Being Modern in Iran by Fariba Adelkhah

By Fariba Adelkhah

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Today, anyway, his business has 'ignited', as it is put in Persian by analogy with a fire (kflr-o bliresh gerefteh). It is solid, one might even say it is imperishable, or it is in gold (sekkeh, literally 'in coins'). Ali is seen as a 1. H. Pesaran, 'The Iranian foreign exchange and the black market for dollars', Geneva, November 1990, mimeo; H. Amirahmadi, Revolution and Economic Transition. The Iranian Experience, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1990; B. Hourcade and F. Khosrokhavar, 'La bourgeoisie iranienne ou Je controle de I'appareil de speculation', Revue liers Monde, XXXJ (124), October-December 1990, pp.

Karbaschi has propagated more than anyone, but which nonetheless reflects the spirit of the times. It expresses the feeling of a belonging to the city (shahr), which certainly existed before but had some difficulty in prevailing over communal sentiments such as regional (veldyat), tribal (qowm) or district (mahalleh) feelings. In a certain way Mr. Karbaschi is seeking to replace the 'geography of nostalgia' of old Tehran by a 'geography of desire'. 25 Similarly one of the municipal taxes, khod-ydri ('self-help'), explicitly takes up the idea of self-help, putting it in monetary form; this has produced amused reactions - is it really necessary for money to be taken from you for you to help yourself?

Open warfare has bee_n declared between the Mayor and the hooligans. According to one woman who deplores the regular decline in the state of her boulevard's lampposts, but who is pleased at the determination of the municipal authority to go on repairing them, Mr. Karbaschi makes a point of being more patient than the vandals, and counts on them getting tired of it. But he also seeks to be a teacher, and wants to wage many more campaigns of enlightenment, especially in the schools. 36 While waiting for these efforts to bring results, it is possible to see numerous petty frictions among the park users, ranging from a condescending attitude towards behaviour considered vulgar, or children's annoyance at grandparents' attitude, to the reprimands which young men chatting up the girls get from outraged mothers.

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