Friday, April 02, 2004

Happy New Year
When I lived in New York, I loved the summer and the holiday weekends when the New Yorkers left town for "their house in the country." I stayed behind enjoying the free concerts and the heat and the relatively quiet streets. This is the way it is in Tehran during the 15 days that people take off to celebrate the New Year and its attendant holidays.

The spring equinox marks the Persian New Year. "The clerics didn't want us celebrating New Year and the last Wednesday of the month and the 13th of Bidar. As a result these holidays have become more important than they were during the Shah's time. Everyone goes outside to picnic on the 13th of Bidar. Now we have fireworks on the last Wednesday of the month. It's just to annoy the mullahs." All I can say is that the whole country, clerics and all, has embraced this time of year. Everything is sparkling clean after weeks of finger-numbing scrubbing. Even Tehran's air is clean (everyone is somewhere else).

The fact that Tehran's air is clean is actually amazing. When you walk outside, you smell flowers and trees. The sky is a bright blue and the snow-capped mountains are etched against the sky. The city is gorgeous.

Women (again…)
Every woman in Iran has to be a housekeeper. She has to be a good cook and ready to prepare meals for 30 at a moment's notice (how many of you have table services for more than 30 people? I have yet to eat off a paper plate in Iran.). She has to be a nurse. Really. At some point in her life she will find herself in a hospital caring for a sick relative. She will have to learn to give injections, clean wounds, and nurse the sick. Whether she has a child or not, she will likely find herself caring for children.

"If you see an Iranian woman successful outside the house, you know that she did it all herself. She didn't have any help from anyone," an Iranian woman friend of mine said. "Look at these women. Any one of them would be hugely successful if they had the chances I have had." (She lives in San Diego now.) "Even if they left Iran today, they would take off. S would be a professor somewhere. S2 would have her own company. We grew up together. I know how smart and driven they are."

Recently I got into a fight with some men. "Iranian women can't do anything." (They meant in the workforce.) "Get two of them together, and it is all gossip. Three and all they do is fight. Men work well together. We like each other."

"When these same women leave Iran, they are much more successful than the men who leave Iran. How do you account for that?"

They could not.

Anyway it's not altogether true about women in the workforce. When you run across women working, they seem to be enjoying their work. They seem to be more efficient and straightforward than the men.

Once again, I have to harp on this point: Iran is filled with smart men and women. Many of them leave the country and apply their skills elsewhere. The smart women are relegated to the house. This country is suffering because it cannot and will not take advantage of its native intelligence.

No comments: