"Why", he asked?
"First, since, unlike its neighbors, Iran has never been colonized, Iranians do not have a second language and thus you will have difficulty getting by", I said; "and secondly because you won't find beer!"
He laughed. "The secnd will traimatize me", he joked.
I am always fascinated by how the others see Iran. My flight to Iran was half full of British citizens. I wondered what they were going to Iran for. They looked so helpless trying to fix their gigantic scarves on their heads. And they seemed nervous. Entring Iran is nerve wrecking even for me; there is always the anticipation of something unexpected.
Anna is one of the visitors of this blog. She is a German Swiss (a little shy to write in English). Practically, that is all I know about Anna. She told me that she was in Iran at the same time that I was; late April. And she kindly allowed me to share her experience in Iran with the blogsphere. Here it goes, unedited (but I endulged in color coding the parts of her letter that struck me emotionally)
As somebody who kept for herself a mostly contemplative, psychologic and philosophic look "at the world“ and apparently being ab ovo just suspicious about any kind of cultural arrogancy, propagandistic, cynic endeavourings to create all over again „concepts of enemies“ with all this arrogant, despicable looking down at others as a method to to elevate oneself. I always considered it to be important to keep for oneself something just called openness, interest, love and looking at things and people without indoctrinated, „useful“ prejudicies. But sometimes it just makes me sad to recognize, that we never get to see something "new under the sun“ ... just the protagonists and ruling moron’s names are changing.
I had the chance to feel me with this attitude of modesty (not to be confused with clueless simple-mindedness) to be "on the right side" during my yearlong and repeated stays in the former Sovjetunion aka and thanks to Reagan „The realm of evil“ whose people according to the useful prejudicies were just seen as heartless roboters or at least pitiful slaves, condemmned to live in chaines and without any freedoms. While I with exactly such people there have all over again spent unforgettable times. Liberty indeed is one of the greatest things mankind is capable to imagine and of course one all over again has to fight for it because it’s not falling from heaven like manna. But I am convinced, that it is so great – and not as paradoxon or contradiction in itself! - that it also can be lived in a nutshell-size ... just out of the hearts, the mindset and the spirit of people and all the ways they find to show, practice and live it. Something and its possibilities which especially in the spoiled West seems to be beyond imagination, where liberty just too often gets confused with "anything goes“ and paradoxically or nevertheless and often just is resulting in an unstillable hunger and endless search for somehow never to be reached what’s called "sense of life“.
And now the same happened to me in the downright heart of "the axis of evil.“ ... something that hasn’t really surprised me though but nevertheless touched my heart and soul. And the very best I could wish all those who use to call me 'terrorist-sympathisant and islamofascist’just because I’m not singing in their chorus of hateful ignorant chlichées, suspicion and arrogancy is „go to Iran and meet with its impressing and overwhelming beauties and richness in culture and landscapes and the openhearted friendlyness of people ... perceptable literally wherever one goes. And regarding the women: Yes, they are under the chador or with headscarf unless not at home, but even „on the street“ you’d be just surprised about their very self confident behavior. And see all the obviously loving fathers with the baby on their arms or holding by his hand if it’s capable to walk on own legs ... men you just use to call rapers. Get the honor to be invited into rooms of privacy and instead of feeling just nothing but ashamed about your world of nothing but prejudice and arrogancy, see and learn and finally just stop humiliating and hating the people because of their problematic rulers or maybe their religion. For YOUR rulers, having sworn by the Almighty and the Bible are problematic too!“
My trip led me from Tehran to Kashan, Abanyeh, Nain, Yazd, Zeyn-o-Din > an old (from time of Safavid-Dynasty), at the edge of Dasht-e Kavir singly standing caravansery where we stayed over night and felt like in an almost unrealistically beautiful oasis out of every time. Some tryed to verify its reality by talking a lot, two others just standing silently embraced on the roof and looking into the „talking“ endlessness of heaven and its stars. Then Shiraz, Persepolis, Esfahan and back to Tehran ... and of course these two weeks just passed by all too quickly. I was trying to catch the impressions with my camera too and also did ... but it has come true once again: I seem to be a bad photographer, or in other words: MY best and most reliable camera always turns out to be that of my very heart :-).
