My dear friend Ava writes a blog in Farsi in Tehran. As I have pointed out in my interviews everywhere, amongst other things- Iran has the worlds largest, most meaningful and active blogospheres-alive with profound thoughts and everyday experiences of living within a theocracy. Ava and I talk a lot and she and I have connected in so many special ways because of 'Jihad'. I will now begin to share with all of you some of her blog entries from Tehran. This is a remarkable Iranian woman writing regularly from the Tehran of 2008. Please post comments and I will forward them on to her. So I am very happy and excited to introduce all of you to this new and hopefully continuing blogger-these are words from one of the smartest, and most attractive ; ) Iranian women I know and yes she does live in Tehran-the capital of that nation- so many fail to understand and love to demonize.
AVA WILL BE BLOGGING FROM TEHRAN REGULARLY here on the Jihad Blog.
BLOG ENTRY 1
- Ss….( unclear sound out of boredom and ignorance)
The Iranian officer in passport control at Imam Khomeini’s airport made that sound when I said hi and put my passport on his desk. He avoided any eye contact until he wanted to check if the photo in my passport conforms with me. He stamped the passport and put it on his desk and turned his face away.
I loved to tell him that this is my homeland country as is his and he had no right to frown at me instead of welcoming me just because he feels superior by wearing that uniform and sitting behind that desk. But I swallowed my words.
The concierge of my building was happy to open the door for me in middle of the night. The poor old man who lives 70 km away from the city and his salary is only 150 $ per month was the first one to smile at me. I wonder how on earth he could manage to feed his family with that little sum of money!
The next morning when I saw my car in the parking place I didn’t recognize it. My car was shining! The Afghani boy who works as a cleaner in the building together with one of my neighbors had washed my car. My telephone and electricity bills which were more than 100 $ were temporarily paid by the other neighbor of the first floor! The one with a religious wife, whose face was always covered behind her black Chador, knocked my door and gave me a nice welcome with fresh bread first thing in the morning. It’s amazing that with all the economical and social crises that people are facing in their daily life, the culture as well as relations have still remained strong.
Unfortunately apart from the people the rest of life in Tehran is not that pleasant. For the first few days it was difficult to drive in Tehran. Not only because of too many cars and heavy traffic, but also because of difficulty to adjust myself again with the driving style of Tehran, though the style is very simple: no rules! I wish disciplinary forces had made tight rules over driving instead of women’s outfit. It’s unbelievable that moral Police forces are standing at every corner of this big city under a 40 degree heat to check out women’s dress code while this crazy driving manner is out of control.
Electricity goes off once or twice a day each time 2-3 hours, even in banks or hospitals. Inflation has affected everything: 30% on rice, 20% on dairy products, 30 % on rent and so on…
I remembered when I wanted to pay the departure tax at the airport before leaving the country; I asked the guy why the fee was always changing? And he replied: “Do you guys expect me to answer all your questions with 200 $ (Tuman) salary per month? Instead of getting angry I got embarrassed and sad.
However the TV anchor woman, while being, happy to be shown on the TV is giving a report of the new agriculture method in Zimbabwe, unemployment in The States or the bus that was off the road and caused 17 injuries in a far corner of New Zealand. I’d love to tell her how I felt about her but again I swallowed my words. Later on when she reported on the scientists’ latest discovery of Apes cells in Tanzania my words were blurted out.
Later at night I was lying down on the couch and watching the State TV proud report on Olympic opening ceremony and the presence of our athletes, although all the girls and the so-called nudity shots were cut out of the scene. How proud we are!
I was turning like a pancake on the couch, a few minutes on my back and then on my stomach. I asked myself: How does it feel being back home after a while? Home? Where is home? I remembered this little poem:
What bridge in which part of the world has broken?
That no one reaches home.
BLOG ENTRY 2
-“Is your pass card still valid?”
I said yes to the security woman and placed my bag under the X-ray to be checked.
-“May I see it?”
I nodded with confident, took the bag and put my hands into my purse to grab the card while hiding my fingernails from her. Although the security room was dark, I kept my sunglasses on to make sure she can not see that I’m wearing mascara.
I showed her my card as quick as possible but before putting it back in my purse she said:
“Oh, do you have nail polish?”
-“No, this is just a varnish! As you can see there’s no color.” I said.
-“But I see the shining, you are not allowed to get into the building like this. It surprises me that after 20 years of work in here that you still want to round the rules.” She said with a big smile on her face while smelling like fried sweet onion.
After a brief discussion, she gave me a pad and nail-polish remover. I removed it and left the room, heading towards my own department.
This is how I entered the State Television building yesterday.
My colleagues were watching a live report on an Iranian wrestler in the Olympic Games when I entered the room full of anger and hatred. When the Iranian athlete lost the game, some shouted and cursed him and some got happy and said: “Yeah…, we don’t deserve it…the government doesn’t give a damn about the sports or sportsmen, but now when it comes to the Olympic Games they want to be proud of their gold medals!” One of them said: “They had even censored the report, because the Chinese girl walking along with the athletes to the ground was wearing a short skirt.”
I was surprised to see my colleagues criticizing everything from head to toe so openly. Everyone was aggressively complaining about the 20 to 30% inflation on daily costs without caring about the security man who was walking through the corridor. I was imagining how Dutch people would react if suddenly facing some 30% inflation rather than their 4%? The big difference, at least, would be their permission to react!
Instead of welcoming me back home, my colleagues asked: “Couldn’t you have stayed there? Why did you come back?”
The hot subject for chatting in the office was the fake honorary doctorate certificate of the new Minister of Interior from Oxford University which was reported in the website of a conservative parliament member.
Late in the afternoon, I paid a visit to my bank, the electricity was cut and 38 people were ahead of me waiting to be served if electricity comes back before the end of official working hours. Before leaving the bank, I received a message which was awfully appropriate for the situation: Blackouts always remind us of four people: Edison’s mother and father, and our president’s mother and sister!!!
On my way back home, when waiting for the green light, I saw a little boy asking people to buy his flowers. I told him: “It’s hot, do you want me to get an ice-cream for you?” He replied: “I’m not a beggar, I need to work and make 7000 tumans (7$) a day”. My heart shrank.
When I got home, I turned on my computer to check that website and the articles about the fake certificate. After half an hour dealing with the super-slow dial-up connection, the webpage popped up but the website was filtered. I tried to visit the other websites: BBC Persian and YOU TUBE were filtered. I even checked my Face Book account and realized that it was filtered too. And that was the moment for repeating my favorite Dutch phrase for 10 times: “God ver doma.”
Later at night, when watching “Sex and the city” TV series on my DVD player which I had borrowed it from my friends, there was a sudden blackout. I lit a candle and laid on my couch, thought how gezilig is my life in Tehran! I grabbed my mobile to chat with a friend and kill the time. I dialed the number but there was the same old voice saying: “The network is busy!” I dialed again and there was another familiar phrase: “This recipient is not in the coverage area.” I dialed again only to hear that: “The connection canceled, please try again later.”I took the telephone and dialed my own mobile number to check if it was working, but it said: “This number does not exist in the network.”