Manima

Two brothers

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If you went to school in Dubai anytime between 1985 and 1995, chances are you’ve at least heard of Mani and Nima. If you have, you already know why they need their own article. If you haven’t, it’s safe to say that your childhood wasn’t as good as it could have been. Polar opposites in almost every way, the Iranian brothers with the comic-book names and equally animated personalities, managed to have one thing in common: they always had something to say about everything and it was usually funny, if not amusingly annoying. Mani was the colorful master storyteller, known as much for his elaborately exaggerated tales of his own and others’ life adventures, as he was for his sporadic, critical rants on everyone else’s view of the world. Nima, on the other hand, was the nonchalant smart ass with the razor sharp wit (and a wisecrack always at the ready), who was the go-to guy for unorthodox advice on life.

We tracked the boys down 10 years later, and they’re all grown up! Mani helps run the family business, constantly traveling between Los Angeles and the Middle East and no doubt picking up fodder for future stories along the way. Nima lives in Brooklyn, New York, running his own business (an online fashion retail site) and studying at NYU part-time for his master’s in business administration. Yup, things have changed, but as we discovered, the brothers still love to sound off about anything and everything, so that’s exactly what we let them do. Lisa asked them to comment on a few topics. Here’s what they had to say.

DubaiLand, “the biggest, most varied, leisure, entertainment and tourism attraction on the planet.” http://www.dubailand.ae

Mani: DubaiLand is going to be the greatest thing ever. I’m sure it will be the biggest and tallest amusement park thing in the world. I really can’t wait to be able to ski in the desert and walk among the dinosaurs, but let’s hope that they don’t stop there and get carried away. God knows my life wont be complete until there is Ferrari Village and Shisha World and Chai Halleeb Universe and midgetland with tiny houses and cars. They should build a giant lake and put replicas of all of Dubai’s islands in it and call it DubaIslandLand.

Nima: Dear Dubai, You are crazy. I went with it for a while, you know. You were like the rich uncle, who had the ill house, and all these fancy cars, and me, I was like, “Hey, what do I care? No sweat off my back! Servant boy, put some petrol in my jet ski!” But seriously, how crazy are you now? I think you are one thousand crazy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m against ski slopes in the desert, or Space Hotels embedded in sand dunes or even raising Dinosaurs from the dead to put in an enclosure. Quite frankly, that shit is so crazy, I almost feel like I came up with the idea myself. I’m just a little confused as to why we even need this thing. Is the idea like “You know what Dubai needs? A place where people can relax!” because last time I checked there was a whole lot of nothing being done by anyone not wearing rags, dangling from half constructed buildings and sweating it out in a heat wave. How about instead of DubaiLand, we make EffortLand and everyone at the beach club can go there after Pilates class to help dig some of those ditches and put up some more orange cones around town?

Palm Island: the eighth wonder of the world.
http://www.palmisland.co.ae

Mani: Is it really this easy to build islands? Dubai is now on its third island project. Let’s see we have Palm 1 and Palm 2 and then of course there is the World Islands. It is only a matter of time before these islands take the form of ocean graffiti. Giant islands that say, “Abdulrahman was here,” or “Satwa G’s for life” will soon be visible from overhead planes. Or let’s make this whole island building thing into a fun game and build a group of connect-the-dots style islands, that way a map of Dubai becomes more than a map; it becomes a pastime where you can connect the offshore islands to form, say, a picture of a camel or a Ferrari, you know, the important things. To help guide planes we can build a group of arrow islands pointing to different countries below which will be island writing saying “Iran 2053 km” or “Bahrain 3429 km.” The possibilities are endless. I can’t wait.

*Nima: Hey, why the hell not? You know what, build 2 of them. Oh, you already did? Fantastic. Build 3, build 5, build a hundred. Cover the whole coast with Palm Islands for all I care. You know what, build a Horse Island, a Falcon Island, a Bedouin Island and a Teapot Island too. That way, when aliens look down at the UAE from space, they’ll know what we’re all about and maybe they’ll want to come visit. Hey, they can always stay in the Space Hotel at DubaiLand and we can charge them double for the “at-home feel” we provide. If they act up, we kill ’em and make some Alien shwarmas and cash in on that too. Damn, you just can’t lose in Dubai… Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!!

See also: http://www.hydropolis.com

US’s plan to turn power over to Iraq

Mani: Why should they turn over the place they just took it over? I think that both Iraq and Afghanistan should both become new states in the good old US of A. They would sort of be like Alaska and Hawaii. I mean what happened to that good old world domination mentality. Wouldn’t America become a better place if part of it was in the Middle East? Then we could look for some mean European countries that are hiding weapons and take them over as well.

