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A Bit of Iranian Know-How for Semana Santa




Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Long before San (saint) Obama’s time and the recent thaws, I recall sitting at a café in one of the posher neighbourhoods of northern Tehran. Heavy snow still sat up above us on the Alborz mountains, its run off rushing by between the towering green trees that lined the streets that snaked downhill towards the jungle of that huge city. Like now, spring was just around the corner. Young people sat all around us smoking quaylans and drinking tea, unsuccessfully trying to conceal the fact that there was more going on than tea drinking. Religiously obligatory head scarves miraculously clung from the very backs of the heads of the heavily made up young women while the young men pushed the limits of the acceptable length of hair that they could wear. True, they were afraid that the dreaded religious police, the Ershad, might catch them...but that only added to the thrill. Years later, now back in the home of the Enlightenment, old Europe, I recently read that those very same young people have come up with an app that would help detect exactly where the defenders of the islamic regime were stalking. Users point out the location of the morality police and those with jeans that are a bit too tight know when to move on. With Semana Santa (Holy Week) upon us, I wonder if Caceres couldn’t use an app like this. Even the most fervent procession goer can’t say exactly when a procession will eventually pass by and for those of us simply trying to walk home, something like this just make commuting home that much easier or at least save everyone the unfortunate confrontations with the pious who mistakenly believe that their front row spot is being usurped as you cut through. The beating of the drums and the blaring of the horns can let you know when the totering Christs and Virgins are in the area, but exactly where? An app just might be the answer. And if it could save a local from having to take an unexpected detour around the whole old town in order to bring home the groceries, imagine the pains it could save the unknowing tourists. Imagine them finally finding a table, getting the kids settled in and plopping down in expectation of that first cold beer with a little pincho only to be rudely evicted from their cherished seats on the terraces as frantic owners try to avoid the curiously high six thousand euro fine for not removing the tables and chairs before the coned hats march by.

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