a taste of authentic iranian cuisine last thursday!

last thursday i had kufteh tabrizi for lunch along with dolmas (not grape-leaf dolmas but rather bell peppers stuffed with a meat and lentil mixture). this delicious food was prepared by a sociology professor who taught at tehran university for 35 years. she also made a kind of mango/tamarind chutney and a mint chutney with a texture and fragrance that can only be described as heavenly. the conversation wasn’t too shabby either. what a treat!

green pepper dolmas
green pepper dolmas

on spirituality…

James Baldwin said that identity is the American theme. In 2012, spirituality is a major, unspoken question in this culture because there is not a default religion, an assumed spirituality. But, as an intellectual myself, a purely intellectual life is not fulfilling – it’s not complete. (Quiara Alegría Hudes)

The Tragic Transformation of Mecca

what next? state of the art roller coasters? i went to do the umrah as a young child – before all of this “development.” i saw a friend’s picture taken in mecca recently. she’s standing near the kabaa and it looks like she’s in the food court of a large, well-lit mall. more here.

Personalizing civil liberties abuses

Two weeks ago, the Editorial Page Editor of The New York Times, Andrew Rosenthal, wrote that ever since the 9/11 attacks, the United States has created “what’s essentially a separate justice system for Muslims.” That should be an extraordinary observation: creating a radically different — and more oppressive — set of rules, laws and punishments for a class of people in the United States based on their religious affiliation is a disgrace of historic proportion. Yet here we have someone occupying one of the most establishment media positions in the country matter-of-factly observing that this is exactly the state of affairs that exists on American soil, and it prompts little notice, let alone protest.

Many of the Muslims with whom I spoke know that many of their fellow citizens — the ones who are never subjected to these abuses — “reason” in a similar manner. Most are wallowing in the authoritarian assumption that the U.S. Government, while not infallible, is well-motivated and honest. Many Muslims thus know that they will stand almost entirely vulnerable if they are so targeted; few others will object or even care. That the Obama administration — in concert with Peter King — has been repeatedly insisting that the primary threat is now “homegrown Terrorism,” and has thus been importing War on Terror framework onto U.S. soil, means that citizenship is no longer any shield from even the most egregious abuses. So they are afraid, and are tempted to avoid doing anything, including exercising their most basic rights of free speech and assembly, to avoid attracting attention.

As is always the case, the government abuses justified in the name of Terrorism have expanded far beyond the Muslim community to which they were first applied. Domestic peace activists have been targeted by abusive applications of the Patriot Act; American advocates of WikiLeaks have been legally harassed in all sorts of ways; and just last week I detailed the persecution of filmmaker Laura Poitras for the crime of producing documentaries that reflect poorly on U.S. policy.

But American Muslims have borne the brunt of these assaults for a full decade now, and — more than a full decade after 9/11 — continue to bear them in increasingly oppressive ways. And it’s worthwhile, really necessary, to be reminded of the very personal ways that these actions harm the lives of innocent human beings. Blame undoubtedly lies first and foremost with the U.S. Government for perpetrating these attacks. But it lies as well with the American citizenry that — convinced that they will not be affected — permits and even cheers them. More here.

ruskin on the highest reward for a [wo]man’s toil

The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it. (John Ruskin)

love this. quite a bit of a paradigm shift. rather than think of success in terms of how our work is perceived by the world (how much recognition we get for it or what material rewards it produces), we should perhaps focus on who we have become (or r becoming) by virtue of what we do. that’s a much better gauge of “success.”

John Steinbeck on Falling in Love: A 1958 Letter

First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.

Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had. More here.

happy 2012!

i would like to wish my dear family, friends and compadres a delightful new year! may all ur wishes come true in 2012.

“I Got Kin” by Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

Plant
So that your own heart
Will grow.

Love
So God will think,
“Ahhhhhh,
I got kin in that body!
I should start inviting that soul over
For coffee and
Rolls.”

Sing
Because this is a food
Our starving world
Needs.

Laugh
Because that is the purest
Sound.

“Fragrance” by Abdur Rehman Chughtai (1894-1975), etching on paper.

“Fragrance” by Abdur Rehman Chughtai