A Persian Amsterdammer Blogs.

Saturday, 25 October 2008


Some months ago I made a post about the American filmmaker Andrew Berends who was detained in Nigeria. Though I'm glad to report Andrew was released some time after, there's a few more prisoners of conscience whom we should not forget and leave to rot. Here's a small selection:

- Esha Momeni (28) / Iran

Iranian-American Women's rights advocate Esha Momeni was arrested October 15th. For her story check out the blog: http://for-esha.blogspot.com/ or her mention on the Amnesty site: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE13/155/2008/en

- Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh (24) / Afghanistan

A journalism student who got the death sentence at the age of 23 for distributing articles about human rights abuses as well as Quranic verses about women. A few days ago the sentences was overturned, he's now "only" sentenced to 20 years for questioning Islam. What is especially painful is that this happens in a country "liberated" by the West, where western soldiers still give their lives to fight Taliban and Al-Qaeda.


Et tu Karzai?

- Abdel Kareem Soliman (23) / Egypt

A law student and blogger who was jailed at the age of 22 for saying writing about his (former) university and the Egyptian president.


Did you notice how young these activists are? Makes me want to break something.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008


It's a well known fact that I love to travel. Sadly, this year I didn't travel nearly enough. My only time spent abroad was 3 days in a haunted house in London. And I got rained on. Luckily I have many traveling friends who not only go to far away places, but also share their adventures with me.

Have a look at the travellogs of Nafis Nia. She's a good friend, filmmaker and journalist. To read/see/listen to her reports from the trip she was on to develop the state of journalism in Afghanistan check out her articles at the "Trouw" newspaper and her personal blog (both in Dutch).


Another beautiful adventure is the journey of my friend Allen "mr. Fish" of Caspian Hat Dance fame. He recently sent me an e-mail from Rumania. With his kind permission I'll copy a part of it:

"i'm slowly heading back to cluj to rest and regroup because i am COLD and out of money. the adventures have been amazing and we recorded a lot, plus i've recorded a lot alone, but nothing for Caspian, i think. i've eaten chickenliver (disgusting), pure pig fat (disgusting), different types of sausages and soups and ham (lekker). some people think i'm neat. other people threaten me and yell at me. i can kind of speak romanian. i was bitten by a dog. it sounded like this: "woof, munch". i'm not pregnant. last night i slept in a single room with a family whose mom works in a store 13 hours a day, 7 days a week, and hasn't had one day's rest for the last 4 years. life can never be bad again (for me) if i just think about her. i also slept at a homemade palinka plant, powered by a stream. it was the most beautiful place, too, in the mountains, and the (free) palinka literally flowed like water from a tap -- you guys would have loved it. i mean, because you like nature.

some (assimilated) gypsies wanted me to translate 'amari szi amari' into ... romanian of course! but i couldn't. old men give me grapes. children sing for me. some people are truly wonderful. others are serious motherfuckers. one 12-year old (assimilated gypsy) boy i met calls me every couple of days to ask me if i've eaten anything. when i say, "yes", he says, "what did you eat?" sometimes i wonder if i need to ask him for permission if i stay out late. i would love to play in cluj with you guys after budapest. also maybe we could go to one of the villages i've been to, like negresti oas in the north.

i'm gonna try and sleep in a synagogue tonight. hopefully the guy who invited me isn't gonna expect me to be all jewish all over the place. much love, see you soon"

Monday, 20 October 2008


Look! It's me, talking about Hafez on Dutch Radio/TV:


And here's my mom giving an interview. A bit shy when asked questions, but wait for the moment that she starts to sing! (you have to click on the first clip and fast forward to 3.45)

Saturday, 18 October 2008

The Foundation

When young artists who think outside the box get creative and work together miracles happen. Witness for instance this music video made by young documentary director Ryan Ferguson. The clip is the debut of young chicago rapper Phero. The images are a tribute to a neighbourhood in Chicago that's rapidly gentrifying, and as a result losing its character and spirit.


I am honestly excited by Phero and Ryan!

Now, compare this with some other brilliant work by our young creatives (please note obvious sarcasm):

Young Iranians in the US. But seriously, they could be of any ethnicity, in any country...

... as evidenced by the following clip, made by young Turks in the NL.

In conclusion, it's not Hip Hop that's unexciting as an art, it's the creativity deficit in most of its producers and consumers

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

The Wind Will Take Us...

... is A) a poem by Forough Farrokhzad:


In my small night, ah
the wind has a date with the leaves of the trees
in my small night there is agony of destruction
do you hear the darkness blowing?
I look upon this bliss as a stranger
I am addicted to my despair.

listen do you hear the darkness blowing?
something is passing in the night
the moon is restless and red
and over this rooftop
where crumbling is a constant fear
clouds, like a procession of mourners
seem to be waiting for the moment of rain.
a moment
and then nothing
night shudders beyond this window
and the earth winds to a halt
beyond this window
something unknown is watching you and me.

O green from head to foot
place your hands like a burning memory
in my loving hands
give your lips to the caresses
of my loving lips
like the warm perception of being
the wind will take us
the wind will take us.


... it is B) also a song by the French band Noir D├ęsir:

Monday, 13 October 2008

Iranian artist

Though at the moment our dear government in Iran is doing everything in its power to destroy the artistic scene in Iran I am happy to report this scene is alive and well. It has gone underground, but thrives to the degree that one important art critic calls it the third most exciting country (after Japan & China) in Asia.

Last Saturday I was introduced to a young lady who has exhibitions all over the world. She's in Amsterdam till the end of the month, and then will leave for Teheran to prepare another exhibition.

Ladies and gents, I present to you Golnar Tabibzadeh

Saturday, 11 October 2008


One of the oldest arts that has never failed to bring people together is storytelling. I am very happy to report that everyday more people are convinced of the beauty of it, and spend more time surrounded with friends and strangers to share their stories.

In Amsterdam we've had a monthly night going for close to 4 years, and recently we've added an English night to the Dutch one. Other groups are getting together in other cities. One great group that's been around for a while as well is run by Mary-Sue Siegel an American-Dutch storyteller/therapist. Her group gets together in Rotterdam. I was very honoured to be able to participate in one of them. Here she is addressing the group:

Check out her site as well: