A recent expedition to update my passport - it must be 5-years ago that I first came to visit as an adult.

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"That was something I wanted to ask you...", interjected the more European sounding of the two as a microphone crossed my face and the direction of the eyes came my way. A perfectly intellectual sounding and possibly interesting question was being formed but they might as well have asked in any other European language as I wasn't able to absorb it. The mic fell before me, "are you still not wanting to say anything David?", asked the main interviewee, to which the mention of my name seemed to not help, "don't worry, keep it rolling", I replied and with complete disregard to the question, I spilled out the pent-up counterpoints to my friend's prior commentary.

"I wanted to come back on a point my dear friend was making", I begun, noticing the nearby table of customers re-show interest as a new mouth fired-up. "I often get contacted by the western media showing an interest in the Iranian blogging scene and I wonder if they kind of project a romanticism in it", I added, repeating a point made in my initial contact with our international guests. "I'm not really qualified to answer in any case as I don't read blogs in Persian; because of my level of competence, and there's very little else that interests me that is written in English", I somewhat embarrassingly revealed. I returned to another point I'd mentioned in my prior correspondence, "I think it is too simple to think that politics is affected by the politically orientated; such thinking neglects to appreciate a more subtle and possibly more powerful undercurrent".

I spoke of the sweeping fad that is Yahoo 360; a social networking site that took over from the blocked Orkut; currently evading blocking by virtue of the inability to form groups, as my friend later pointed out. I'm not a subscriber to this fad but often hear it spoken about and frequently find a fellow colleague at work obsessing over correspondence or tweaking new photos of himself. I also spoke of Flickr, which is blocked here, but has a simple way around it. With Flickr, I mentioned a point that has always interested me so much with this site, this is the unifying subject matter or photography. With this cover, all manner of activity is catered for without arousing suspicion; in the case of the Iranians, this can be making new inter-gender relationships as well as delving into politics. I referred to the Flickr community, which strike me as a relatively unified, yet wholly charming bunch of people, and made a point that such active use of these sites help substitute restriction in both the culture and laws.

With such situations whereby some news organisation or another expresses an interest in the romantically suppressed Iran, I normally get turned off; if only by feeling that I'm expected to confirm western perspectives. Similarly, I watched a series of NBC reports from Iran the other day, whereby it was suggested that Iran, "has a long way to go", referring to the segregation on the innercity buses*, they explained this half-truth further, "women – by law – have to sit at the back". Well yes, but men by law have to sit in the front, and they failed to mention that the metro is unisex with even a special section for women only. With these western goggle firmly wrapped around their heads I get frustrated in meeting the requests, and not to mention paranoid for my personal safety, for which I've adapted various automatic responses.

As we arrived at the agreed coffee shop location for the interview I realised that I'd once again forgotten to get and give descriptions of how we looked. "Excuse me, are you...", we unsuccessfully asked as several foreign looking possibilities sat around. For the occasion I had invited several similarly situated friends, yet sneakily I'd not informed either party of the eventuality. With this, the plan was to deflect my input, increase the quality of results and maybe to have safety in numbers if all turned out to be not as it seemed. Upon meeting the journalists, no evidence was provided to prove their associations and a few interesting details were given that seemed odd for them to have not mentioned before; all of which not helping ease my mind. Thankfully though, common ground was a plenty and although certain points roused me as they unsuspectingly (I hope) triggered sensitive points, I managed to settle.

With a slight lapse in security, the whole of the regime would surely be gone – I was sitting in a dream American target

Both my friend and I, between us, seemed to provide an interesting juxtapose of points during the recording, to which much of my friend's words were new to me. He mentioned a declining interest in politically motivated blogging for Iranians, as the results and threats do not weigh up. It was suggested that the fate of the nation seems beyond control between elections and thus a certain futility is felt in such writing; certainly as friends of his have been punished for such activity. Among his incite he presented a fascinating volume of technical facts concerning internet activity in Iran that had both me and our international guests wide-eyed with interest.

My friend concluded on an amusing point, "we know the president is how he is, why write and complain when it's beyond you to do much about it; it's stating the obvious, like saying that Donald Duck is a cartoon duck; that he's a character by Disney and he can talk – you know, nothing changes". And with this summary the romanticism was surely dispelled as we all laughed an awkward laugh.
*Only on the innercity buses - intercity buses are mixed.

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My Aunt's Haft Sin. Happy Iranian new year to all my readers.

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"So what has been the Iranian response to the 15-navy personnel arrested yesterday?", she asked as I sat in a coffee struggling to hear through the chatter and poor mobile reception. "I'm not sure I'd like to speak on behalf of the Iranians but I've not really heard it discussed", I responded, "I mean, the Iranians are celebrating the new year and I'm sure news and politics are far from their minds".

Each time I get an international call, beginning with a silent pause and then a, "is that... of... doing?", my paranoia is refreshed. There's been a few of late and it still puzzles me why I'm selected among all the possibilities. I'm flattered, it's exciting yet I can't help but think there'll be troubling repercussions.

