Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And holding...

The visa is either still being processed or is bouncing around in the hands of one courier or another. If things went according to Hoyle I'd be in my second week in the classroom, but instead I've been marinating in my own juices as I fill my unscheduled time as well as I can. I've kept a close eye on the sports pages so that I can be well prepared for the upcoming (and long overdue) hockey season, prepping myself for the classroom and pondering what books to bring along. The question of what I'll enjoy reading is weighed against what just might provoke confiscation at the border. Not too serious a concern, just something that I get a bit more preoccupied with since I have the time to think about it. From what I have read and heard thus far there should not be too much trouble with the books I bring unless there are scantily clad women or the name of a certain Indian writer on the cover. At the moment, Anne-Marie MacDonald's The Way the Crow Flies and James Joyce's Ulysses, which was once banned, are in the suitcase.
Met with an Iranian student here in Calgary yesterday and had a chance to confirm everything that I've heard and read about Iranian hospitality. He gave me his email address and offered to connect me with friends of his in the country if I had any problems or concerns while I was there. I am confident that the university in Tehran will address most of my concerns and needs but it is good to have all of this help offered to me. Meanwhile, I wait for the phone to ring or a courier to give a knock on my door. My pen is ready to sign for it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Holding Pattern

I am not sure if there is much point in using a blog to indulge in navel-gazing. I have not read enough to get an idea what these are all about or what they can entail, but the plan here was to be regaling folks with my tales of wonder and adventure in Iran, or to put it more romantically, Persia. For about two weeks now I've been sitting tight and waiting to hear word as to when I'll be able to make a move to get on my way.
It has been a little trying to fill the time that I've got. I've been reading more and more stuff about the country and even managed to test the old six degrees of separation theory as two friends of mine - in Australia and Nova Scotia - have both offered me the names of Iranians whom I could contact while I am in Tehran. It certainly makes it all feel a bit more surprising to realize how closely connected we really are despite the sense that Iran is so far away geographically and in the imagination as well.
I am becoming familiar with the curriculum that I have to teach in the meantime and if there is another delay I might just know it by heart. In the meantime I also find myself turning over all the scenarios that I might encounter when I go through customs. There have been some suggestions that the listening materials I bring in might be confiscated if there is a fear that they might be music or something else that might offend the tastes of the nation. I am really looking forward to getting that stamp in my passport and being told I'm free to go or even, "Welcome to Iran."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Maybe, maybe not; but what was W doing in 1979?

Interesting news today or yesterday as the US has gotten itself into a bit of a snit over whether or not President-elect Ahmadinejad was one of the militant students who was involved in the hostage-taking at the embassy in Tehran, or as Iranians put it, The Den of Espionage. I recall the hostage-taking and the emotional roller-coaster ride that the Americans seemed to be on as they tried to resolve the dispute and ultimately run the Carter administration into the ground.

There are conflicting reports in the US about whether or not the new president is one of the hostage-takers or not with some of the former hostages saying that they don't recognize him. Bush is keen to make as much hay with this as he can after taking another hit in popularity for linked 9/11 with the current war in Iraq. The hubbub in the American media about this is just another example of how the media in particular has been helping the US government portray Iran in a poor light. I'm not naive enough to believe that the trip will be far more idyllic and peaceful than anyone fears at the moment but I've taken great comfort in the news I've heard from people who have been there about the unbridled friendliness and curiosity of Iran's people toward their visitors and guests.