Driving with crutches

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crutchesI am visiting my dad in Mashhad, in Iran. The presidential election campaigns here are at their peak, ahead of voting on Friday. These include several live TV debates. Last night my friend Hamed Zaghaghi (a talented programmer, and one of the few free software advocates in Iran) asked if I wanted to go to one of the rallies for Karroubi, and to watch the debate on a makeshift, large-screen TV. I was happy to get out of the house for a bit. He introduced me to his friend, Babak, who was driving. Like all Iranians he is a pretty zippy driver. I noticed at times the car would jerk a bit as if there was a major problem with the engine. But he casually assured me that it was because “the plaster kept getting caught in the pedals”. This was hardly a reassurance. Babak had pulled a tendon in his foot, moutain climbing, and had a big chunk of plaster around his ankle!! When he got out of the car, he hobbled around with two under-arm crutches. No wonder Iran has one of the world’s highest rates of car accidents!!

Anyway, all the young of the city were on the road screaming for their choice. Mousavi is by far the favorite, at least amongst the vocal. We watched Ahmadinejad go head to head with Karroubi. Both made accusations of corruption and profiteering (but indirectly, with perfect Iranian politeness!), which went unanswered. So no clear winner. But there were cheers every time Karroubi scored a point.

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