any troubleshooting at work, I am full of ideas.
As it gets closer to the evening, I get more and more tired, my brain stalls, my ideas fade away. I tend to sit or lie down, and worst comes to worst when it gets dark. It’s as if my brain shuts down completely. I feel not very aware and smart, tending to sleep so much that I start yawning every now and then, and prefer not to do anything which has something to do with “thinking”! You can imagine how I suffer in winters when sometimes it gets dark around 4 pm here…My efficient hours during the day decreases considerably.

Then there is Mr. Alchemist. He is a night owl. When I go to work he is often still sleep, or forcing himself to get up. And by forcing I really mean it, using the shower and a couple cups of tea usually. In the evening when we are both home again, he is full of energy though. He sees the world brighter than it is, optimistic, full of ideas. He can stay up late, long hours into the night, until he forces himself to sleep, as he has to get up again the next morning.

The funniest scenes in our home happen in these two extremes: in the morning, or at night! One classic scenario is usually around 11 pm, when I feel the most stupid, my eyes are half open, yawning my lungs out, and begging myself to get up and brush before passing out. Right then, he is so energetic, walking up and down in the living room, talking science, ideas, analyzing the complex situations at work or in life. I hear half of his words, nodding and thinking to myself why I feel so ridiculously dumb!
Then, if for some reason we have to get up early together, it’s time for my revenge! While he is half conscious, half sleep, complaining about life and everything in it, I am singing a song, enjoying my breakfast (my favorite meal in the day) and laughing at him burning his tongue with the damn hot tea…

But the whole issue is bigger than this. He is neither lazy, nor undisciplined. He is just suffering from Delayed sleep-phase syndrome (DSPS). It’s as simple as the fact that he is right handed. There are even suggestions that it is associated with hPer3 (human period 3) gene, but no remedies. At least it’s known that it’s familial. The problem is that it’s as if he is constantly living with a jet-lag. No wonder when we go on a long trip, the actual jet-lag neutralizes his body’s jet-lag, and for few days his sleeping habit changes to normal. And then is being an “early bird” really normal and he is abnormal? His only fault is that unfairly, he is living in a 9-5 world. If there was such a world which would be run between 3 pm and 11 pm, everything would be so different for him. Maybe his whole fate would have been different.

In my opinion, this is again another unfairness in the world, maybe another bug, not a critical one though. The upside is that at least we can laugh at each other starting or ending the day…

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The power of trust

"Damages" has become my new favorite TV series recently, other than "House, MD" and "Family Guy".

There are many reasons why I love this series. Glen Close and her brilliant performance as Patty Hewes, the strong script and the style of the whole series which resembles a movie and not merely a TV series, great cinematography and good usage of different filters to show different timelines, moving between “the past” and “the present” in a way that you wish there could be another way to prevent what has happened and you already know it, etc. It’s not perfect though, as some of the actors do not have the same level as some of the others, but still they have very high levels of acting, which is not very usual in TV.

One of the issues which comes up frequently in this story is "trust". People trust the wrong ones, don’t know whom to trust, and being trustworthy or not is an important case, resulting in life and death.

The thing is it often has a high impact in our lives too. I mean one doesn’t need to be trapped in a lawsuit to know how important it is to have somebody to trust. And it’s not just trust as in "not telling my secret to somebody else", it’s having trust in one’s decisions, in friendship, in not lying and being lied to. Somebody whom you can "put yourselves in their hands" as Ray Fiske said, before he killed himself.

For some reason, finding such a person, is not an easy task. I believe if any of us can find a handful of trustworthy people in our lives, we should consider ourselves blessed.

On the other hand, there is an important question: how trustworthy we are? This one is one of those questions that when you are alone with yourself, at night before going to sleep, or in the mirror when you can see inside your soul through the reflection of your eyes, can answer to it, frankly, really, honestly.

