Being Clear and Precise

Colombo, Sri Lanka

My first week in Sri Lanka was… interesting?

So… I experience the usual stuff you do when you are trippin…

For instance, for some reason local people everywhere (I’ve been to so far) seem to ask the same questions in more or less the same order to get an image of you in a minute or less:

What is your name?

Where are you from?

How old are you?

Are you married?

Are you Muslim?

What is your job back home?

In Iran the only difference was they didn’t ask me if I was Muslim but rather if I came to Iran to find a woman to marry…

I’m really amused 😀

People ask me clear questions and they want clear, precise and short answers.
I cannot give them these the way they want… and they usually get very annoyed!

“What’s my first name?”
Hmm, which one shall choose? The Greek one? The Persian one?

“Where am I from?”
So, originally… but… – I could start to explain! (“But you are not Greek! So why do you have a Greek name then?”

“When’s my birthday?”
My god, in my case even that one isn’t so straightforward!

“If I’m married?”
Yeah, perhaps I should be… at my age…

“If I’m Muslim?”

“What my job is back home?”
Which one?
And which home anyway?

“Come on… it’s easy! You must have one first name, one place you are from, one home, one date of birth and usually one job and one religion… and at least you must be able to state clearly if you are married or not!”

Hmm… in my case nothing is so clear-cut!

So maybe that’s the reason why I am a little neurotic soul 😉

But more importantly: for real, what would all the answers tell people about me? So why is it so important to people to have all theses questions answered (clearly)?!?


Seven Months and Trippin

Colombo, Sri Lanka

So for those of you who thought – reading my last two posts – that I finally found the true meaning of my life by becoming a suicide bomber… I have to disappoint you… well I am in Colombo now but I have nothing to do with the bomb attacks yesterday night!

No no, my last message was not my final prayer and the one before was no hidden hint indicating a final mortal action (so even if I […] die, I die happy)!

Seven months ago I started this trip searching for something and in a way it feels like I have found this thing… though I cannot put it in words…

So in a way this trip is over and if I believe those strange dervishes I should stop writing! They say someone is going to kill me for saying (writing) these things I see. That is perhaps the reason why (I guess) Socrates should have become a poet like those dervishes.

Or maybe I just didn’t get the meaning of their poems…

Anyway… I’m not Socrates and I’m no poet (in a way this blog gets repetitive… or I have a deja vu).

So I could also listen to that Viennese crackhead’s advice called Falco who said in one of his songs:

“Lass diese Reise niemals enden, das Tun kommt aus dem Sein allein”

Yeah, I’m not gonna stop trippin… and I’ll write some thing 😉


In Fear (of War)

Tehran, Iran

Thirteen days left to leave the country if I don’t want to serve the Iranian military for two years…

I’ve been here for two and a half months now. I’ve seen a lot. I feel like this is the most important experience of my life!

These days some people are urging me to leave Iran as soon as possible. There is talk of the US striking soon…

I’m not too sure about that!

So what do I do?

Thirteen days left and I have one more trip planned, checking out the Persian Gulf. I feel like this final trip is really important for me. Not because I want to see the Persian Gulf but I feel like there is still something I need to experience here in Iran.

Otherwise I would simply leave…

So do I give my family and friends a hard time for these two weeks to come or do I betray my own beliefs?

I don’t believe in acting by fear!

Not that I don’t and I haven’t done so in the past but I try not to base my decisions on fear.

If I had done so in the past I still would have had a job that I didn’t really like and have some future perspective that was perhaps no real perspective.

If I had done so in the past I wouldn’t be “On a Trip”, I wouldn’t be in Iran right now and I wouldn’t have a future perspective I really love.

It’s not that I am especially courageous… no, no, I am scared… but simply I feel like not acting by fear! I feel like if I live my life by fear I don’t really live! I feel like I have to stay! I have to go on this final trip!

So maybe I am just stupid and someone should punch me in my head and put me on a plane.

But one thing I learned on this trip is to live every single moment of life the very moment… and trust life!

I try to do so and for the last six months it worked out quite fine…

So even if I should be forced to serve Iran’s military or even die, I die happy 😉


Month Two and Noruz

Tehran, Iran

So it’s been two months now that I am in Iran. My last month was much more quite than the first. In a way I’m starting to live a life here:

I have a bedroom including my personal bath at the apartment of a patron, a mobile phone, a bank account, a relationship, a few good friends and at times I even work… a bit!

I do get a feeling of how a life in Tehran could be like… if I wanted to have a life around here. Well, and life here is not too bad… for me at least.

Anyway, a friend back from Vienna told me he is more interested in current events going on in Iran rather than in some stuff that hadhappened 2500 years ago. I guess I didn’t quite make my point in my entry on “Persian Identity”. This is what I perceive when I talk to Iranian people. This is what I can talk about…

What I cannot talk about is what is “really” going on in Iran today. I try to talk with as many people as possible and I hear so many different things that I cannot “really” tell you what’s going on in Iran.

For example, a lot of people here are moaning about the government and the bad quality of life. But what does it really mean?

If you ask people in Vienna the same questions you get similar answers. So (again) Vienna is the city with the fourth highest quality of life in the world but when you talk to people you feel likecommitting suicide ; )


One of the things I perceive being here is that people in Iran are being brainwashed!

One of the things I perceive being here is that people in the West are being brainwashed!

Ergo… I’m really brainwashed…

Apart from that there is nothing specific on my mind… this very moment… maybe another day…

By the way, tonight is the beginning of spring which is “New Year” in Iran (Noruz). So I’m happy to finally experience Iranian New Year in Iran. So I’m lucky… my last month in Iran is kicked off with the “New Years Eve”.

And tomorrow I go an a trip “back to my roots” to visit the cities of some of my ancestors: Gorgan and Gonbad-e-Kavus : )


Staying in Touch with Friends

Tehran, Iran

It’s interesting to me:

Some people complain about me not staying in touch. And I know that some people don’t complain but are a bit sad about it or feel offended.

So what is it that makes someone feel sad or offended?

What does it really mean if I (and perhaps people in general) “don’t stay in touch”?

So I have those friends who I don’t mail or talk to simply because our bond is not strong enough.

Then there are those friends who I mail or talk to simply because they somehow “force me” to stay in touch (or I am too Iranian to beimpolite).

The majority are good friends that I don’t mail or talk to regularly… only when there is really something going on… not the common superficial chat… but if we ever do I’m really happy about it…

Then there is very few of my very closest friends that I stay in touch with… a bit…

Finally, there is quite some very very close friends or people I highly respect or have experienced something special with, whom I hardly ever mail or talk to. To some of them I haven’t talked to in years and to some of them I might never talk to again!

What does it say about our friendship?


Or maybe: “We share that special thing we do so there is no need to prove it!”


Persian Identity

“[…]Now that I put the crown of kingdom of Iran, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions on the head with the help of Ahura Mazda, I announce that I will respect the traditions, customs and religions of the nations of my empire and never let any of my governors and subordinates look down on or insult them until I am alive. From now on, till Ahura Mazda grants me the kingdom favor, I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it, and if any one of them rejects it, I never resolve on war to reign. Until I am the king of Iran, Babylon, and the nations of the four directions, I never let anyone oppress any others, and if it occurs, I will take his or her right back and penalize the oppressor. And until I am the monarch, I will never let anyone take possession of movable and landed properties of the others by force or without compensation. Until I am alive, I prevent unpaid, forced labor. Today, I announce that everyone is free to choose a religion. People are free to live in all regions and take up a job provided that they never violate other’s rights.

No one could be penalized for his or her relatives’ faults. I prevent slavery and my governors and subordinates are obliged to prohibit exchanging men and women as slaves within their own ruling domains. Such a traditions should be exterminated the world over. I implore to Ahura Mazda to make me succeed in fulfilling my obligations to the nations of Iran, Babylon, and the ones of the four directions.”
People often get confused when I refer to myself as being Persian. It is true: to the West a country by the name of Persia officially doesn’t exist since 1935 anymore. In fact it never existed as it was only a term falsely used by the ancient Greeks and Romans – there was a Persian empire (founded by an ethnic Persian) but never a country called Persia. “Persians” always referred to their country as Iran andReza Shah Pahlavi “changed” this country’s name to the correct term of Iran as Persians only represent a mere 50% ethnic majority of all Iranian people.Looking at my family history I’m not quite sure if my ethnic origin is Persian!

