by Babak Jalali
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Gorgan, a little village on the Iranian border with Turkmenistan. In this arid, almost deserted area four men live in solitude and expectation. Alam, twenty-eight, is Turkish and lives with his father. He works at a poultry farm, but spends all his free time with his Walkman, trying to learn English. This is because he wants to ask Ana to marry him and take her to Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, where he believes everyone speaks in English. Since his mother abandoned him to go and live in Paris, Hassan, also twenty-eight, has lived with his uncle, a man who sells clothes that never fit anyone. His only companion is a donkey that he feeds on newspapers, and his main activity is stealing car licence plates. At fifty-five, a minstrel becomes the subject of a book of photographs. Constantly trailed by a bunch of kids, he spends his time bewailing the fact that his wife was kidnapped by a shepherd in a green Mercedes. Life for these four individuals passes slowly, lulled by a daily routine in which hope has almost entirely disappeared, even though the odd glimmer might appear.