Categories: iran, taxis, conversations
“Your Persian is so good. Where are you from?” The young man sitting behind me says. All I have said is “Straight” which is what you say when you want to get a shared taxi that is also going straight.
“America,” I answer.
Another guy gets in the car. Now there are four of us passengers. Three men and me. The youngest one has got big bushy sideburns and has a briefcase in his lap. He looks like he is heading to University. The other two are skinny, traditional looking men. One is wearing a knit cap. The other is angry looking.
“What do you think of Iran?”
“Sometimes it’s good,” I answer.
“Sometimes?” The young man replies. “What do you like?”
“She likes Iranians because we are hospitable and warm,” the driver says. “She likes our nature and our food.”
“Exactly,” I say. “Your answer is better than mine. It’s good to be an American here. Iranians love Americans.” They laugh.
“We love all foreigners,” the driver adds.
“Do Americans love Iranians?”
“They think we are terrorists, right?”
“They don’t know who you are,” I answer. “They don’t know the difference between Iran and Iraq. There are a lot of Iranians living in America, so maybe they will learn.”
“We are not Arabs. Arabs have no culture.” [Aside: Iranians tell me that when they travel to Arab countries, they are greeted with such respect. “They love Ahmadinejad there,” an Iranian who had recently returned from Jordan told me. “We want to hit him over the head; they kiss his picture. But it’s good for us when we travel.”]
“Americans think we are Arabs,” the driver says. “We are not Arabs.”
“Our passport used to be as good as an American’s.”
“The revolution turned us into a third world country,” the angry looking man says.
“In the time of the Shah we were progressing,” the man with the knit cap says. “Now every day we go backwards.”
“We have such a long history,” the young man says. “It goes back more than 15,000 years. America has no history, but you have about 700 0r 800 books of American history. What do they write about?”
At My Destination...
At my destination, I tell my Iranian friend about the conversation. “Do you think they really meant those things about the Shah and moving backwards?”
“I don’t know. Iranians say what they think you want to hear. You have to have several deep conversations before you know what people think.”
“In the Western Press, they are writing that Ahmadinejad is unpopular here. Do you think he is unpopular?”
“No,” she answers. “I think he is still popular. I think that now Iranians are confused. They don’t know what they feel. When the election was between Hashemi and Ahmadinejad, people voted for Ahmadinejad because they did not like Hashemi. They did not know Ahmadinejad. We Iranians do not like to think much before we make decisions. We just decide quickly.”
“I think Iranians have become very slow at decisions.”
“We are floating now. We think God will save us or the USA will save us. We do not like the decisions that we have made.”
Sampling of articles stating AN is unpopular here:
When Not Seeing is Believing
An Unpopular Leader
Diplomats Meet to Test Resolve After Iran Defies UN