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.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I am back, and happy 2008.

I came back the very last day of 2007.

The trip went well. Not exactly, but very much as I like: well planned and efficient. I was able to spend a fair amount of time with my family, visit some old friends, and even had a short trip to another city. I watched a bunch of movies, bought lots of books, and went to a concert. There were few things that I missed, so overall I think it was a good trip.

I also observed a lot. About the relationships between people (something that we Iranians emphasize too much on), about people's daily life, the economy, the new generation, the media and the culture they try to build and empower in public, and more and more. I even saw myself in a better light, it seemed that I had much better self confidence than before. Although sometimes I had to really try and keep myself as my current existance and not to go back to my old self.

I was so tired and exhausted from the long trip back to Canada that I couldn't stay awake to see the midnight and beginning of 2008. That's alright, as I still have the habit of making my resolutions at the beginning of our own calendar year, which is usually March 21. Yet, I wish everybody a better year than last year, with health, happiness, peace and prosperity.

Happy 2008.