President Obama, finally.

“what’s required is a new declaration of independence — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.” President Obama

president obama michele roohani

At last, some Law & Order and good riddance to uncurious george! I thought he’d never leave.

obama sweraing in nytimes michele roohani

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 1

These are some pictures from today’s  New York Times and they are telling…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 4

The euphoria was not diminished because of the bitter cold, and the whole world smiled on tuesday— a cautious sigh of relief for never having to listen to another incoherent sentence from that idiot bush or to accept some blatant  injustice shoved down our throat.

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 3

Americans feel proud again and there is this beautiful aura of hope over everybody—in spite all other major problems—a little break.

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 8

May all this great energy take care of some of the world’s problems…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 7

I am allowing myself to be hopeful—for a cynic like me, it’s not easy…

obama inauguration michele roohani nytimes 10

January 20th 2009: the End of an Error

obama in bush out nytimes michele roohani

An eye for an eyelash? Hamas and Israel…

I am no friend of Hamas—not all muslims are—but what is happening in Gaza is like a bad horror movie. Thousands are being sacrificed between the belligerent Israel and Hamas (and the two American presidents.)

palestine middle east israel hamas maze michele roohani

I remember when I was about ten years old, spreading the newspaper on the floor and reading with the naive curiosity of a child about the Palestinian conflict—and not understanding much of it. I still don’t…Robert Kaplan says “Israel has, in effect, launched the war on the Iranian empire that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, in particular, can only have contemplated.”

gaza eyad baba associated press michele roohani

Hamas and Hezbollah both being fed by the Iranian government does not buy my sympathy for either one but let’s not forget that Israel used to support Hamas, because it undermined Fatah

gaza kids slingshots nytimes michele roohani

Israel has prevented international journalists getting into Gaza. Is “an eye for an eyelash”,  Israel’s appropriate response to Hamas’ rockets? 13 dead Israelis to 1100 dead Palestinians? I hated Yasir Arafat for what he did and didn’t do for his people but is Hamas much better? Can you really close the borders of Gaza and bomb them in front of the whole world? All I know is that the 2 state plan is barely alive and a thousand people are dead, so far…

War does not determine who is right – only who is left.  Bertrand Russell

Further reading:

Sara Roy’s If Gaza falls

Benny Morris’ Why Israel feels threatened.

Ehud Olmert’s very interesting interview.

David Samuel’s How Yasser Arafat destroyed Palestine.

Avi Schlaim’s How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.


The Ayatollah begs to differ

I took Hooman Majd’s book, The Ayatollah begs to differ, to bed and before I knew it, it was five in the morning! I was moved to tears and laughter by this affectionate account of his trips to Iran.

The Ayatollah begs to differ hooman majd

I recommend it to Iranians especially if they have been living outside their country for a long time like me (30 years) . It will be interesting to non-Persians as well to glimpse the enigma of today’s Iran. Majd surprised me page after page with his acute observations and sharp insights into Shiite Iran’s psyche.

hooman majd the ayatollah begs to differ

I learned about him first thanks to Jon Stewart’s interview on the Daily ShowI was happy to see his book make the best book list of 2008 on the Economist and L.A. Times.

Newsha Tavakolian cell phone mosque

I am wondering how this American Iranian grandson of an Ayatollah, who’s served as the interpreter to two Iranian presidents (Ahmadinejad and Khatami), can go back and forth between his two countries after writing such a naked account of his visits to Iran.

It would have been good to see some of Newsha Tavakolian’s amazing pictures accompany his book—they epitomize the “Iranian Paradox”.

Newsha Tavakolian driver mom

What I really appreciated about this book is Majd’s quest to explain, in a simple way, the notion of Shiite Islam to the uninitiated (self flagellation et al…). Vali Nasr has already talked at length about the subject in The Shia Revival, as well as the super hip Reza Aslan, the writer of  No God but God but Majd’s book is an easier read and peppered with funny stories.

Newsha Tavakolian rozeh

After Shirin Neshat‘s images of Rozeh (Majd calls it a passion play—as in St. Matthew’s Passion—about the martyrdom of Imam Hossein), Tavakolian’s pictures are the most haunting to me. It’s interesting to see the similarities between the Iranian/Shiite religious processions and the catholic/Italian version below:

eduard de pazzi italian procession black

Check out Eduard de Pazzi’s beautiful images here.

eduard de pazzi italian procession catholic

The Ta’zieh is universal and this comes from the great grand daughter of an Ayatollah!

The author describes the book in his own words

Visit Hooman Majd’s website to learn more about his book.

Visit tavakolian’s website’s to see more of her rich collection.