It’s not easy being trustworthy and having somebody to trust in completely. If one has both, it’s a great prosperity…

Monday, April 14, 2008

Quickies from here and there

1) There has been an online survey on Nature, which has shown that almost 20 percent of respondents, largely drawn from the scientific community, admitted to using brain-enhancing drugs like Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Provigil (modafinil). A simple questions came to my mind instantly: Is it really worth it?

2) I am reading a book from Isabel Allende. There is something about the south american writers, a sense of mistery, a special spirituality, which is very interesting for me, and very attractive. She has a very cute sense of humor too, which I enjoyed very much as I watched her
tales of passion on TED yesterday.

3) And here are
10 ideas which are changing the world according to TIME magazine..."Kitchen chemistry" as the 5th one...interesting!

Monday, April 7, 2008

"Remember, there is no spoon..."

Last night, I was watching Matrix for the 5th or 6th time.

It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, along with "the Godfather" (parts I and III), "Before the sunrise / Before the sunset" and a couple of more weird choices to be all in the same category of "my-favorite-movies". But they are all parts of what makes me, me.
I guess if they have only one thing in common, it’s that I can watch them again and again, and not get tired at all. Still, each time, I see something new in them, which keeps me excited.

On "the Matrix", I don’t want to talk about the scary idea of "Machine vs Humans" or the philosophical idea of "What is real, what is not", or the power of mind, or the great dialogues, acting, the special effects, etc. Although each and every time I watch this movie (and not the sequels) these all fascinate me. There was something else last night that made me busy thinking, for quite some time.

When Morpheus first introduces the simulation of the Matrix to Neo (to train him), he refers to the "Residual self-image", which in definition is the figure that one thinks of his/herself as projecting a certain appearance. Now, let’s forget about the future, the machines, the simulation, the matrix… Isn’t it something that we all learn to build for ourselves since we are kids?

First, the family; later on, the friends; then the teachers at school; the society; our friends at work, our spouses, our bosses, our colleagues: all and all, the concept of being accepted. The social relations and rules make us to build a figure for ourselves, in which sometimes there is very little shown from our "real" self, and what appears on the shell, is what makes us more appealling, and more desirable, and more acceptable. Unconsiously, we build a statue from ourselves, which is ususally in the same boat as the society we are living in, partially for our fear of being left alone, partially to be obedient to the society rules, and partially because this is what we’ve learnt since we were little.
Sometimes it gets to the stage that even we cannot remember our true self, which is buried under tons of this residual-social-self-image. Even if there is the slightest signs of it every now and then, we either ignore them, or quench it… "Quite! It’s not a good time for you to show up.", and hence our poor true self, stays hidden, and sometimes forgotten.

It needs a lot of courage and braveness for one to know his/her true self, and show it without the fear of not being accepted, being alone and/or rejected. Never the less, if one is brave enough to live with the real true self of their own, then the people who will be attracted to them, will be for real, and the relationships will be true, strong and precious too.

I guess I will have more on this great movie later, After all, it’s one of my "movies for all seasons"…

Monday, March 31, 2008

Visa, or MasterCard?!

Human relationships are like financial relations.

Let me explain before everybody is offended with the whole argument of “we-are-humans-with-souls-and-emotions-not-just-mere-materials”,.
I think in every relationship, there is a “credit” for each party. When a relationship between two persons is started, there is some trust and feelings and primary judgment saved as the initial credit in a joint account. This credit either is there by default (as for the family members), or will be created with a deposit of behavior (for any newly created friendship). Then, as time passes, this credit, which can act as a saving, can either grow, or stay the same, or shrink.

Some people may build up a good stock of kindness, help each other, be there if needed, trust each other, have fun and joy and laughter together, have an available shoulder to cry or to lean on when necessary, … everything which can describe a good relationship. These credits, grow, get a good rate of interest, grow more, and become more and more solid.

Some other people use up their credits gradually, not noticing that not only it’s not saved or getting any interest, but also the withdrawals are making the credit smaller and smaller. They just take others for granted, are as selfish as possible (and even consider it their own right), expect the others to be always in service, expect everybody but themselves to be thoughtful and considering, believing that the credit is so safe that nothing may change the situation. Their savings just shrink down, maybe even to putting them in debt. In extreme situations, one of the parties may even announce a bankruptcy, and that is the time they wake up, sometimes even surprised: “What happened? We were having a good relationship!” Sorry folks, you didn’t take the signs seriously!

Also, some relationships do not have any affect on the emotional account between the parties. The credit is there, not growing, not being withdrawn. Far, mild, respectful, just for a “hi” and “bye” every now and then. They might seem boring, but at least there is no bankruptcy!

The thing is, no matter if it is family related or friendship, the story is the same. Well, for the family members (specially the closer ones) the withdrawals are looked at with more forgiving eyes and the signs of debt or bankruptcy will not show that easily. But again, if it happens, it’s much more painful than any other realtionship, as these were supposed to be solid and safe. The friendships however, get a higher interest rate, sometimes with big fat bonuses, but debt happens easier.

... And only if we would all care about our emo-finan-human-relationship-cial situations, as much as we care about our bank accounts and monthly bills…

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Norooz...

The Persian new year is officially here. Without being biased, the most reasonable “new-year-beginning” of all calendars. Starting with spring, even if I cannot feel the slightest signs of it where I live.
I tend to have my resolutions at the beginning of our new year, when I feel that even the earth has started a new orbit. Not in the middle of winter, when all and everything in nature seem to be in hibernation…No wonder less and less people are able to stay committed to their new year resolutions these days!

I have also cleaned our house to a sparkling shine. But I need a thorough cleaning and defragmentation on my mind and soul. Mentally and emotionally. I have to sort out my thoughts, my goals, my plans. I have to organize my feelings, my observations, my activity patterns…Maybe some alterations here and there, some redecoration of my inside. Something I believe we all need every now and then.

...and for last part, I read a very interesting quote from a gnostic person yesterday: “People are three types: those who give and don’t expect to receive, those who give and receive, and those who don’t give, and just receive.” No explanation, no judgement. Just a moment of pause and thinking

Happy spring to everybody!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sweet dreams!

Dreams amaze me!

Everybody knows bits from here and there about dreams. They are believed to be associated with REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep, during which the brain activity is very much similar to wakefulness. But not much is known about their origins, even the exact part or parts of the brain which are involved, their purpose (if there is any), and even there is not one universal “interpretation” of one specific dream.

There are different ideas and theories about the dreams, from them being actually are the result of the brain distressing or removing the “junk” from itself, or a compensation for one-sided attitudes held in waking stages. They are told to be actually presenting things that we cannot “say” directly, or even act like psychotherapy. There are other theories from the dreams being merely chemical interactions and processes going on in the brain without any specific meaning, to books and books of interpretations, because they can be some light dimmed on the “holographic” image on the brain and thus meaningful. There are even theories that you can never be sure if you are awake now and then go to sleep and dream, or your dreams are actually your real world, and reading these lines are actually part of your dream!

Whatever they are, they are certainly very interesting, either mine or the others’. I actually had a friend who used to gather people’s dreams to get ideas for her books. It amazes me how various and different they can be. I like to hear them, sometimes they are very creative. They can mix and match different people in odd places (for example your boss, your grandma, your uncle and the beggar in the bus station with you at the age of ten, attending the wedding of a soccer player in your old school!), they can create strange places (some of my recurring dreams take place in some strange place with many movie theatres that are usually showing bunch of movies all at the same time and you can select what you want to see), or you may see those whom you miss too much (have you ever had the dream of your belated grandma, wearing nice clean bright clothes, laughing out loud?).
They can be really scary (specially when you see somebody entering your room from the balcony window and you can neither run, nor scream!), or very refreshing (when I dream that with each step, instead of walking, I actually slip on the air or try to jump and instead start to fly, and interestingly, I don’t fall, but fly freely!).
They can make you anxious (the infamous dream of “the exam” which we haven’t studied for) or even more tired when you wake up (when you fight with somebody!)
They can be close to reality (experiencing a similar situation as you might probably have during a day), or the most surreal ones, similar to a “Salvadore Dali” painting or a “Luis Bunuel” movie (I have lots of these, a white dog wearing a black leather jacket chasing me on a motorcycle, or a ceiling lamp that can convert to a boiled egg)!!

