Iranian Rappers And Persian Porn

BOOK: Iranian Rappers And Persian Porn
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Iranian Rappers And Persian Porn
A Hitchhikers Adventures in the New Iran
Jamie Maslin

Copyright © 2009 by Jamie Maslin

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles.

All inquiries should be addressed to Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018.

Skyhorse Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Skyhorse Publishing, 555 Eighth Avenue, Suite 903, New York, NY 10018 or [email protected].

www.skyhorsepublishing.com

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Maslin, Jamie.

Iranian rappers and Persian porn : a hitchhiker’s adventures in the new Iran / Jamie Maslin. p. cm.

9781602397910

1. Iran—Description and travel. 2. Iran—Social life and customs—21st century.
3. Maslin, Jamie—Travel—Iran. I. Title.
DS259.2.M38 2009
955.06’1092—dc22
2009023710

Printed in the United States of America

Table of Contents
 
Title Page
Copyright Page
Introduction
Prologue
 
CHAPTER ONE
-
Close Encounters of the Mustachioed Kind
 
CHAPTER TWO
-
Hitchhiking to the Axis of Evil
 
CHAPTER THREE
-
Tourist at the Border
 
CHAPTER FOUR
-
Disco Lake with Ferris Wheels
 
CHAPTER FIVE
-
German Pop Songs and Chains of Misery
 
CHAPTER SIX
-
Rules of the Road
 
CHAPTER SEVEN
-
Mosquito Mayhem
 
CHAPTER EIGHT
-
The Assassins and the Smoking Car
 
CHAPTER NINE
-
Underworld Paradise
 
CHAPTER TEN
-
All the Gear but No Idea
 
CHAPTER ELEVEN
-
Mullah Madness
 
CHAPTER TWELVE
-
Milan, Paris, London, Tehran: Party Time!
 
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
-
Traveling in Style with the Single-Handed Man
 
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
-
The Jewel of Esfahan
 
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
-
Mr. Private Jet’s Gate of All Nations
 
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
-
“Super Film” with Celine Dion and Eminem
 
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
-
Who’s A-knocking on That Door?
 
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
-
Den of Espionage
 
CHAPTER NINETEEN
-
English Expert
 
CHAPTER TWENTY
-
Strange Encounter
Introduction
 

F
rom Iran’s scorching deserts to its lush forested mountains, from sprawling chaotic cities to ancient historical sites, I witnessed a subtle yet perceptible breeze of discontent stirring through the country, a breeze that foretold an approaching storm.

That storm erupted for the world to see in 2009 when thousands of predominantly young Iranians took to the streets of Tehran, Tabriz, Esfahan, and elsewhere, to protest the reelection of incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amid allegations of vote fraud from rival candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

Despite the Western press giving the impression that the election was unquestionably rigged and that Mir-Hossein Mousavi and his supporters were robbed of victory by Ahmadinejad, the evidence available thus far does not back this up. The only reliable independent polls conducted before the vote by a Western polling organization—carried out by the nonprofit Center for Public Opinion and the New America Foundation whose work with ABC News and the BBC earned them an Emmy Award—predicted a substantial victory of two to one for Ahmadinejad. During his first election in 2005, Ahmadinejad received just over 60 percent of the vote, and the above polling organizations predicted roughly the same figure in the 2009 elections, which appears to be what he received.

Indications of vote tampering exist, but it seems their scale would have been insufficient to swing the final outcome. Ahmadinejad would have won regardless, and by a substantial degree—perhaps not surprising given that he is a sitting president perceived by many Iranians as someone standing up to the country’s archenemy, the United States, whose armed forces sandwich Iran between Iraq in the west and Afghanistan in the east.

The irony of such slanted media coverage is that it has portrayed the defeated Mir-Hossein Mousavi as something of an American hero. He is anything but, for when serving as Iran’s prime minister in the eighties, he is believed to have been responsible for orchestrating the attacks on the U.S. embassy and the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut. These attacks killed 241 U.S. personnel.

