George Clooney winks in Tehran...and Ava gets her US visa ; )

Ava writes again, and thanks everyone for making her entries so popular.

Post # 1

During the last weekend when I spent in Dubai, I realized that walking under the sun in 45 Celsius degree can be even pleasant when the wind is blowing your hair and you know that you are the only one to select your own outfit.

How limited this sense of freedom is, but it’s still enough to drag minimum 2000 Iranian nationals to Dubai per day.

The dominant culture in Dubai is defined in shining shopping malls and plastic luxury and it meets the needs of the neighbors who are deprived of any means of entertainment in the best way.

There were staying quiet a few bearded business men in our hotel who were staring at young Russian girls with their greedy eyes and were running to discotheques and night clubs every night, though they would prefer not to be seen and judged by other Iranians.

An old lady who had come to Dubai to apply for US visa to visit her children looked at those guys at breakfast table and said: “You already are the owner of our country, isn’t that enough?” The bearded guys stared at the old lady but didn’t dare to say anything.

I thought elderly people are braver than youngsters. They have nothing to lose and no one dares to punish them. So they might make a change in the world in future!

There were also a group of young religious Iranian girls staying in the hotel. They had kept their Hijab the whole time and were behaving the same as if they were in Iran.

They had received admission from American universities for PHD studies and had come to Dubai to apply for US visa. I was wondering whether they appear veiled in US consulate or they would give us a surprise by their double standard too.

The next morning I got really happy to see them with the same appearance. They were wearing the same hijab at the US consulate but I was ahead of them and couldn’t wait to see if visa was issued to them or not.

After two days all of us who had a reason to be in Dubai said good-bye to those golden castles and Ali baba villas and headed for Tehran.

After 2 hour delay, we arrived in Imam Khomeini airport at 2 am. Three flights had landed almost at the same time and it was a chaos at the airport. People were tired and had become aggressive. After we succeeded to get our luggage we faced 10 long queues to go through customs. We spent 2 more hours waiting for costume officers to search our luggage. Regardless of the big crowd, timing and overtiredness of the passengers, the costumes officers took their sweet time to search all baggages one by one and charge those whose shopping value had exceeded 80$. I could see the satisfaction in their frowning faces.

I saw that old lady standing ahead of me in the queue; she was cursing everyone from head to toe and people around her were laughing.

Among all those heads suddenly I saw those girls. “Did you get the visa?” I asked.

“Yes, we got it.” She said and I got very happy.

Before we chat about the visa and relevant stories, one of the girls pointed at the bearded guys at the beginning of the queue and said: “Look, they didn’t open their luggage!” “Only God knows how many trips they have made with government’s money.” She added.

When finally I made to get out of the airport after having waited for hours, I jumped into a cab and headed for home.

It was quiet and dark and the whole city was asleep. We passed by Khomeini’s golden shrine and it reminded me of all the gold and shines I had seen in the last few days.

Then I saw George Clooney standing in his huge billboard offering a golden Omega wrist watch. He smiled at me.

“Hi George….umm... I don’t believe in gold, Stop this gold business!” I told him.

He winked at me.

Post # 2

The best card shops in Tehran are located in Armenian-populated areas: Villa or Sanaee streets. You can also find some food shops owned by Armenians in that area, where they sell good quality snacks which are the best appetizers to be served with vodka. Armenian car mechanics are known to be the honest mechanics in town, while most of shop keepers take advantage of this good name to sell their goods in double prices.

Christians are the only minority, after the Islamic revolution, which are allowed to drink or make alcohol for their own use, which has consequently resulted in many of them having a side job as a wine or vodka maker or seller. Therefore everyone in the town who hunts for alcoholic drinks knows a Monsieur Sergic or Georgic or Vachik who makes and delivers forbidden drinks at doors.

One of my girl friends and me got into a gift shop. We were browsing through cards and small gifts when 2 ladies covering in black chador from head to toe came in. The only part of their entire body which was not covered in that hijab was their noses. If I were one of them I would have covered that nose and revealed another part.

“Why are the cards so expensive? They now cost double what they did before.” I asked.

The old shop keeper said: “Armenians need to make a living too!”

My girlfriend said: “He is a cheater and rude, let’s go to another shop.” Before leaving the shop we got surprised by this question: “Why didn’t Monsieur Serjic show up last night?” Nose number 1 asked.

Me and my friend looked at each other; I could see 2 big exclamation marks in my friend’s eyes. “Have they ordered vodka?” And that was the big question of both of us.

“He will bring it tonight; the job was not done yet.” Monsieur said.

We couldn’t leave the shop anymore, so we pretended that we are still searching.

“Tomorrow is my eldest son’s birthday and I wanted to ask your wife to make a few nice dishes for us.” Nose number 2 said and our eyes were about to jump out of the socket. After Monsieur passed her message to his wife he said that his wife wanted to make an appointment with one of the ladies in Clinic.

At this moment Nose 2’s mobile rang and she answered: “That’s not an urgent case, I have 2 caesarian surgeries tomorrow morning; we’ll do that on Tuesday.” Nose 1 said: “Tuesday morning we are doing a hysterectomy, but the afternoon is free.”

I looked at them all over and noticed their simple dusty shoes. Gynecologist was the last profession I could have ever imagined for them.

Normally strict Muslims refrain from buying food from Non- Muslims but this deal was an exception.

Our big question was still not answered: “What Sergic was supposed to bring to her house?” My girlfriend said: “If I find out that the guy was supposed to get them alcoholic drinks, I’ll say it to their face and make them embarrassed of their black chador.” With a big smile, she went to the Nose 1 and said: “Hello ladies, how interesting to see you order food in a card shop!”

Nose 1 said: “Yes, we know this family for years; Monsieur Leon’s wife is a great cook.”

“Since when strict Muslims eat Christians' food?” My friend asked.

Both noses said: “purify your heart and it will be all right!”

Monsieur laughed and we left the shop.

I was thinking if you ever ask an Armenian “Where are you from?” They always say: I’m Armenian, even though their preceding ten generations have been born and raised in Iran and they know it the best how to integrate in the society. Kurds would give the same answer to the same question: “I am Kurdish.” None of the groups would ever say it is Iranian or from Iran.

I remember once after hearing that sentence, I said to a Kurdish: “Oh…I’ve been in your country, what a nice place!”

After half an hour window shopping, on the way back we faced the same ladies, Monsieur and another guy in the street. They were standing next to a car.

He was Sergic who had repaired and brought back their car. The ladies looked at us and smiled.

We got embarrassed.

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