The Odyssey
The Odyssey


Middle East Live Chats

Chat Transcript - April 13, 2000
Thursday, April 13 at 9am PST / 12 noon

Welcome to The Odyssey Live Chats! Our next chat will be from Iran on on Thursday, April 13 - 9am PST/ 12 noon EST. Trekkers Monica and Kavitha will be joined by several students in Tehran, Iran.

-- Bejan Sepanji, Age 17. He is a senior in High School

-- Ahmed Sepanji, Age 19. He is a freshman at Sanati Sharif University

-- Farnoz Housseni, Age 19. She is a freshman at Melli.e. Iran University

-- and possibly other, younger students...

You can submit questions before the chat and we'll hold onto them for you!

<Monica> Greetings to you all from Tehran, Iran, where we'll be starting the chat with our students shortly!!!

<Moderator> Good Morning, Afternoon, and Evening! The Odyssey welcomes you all!! The trekkers and our Iranian guests are getting geared up for our chat today and will be ready to answer questions soon!

<Moderator> Greetings, once again. We are ready to go ahead with the first question. Right now, we are being joing by Monica, Jasmine, Ahmed, and new addition, Amir Reza, a 16 year old from Ghasvin, Iran.

<Shelbey (Denver, CO)> We've heard about Persian hospitality. Can you tell us how to make a simple Persian food?

<Ahmad> It isn't all that easy. I can't find the English equivalent for the ingredients, but one easy alternative is the kebab, which is well-known for all. Minced meat manipulated with a fair amount of onions, salt, and spices as desirable.

<Edwin> One simple food this. YOu can add some water to yogurt, and some vegetables like basil or cilantro.

<Moderator> Our chat now has two new guests, Edwin, 24 years old, and Katayoun, 20 years old.

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> We have bears, hawks, coyotes, possums, racoons, squirrels around our school. What kind of animals are indiginoues to your area in Iran?

<Edwin> One animal is the cat. It is very famous here. Only cats, in all the streets of Tehran....and maybe mice (-:

<Ahmad> Our university is in the city center and thus we are unable to see such exotic creatures as the ones you mentioned

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> We have a lot of flowers blooming right now. We have Palm Trees and fruit trees in our area. What kinds offlowers and trees do you have in Iran?

<Ahmad> Ahmad: Fig, oak, fir and beech trees

<Edwin> We have pistachio. In the south of Iran, there are date trees.

<Katayoun> Cyprus trees, palm trees, all types of cherries, and cranberries, peaches, and berries. Lots of berries, like toots which are yummy.

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> The symbols for America are the Bald Eagle and the America n Flag. What are the symbols for Iran?

<Edwin> In the past, it was a lion with the sun behind it, when the shah were in power. The lion has a sword in his hand. But now it is the sign of Allah, written in Arabic, with a special symbol, which is placed on the flag of Iran, at the center. The flag is Red, white, and green.

<Heather Barnes (Soddy Daisy Tn)> Why does the Muslim religion require women to wear veils over their face ?

<Edwin> I must say that they are not on their face, just on their head and their hair. It is an Islamic law, it is the religion.

<Katayoun> The Muslim religion does not require women to wear veils over their faces. They are, however, required to have their hair covered.

<Ahmad> It's not exactly over the face. And the question better be asked from a theologian or religious cleric. I personally don't see much of a philosophy behind this.

<Katayoun> It is a man run society and this is what the man wants women to do. The Koran does not say that women have to wear veils. It says that women must be covered and that is then interpreted in different ways.

<Diana Leon (Pasadena Tx USA)> What do you do in your free time ,are there any fun things to do?

<Ahmad> I go mountain climbing in the Darband, Darakeh, Tochal which are mountains positioned towards the north of Tehran.

<Edwin> Not much, but we do sports. Everything. Swimming, soccer, or riding bicycles, walking, going to the mountains, going to the movies. But of course we have not dancing or discos.

<Katayoun> My favorite pass times are going to family gatherings. Family is important. We do a lot of things together, like going to picnics, going hikinig, and watching movies.

<Sara (New York, NY)> What are the most popular internet sites at cybercafes in Iran. Do young people have their own email addresses in Iran.

<Edwin> YEs I have an e-mail address in Yahoo. Because I am a computer science student, my favorite sites are technical sites like, and other sites where I can learn more about computer science.

<Ahmad> I enjoy visiting, just to check the reviews. Very good books and reviews but unfortunately we aren't privileged to have access to them. Because of not being part of the WTO (officially). It depends if young people have their own email address. This issue is normally mentioned in the capital, Tehran. Access to the internet is more frequent here as opposed to the provinces, yet in the capital, only a small percentage of the population have any knowledge about the Internet, which is fortunately increasing. What is internet access like for you?

<Katayoun> Not too many young people have email in Iran. It has only been here for a few years and is not popular with young people yet. It is still new and is very expensive.

<Danny Boy St.Pius V (Pasadena,TX)> If you were to go to a country what country would you go to?

<Edwin> I am Armenian, but I was born in Iran. My family has been here 300 years. So, naturally I want to go back to Armenia. I was there in 1988. I want to ask you how much you know about Armenia.

<Katayoun> I would love to come to America. And I would bve interested in the United kingdom as well.

