Thursday, February 28, 2002

IRAN AND US: This has been blogged around a bit but I love that this happened:

It was during Meybodi's show in September 2000 that this story really begins. As always, calls were coming in from across the United States and Western Europe. And then a call came that didn't sound like the others; it clicked weirdly, like an Iranian phone line. The caller said he was in Isfahan, a city in central Iran, and that he was picking up NITV's satellite signal. Meybodi didn't believe him.

''Who am I?'' Meybodi asked.

''I don't know,'' said the caller. ''But I see you on my TV.''

Meybodi still didn't believe him; nobody did. He asked for the caller's phone number and said he would call him back. Still on the air, Meybodi phoned Isfahan, and sure enough the caller picked up. But Meybodi still didn't believe his story.

Meybodi held up an apple on TV.

''What am I holding?'' he asked the caller. Atabay and a few others drifted into the studio.

''An apple,'' the caller said. Now everyone who worked at NITV was in the studio. They were all Iranians; most of them were middle-aged men; most of them had not been home in more than 20 years; most of them assumed that they would never go home. They were not just physically but also imaginatively cut off from their pasts.

Meybodi picked up a pen. ''What am I holding now?'' he asked.

''A pen,'' the caller said.

''When he said it was a pen,'' Atabay says, ''that's when we began to weep.'' Men with faces that looked as if they had been carved from stone broke down and cried, oblivious of the fact that they were on live television.

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