No matter if I can find an interpretation for them or not, or if I can ultimately find their origin and functions, I like to hear about them. It can be as fun as attending a “short films festival”! The only thing missing is the closing ceremony, and the trophies!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

beliefs, keep or sell?

I am getting more certain in my opinion about people and their accepted theories, or in the other words, their beliefs. By that I mean if one believes in something, one sees most of the relevant events in a way that somehow can be explained by that theory or belief.

The beliefs can have different origins. You could believe in something simply because you inherited it. That’s usually the first tendency of a person to be related to a specific religion. One would believe in a specific religion especially in the early ages just because that’s what the family believes in. Of course I am ruling out the families with mixed religious beliefs.
A person could also believe in something because s/he learns to, at some point in life. Examples are “the dogs are dirty” or “there are ghosts out there”. I can say generally superstitions can be categorized in this group. They could be learnt through the family, friends, in school or the society.
Beliefs can also be results of some reoccurring pattern in one’s life. I think it somehow has to do something with conditioning. You see the patterns, and the consequence. Hence, you are made to believe in that specific consequence for that specific pattern. Next time the pattern is observed again, you’ll be waiting for the consequence, “believing” that it will occur.
Then again “doubt” can change the old beliefs, and shape the new ones, at any stage and for any subject in life.

Beliefs have the potential danger of converting into bias or prejudice. Then they can make dangerous inner pillars. In best cases, they can arise limitations for the person or those around, and in worst cases, they can turn into reasons to any unethical action, even crimes. The racism, religious prejudices and the extreme forms of pan-nationalisms could be examples of these.

After all, the interesting thing is when a person is trying to sell you his/her own beliefs, in shape of “theories”, which have “confirmed examples” in the outer world. And no matter if they don’t make any sense to you at all, or the arguments are so cheap and easy that you just get bored, or you just feel amazed by how the person can explain so many non-related phenomena by that “one” theory, they are being sold…and so is the story behind so many books and programs and “marketing”s to sell different beliefs, with the same goal: let’s make a bigger crowd with a common ideology, to overcome the other ones.

The only thing that gets lost in between all these theories and beliefs and ideologies and groupings, is that we, the humans, have forgotten that we can live by each other, despite all our different beliefs. The fact that as long as one’s belief works for that special person, and doesn’t harm the humanity, it deserves recognition, (I insist on recognition, not respect. But this will be a whole other subject) and it can be there, beside thousands and thousands of other theories and beliefs and ideologies, peacefully.

Does it seem that I am selling my own belief on this?!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock presents...

This may seem like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but it’s not!

Our place is close to a big beautiful basilica. It is also close to a cemetery. It is close to a pharmacy and grocery store and public transit as well, but the first two have always played a role in horror movies, so I’ll stick with them.

A couple of weeks ago, on our way out on a Friday night, around 7pm, something caught my attention. A group of crows sitting on a couple of trees in front of our building. As I looked up, I saw hundreds of them flying to join the sitting ones, all cawing. They all sat on branches of three or four trees, covering the bare trees in black. In about 15 minutes, those four trees were covered in black crows, all cawing. We came back pretty late, maybe around 2 am, and they were still there. Quite, motionless, hundreds and hundreds of them, on the branches of the same four trees, not any other one…and not even the slightest sound.
The next morning, they were all gone.

On Saturday night, around 9 pm, I remembered the crows, and out of intense curiosity, went to the building entrance to check outside again. There they were. All whole bunch of them, sitting quietly and motionless, on the same four trees, covering their branches in black.
The same on Sunday night…and I began to freak out!

At first I thought may be there was a dead animal or some kind of prey that had attracted them. But they were not moving or fighting or flying. They just came there, from all over the place, by the sunset. Sat there, covering the branches, and left before sunrise. They didn’t choose any other tree than the same four trees, and all night, they were quite.