How could photos ever include or reproduce what you really see and feel, all your perceptions by all senses, all these „picture accompagnying“ fragrances and sounds: This exemplaric (!) man in Abanyeh for example talking with his Beo-bird and the Beo-bird with almost everybody. Schoolclasses who had their drawing-lessons somewhere outside and proudly whould show their works and wanting to know what we think about, do we like it, and for goodbye laying a flower in one’s hand and saying with a smile „come back to Iran again!“.
The overwhelming persian music we were invited to enjoy in an appartment in Shiraz, where the 80 years old, now practically blind and deaf violinist Ali Jabarian with 20 pretty sexy and elegantly dressed young ladies (all students in any kind of disciplines) played and sang for us. But not just for us, for themselves too! It’s all together about 60 young women who – and who from them ever has the time to - at least once a week are meeting there and cultivating this wonderful „hobby“ on an absolute worldclass level, I shouldn’t miss to mention here. The fragrances in the bazars, not to speak of those of the orangeblossoms, levkoyas and roses hovering now over the most wonderful gardens and parks like tender veils and often even together with additionally gentle sounds. And all the people, children and families enjoying these atmospheres. The four men sitting in a corner of the Esfahanian Si-o-se Pol, chanting Qu’ran-verses ... no-no ... not those about defending religion by the sword!!! I just remembered Khalil Gibran having answered somebody at the question „What’s for you the most important in the Qu’ran?“ „The most important for me is a flower I years ago have laid between its pages“, he answered. What a wonderful answer!
And so on and on. And no! I do not deny or dispel all the obvious and lurking problems and complications, also deficits in what is called freedom and equal justice for everybody, men AND women, and so on. Just I’m not willing to stare just and exclusively at them and overlook everything else existing as well! These are processual developments and they must go on and be intensified from inside Iran and its people! (and it’s a fact, that the manyfold forms of subverting Iran by foreign interests and intelligence, are a not to be underestimated factor in paralysing exactly such inner-iranian progresses and ressources). They can not be imported, or exported to Iran from those who think they are obliged and justified to do so!
And as for the very private impressions: I finally also „physically“ met a friend of mine, who over and above turned out to be the iranian tour-guide for this small group ... there somehow simply are no haphazards, it’s all just fate and time arriving to see and recognize. And to understand its „language“. Let us call, with the words of my friend, such a meeting and its circumstances kind of possibly everybody’s special version of „Rang-e khoda.“ (The colors of the divine). I can’t but agree. Never in my life – and as an agnostic – I remember having had so essential and deep going, mutually enriching talks with a person who does believe in God, but often just can’t help badly missing him and to whom belief is not just a source of answers, but much more a source of questions. All these eternal convictions, dimensions and questions about heaven and hell, devils and angels and sense of life, hope and desperation, feeling oneself found or lost ... but in fact conditions all over again just created by people, not by what’s called God. It’s all just left up to mankind (!) and every one of us to represent or contribute to the one or the other.
There ain’t no other choice left: I must and will go back to Iran again, to this country having become for me all-in-all kind of a love-story beyond all naiv romanticism though, but a place to be and nevermore to forget or to be indifferent about. Including everything that’s worth at all to be called love: Suffering, compassion, happyness, darkness, light and hope. And respect, something that never will blossom on ignorance, prejudicies and arrogancy.
Yesss, I have seen the Khomeinis and Khatamis and the Martyrs portraying paintings or posters looking down from walls and bridges. I even have got an impression about the activities of the guardians of public morals. I have heard from Ahmadinejads idiotic playing down the drastic inflation telling the people on TV to be a bit flexible and to buy their tomatoes or whatever down in „his“ south of Tehran, where everything is cheeper. I know about all the corruption that he could not stop in contrast to another promise of his. I know that men from Yazd and Rafsanjan having been in school for just 6 years and except the Qu’ran not knowing very much, are called in high positions. I know about these 30% of workless people. I already thought quite a lot about what whould be if Iran tryed to lead all its energical ressources into other projects than “just” into its prestigeous nuclear projects ... while at the other hand even such thoughts of mine come only in full awareness, that I finally couldn’t call the western theater on Iran about this matter anything else but part of all these too well known hypocritical doublestandards! And so on and on. But all this simply just could not prevent me from writing and just having had to write kind of a declaration of love for this country and its people “like you and me”.