Whether or not vote fraud occurred, and whether or not Mousavi is the great upholder of freedom and democracy that much of the Western media portray him to be, what I came to witness in Iran was a generation longing for greater freedoms. Not just freedom to say what they choose and to write what they wish, but in more elementary ways too—to socialize at parties, to openly have a boyfriend or girlfriend, to hold hands.

Two thirds of Iran’s 71 million people are below the age of thirty, and half are younger than twenty-five. In the country’s metropolitan areas in particular, there is a huge willingness to break the county’s Islamic laws, often at great personal risk, in order to have a more interesting and exciting life. Alcohol, pornography, illegal books, and forbidden music abound.

The longing for greater freedom is not the sole preserve of Iran’s youth, but is clear to see in older generations too. I witnessed cab drivers purposefully wind their car windows down in order to yell expletive-peppered abuse at passing mullahs; shopkeepers draw their finger symbolically across their throat whilst gesturing toward obligatory pictures of the country’s late supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini; and others who simply expressed a discontent toward the government.

But just as I witnessed an appetite for domestic change, so too did I see a deep distrust of the American and British brand of freedom, and outright cynicism, often amongst those most vocal in demanding greater freedoms within Iran, regarding our platitudes on “democracy” and “liberation.” There will scarcely be an Iranian on either side of the recent election protests—and there were huge numbers out in support of Ahmadinejad too—not well aware of the U.S. and Britain’s role in destroying secular Iranian democracy in 1953, something which Iranians are taught from a young age, and in which U.S. president Barack Obama recently acknowledged American involvement.

It was then that the CIA launched its first ever coup, overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh, and installing a brutal dictator, the Shah, in his place, whose secret police, the SAVAK, tortured citizens in the most horrendous ways imaginable. The CIA’s methods included a campaign of shootings and bombings that were blamed on Mossadegh in order to stir up protests and opposition against him.

With such a past, the irony of the United States decrying the electoral process in Iran, but remaining mute regarding ally nations such as Saudi Arabia that have no elections whatsoever, will not be lost on many within the country.

The Iranians I met wanted change, but on their terms, not the West’s. For this, there is appetite aplenty in the new Iran.

Prologue
 

I
ran? Are you insane?” I’d received similar melodramatic responses from other friends, one of whom said he didn’t want to switch on his television set and see me paraded around in an orange jumpsuit as the latest al Qaeda hostage about to receive “the chop.” He wasn’t talking about a vasectomy.

Hardly anyone I talked to had any notion that Iran was anything other than an Axis of Evil terrorist hotbed. In fact, no one seemed to have any idea what the place was like at all. “They’re all desert nomads, right?” asked a colleague of mine. Hardly. But I confess that I was almost as ignorant when I first applied for my Iranian visa, and as a result intended to spend as little time as possible in the country.

My plan was to travel overland all the way from England to China, following, as best I could, the famed “Silk Route” of renowned thirteenth-century Venetian explorer Marco Polo. To do this, I would have to venture through the Islamic Republic of Iran. Initially assuming it to be far too dangerous for a Westerner to dawdle through, I planned to skip quickly across the top of the country en route to its northeastern border, where I would then travel at a more leisurely pace through such mysterious lands as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and finally China itself.

I chose China as my destination because my brother had lived in Shanghai for the last five years but I had yet to make the trip out there to visit. For transport, I had made up my mind to hitchhike. I’d done plenty of hitching before, most notably from Normandy, France, to the tiny British colony of Gibraltar. I’d also hitched all the way across Australia, but this trip would far exceed that in length.

A myriad of reasons motivated me to make this trip; not least was the fact that to my mind it was an epic journey, and up until that point my journeys had been far from epic, and I had yet to travel anywhere truly exotic, different, or challenging. I had spent a good few years backpacking abroad, but on the whole I had only really visited English-speaking former British colonies where the only discernible differences from my native Britain were the warmer weather and the colder beer. It had been great fun and a worthy experience, but hardly a different and fascinating new world. I hoped this trip would redress the balance.

BOOK: Iranian Rappers And Persian Porn
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