That was it! It was the same for three nights, and on Monday night, everything went back to normal. No crows, no cawing, only the bare branches frozen or covered in snow.
It remained a mystery for me. Why they came there for three nights and then left? I don’t know if I can ever find the answer.

Were they auditioning for the new version of “The Birds”????

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bubble Trouble!

Which one’s happier?

The bubble trapped in a hand sanitizer, immobilized and motionless, sitting in quiescence, waiting for a push on the pump to get sucked up in between two palms, and to burst as the hands are being rubbed together?

Or the bubble in a glass of Champagne, singing and dancing its way out, to burst after a short life of moving and going upward, and make a funny sound upon getting to the surface of the liquid?

Or the bubble blown by a curious kid, to see how they are made and shaped, which flies high on the wind, and travels up to its resistance treshhold, and then bursts in front of the kid’s eyes, to show its lifetime in the sky?

Or the huge fancy bubble made in front of an amazed audience by a skilled magician, covered in rainbow colors, strutting with pride, only to last until the next trick on the stage, bursting and splashing small drops on the first row of audience?

Or is happiness and prosperity something to define for a "bubble" at all?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Trial by the audience

I watched Persepolis the other night.

But I don’t want to talk about that. Last night, there were a bunch of us, gathered in a café in Montreal, discussing about the movie. What was amazing, was the subjective point of view that everyone had about the movie. Some believed that the writer and director of the film, Marjane Satrapi, was not honest, and that she could have introduced our country better than what she did in the film (or the books, for that matter), that she had exaggerated many events and situations, that she could have been a better representative of our country. Some thought that there was some kind of controversy going on behind the curtains (Iranian’s favorite theory) in making such a movie in such political situation. And some were saying that this was merely an autobiography, and she had every right to tell her memoirs and her experiences, which accidentally took place in the most chaotic and most eventful era of Iran.

What makes my mind busy since last night is if art is really objective or subjective? If one is really interested in watching the world from the other’s point of view, is one really allowed to have their own interpretation about it and then judge the artist/ writer/ painter/ composer/ director, based upon that?

Now the first part of the problem is interpreting the art. I know that art could be subjective. Any eye can have their own specific point of view, as the eyes are windows to the souls and not all the souls are the same. I may not be talking scientifically, as one can argue that the eyes record the scene and take it to the brain, what does soul have anything to do with it? Right, but I still think that the brains could act different in analyzing the recordings, based on the past experiences, which are usually used as the basis to interpret what one sees. So it seems natural that my perception could be different than somebody else’s.

Even if we insist on having our own perceptions, is it fair to generalize our insights, and arrange a trial for the artist, questioning his/her talent and investigating his/her intention from creating that specific piece of art? Now, I’m not really an artist, but is there an intention or a purpose behind every painting/ song/ story/ movie? Isn't there anything created just for the sake of art? Just because the artist had something, some inspiration inside that should be born in shape of a creation? Is there anyway that we would take the judging eye-glasses off, and just enjoy the art?

…and is it only us, or is it a common problem? And more basically, is that any problem at all?

Friday, February 1, 2008

To Believe or to doubt? This is the question!

There are those who challenge every pre-known answer and belief. They don’t accept any belief or thought before going through it over and over again, testing it, reviewing it, and maybe, only maybe they accept it.
On the other hand, there are those who are looking for actual, defined, clear answers for their questions. If there is an answer known, and if it seems good enough, that would be it, the answer, the belief, end of story.

Doubt by definition is the status between belief and disbelief. Many developments in different fields come from doubt. Almost all science was motivated by doubt. The amazing thing about doubt is that it has the capacity of growing and transmitting to everything. The “disease of doubt” is actually a state of excessive doubt, better known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I think as much as it depends on different personalities how much one questions the popular beliefs, it very much depends on how one is trained to look at the daily problems of life. If one is trained as an engineer, it is very likely that they are more comfortable accepting a belief, and sticking to it. However, most of the scientists, specially those involved in natural sciences, are very much in doubt, for every defined answer out there... “there could be another special condition that changes the answer”.

Now the paradox sometimes is that even if you go by methodic doubt, which is questioning a pre-accepted belief and constructing or denying it, the result depends on whether or not you want to get to your belief or not. The most famous doubt of Descart was actually doubt in himself, and he proved that he existed (“I think, therefore I am”), which is in the favored direction as toward proving his existence, even though any of his reasonings to methodic doubt could well prove that maybe he does not even exist.
The first one is briefly that believing what we thought were true, could be merely our minds deceiving us. Second one (my favorite) is that there was no reliable way of distinguishing when one is awake or dreaming (the same idea as you see in “Matrix”). Also his third reasoning is that there could be some demon out there that had conceived us, preventing us from judging correctly.

As far as I know, using merely the brain, makes it impossible to get to any sort of belief. As any of the methodic doubts can prove that even your existance is not certain, let alone the world, your life, and all other thoughts and beliefs. Well, when I get here, it scares me, although I am very much in doubt for every known answer in the world, but sometimes I feel I should just let it go…or maybe we need more than the rational mind; a piece of heart, a bit of soul, or some spirit is also needed to build some believing pillars for one’s ideology in life. Everyone needs some personal principles.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Photos, windows to the souls

One of the most interesting ideas of human, I guess, has been watching the life and the world through the others’ eyes: reading a writer’s stories, watching a director’s movies, looking at a photographer’s pictures. These days, thanks to the technology and the digital cameras, taking a photo has become an easy task, and thanks to the World Wide Web, it has been much easier to share the pictures with other people and to check their photos.

There are many “photo sharing” websites out there, from personal photo-blogs to Yahoo-photos and Flickr and many more. Even in the social networking websites you can see other people’s photo album, well, if you are allowed to. It’s almost similar to a family party when after having the meal, all the chats and laughs, and pots and pots of tea; you get to see the family album. I have always liked this part.

Photos can even be generally categorized.

Some photos are pretty simple, the family photos, photos recording the fun moments, photos recording the beauties of the nature, the buildings, the cars, the roads, the sky.
Some are more like the news, somebody laughed, somebody cried, a baby grew, some people gathered together.
Some photos are more artistic, a flower, a beautiful portrait, a cute bird, a nice shaped cloud, a repeating pattern.
Some are a bit dark, mostly black and white, displaying the ugliness in a glamorous way. Some try to tell a story. Some are more similar to a painting. Some are more like nightmares. Some make you laugh, some make you sad, some make you think.

I’d say it also has a psychological aspect to it; as you get to see a part of the other one’s soul as well. Some souls are so easy going, some of them are deeper. Some are more sensitive, some are more romantic. Some are funny, some are serious. Even, sometimes when I see an image I think to myself what was the photographer really thinking?!

…and sometimes if you follow somebody’s photo stream, you get a feeling that you know this person somehow, even if you come across each other on the street, and don’t recognize each other…

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The portrait of a trip, part II

I don’t want to be old fashioned and complain about the vast difference between our generation and the new generation, who know more about the newest version and brand of mobile phones than they know about what is going on around them. I was fortunate to get familiar with two of my cousins (two brothers), whom are very smart, naturally have read lots and lots of books (something you can very rarely find among today’s teenagers) and actually have their own thoughts and beliefs, but other than that? Not even a handful of sharp young kids, as you might expect from a society with such ratio of the youth.
Oh, and the books…As usual, I spent some time digging the bookstores in downtown Tehran (in front of University of Tehran mostly) and found less and less books in fields of philosophy, metaphysics, self-help and … Also I couldn’t find many new and interesting writers with actually something to say. There are thousands of novels and short stories though, and lots of newspapers. It was so good to see so many newspapers and being able to actually smell the paper while turning the pages. I had definitely missed them.