Read Aslan’s review of The Ayatollah begs to differ in the LA Times.

Mumbai Carnage

It’s 3:30 am Mumbai time on November 27th and I am wondering if it’s a bad time to call my friend Ajay in India; I am watching Mumbai burning on CNN and my heart’s sinking—can’t have even one satisfying answer to why people decide to go on a rampage like this.

Taj hotel mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani

It’s interesting how knowing even one person makes a difference in our relative desensitization towards systematic acts of violence. What causes this rage and brutal frustration?

press mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani gateway of india

I asked my friend, Nimesh Didia, to just go out and take some random pictures of the area and people; I was grateful to receive all of these images from him yesterday.

press mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani

Regular Mumbaikars are replaced by soldiers and the world press; it’s an exercise in futility to try to make some sense of the incomprehensible…

soldiers mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani

The Taj Mahal hotel survived the fire but at least 170 people didn’t. To see excellent pictures click here.

Taj hotel mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani soldiers

Maybe great solidarity and large-heartedness in times of peril will save the city. India and Pakistan have a bloody history since the partition in 1947 and these incidents are not helping.

mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani blue sea

Even James Bond couldn’t keep the Regal movie theater open on the first days of attack:

mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani regal theatre closed

but the clean up work has started:

Taj hotel mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani clean up

The best article I read is Suketu Mehta’s in NY Times— he eloquently describes the feelings of many of the 18 million people pf Mumbai. Read it here.

As you can see, life continues (it always does) in spite of the recent calamity:

mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani fast food

May it be sweeter from now on for India.

mumbai attacks nimesh dadia michele roohani sweet vendor taj hotel

“Partition’s people stitched
Shrouds from a flag, gentlemen scissored Sind.
An opened people, fraying across the cut
country reknotted themselves on this island.”

Adil Jussawalla

A Prince finishing what a King began? I sure hope so…

Yes he did it! What a collective sigh of relief, what a huge smile on the face of the earth and how very scary to be President Obama in today’s world…

sky gilbar obama michele roohani

I had fun with Sky Gilbar’s beautiful photos of Obama (above and below).

sky gilbar obama grisaille michele roohani

These are some of the pictures of Obama that I like best.

obama corn field timesonline

I teared up reading Nancy Gibbs’ article: “Some Princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope. Barack Obama never talks about how people see him: I’m not the one making history, he said every chance he got. You are. Yet as he looked out Tuesday night through the bulletproof glass, in a park named for a Civil War general, he had to see the truth on people’s faces. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, he liked to say, but people were waiting for him, waiting for someone to finish what a King began.”

Chris Carlson Associated Press obama president

Writers say it so much better than us mere mortals; take a look at Judith Warner’s piece here and Frank Rich’s here. Come on people, don’t be lazy! These are exciting times—good and bad—and history doesn’t forgive apathy…

johna adams ben franklin HBO

I took this picture of my TV while watching the biography of my favorite American President, John Adams who said: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”

Obama’s election made me forget my agreement with Plato‘s view on Democracy…

President Obama, the world is smiling…

This is a collective smile, thousands of miles long…

Rainer Jensen_European Pressphoto Agency michele roohani

Take a look at these pictures of the big smile here and read about it from Christiane Amanpour here.

President Obama the world is smiling michele roohani

A paradigm shift my friends, a paradigm shift of biblical proportions…Read Thomas Friedman’s excellent article here and Judith Warner’s amazing piece here.

“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” Barack Obama

Trick-or-Treat, a blood red Halloween

Coming back from Europe, reality hit me with the softness of barbed wire! The U.S. is paralyzed with fear and uncertainty and the world is watching in horror the rapid meltdown of greedy and extreme American Capitalism—of the unregulated kind thanks to Reagan.

Trick-or-Treat halloween red shoes michele roohani

These are hard times and people can’t “go to the mall” anymore like their president suggested a few years back but Sarah Palin sure did with her shopping tag of $150,000—read Dowd’s interesting column here. Remember Obama’s tattered shoes?

obama tattered shoes micheleroohani

Watch out  for the trick…People have been affected by the real estate massacre and there is blood on the streets everywhere— massive layoffs have not started yet. This cartoon of Ed Stein is funny and sad at the same time:

ed stein halloween cartoon michele roohani

I don’t know about you but I prefer my autumn in its original colors of yellow/orange and the Halloween sweet and funny. If you miss my jack-o-lanterns click on my last year’s Halloween post.

pumpkin flowers fall michele roohani

I couldn’t resist including my picture of this classic Morgan—it has the perfect colors.

michele roohani morgan british sports car interior

Exploration of the unknown requires tolerating uncertainty. I hope that the elections bring some degree of order and certitude; chaos scares the hell out of me.