So what is it that makes me call myself Persian rather than Iranian?

In general, people, including myself, have many prejudice and stereotypes. When people ask me “So where are you REALLY from?” they deny my Austrian identity and usually want to get an idea about what type of person I am. So depending on what I would reply, usually a stereotype kicks in to tell them: “(Most likely) this is a civilized/good person!” or :”(Most likely) this is a uncivilized/bad person!”

For many years now the term Iran symbolizes associated prejudice and stereotypes like terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and close-mindedness. More recently great associations like anti-Semitism and “The Axis of Evil” were added.

Personally I don’t really identify with that!

2500 years ago a warrior came along who conquered more than half of the then known world to become an emperor over all Iranian ethnic groups and some non-Iranian kingdoms. This man called himself the Shah-in-Shah (king of kings)… a god-like figure. This man truly was a great emperor and a king of kings!

So what is it that made this man so great? What is it that makes me think (apart from being Iranian) that this man was a king of kings?

To my behalf it is not the fact that he conquered half of the then known world. History has shown again and again that barbarians and even people with tiny intelligence have conquered half of the world or become the most powerful political leader.

It was openness that made this emperor great! It was tolerance that made this emperor great! It was a sense of social fairness that made this emperor great!

This man was Kurosh-e Bozorg (Cyrus the Great). The text above has been taken from the Cyrus Cylinder declared by Kurosh. It was buried under the foundations of Babylon to symbolise his empire was built on these foundations. It is interesting: there is a copy of the Cyrus Cylinder at the UN- headquarters in New York and Kurosh perhaps wanted to built some type of United Nations 2500 years ago.

Kurosh was Persian (an ethnic Persian). He was the first of many Iranian emperors to follow a tradition of openness and tolerance throughout Iranian history.

2500 years ago this man declared human rights. 2500 years ago he abolished slave labor (including freeing the Jews from their “Babylonian captivity” – kicking off traditionally good relations with the Jewish people). 2500 years ago this man believed in religious tolerance. 2500 years ago he conquered half of the known world just to let the conquered kings stay in power and their people untouched in their religious beliefs and traditions… only demanding to serve him: the King of Kings!

It is this and many more things that made this emperor great!

So I wonder: when did the Western civilized world first declare and execute human rights? I wonder when did the Western civilized world first abolish slave labor? I wonder when did the Western civilized world first live religious tolerance?

But this text is not at all about who was first or who is better or about the “greatness of the Iranian culture”… I just want to draw the picture of an Iranian perspective. It might not conform to some Western prejudice and stereotypes. In fact, the Western view of Persia and Iran has always been from the “enemy’s perspective” i.e. then the ancient Greeks and Romans and today from the West… a bit biased I would say… and usually the enemy must be bad, philistine and uncivilized… how else should war-propaganda be effective? I believe that the Iranian people and culture have always been wrongly projected to the Western world throughout history.

Anyway, it was not only Kurosh who lived this ideology. Many great emperors, kings, generals and heros like Daryoush (Darius), Khashayar (Xerxes), Ardeshir, Shapur, Anushirvan (Khosrau), Abbas and to some extent even Reza Pahlevi followed. Perhaps the most popular example to the West is Salahuddin Al-Ayyubi (Saladin). It is arguable if he was Iranian as he was a Kurd. But he was born and raised in an area of Persian cultural influence… as many others who where not from the core-land of today’s Iran!

These where emperors and kings who build great universities and libraries with scientific, religious and philosophical texts and scholars from the entire world… trying to unite knowledge. These were emperors who supported intellectual exchange independent of religious, cultural and ethnic background. These were emperors who supported and embraced art and culture from the whole world. These were emperors who imposed human rights, civil laws and some type of a social welfare system (like disability benefits). These were emperors who had a higher goal in mind: Uniting the people of the world in tolerance for peace!

So when we talk about Iran of today in the West we usually don’t associate any of that. When we talk about Iran today many people think of backwarded people and/or the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is true, when we consider only the last 28 years we can make the case that perhaps nothing has remained of the Persian culture of openness and tolerance.

