Child’s Democratic Imagination

Cairo and Tehran are so similar; people, food, always jammed traffic but most importantly the similarity lies in the way democracy is perceived in these two mega urban centres. In both cities, or I shall say countries. there are people who wouldn’t and there are those who would like to see a transition to democracy. This post is an exaggerated account of the story of those who are praying for a democratic state in these countries and how fathering our children could potentially reword these prayers.

Neither in Iran nor in Egypt, roughly speaking, democracy is perceived as a process that begins in homes, families and neighbourhoods; it is rather believed as a utopian gift the creator shall bestow upon people upon much cry and demand. It is imagined as a paradise of freedom and prosperity without crossing any comfort zone! It is almost a utopian religion – we are praying in hopes for it to be delivered in the most elegant and calmly wrapped paper cadeau, Insha’allah! And we are ready to sacrifice others, and sometimes ourselves,for a speedy delivery!

No! Democracy is a pain to be endured. It is all about power struggle to gain access to and control over limited resources. It is messy and ugly; for it does not and it cannot bring about the just and prosperous world to all beings, humans and non-humans. If in doubt come and see poverty in most democratic of cities within the Western world.

Democracy is negotiation, mediation, and conflict resolution even in the most seemingly peaceful times and zones. It is an acceptance of less, the other, and patient process. It is like managing an event with no authority over the resources you need to make it happen seamlessly.

Preparing for it simply requires acting in it. In Iran (or even Egypt) where our kids can’t practice democracy outside the homes, lets’ invite democracy into our homes. There are ample opportunities to get the kids ready. One, I suggest, is to involve them in the very business of household expenditure management whereby the family gathers to make decisions and allocate resources to what is agreed as priorities. This simply involves all the ingredients of a democratic struggle: people, power dynamics, difference of opinions, negotiations over agenda and priorities and finally agreeing the norms of collective decision-making. Some say budgeting is politics without the rhetoric, very tangible and concrete for the child to understand and learn, over time, to be working agents in our democracies yet to come, insha’allah!

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Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Imagination


چشمها را باید بست

چشمها را باید بست

                        لحظه ها را دزدید

صحنه ها را بافت

سروها را

پل ها را  

دختران خوشگل را

باید چشم بسته شکوفه ها را چید  بویید  دید

حتی کور باید بود در طوفان شور و اوج عشقبازی

به پسرم خواهم گفت

با او خواهم خواند 

او را خواهم برد

به اقیانوسها 

ماهی و دریاها

به کنج شهرها و بام ها

اوج دردها و فریادها

تا ببیند حالا

با خیالی پررنگ

با طراوت,  پرامید.

با چشمان کودکی

که مبادا خالی شود اندیشه او از اوهام

چون به زودی خواهم گفت

چشمها را باید بست

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Posted by on March 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


Rain and Black Mushrooms in Manhattan

The day when I realized having a watch is a privilege came to be as my father took me to the old bazaar of Tehran where in a tight old back alley, kids were aggressively kicking the white-red striped plastic ball just to score. ImageI paused for a little while to watch their mastery and skillful ball handling with their fast-paced dribbles. I was noticed, at least I thought I was; but no it was the black (cheap) digital watch on my wrist that had caught their eyes. “Look, he is our age yet he has a watch” loudly said a boy whose face is still vivid in my memory of this one long lasting moment. I sped up and followed my father along the dry browny half mud half brick walls; and nothing more, I recall.  My father and I had a few good moments in my early school years when he deliberately walked me through places, spaces and situations so I learn on my own and in my own way. He does rarely speak, even now, and in those days he found non-verbal ways to show me the different shades of both pride and privilege.

On New York’s last Sunday of March 2012, I, in my aimless walk around the Central Station and the Fifth Ave. recalled that bold uncomfortable image of my childhood privilege. A few more hours passed, I had checked out and heavily spent at the biggest toy store in NY; and, by sheer luck, I came across a small theater showing A Separation, which I had not seen till then. I loved it – simple yet so real projection of the most fundamental dilemmas of life today, yesterday and tomorrow; Woody Allen, the day before the 2012 Oscar, said “A Separation is the only movie of the year“! Just a few moments after the heavy ending of the Separation, rain started and with it came the inner moron of walking ImageNew Yorkers. It was pouring cats and dogs – it really was. I am a rain lover and a rain walker but at the time I could not walk under that heavy rain with all the toy wraps hanging around my arms. Anyways, all this background is just to share one future plan that I promised myself to do: I will take Heeva to Manhattan when he is 7. There he can see that with the rain, buds a thousand rays of black men selling crappy black umbrellas while waving an open one in the air to disturb and catch our void attentions. So he will have a bed-time story for his daughter that with the rain, in the forests, comes mushrooms of all shades and tastes; but it is all black mushrooms who thrive in the rain of the big concrete jungle of Manhattan, NY.

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Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Fundamentals


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As a father you need to make yourself irrelevant in long run!

A colleague of mine who is a grandmother told me today that I should be spending time with my son and NOT blogging about him! But what she pointed out which has got me was that the parent’s job is to get rid of children – parents need make themselves irrelevant and raise their children so that they leave home as competent adults – a tough job, she added.


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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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Obama as a father but without a father!

For tonight, let’s just take a look at President Obama’s experience as a father and as a son without a father – a void which was never filled in his life, he said.

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Posted by on March 14, 2011 in Video Stories


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Are good fathers born or made?

Adrienne Burgess, an inspiring woman researching fatherhood and fathers begins her forward to the Fatherhood: Philosophy for Everyone, asks if good fathers are born or made. My initial reaction to this question was:

Often, we imitate our fathers or other fathers or follow the accepted societal norm expected of fathers, when reacting to a wrongdoing of our child. In other words, often, we are born fathers! meaning that we do not make ourselves into fathers. We, in principle, repeat other fathers including our own. I have seen it, especially when upset with our children, we respond to, unbelievably, similar to how our fathers had treated us, which I believe is tacitly but boldly engraved in our minds at our early stages of development, as if our bodies and our language, on the spot, know how to react, what to say – and here we are; we say it, we do it and worse we repeat doing it. I believe there are more fathers, regretting their behaviour towards their children than children towards their fathers. It is simple, because we generally do not think and do not prepare to be fathers. This, I believe, begs our special attention since we live in an era of all sorts of social and cultural deconstructions; and this is more significant for us, the new immigrant fathers.

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Fundamentals


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After you, my world will always be empty!

Ammon Allred concludes his chapter on “How fatherhood will change your life”:

Ever since you were born, my world has been emptying out. Once I might have been scared by that, but because I have discovered that I love you more than myself, I fear the emptiness of my world much less than I love the increasing fullness of yours.
After you, my world will always be empty.

  • Do we love our children more than we do ourselves? I am not sure yet…Of course we will choose to sacrifice and even die if our death keeps them alive (I do not mean biology here) but in our everyday lives, do we love our children more than ourselves? Or are they other excuses for us to design projects to our own self-satisfaction?
  • And I feel that if one’s child dies, part of one’s life will always remain empty! true.
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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in Rationale


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Antsy Father

What fathers rarely think about and never talk about

brettany shannon

urban planning, writing, learning


What fathers rarely think about and never talk about

Cities and Citizenship

What fathers rarely think about and never talk about

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