TEHRAN — Late on Friday night, January 2nd, 25-year-old Reza was taking an aimless car ride around town with his friends, smoking pot and listening to his idol, Eminem. By the time he arrived home, his dad had gone to bed. Exhausted, Reza quietly took the small flight of stairs up to his cozy alcove bedroom and went straight to bed. But when he woke, it was to strained noises. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he saw his father, a weathered man in his fifties, sitting and sobbing uncontrollably on the sofa. Seeing the way his father…


TEHRAN — Just as Tehran’s rare sight of a day’s lucid sky was giving way to the dark night on Saturday, January 11th, thousands of people held a candlelight vigil outside two prestigious universities, Amir Kabir and Sharif, for the casualties of the ill-fated Ukraine International Flight 752. A formal acknowledgement from Iranian officials made public earlier in the day had stated that the flight departing Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8th had been unintentionally targeted by the nation’s Armed Forces.

The rituals began with a pregnant silence as people were still reeling from the shocking news, trying to…


TEHRAN — Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps attacked the US facilities in Iraq in the wee hours of Wednesday, launching ballistic missiles against airbases in Anbar and in Irbil in what they proclaimed to be a “fierce revenge” for the recent US-operated assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani. The attacks, carried out concurrently with Solemani’s burial in Iran, came following yesterday’s directive issued by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, with regard to an “open retaliation”. Hours later, he called the attacks “a slap in the face” to the United States.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad-Javad Zarif, tweeted that Iran “took and…


TEHRAN — Iran is a country brimming with irony and its people never seem to run out of contradictory terms. Many of those who chant “Death to America” are also the ones who sign up for Diversity Visa Lottery, aka Green Card, every year, dreaming of finding their way into the United States. Many showing disdain for Western values and traditions happen to be parents who go out of their way to send their kids to schools in Europe and the United States. Those who once pulled no punches against the shah and ruthlessly dethroned him in 1979 are also…


TEHRAN — Despite his repeated sidesteps, Donald Trump has now officially dared Iran to go to war with the United States following what some have deemed an ill-judged decision from the US president to order the killing of Iran’s top commander, Major General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani, who was referred to as “Haj Qasem” among his intimate friends and die-hard disciples, was killed in a drone strike outside Baghdad International Airport on Friday. He carried, by all accounts, a lot of clout in the politics of the Middle East, and was nicknamed “The Shadow Commander” in the Western world. In recent…


TEHRAN — The United States and Iran are now, more brazenly than ever, at war. Following the US airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia group in Iraq and Syria in retaliation for the death of an American contractor — the strikes took 24 lives — Pentagon has made it abundantly clear that it is unfazed by Iran’s presence in an increasingly restive region. While the airstrikes forebode further potential hostilities between Iran and the United States, they also signal that, unlike previous instances of restraint, Washington’s patience is wearing thin with Tehran’s provocative actions this time.

Iranians have quickly warned the…


TEHRAN — Sahar Khodayari was many things: an Iranian citizen, a bachelor’s degree holder in English Language and Translation, and a staunch supporter of Esteghlal FC, one of Tehran’s two major football teams alongside Persepolis, their arch rival. Above all else, though, Sahar Khodayari (also known as Sara) was a woman living in the country of male rulers. …


TEHRAN Imagine an American pop singer inviting the Speaker of the House to a challenge — the challenge: “listen to my latest song and see if you can resist dancing to it.” In fact, the near-equivalent of this amusing hypothetical recently took place in Iran.

Following the release of Gentleman, the latest single by the California-based Iranian DJ and singer, Sasan Heydari-Yafteh, better known as Sasy Mankan, video footages appeared all over Instagram, showing students in all-boys or all-girls schools dancing to the song’s upbeat tempo. In one video, a female teacher can be seen holding a microphone while…


TEHRAN — While surfing the web pages of UC Davis’s department of Science of Coffee, Shayli finds it impossible to contain her emotions. At 25, she is the first female coffee roaster in Iran, although her journey towards this accomplishment started inside laboratories. In fact, unlike most other coffee lovers, she has traveled from the intricate science of coffee to the deep love of it.

Shayli was born and raised in Qazvin, a city near Tehran with a population of roughly 400,000 people. Her mother was a nurse; her dad, an exterior painter. Growing up, Shayli was a shy and…


TEHRAN — Shabnam and Sonia will strike you as anything but tetchy teenagers. They have an uncanny ability to laugh over almost everything, even when talking about how the school security has seized their student ID for “breaking” the dress code only a couple of hours back. I met the two in a packed, hip coffee shop near Tehran’s Theater Center on a Saturday afternoon. Shabnam, five foot ten, was wearing rolled up jeans with black tall boots while Sonia had donned a loose, navy blue, button-down garment that barely stood above the knee point.

Shabnam and Sonia are fashion…

Siavash Saadlou

A freelance writer based in Tehran, writing about politics, culture, art, and sports. Official website: www.siavashsaadlou.com

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