This shot was not taken in California.
flickr View my photo journal
"Ahh man! That dumb ass Bush!", piped up on of the more lubricated girls, dropping her conversation in favour of the table talk going on behind. She leaned in with one hand supporting her swaying body and the other waving around with a barrage of insults. This spectacle caught my attention beyond the spillings of an oddly pretty thing; she'd effortlessly adopted an American twang with the English she'd brought to the table and amazingly gifted those sat around with a similar ability. I was distracted from the conversation with the gentleman to my left; the English being spoken was of native quality, yet in all the time I'd sat there this convenient ability had not been displayed. I turned back to my left and made some comment about this gentleman also hiding such ability, "yeah, I grew up in Orange County, California", he responded, later adding, "hey man, you're Persian's not too bad considering how long you've been here".
I guess this begun with an interview that never happened. A fellow dual national friend of mine invited me to contribute to a piece for Al Jazeera News; simply to give an Iranian perspective on their news service. I'd arrived late, for which I was to be the last to comment. "Yeah, Al Jazeera, that's the one on channel 6 yeah?", I responded to the off-air question, "no it's on satellite only", they came back at me, leaving me confused as to what that Arabic news channel on 6 was all about. "Oh, well I don't have satellite and the TV is only on for football", I added, embarrassingly bringing a conclusion to interviews.
Iran is a sanctuary of sorts; to enjoy an elevated status maybe; to bum around and sponge from the parents
Following this non-event we gathered at my friend's office to which I found myself surrounded by dual nationals of the American kind, "ah, another refugee", I teased with each as they stated the volume of time spent here and there. We shared our reasons for being in Iran – when given the choice not to be – and found that the was a lot of overlap; we were all 20-somethings, educated in the west, curious with regards to heritage, with much family still in Iran and non-plussed about which borders surround us. I get the impression that there is also a hidden story with each person, it seems that Iran is a sanctuary of sorts; a place to escape to; to enjoy an elevated status maybe; to bum around and sponge from the parents, as is common with many Iranians at that social level and age.
For a few weeks now I've been meeting these new found friends, for which our mutual associations have expanded to a community of sorts, bringing me a very different feeling towards living in Iran. Its been great to share the oddities that only we see, the jokes that only we could know and the advice that only relates to us. I'm reminded of my father's expat friends in my hometown and all those moments where he fast finds an affinity with those other first generations whom found themselves on British soil for whatever reason. Yet in my case the affinity is drawn through language and a similarity in culture more than nationality for I've found far less British dual nationals.
As I sat at that table in the uptown penthouse apartment and listened to the crowd of perfectly bilingual guests I was surprised at how un-Iranian everything seemed. The football that was silently playing in the background on the television had switched to still of the supreme leader's face for which I was amused by the juxtapose as I scanned across the room. The moment came as oddly settling as I felt I'd found a liberating scene; for a moment I was distanced from the concept of borders and reveled in the cosmopolitan atmosphere I'd stumbled upon, both then and since.
Labels: Al Jazeera, America, culture, expatriate, Iran, Tehran