25 Jan 2007, 3:31am
Nostalgia
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Virtual Iran

My father was in town a few days ago, helping me move to a new place. I hadn’t seen him in over a year and it was good just to sit and talk again. Over a few games of backgammon, he caught me up with what family and friends were up to. My hometown of Kermanshah is changing considerably, with old houses being torn down to make way for new ones. The old chicken farm that once was a good 45-minute drive from town is now slowly being engulfed by these new houses. The town that I grew up in exists only in my memory.

Thinking about the old places we had lived, I asked my dad for the proper spelling of the small university town we had lived in, Molasani. Some of the earliest memories of my life are from that town; it was located near the Karun River in the south of Iran, a short distance from the border with Iraq and not that far from the Persian Gulf. I still remember the blue skies criss-crossed with traces of jet fighters early in the Iran-Iraq War, and the refugees that lived in our driveway for a few months before we moved to Tehran.

I had searched for Molasani multiple times with no luck, and thought maybe I had remembered the name wrong. It turns out that no one called the town by that name except the people who lived there, as it was, after all, really just a handful of houses for agriculture professors, about an hour away from Ahvaz. But I had always wanted to see the town again and I visited right then with my dad beside me, albeit virtually.

You might have used Google Maps for driving directions, but you can view most of the Earth using its satellite option (or see it in 3D via Google Earth). We found Molasani and then Kermanshah, and my mom’s old house in Tehran, and the summer house we’d stayed in at the Caspian Sea… Before I knew it, two hours had passed and we had traveled all over Iran.

While Google Maps is good at finding big cities like Tehran, they don’t have everything, and this is where Wikipedia comes in. Search for any major Iranian town and look for the link to the coordinate page (sometimes it’s in the upper right hand corner, sometimes at the start of the article). There are even interactive maps, on which people have labeled their local hangouts, like the one made by Sharif University students (unfortunately, I lost that link). Clicking on the coordinates in Wikipedia takes you to a page of map sources (here’s one for Tehran), which connects you to dozens of other sites to create your virtual journey.

One more tip: Just make sure you are on a broadband connection, as waiting on a modem line to download each square can be more painful than the customs questions in Iran.

[Editor’s note: We’re very happy to have Asad as our first contributing writer ever. Do you want to write for Pars Arts? Send us an email with your story idea: editor-AT-parsarts.com.]

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yaaaay for contributors! congratulations, Pars Arts, for casting ever-wider, ever-louder voices over the internet!!!

 

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