For Iranians in Los Angeles, Exile Feels Unusually Like Home

November 3, 2003

Source: The New Yorker

On November 3, 2003, Iranian-American author Tara Bahrampour wrote in The New Yorker that "the L.A. area is home to the largest Iranian community outside Iran. (The number of Iranians in the greater metropolitan area falls somewhere between a hundred thousand and six hundred thousand, depending on which source you choose to believe.) The city has Iranian Republican clubs, Iranian Rotary clubs, and Iranian night clubs; Iranian bank tellers, Iranian insurance agents, and even a few Iranian homeless people. For a time, Westlake Village had an Iranian mayor, and two Iranians recently ran for governor. Like Tehran, L.A. is a mountain-ringed, traffic-plagued, smog-filled bowl, where Iranian retirees putter in gardens and wait at bus stops. For exiles living elsewhere, visiting the city can feel as it might for an American who, coming across a U.S. military base in a strange land, suddenly finds himself awash in Kraft Singles and Lynyrd Skynyrd records. It can be comforting, but it can also be suffocating."