Iran: Party Talk
Scene: small dinner party… mostly Iranians in their 40s…
“Do the Azeris want to separate from Iran?” I ask an Azeri (Turkic people in Iran) friend.
“Why would we want to separate? We may be a minority, but we think of ourselves as the majority in Iran.”
“It’s true,” his wife, also Azeri, adds.
“We run in Iran. The leader is Azeri. Why would we want to separate?”
“Khameini is Azeri?”
“Yes, of course. Didn’t you know?”
“Every grocer in Iran is Azeri. Everywhere you go, people speak Azeri.”
“We even tell the most Azeri jokes.”
“Ahh yes, but every once in awhile you get a bit touchy and demonstrate.”
“That wasn’t really because of the joke.”
What?! No party?
Scene: mid-size party, lots of foreigners, a smattering of Iranians… ages 20-60…
“Iranians always tell me that I am focused too much on hijab,” an unnamed foreign journalist says. “They say there are other more important women’s rights issues.”
“It’s a symbol of oppression,” I say.
“I agree. I blame my mother’s generation for hijab,” an Iranian friend tells us. “For the most part, they put it on willingly. They wore it proudly as a symbol of the revolution. Believe me, they regretted that choice.”
“It’s strange: where women are forced to wear hijab, they want out. Where they are not forced, they are wearing it more and more. You get on a plane with Saudi women or Iranian women and within minutes everyone of them has their veil off.”
“One day those women who think Islamic rule will save them will regret it. Their daughters will be angry with them for their efforts. Trust me.”
Scene: Small dinner party in an elegant apartment with a great view of the city… A bit more than half of them
“I was in London for some classes. There were Egyptians and Jordanians and Lebanese with me in class. You know what they said when they found out I was Iranian? They said, ‘You are so lucky you have a strong leader like Ahmadinejad who stands up to America. You in Iran are our model of democracy. We envy you.’ I had to laugh. They really believe this. They looked at me like I was some kind of hero just for being Iranian.”
Scene: Typical Iranian party: over dressed women, men playing backgammon. Too much food: boiled tongue, chicken with rice and berries, eggplant and tomatoes stuffed with ground beef, salad, yogurt, smoked eggplant with tomatoes and eggs… All served late in the evening after the last guests arrive 1 ½ hours after the appointed time.
The crowd: 40s-70s with their young and teenaged children in tow.
The women are sitting in the back of the room having the typical conversation: the price of food. Meat, fish, tomatoes, grapes…
“What is our government doing by giving away our money to Hezbollah?” the oldest woman at the party asks.
“You know why all of the Lebanese are walking around with Nasrallah posters? Because our government is giving them $12,000 each. Just handing our money out, when Bam has not even been rebuilt.”
“That’s right. We can’t even get Bam rebuilt, but we are rebuilding Lebanon. That’s not our business.”
“And did you see the hospital we built for the Palestinians? Why can’t we have better public hospitals?”
“Because Iranians build our hospitals,” my husband answers.