"Well, I think they genuinely must have been in Iranian waters as I'm sure it's too much of a politically tense time to make such errors or begin a blackmail campaign", I speculated during the pre-interview. "I mean, this will be politicised and not work to the Iranians' advantage", I regrettably added, certain that it would be the other way around.

"So you think they'll be released soon?", I was asked in surprise as I suggested it would blow over quite quickly. "I think there was a similar incident not too recently where the captives were released swiftly", I added, trying to remember if this was the case or not.

Coincidentally I was awaiting the company of a foreign journalist friend of mine who I was sure would enlighten me of an similar such events. "No, there was the capture of two journalists, French and German, they were fishing off an island, traveling from Qatar", he informed me, "Their maps stated they were not in Iranian water", he went on noting that there had been a dispute. "They were detained for 15-months and released at a politically advantageous moment". He then informed me of the UN Security Council meeting to be held later that day where further sanctions against Iran were likely to be passed – was this another politically advantageous time?

I'm sure many such intrusions of air or water space has been tolerated by the government here, not willing to contribute to the West's media circus

I then proceeded in my speculation and countered his thinking that this was an Iranian tactic. "I'm sure many such intrusions of air or water space has been tolerated by the government here, not willing to contribute to the Wests' media circus.", I went on, referring to Seymor Hersh's articles of US drone flights in Iranian air space. "Maybe claims by both sides about being in certain waters are correct in themselves, I mean, the navigation facilities on the British boat may have been tampered", I pondered, curious that this might have been extra-military activity. "Drop a word or two in the right ear and you'll see the Iranians taking the bate... and what great timing", I cynically added.

"Is it Seepa or Sepa?", came a voice on the phone interrupting the radio show as I awaited my turn. "I'm sorry, was that for me?", I responded. "Yes, Seepa or Sepa?", he repeated. They must have made a mistake, I had no idea what they were asking, "the bank", he then added – "Oh, Sepah", I informed him.

Just after we led into the story and they still mispronounced the bank name the presenter introduced me, using me my given name. "So, how do you feel about these new sanctions?", she asked. I sat in my pants, freshly awoken and only too aware that I was live. I'd written notes and was minimally researched but I wasn't at any point told that I would answer on this subject. A few more questions followed and although I filled the time with words and didn't 'um' and 'er' too much my response was poor. I'd mostly attempted to present the hypocrisy of the events, but was rather distracted by not wanted to discuss the matter at all.

"So what is your take on these 15-navy officers arrested?", she finally asked. "Well, it's a rather interesting coincidence, somewhat of an 'October Surprise' I might say". And just as I was warming up to allude to a parallel with the Iran Contra scandal, she interjected, paused a for a brief moment and that was me done.

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Watch that 'q' change to an 'n'.

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"So back over to Tehran. Tell us, would you say that your writing would be different if you were sitting in London?", came the voice on my mobile as I paced the cold echoing hallway having nipped out from the Latin beat and salsa of a Thursday night gathering. I wondered if my anonymity was a good enough example while conducting the cosy conference call of three – plus the few hundred thousand tuning in maybe. A friend then opened the door to see where I'd gone, "Daveed?", they shouted. Damn that echo.

"Yes", was my simple answer before elaborating further, "but it's not necessarily the establishment I adapt for, I worry about antagonising with the people and their culture". I've pondered this matter for a while now and am amused at how my 'freedom of speech' is not restrained by a well placed few, but maybe by the ideology of the mass – it's chickens and eggs though. "But there are ways to present things to... you know?", I semi-smugly added in conclusion.

Also on the BBC I see much the same thing but from the other end. As the homepage repeats 'Iran' (watch that 'q' change) with greater frequency I've taken to visiting its 'Have Your Say' public comments section, a forum for all manner of sqitted mush. Of late there's been a few of the, "How should the world deal with Iran?", "What now for Iran?" and a "Here's a neutral question about Iran, how on earth can you say it's anti-American?".

"45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?"

I use these features as a measure of sorts, a measure of how much stronger the Americans are at the game. Oddly enough when 'Have Your Say' first appeared it was the measuring point that frustrated me. As the entries are monitored and were previously measured before posting, we witnessed a for, against, for against series and no indication as to what the mood was. "There are surely some matters that clearly get a weight one particular way?", I wrote to the Head of News around the time, indicating that maybe their tweaking distorts the picture. You might for example have had 8-displayed responses to, "45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?". Four of these responses might say, "let's blow those sand monkeys further down the evolutionary ladder", and four-hundred could have said, "read the receipts!".

Things changed.

Fourth in the 'most recommended', backed by 179 people to date – John, NYC, USA:
"Another question set up so this "Have Your Say" can become a US-bashing forum. Why should we fear Iran having nuclear weapons? Because they are a fundamentatlist, theocratic state which severly curtails freedoms and human rights. The US, on the other hand, is still a bastion of freedom and human rights despite what is highlighted by the foriegn press. Which do you fear?"

In first place, backed by 261 people to date – Russell, Winnipeg, Canada:
"The world should do nothing about Iran. Iran is a sovereign nation and it is entitled to have nuclear power consumption. Just because the USA is war-mongering doesn't mean the world has to listen to their made up lies. The country the world should fear is America! Their government is crazy!"

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