Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ishafahan/ Eshfahan

FAQ #8: Will you be able to access your email? Do they even have Facebook?

A: I am noticing that none of the questions I am presenting here have a straight-forward answer. It is always "Yes/ No but..." This was not by design. I think it is more a result of the complicated reality for the Persian people. Their lives are lived with an asterisk. There is the official line and then there is the reality and the two can vary wildly.

With regards to the internet, it is available (except for when its not) but many sites, Facebook included, are restricted. One of the most baffling things for me was the capriciousness of the restrictions.  I expected social media sites (ie Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) to be blocked, particularly a month before a presidential election, and they were.  However, Whatsapp and Skype were available.  I was sure the NY Times would be blocked.  Yet as I sipped my morning tea, I was able to read an article about the clerics' marginalization of President Ahmadinajad.  When I tried to access ESPN to check on the Heat playoffs, it was blocked.  I could go to the Miami Herald site to get the scores, but if I wanted to read the neighboring publication, the Sun-Sentinal, that was blocked.  This blog right here- the one you are reading at this very moment- blocked. Hotmail-not blocked.

BUT,  none of this means a whole lot since everyone has found their way to a proxy server, which essentially makes it appear that they are logging on from somewhere other than Iran (don't ask me how this works, I don't know and I don't care.  We can chalk it up to magic and I'm ok with that). All I know is that I went to an internet cafe and had the guy that worked there log me onto Facebook.  Judging by the pop-up ads and the weather reports I was getting, this computer thought that I was in Santa Barbara, CA. The end result is that through a proxy server, you can log on to any site you'd like to. Although the connections were painfully slow, I was still able to periodically check in and see what my friends had eaten for lunch and who had reached what level on Candy Crush. Priorities are important.