This is a slightly adapted email sent out recently…
Gathered among friends
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So, this weekend; the final of the three-nights-one-location party stint ended on a good note. The first of these nights deserves a write up in itself, having been spent with English Farsi students and being reminded of how much I’ve adapted to this place. It was weird to have my Englishness trumped.
So, as mentioned, the regular and rotating Peace Delegation from America came once again to [my friend’s] house for a soirée of sorts. Before they arrived I joined the group of cosmopolitan Tehran folk amassed and discussing the variety of guests due. Our friend linked to this Delegation informed us that the Delegation’s organisers had exceeded the annual quota of visits and that there was talk about increasing what was seen as a successful program.
[The host] was freaking out [with joy] about having a black woman, a Jewish Rabbi and some dude high-up in some church be guests at his house. Oddly enough, the Rabbi turned out to be a young Jewish author and the Christian dude ended up being a former band manager of various greats (having toured and worked with The Dead, The Who and a few others that escape me now). It was only the black woman who failed to fit the description; she turned out to be a well decorated Native American from a reservation in Arizona.
As we met them at the door they needed each name to be repeated until they comfortably got their tongues around the strange new sounds. “And you are?”, they asked one-by-one, “David”, I responded, reaching out my hand. “David?”, they repeated, “yes David” … “David?”, they asked again, awaiting a reassuring punchline that never came. As the weather was pleasant we guided them through the house to sit out on the balcony whereby they, like many before, commented about the great view [of the Alborz Mountains] – even though little could be seen in the dark condition.
"I think Israel has only 10-years left", I was somehow surprised to hear this and responded jokingly with, "you've been listening to the words of our president too much"
It turned out that the touring Christian (of some peculiar strand) was from the [San Francisco] Bay area like [the host], to which streets and notaries were reeled out one after another; the native Indian answered questions related to her cluster of clothing and I made inquiries with the Jewish east coast gent about his book that was short-listed just that day for a prize. He talked about this book, informing us that it was entitled ‘Children in War’, which was - if I remember rightly - a collection of non-fictional accounts, as the title would suggest. During his explanation he came back on somebody’s comment with, "I think Israel has only 10-years left", I was somehow surprised to hear this and responded jokingly with, "you've been listening to the words of our president too much". I asked him why he thought like that, to which he went into detail as to how there are apparently a large volume of Jews who fit a schizophrenic profile, Jews who simply can't deal with both the Israel issue and their conscience. He then went on to talk about some kind of lobby thing called J Street that is there to confront or compete with K Steet - or was it the other way around? By this I gathered that he meant there was a lobby group(s) that has strong support for the plight of the Palestinians.
Similarly, I was talking of American politics with the Christian dude, but not before I answered his list of questions about Iran. Every other sentence I had to remind him that what he sees before him and over the balcony – if anything at all – is far from the reality of Iran. He mentioned that he was about to begin a PhD in Sexology, to which it took a few minutes for the group to move beyond the resulting jokes. I both volunteered information I'd learned about sex in Islam to which he brought further inquiries. He said that they were heading to the holy city of Qom the following day to which I mentioned that he could be in for a treat and could also stock up on literature for his future studies. I spoke about the sex calendar devised by the mullahs, indicating the best times for a Muslim to have sex within the week/month/year. He perked up on that one. I also mentioned a few of the related Islamic laws and also of one in particular concerning falling through floors during earthquakes and impregnating things below - that and matters concerning anal sex. He'd asked about gay folk in Iran - to which I had to amusingly remind him that we didn't have any here. I followed on this by adding the oddity that is gayness in Iran; that the men pretty much do all but penetrate in display of their affection with other men. I talked of a book I'd read entitled, ‘Sex Morals and Marriage in Islam’ saying that he might be able to get one of the clerics to run around for him to gather this and many more.
With that I felt it best to educate him on how he should behave before the people he was about to meet in Qom; educating him on how better to shake hands and how best to phrase his requests. By coincidence he was already wearing a ring very similar to those worn by mullahs; that, coupled with the beard he’d been especially growing for the visit, assured me he’d do just fine.
He asked for my forgiveness as he became, “a little spiritual”, telling about how deeply moved he was by visiting the tomb
My conversation with the Christian dude pretty much carried on until they left - for which I was a little worried that I consumed all his time when there was so many other interesting people that he could have spoken with. He mentioned at one point about having visited [the Iranian poet] Hafez's tomb, following with complimentary words about the nation and its history. He asked for my forgiveness as he became, “a little spiritual”, telling about how deeply moved he was by visiting the tomb. He welled up in his explanation; nearly enough to drop a tear. Seeing his red bulbing eyes partly avoiding me seemed to trigger me off too, yet for wholly different reasons.
I was engrossed with his perspective on America and its politics; he was deeply critical and deeply angered. He was sickened by paying tax and knowing that the official figures of how much of that got spent on the military is about 35%; we agreed that this is more than likely lower than is the case when noting how these things are publicly presented. He spoke of the big players such as Haliburton, KBR and the Carlyle Group and how the American people are at the whim of these corporations in many respects. Obama he was looking forward to, suggesting that it might be a break from the current elite - I contended that this result would make little difference should it actually transpire.
"I give it a year and the dollar is done", he awkwardly asserted.
On that, we spoke of possibilities that might swing it another way: Iran was his suggestion. I suggested that something would surly be brought out of the bag for the voting occasion to inspire a specific choice, sadly I had to admit that Iran could indeed be that. He was disillusioned with the system and felt maybe it needed taking back, yet had no confidence in this coming about. With that he spoke of his concern for his children, suggesting at one point that he feels bad for bringing them into the world with what he felt was looming: "I give it a year and the dollar is done", he awkwardly asserted. He followed this with talk of fuel prices, limitation on food, decreasing employment figures and a disgusting health care situation.
We brought the conversation back to Iran, whereby he asked about the political situation both now and previously here. It seemed he’d done his research and there was little for me to add. We spoke of the '53 coup, the Shah and the current regime which led to talk of the current developments in the nation with regards to sanctions and how Iran is dealing with business internationally. I brought it back home with the big topic of these days that is inflation. He was worried about the dollar for next year and I was worried about how over 90% of Iranians would be able to afford anything next year if the events of this year repeat themselves. It all seemed rather odd to discuss all this from the balcony of one of the more fancy high rises of Tehran.
Details were exchanged and goodbyes were said before we wished them well for their pending Qom trip. The Christian dude went to shake my hand and frightened me by doing so in the mullah like way - it took a moment to remember where he'd learned it from.
Labels: America, Christian, delegation, dollar, Iran, Islam, Islamic Republic, Jewish, Obama, Peace, people, politics, president, Tehran