Paris got lost in the debates, the bailout and Paul Newman

These are scary times and as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t bring myself into making a light post about the beauties of the old world…

eiffel tower paris michele roohani

I watched the debates in awe, witnessed the bickering over the financial bailout with disbelief and then Paul Newman died and I had the Paris Blues… Watch this magnificent trailer of Newman and Sidney Poitier in Paris of the 60’s.

paul newman dies michele roohani

Did anybody looked cooler than this guy? Beautiful man with a more beautiful heart. Smoking killed him.

Paris remains splendid in spite of all the bad news I have been getting from home—a walk through Place des Vosges at night washed away some of that.

place des vosges at night stop sign michele roohani

The infernal crowds finally went home and left Isle Saint Louis in peace:

brasserie isle saint louis michele roohani

The best remedy— albeit temporary —for the blues is a visit to the Patisserie. Just looking at them can send you to the hospital…

dalloyau strawberry cakes michele roohani

I am not a chocolate or a strawberry person but I would kill for a Religieuse Café!

dalloyau religieuse cafe chocolate michele roohani

Window watching is a pleasure in this “walking city”,

red chandelier michele roohani

Nobody has the money to buy any of these overpriced un-necessities anymore.

prada avenue montaigne prada bag michele roohani

United States is trying to absolve itself from its sins and Europe will follow…

prada shoes michele roohani

This one reminds me of the “poustines” we were wearing as kids back home:

window fur coat with dogs michele roohani

Beautiful Mansard roofs are breathtaking:

mansard rooftops paris michele roohani

but not enough to make me forget this:

drilling sarah palin

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. Einstein

A freaking heartbeat away from the Presidency

I woke up this morning with the news of Sarah Palin’s 17 year old unwed daughter being 5 months pregnant! I must be dreaming – this is the stuff bad Hollywood movies are made of: an evangelical, (almost) beauty queen of a small Alaskan town, with five children, a four year college degree in journalism, and  an anti-choice/anti-evolution/pro oil drilling agenda is going to be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the the United States of America! Only in Hollywood my friends…

sarah palin michele roohani

Do I look stupid to you people? Do we, as women, look so clueless to you republicans that you imagine us all  voting for a woman only because of her gender? This is as valid as me voting for Ahmadinejad for the sole reason that he’s born persian!

Palin went through with her fifth pregnancy knowing that her child will have Down Syndrome. I have a nephew with this problem and I know how heartbreaking it is for the parents and the siblings…To insist in bringing a child like this to the world is selfish and insane.

palin mccain michele roohani cartoon

Palin is an avid member of the NRA—Natonal Rifle Association—  which makes her the dream candidate for the republican ticket. She’s too damned young and inexperienced to be the vice president of this country. Read this article and this one to have some fun with this issue. Here are some interesting opinions about this whole affair.

palin thumbs up

Unless Obama (aka the Dark Knight) messes up really bad from here to November, I don’t see how he can lose…

obama mc cain polls

“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.” Aldous Huxley

jim borgman palin

A week with Usain and Hussein and the digital divide

Usain and Hussein have been on my mind in the past week; the lightning Bolt—aka the fastest man alive—and Hussein Obama. I made this image for my son who wanted a poster of Obama using a photo by Callie Shell of Time magazine:

obama paradigm shift michele roohani

“A Paradigm Shift is  a change from one way of thinking to another. It’s a revolution, a transformation, a sort of metamorphosis. It just does not happen, but rather it is driven by agents of change” according to Thomas Kuhn; he believes that Change is difficult and that human beings resist change— awareness is prerequisite to all acceptable changes. A Paradigm Shift is when a significant change happens—usually from one fundamental view to a different view. In most cases, some type of major discontinuity occurs as well. Khun thinks that “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions cause one conceptual world view to be replaced by another view”.

My question for you boys and girls is that what makes one cling to the atrophied McCain—aka the off-line American—over the uber-eager Obama? I didn’t vote for Obama in the primaries but neither can I  imagine voting for mister “I want to relive vietnam ad nauseum”…

obama blue red michele roohani double poster

What are these posters from the good senator’s camp? Martin Luther King, the second coming? I frankly like my version better.

Another paradigm shift came this last week of the Olympics with the other Hussein or Usain:

usain bolt huffington post michele roohani

What can I say? the man can run! Look at him here on cruise control going the 100 meters on 9.68 seconds; this guy with all his antics was a breath of fresh air.