Nima: This one time, we woke up on a Saturday morning to find that our sewer had backed up into our basement, which basically means we had about 2 inches of poo water covering the entire floor. Pretty image, I know. So we called our landlord, who in turn called a plumber. Way too long later, this Vin Diesel looking thug-plumber shows up and I’m being Mr. “Let me tell you exactly what’s going on here with our plumbing problem” and he’s being Mr. “I don’t need to listen to you because I have muscles and all this equipment and I’m the best plumber in the world and I already know what’s wrong so get out of my way.” Anyways, thug-plumber gets this giant metal “plumber’s snake” outand starts sticking it waaaaaay down the sewer hole, all the while I’m helplessly trying to explain to him that nothing’s stuck down there and that the sewer just backed up. So finally, the “snake” is all the way down there and he flips a switch that makes the “snake” twist and turn at incredible speeds, and all I see is this flood of the blackest, shittiest water start spilling out of the hole and covering our floor with even more of our neighbors’ turds. Thug plumber suddenly gets really angry at us for giving him too little information and he just throws up his hands and says “I can’t do this, you have to call the city”. Then for some odd reason he just goes and sits in his truck and sulks for about an hour. He comes out of the truck eventually and forces our landlord to pay him and then leaves. So long story short, the plumber got paid, our situation got even shittier, and many, many hours later city workers showed up and fixed everything. In conclusion, me and my roommate = Iraq, poo water = Saddam, thug plumber = Bush, nonexistent thing stuck in sewer = weapons of mass destruction, and city workers = UN. So yeah, Bush, get the hell out of Iraq, you’re a sucky plumber and the shit water is rising.

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Mani’s joke about all Iranian janitors and taxi drivers being the Shah’s first lieutenant in the 60s

Mani: As a group, we Iranians are obsessed with titles. We all seem to want to be important. What we don’t seem to understand is that to gain this we have to have some sort of merit, skill, talent or education. Unfortunately, a lot of us do not have this, so what better way to cover this up than by making it up. There are Iranian janitors and taxi drivers the world over that will swear that when they were in Iran they were not only doctors and lawyers but the best doctors in the hospital and the best lawyers in the country. They will tell you with a straight face that in their former life back home they had penned out new laws and decrees, or swear that as chief surgeon of the main hospital in Tehran they supervised the life saving efforts of a team of subordinate doctors. If you ask them “Well, why are you driving a taxi now or stocking shelves at the local supermarket?” they will say that this country did not allow them to work or give them the same opportunities and so on. Yeah. Uh-huh.

Nima: Hmm, I’m not positive I’ve heard this joke, but it sounds pretty awesome, sorry I missed it (Hey Mani, we should hang out some time, huh?). Anyways, the closest experience I have to this happened last year when my friend Karim came to town and he took a cab from the airport with an Egyptian driver. Right away, the guy tells Karim that he used to be a doctor… a gynaecologist no less! So Karim, who actually is a doctor, starts asking this guy some scientific gynaecological questions, and much to his surprise the driver gets all the questions right! I’m not quite sure what the moral is here, but I think it’s this: “Just because your cab driver can’t speak English, doesn’t mean he’s not a cunning linguist.” I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. I have no class, I know.

Michael Jackson

Mani: What is wrong with this guy, could he be any stranger? It’s as if he is doing all he can to prove to the world that he really is nothing more than a circus freak. What happened to the old Michael, the one from Thriller and Billy Jean and Beat It. The first time I started to realize that something was wrong was the “Bad” video in the subway. That’s when I first thought Michael is looking a little bit special this year and it was all downhill from there. I mean his nose and the hair, how is this acceptable? The only thing that is freakier than Michael are the parents that leave their kids with him, how is this a good idea?

Nima: Everyone’s always talking about how crazy Michael Jackson is. That’s completely untrue. Michael Jackson isn’t crazy, he’s retarded. You know what I mean? It’s not like he’s Hitler-ish, just a little Forrest Gump-ish. So the dude likes climbing trees, playing with monkeys, riding llamas, making his nose tiny and speaking super soft, who the hell cares, let him have a good time. I mean take any retarded kid, give him millions of dollars and complete autonomy in spending it, and see what happens. My bet is: the exact same shit. “Hey, let’s buy a monkey!” says the retard, “Larry Llama need a friend-friend!” See what I mean? Cha’mon people, let’s leave MJ alone. He invented the Moonwalk, damn it, you owe him big time. Am I saying that I don’t think he did naughty things to those little boys? Nope, I’m pretty sure he did it. All I’m saying is: if you tuck your kid into bed with a 40 year old retarded man, switch off the lights and say, “You kids have a good time now, ya hear?” you gotta expect at least some tushy touching and pee-pee showing. It’s standard stuff, really.

The television’s role in the modern day household

Mani: Mmm, television. Television, I love you. I want to grow old with you and watch you with my grandchildren. I can’t imagine my life without you. I knew it was love the first time that I turned you on and felt my brain go numb till drool began to crawl down the side of my mouth. Last week, when I was sad, you soothingly guided me to an episode of The Simpsons and everything was better again, and when I was feeling dumb you shared an episode on the Discovery Channel with me. We have been through a lot together, like the season finale of Friends (thank God that Ross and Rachel will finally be happy together) and Seinfeld. You were there with me the time MacGyver almost didn’t make it, when Gilligan finally got home, when Bart won the elephant on the radio, when Lucy and Ricky went to Hollywood and when JR got shot. Don’t ever leave me, I love you.