There is a phenomenon that I’d like to call “the soul hunger”, which could be described as your soul’s hunger for beautiful images and good music. Although one can add the opportunity to touch well structured figures to the previous two as well. One thing that I was fortunate to have in my trip was to curb my soul’s hunger. I visited a museum and had a short trip to Esfahan, one of the most beautiful cities in Iran. Also I had the opportunity to go to a concert, which I enjoyed a lot. I saw a live play, as well as a bunch of movies from Iranian directors that I had missed while I was not there. Well, I’m still following the Iranian cinema pretty seriously, as much as I can.

Other than the general observations there are always the personal experiences between you and your loved ones, which is a complete separate story for itself. As much as it is comforting to find the love and precious existence of the elder members of the family, there is a great awe from finding the younger ones grown, and gradually getting to know the now-the-new adults.

Sometimes when I get really tired of all these mental and emotional struggles, I wonder if it wasn’t easier had I stayed in my own country and lived a simpler life. But then I think I still like this life of mine, with all its challenges and its difficulties and unique experiences, much more than any other ordinary life that I could have had, mostly because I can observe, feel, think, analyze, plan, and then dive into life, head first.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The portrait of a trip, part I

I have been trying for some time now to categorize all my observations from my trip to Iran, both to present as an all-said post here and also to arrange my thoughts about my experiences. The thing is I haven’t been able to find a few specific titles to sort out what I saw and felt back there.

Having said that, still I can describe them under some general subjects. The first subject for me is usually the society itself, the buildings, the streets, the people. Unfortunately this is a subject which you cannot usually talk about without any reference to the political situation of the country. I try to avoid this, mostly because I have reached to the conclusion that whatever happens and is going on in our society, has much less to do with the governing system of the country than it has to do with some kind of historical-cultural-social ego which exists in us as a nation. If people are very aggressive in driving, if the clerk doesn’t reply to my smile and polite “hello” or “thanks, bye”, if the lady which I saw on my way to the hairdresser was so worried about me getting her turn that she almost shout at me (and then became very ashamed after I explained patiently that I had no intention of taking her turn), or if almost nobody is taking their responsibilities at their own jobs and most of the people do not care about the others; this has nothing to do with any system which is ruling the country. For some reason, the ethical values are fading… I’m not saying that there is absolutely no kindness or responsibility in the society, but generally, despite all our usual claims, this was not the nice, warm society which we are all proud to be a part of.

There are also other things that you can observe in the daily life there, the fact that women care much more about their appearances that they care here. They are generally very beautiful, some of them were actually very well dressed up and had make ups on as if they were all invited to a fancy wedding. I leave hours and hours of thinking about the reasons to each reader. This one is a dangerous field to get deep in!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Shedding the inner skin

It’s been almost 10 days since I’ve been back.

My body is back to its normal routine, and my mind is also back to the scientific state of thinking that I need in my job. I am also emotionally recovered and almost fully present at the moment and in my everyday life here.

So many things happen in such a long trip. The very first and most apparent one is the disturbance in the body clock, which we refer to as the Jetlag. Depending on the person, the number of time zones that one crosses, the activities and how busy one is when they get to the destination, it takes some time for the body to slowly adjust itself with the new conditions.

The other changes are the emotional and mental stability of the person. A long trip such as what I had, to a different place and a complete different situation, changes the state of one’s mind. While I had to think about my experiments and analyzing the data and designing new strategies up until the day before the trip, from that day on and during the trip my mind had to get used to completely other issues, where to go, whom to visit and how to use the time efficiently.

There is also the emotional change, which is in my opinion the most difficult one to get rid of and to get back to normal. A whole new set of emotions capture me, and then I have to go under a difficult moulting experience.
After all, I can clearly see this moulting , or shedding after such trips in myself. It takes at least a week to ten days to shed the emotional and mental skin that surrounds me, and as the time goes by, the rate of this shedding is slowed down, and it becomes more and more internal, and to look it up I have to look deeper down into my mind and my soul. The peak of the process, and the most difficult days are actually the days of the trip, the arrival and the departure days from each side, plus one day after each one.

Hopefully the existence that remains after each of these moultings, is more mature than before.