posted on July 03, 2009 08:06
In Iran in 2006 I made the acquaintence of band leader Raam E - I never worked out his full name and wouldn't write it here in any case. Raam was fanatically into Brit bands like the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand - the latter's work he perfected and played with his own group around town.
I've not been able to track him down lately - last I heard he got a tour in west-coast USA in 2008 via friends met on CouchSurfing, that brilliant website bringing travel-minded friends together worldwide. But I've been thinking of him while reading an article in the South China Morning Post about two musicians featured in an underground film - aren't all interesting Iranian films - shown at Cannes this year. The film is No One Knows About Persian Cats, the filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi (yes, boyfriend of recently released US journalist Roxana Saberi, who co-scripted the film), and the musicians Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad. The duo, girl and guy respectively, fled Iran for London, using fake passports.
I'm always telling people that Iran is my favourite travel destination: the culture, the history, the friendly people who invite you for tea and talk about the world for hours. There's plenty of great modern art and design happening in Iran, but, as the SCMP article suggested, it's gotten much harder to make alternative art under the Ahmadinejad regime. For example, women can't sing solo in public, and those who can are leaving the country. Sounds awfully like pre and post 1989 China. I'm going to try once again to get in touch with Raam and hear how it's been, playing Franz Ferdinand in Tehran.More ...