Nima: I love television. The second I wake up, I turn on the TV just in case I missed something when I was sleeping. The second I get home from work, I turn on the TV just in case I missed something when I was working. If I’m home alone, I’ll turn on the TV in the living room and the TV in my bedroom, so just in case I have to get up and do something, I don’t miss anything. And please don’t get all new-agey on me with that “TV rots your brain” crap. TV doesn’t rot your brain, you’re just stupid. Not only is it not a brain-rotter, I think TV is the most effective educator we have. Have you ever noticed how kids won’t listen in class, but they’ll watch National Geographic underwater movies and be glued to the screen on some “this fish is crazy” shit? You know why that is? It’s because school is taught by former nerdy folk who never watched TV. They’re boring and they don’t know how to keep people captivated. You have no idea how many times I’ve been sitting in my grad school classes wishing MTV would just make a show about Global Macroeconomics, so I would get what the hell the drone at the front was talking about. There would be lots of fast cuts, visual effects, hot chicks holding charts and examples like “Yo, check it, if 50 Cent sold mad albums his first week and you were a record store owner, would you restock or what?” And I would say, “Hell yeah, I would restock, biaaaaaatch!”

The best vacation ever

Mani: I’m going to have to get sentimental here. The best vacation I ever had was when I went to climb Mt. Elbrus in Russia, with some friends and then flew to Norway and drove with my girlfriend to different cities across its coast. There is not enough space to tell all of it so here are the highlights: 1. Watching a thunderstorm from our camp on the mountain where lighting was striking at least 25 times a minute. 2. Getting to fly Siberian Airlines. 3. Red Square. 4. St. Basils Cathedral. 5. Being so high up on the mountain that although it was night where we were, I could still see places in the distance that were sunlit. 6. The feeling of being so disconnected. 7. The humbling effects of altitude. 8. Midnight sun. 9. Eating fresh-caught shrimps. What can I say, I’m a lucky guy.

Nima: For the millennium, we were in Dubai and some friends and I somehow got ourselves on to some important person’s private island. It was all pretty amazing. All my friends were there and we had this whole island to ourselves to ride John Deeres and jet skis on. It was so beautiful and the ocean was so aqua. Anyways, I was never really into the whole private island scene before that, but I could definitely go for one now. So if you’ve got a private island, holla at yo’ boy! You bring the island, I’ll bring the handsome.

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Hairy or not hairy

Mani: This is simple: hairy man good, hairy woman bad.

Nima: I don’t 100% hate being hairy, but really, what’s the point? I mean, why exactly do I NEED back hair? Am I in dire need of some insulation in the dorsal area? Nah, I’m feeling pretty warm, thanks. I’ll tell you what really creeps me out though: it’s that chest hair that flows over your t-shirt collar like a mini follicle fountain (Mani, you know something about this, right?) That’s my least favorite, followed by shoulder hair and ass hair? That’s just inappropriate I think. The real clincher here though is that I’m probably gonna go bald on my head and get even hairier on my body. Nice joke, God… real nice. I feel like I’m going to be forced to pull my back skin all the way over the top of my head just to have a hairstyle.

Arranged marriages

Mani: Hey, if it wasn’t for arranged marriages, fat hairy bald women with limps would never be able to get married. The entire circus freak industry was born out of the inbreeding that occurs from arranged marriages. Come on people, how many generations do cousins have to get married before their offspring have problems breathing and walking at the same time? But hey, if you think your cousin’s hot, tell your parents, I’m sure they’ll hook you up.

Nima: I used to really be against the idea of arranged marriages but the older I get, the more I’m for them. I mean, you eventually learn that all girls are pretty much crazy, so you probably have the same odds of getting along with one that you choose as you do with one that your grandma chooses. Plus, Middle Eastern families are pretty shallow, so at the very least you’re guaranteed a hot wife that comes from a rich family. Once you’ve got that down, you’ve got a whole lifetime to teach her to appreciate the Wu-Tang Clan and The Simpsons.

The state of Dubai in 10 years

Mani: 10 years from now Dubai will have the biggest and tallest anything in the world from the biggest man-made islands to the tallest buildings. The city will be full of strange architecture and will have so many islands that you could drive to Iran via bridge. Once the land and sea have been conquered we will build Stiltland, a giant city in the sky, and Undergroundland which will have buildings so tall that they stick out of the surface. The new mall will be so big that you will need a visit visa, but no one will come. No one.

Nima: In 10 years, Dubai will actually be the world’s biggest coffee shop and the flag will change to the Starbuck’s logo. People will wear miniature models of their cars as hats so other people know how rich they are at all times. Jumeirah 12 will be the new Jumeirah 1 and only poor people will live in the Emirates Towers. They’ll run out of cool license plate numbers, so the use of negative numbers in license plates will be legalized. I will live on Teapot Island and everyone will continue to think that they are rich because they are smart, not lucky.