<Ahmad> I'd prefer the US because I've seen a bit of Europe: England, Denmark, Germany, Holland, France... I think there's a lot to be seen in North America: a different culture and more straightforwardness

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> What kinds of movies do you watch?

<Edwin> In our cinema, there is only family movies. 90 percent are from Iran, and the others are from everywhere else in the world.

<Katayoun> We usually don't go to movies outside. We usually only see movies at home. Most of them are religious movies about religious figures, like Emam Ali. that was very popular. Theer was a serial about him that everyone watched.

<Ahmad> I don't like action movies. I like the ones that have a touch of sophistication in them.

<PCMS (Hertford, NC)> Can you drive in Iran? if you can..what is the legal drving age?

<Katayoun> Stiall about the movies.... The Emam Ali serial was a six month long series that ran once a week. There are also movies about important events in the past and poets, and other historical figures. They want to make people proud of the fact that they have such a rich past.

<Edwin> Yes of course. We can drive when we are 18.

<Kelsey Stockburger (Soddy Daisy, Tennessee)> How old do you have to be to get married?Also how old do you have to be to have to cover your head?Does everyone have black hair and dark skin that lives there?

<Ahmad> It depends on the province where people reside. And all variations of dark, light, blond hair and skin. In the northern regions of Iran, people normally have light-colored hair and skin. And in the south, they tend to dark hair and skin.

<Katayoun> The age of marriage has gone up. It used to be something like 16 for women and 19 for men. But now it is around 23 for women and 27 for men.

<Edwin> With laws in Iran you must be maybe 16 to get married. For girls, maybe 9. For girls to cover their head, it is also nine. But here, in our city, you have girls maybe 15 or 16 not covered. Of course, this is Islamic law, so I don't know very exactly, because I am a Christian. Yes, people here have dark hair and skin.

<Katayoun> Little girls have to cover their heads by age nine.

<Brian Green/Josh Ward (Soddy-Daisy,TN)> Do you have fast food places? DO you also have malls and department stores?

<Katayoun> And when you go to elementary school, at age 7, you have to cover your head. But not in the black, they wear white.

<Edwin> Yes, we have it. I was in Kish, an island in the Persian Gulf, where there are many of these stores.

<Ahmad> Fast food places are not very popular. People prefer to go and sit somewhere and have their food. Yeah, we have malls and department stores which have opened just recently. There are certain regions in Tehran which are famous for buying clothes or electrical appliances.

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> We have more and more technical careers in the United States now. What kinds of jobs are there in Iran for students to aspire to?

<Ahmad> Technical jobs are coming more frequently as Iran is developing industrially and economically. Electrical engineering is a popular subject to study. Unfortunately, humanities aren't all that popular. Families prefer to send their kids to study sciences and engineering.

<Katayoun> Everyone wants to be an engineer or a doctor. However, being a pilot is very popular with the young people as well.

<Edwin> maybe teaching computer science or programming computers is the most popular. This is what I hope for.

<Kelsey Stockburger (Soddy Daisy, TN)> Is Islam the only religion allowed in Iran?

<Edwin> No, no no! As I said, I am a Christian. And there are other religions in Iran, like Zoroastrianism. But the main religion is Islam.

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> We have the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and many more national parks. Does Iran have a national park system and if so what are the names of the parks?

<Katayoun> There are a number of beautiful national parks in Iran, like Mellat Park, Jamshedeh Park, and Golestan.

<Edwin> Iran has National Parks. One is the Gulestan National Park. It is in the center, north of Iran, and there are many animals that are protected from humans there, such as a type of Iranian Lion.

<Katayoun> My favorite is Sysangan because it is near the Caspian Sea and behind it is the Alborz Mountains. It is surrounded by natural beauty with lots of wild animals.

<St. Patrick School (Carlsbad, CA)> Americans travel a lot. Could you tell us why we should visit Iran?

<Edwin> You can see an Eastern Country with all of it's exciting things, such as very old archetecture like Taght e-Jamshid. This is a country with 4 seasons, that is not so big as Russia, but it has four different seasons, all year. In other words, you can see an integrated world in only one country, you can visit all different climates in Iran.

<Katayoun> Iran is a land with great history, lots of historical monuments, like Persepolis, a city that is 2500 years old. Iran has a great climate near the Caspian Sea...

<Ahmad> The people in Iran are a very generous and hospitable bunch. Especially towards foreigners, no matter what nationality.

<Katayoun> and by the Persian Gulf it is hot but nice at the same time.

<Katayoun> We would love for you to come and visit Iran so you can decide for yourselves and not judge Iran by what the government would tell you.

<Moderator> Well, that's all of time we have for today. Thanks to everyone--the teachers and student, Monica, Jasmine, and our new Iranian friends--for joining us. Please join us for our next chats from India (dates to be announced)!!!!!

<Jasmine> We thank you for joining us! I hope you enjoyed this chat and learned as much as we did!

<Katayoun> We hope to see you in Iran some day! You are welcome with open arms here!

<Monica and Ahmad> Thanks for joining us!! We appreciate your questions. Please email Monica for questions for Ahmad, if you have any more. Thank you!!!

<Abeja and Edwin> It was nice to meet you even if only over the internet! Good-bye for now!!!

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