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Conversation with Grandma after Iran’s elections

June 14, 2009

Some 48 hours following the stress and distress of the Iranian election results, a chat with my most trusted news source for inter-Iranian affairs: my grandmother. The force of right-wing populism didn’t die with Bush the Second. (My translation from original Persian.)

What on earth is going on in Tehran?
It was pretty quiet until the election results came in. It’s true that everyone was riled up and engaged in shouting matches at the voting stations — your grandfather voted for Mousavi but it took him 2 or 3 tries, it was so crowded — but it was run fairly.

What about you?
Well, there were 180 candidates. I figured, why should only 4 be given a chance to run? I didn’t vote in this election. It was illegitimate in my eyes. You can be illegitimate and fair at the same time.

How did the debates affect the outcome of the election?
They had a huge effect. First of all, personally speaking, I’ve watched every single debate, talk and analysis in nearly every waking hour since this all started. I go to bed at 1am or 2 am most nights.

There was a before and after effect for a lot of people. Before the debates, Mousavi had a strong chance, at least in Tehran. But it was like a see-change. After the debates, a lot of people who were going to vote for Mousavi came out for Ahmadinejad. A lot of people.

Because of Mousavi’s Rafsanjani connection. And you have to understand something. [Ahmadinejad] sways people. He says certain things — he says certain truths. He is not a thief. He is a horrible, horrible person, but he is not a thief. He says things directly.

So did Ahmadinejad rig the election? Did he steal 15 million votes?
He didn’t steal them. Yes, Mousavi won Tehran. But what about the provinces? We don’t have too few of them. Ahmadinejad went to the provinces and reached out to the poor. People there still worry about buttering their bread. He went to every single one.

But some candidates didn’t even win their own districts.
Yes. [Candidate] Rezai is from Ahvaz. But he barely won there. That tells you something about how the campaigns were run.

You have to be wackily smart to pull this off.
[Ahmadinejad]’s extremely smart. But unfortunately not a thief. Iran is not Tehran, Tehran isn’t even the size of the eye of the needle.

Every single countryside, province, Ahmadinejad had them. He was self-made in this election, he worked for four years holding babies and making visits to the countrside. You could have predicted these results.

There’s some interior cities that I haven’t even heard of. Zarak or Darak or something like that? He’d already been there.

What about all the communication breakdowns? Internet and cell phones…
There’s a certain amount of communication break anytime there’s a huge event or disappointment like this: All the telephone calls made outside and inside the country shut down the lines. If there was foul play different ministries could be to blame. Ahmadinejad is not omnipotent. It’s not like he has the power to shut everything down. He’s too damn smart to do that anyway.

From the outside, Mousavi seemed very popular for the past few weeks.
But how would a country bumpkin (dehati) know Mousavi? Ahmadinejad worked on himself for four years. His cranium’s been working since the beginning. I was really shocked anyone voted for him four years ago. But this year I wasn’t surprised at all, he showed himself as an honest, simple person, as incredible as that seems. The television images of his house show him growing greenery (sabzi) and tending chickens in his house.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Corbeil permalink
    June 18, 2009 02:36

    Interesting article, however, is it true or fiction? If it’s fiction, then “good try”, and “you could’ve (possibly) fooled me”, say; while if it’s true, then fine woman is the one interviewed.

    So, which is it? The question bears asking because it’s simply too easy, [elementary], to come up with such Q&A scenarios. Elementary level Q&A’s really happen, but it’s also easy to fabricate them.

  2. southissouth permalink
    June 18, 2009 03:29

    Mike, if you are new to this site, I often run ‘Conversation’ pieces that are real-life, nearly totally verbatim accounts that I later post because of their perceptive or analytical value.

    The conversation with my grandmother is verbatim (as fast as my fingers could type). The translation edits I made were few (punctuation, orthography). She really said ‘chickens’ twice. I didn’t pre-fabricate questions, as you phrased it, but called to gauge her barometer about things, because her eyes and ears are glued to events, and she is the most b.s.-free person I know. It almost instantly became a ‘Conversation’ piece (with the addition of my own questions, which occurred in that exact ‘elementary’ sequence).

    And yes, she’s quite a fine woman.


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