But maybe the government, this regime, doesn’t really represent its people. Maybe the Iranian president doesn’t really represent the Iranian people. In fact, the Mullah-regime repeatedly tries to deny the importance of the “Persian” heritage on Iran… well, it works against their power-structure!

And perhaps it takes more than 28 or 66 years to abandon a cultural heritage that has existed for 2500 years. I don’t see it abandoned when I communicate with Iranians today. And I personally don’t believe that a well-established cultural influence can be abandoned within one generation.

I believe that the majority of Westerners don’t see and know any of this and look down on Iranian people (as on the people of many other ancient high-cultures).

I am Iranian but I consider myself to be Persian… personally I do so not because I think or want to feel like I am better or greater than whoever… I am not! Rather, I, like many Iranians (and non-Iranians) in and outside of Iran today try to be open, live tolerance, embrace cultures and religions and believe in social fairness!

As for the Persian ethnicity: Persians are Iranians like the Azeris, Turks, Balutishis, Gilakis, Kurds, Mazandaris, Turkmens and many more! Furthermore, Iranians have a mix of Greek, Arab, Mongol and Turkish blood as they where conquered by these empires! Therefore, ethnically speaking, there are perhaps no “true Persians” left.

So, for me, to call myself “Persian” is not the reference to an ethnic group. For me, to call myself “Persian” is a reference to a consciousness and a symbol!

Openness and tolerance, liberalism and socialism, cultural and religious diversity!

I was born in Tehran and I lived most of my life in Vienna! I am Iranian and Viennese! I am Asian and European! My “ideology” is Persian!

But most of all, I am a human being of this planet Earth!


Month One

Tehran, Iran

A month ago I’ve arrived in Iran. Things are quite different than I had expected. At the one hand I perceive this country quite differently to what Western media wants to make us believe this country is like. At the other I didn’t plan to stay in Tehran for so long!

After having meet family members including close ones like the daughter of my grandfather’s nice’s nice (I guess that makes me her 2nd or 3rd grade uncle) and my great-grandfather’s nephew I thank god that the majority of my family lives abroad…

So most of these people I met the first two weeks. I’m almost through with my obligatory invitations and visits. Here in Iran the system of these visits/invitations is ritualized and it is an obligation to meet all these people… making some of these events a bit stiff and boring.

But I don’t complain. It was good that I was forced to stay in Tehran for some time. In the meantime I learned to enjoy the city so much that I don’t really want to leave too soon.

I’ve encountered some real good people here (including family members) I can connect to really well.

And I was lucky with my timing to arrive. I experienced Ashura, the 28. Birthday of the Islamic Revolution (these being two of four major yearly events in Iran with the next one coming up in a month) and moreover my best friend had two weeks off just after I finished my first round of obligatory invitations… so we went on a trip.

I love this experience!

At the moment I experience three different worlds. One is my grandmother’s and the world of those who have lost a lot during the revolution… most of all their social status. It is interesting to see how different people around her coped with what had happened then. For her and her friends the revolution was a true trauma, as they had never expected a revolution to the “god-like” king.

Another world I experience is that of Iranian artists. This world is also really interesting as, of course, in a dictatorship artist usually live a life between conforming and rebelling.

And finally, I experience the world of two 20 year old students. This life is real fun. Well, college is supposed to be the best time of your life and these to guys really push it 😉

So over the last four weeks I had a lot of impressions. There are so many that I don’t find time to reflect.

My reflections are mostly on truth and perception, identity, social and cultural influences, socioeconomic and political developments, propaganda and manipulation here as well as in the West, religion, spirituality, human relationships and, of course, love.

So I hope to manage to find the opportunity to share at least a bit of that…


3000 km in a Week

Tehran, Iran

Saturday a week ago I went on a trip with two friends. We hit the road at 4.30 a.m. heading south towards Esfahan. At first we just planned to travel for two days but we enjoyed travelling so much that we extended our trip to a week.

As we had our own car we had the freedom to move on whenever and wherever to. So sometimes we got up early in the morning before sunrise to hit the road and sometimes we decided to move on the very next moment.

We saw a lot but we didn’t particularly travel to see… so most of the time we spent in the car moving on to whereever… enjoying the beauty of nature and life… listening to Hafez, reading Hafez, singingHafez