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Monday, January 05, 2004

Towards the end of my stay, I did stop noticing the presence of so many American flags. But I still noticed that many Americans are quite attached to their churches.

Some rather life-changing experiences - I remembered to mark them in my calendar this time. Now the facts will be indelible! But I did not have a camera to take pictures.

On the flight from Minneapolis to Vancouver, I sat beside Arash, an Iranian-Canadian man. I immediately asked him if he read Persepolis. That started a whole discussion that lasted the rest of the flight.

Arash expanded the details from the book. When people had parties, they shut the blinds. I asked why they took the risk to play music at these parties. Usually the neighbours cooperated and didn't call the authorities.

Once, when Arash was small and home alone, a neighbour's party was busted. He heard footsteps on the roof. Fugitives from the party! Arash let them in and they waited for hours until the frenzy outside died down.

I asked about the ski slopes; are they sexually segregated? Some bigger ski resorts may have female-only and male-only hills, but usually only the chairlifts are gendered. Married couples may sit together but they would need a marriage license to prove their relation.

Is it true that there is prostitution in Iran? Yes, a lot because of the poverty. How is it that these women can thrive in such a strictly controlled environment? The morality police do turn a blind eye if the offender offers a bribe.

Was Iran worse under the Shah? Arash thinks it is worse now.

Arash's brother escaped the same way as in Persepolis - crouching among a flock of sheep.

Arash commended me for pronouncing Iran correctly. I didn't tell him it was a result of overhearing someone else say it that way the day before.

"I ran, he ran, they ran, we all ran!" said Arash.

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