A post from Kamran:
He was sitting in front of me telling me how relaxed I look. "Last time I saw you, you were so worried", he said.
This friend of mine normally would never listen to news from Iran, but he told me, "Every time I heard news about Iran, I would just stop doing whatever I was doing and would yell Sshh, Sshh to my wife so I could hear the news". He also could not imagine that I would take Tori to Iran. Taking an American-Jew to Iran is something. "BEN JE GEK"? which means ARE YOU CRAZY?
He had hundreds of questions about living in Iran, which I could not answer in the short early Friday afternoon lunch appointment. His most amazing comment was still in my head even after couple of days. He said, "It sounds to me that Iran is taking one step forward and 5 steps backwards".
When I left to get some fresh fish for Sushi on my wobbly bike I was still looking for a response to his comment.
I am amazed at how much Iran has progressed in the last 28 years. Iranians who visit Iran for first time after the revolution of 1979 are shocked by how Iran is at least visually changed. They all know if we had a democratic government where the people could use all of resources that Iran has to enjoy, we would have a wonderful and modern society.
For me the most important reason that I can imagine at this point to explain why Iran is taking one step forward and 5 back is that Iran almost never ever had a democratic movement/government/ or institutions.
In the history of Iran you can always find people who think they know better what is best for the rest of Iranians. We have been always been looking for leaders who will fix our nation's problems and not developing institutions that could be the center of change and developments.
During my sushi dinner with the son of my best Dutch friend who came to Iran as a boy when he was 16 and left Iran as a man after 3 months of staying there, we both agreed that Iranians who live in Iran are amazing and we could not believe how they can survive there.
My young friend’s rite of passage to manhood is an interesting story: on the afternoon of his last night in Iran, we went to many shops to get him an 80gb hard drive for his computer back home. It was a cold winter day 2 years ago, we both were in good moods. He was ready to leave Iran. He told me that the first thing he would do would be to have a beer and drink it in public.
That night we had a good dinner and after watching a couple of hours of movies I took him to the airport and waited until he got his boarding pass. When I returned to home, Tori took the telephone out of the wall since the next day was a holiday, and we went to bed thinking, Oh man we are so happy he had a good time and that he left safe.
Two hours later he came back and looked awful, it turned out that he had a visa for only one month that he could use within 3 months, instead of a visa for 3 months that he could use within one month. It was very clear, but almost everybody who looked at his passport missed it. So we had to go to court. He wanted to get out ASAP. He had had a bad night. Looking at the video interview I made of him minutes after he came back in the house, I can only see how desperate he was to get f**k out of Iran.
Next morning after visiting two different government offices in two different sides of the city and seeing 17 different people (because I decided not to give any money to get the work done) we finally landed in the court room right before offices were closed.
After explaining everything to the weird looking massive judge, Kian (Persian name that he chose for him self in Iran) got permission to leave Iran within two days.
During all this time Kian was asking me so many times what was going on. Since I paid no money, I had to walk 4 floors more than 20 times and the only time I could keep Kian quiet was when he asked me "What is the judge saying?" and I told him that he is saying that you have to go to the army and serve 2 years. After he come down from being so panicked, he asked me, "How can you guys stay here"?
"This is a mad house". Kian told me.
Kian became a man in that one day. His parents were surprised to see how much he was changed in 3 months. So Iranians are supermen.
Last night after having lovely sushi and couple of beers with Kian, he agreed that we Iranians should have better lives in Iran.
I also found out that Kian's family (still very good friends of mine) see that video I took the night of his ill-fated visa snafu very often. Kian is still very angry with me because I could not stop laughing during that interview with him.
That day in Tehran I became 10 years older. Everybody I knew was surprised that I could get all of that paperwork done in one day. I could never forget Erna, Kian's mother, telling me “Don't worry, this is good for him”.
For the past 4 years I had always many different plans for when things would get nasty. Since everybody could also think of my plan A, I had to have plan B, plan C, and finally plan D.
Not having all those plans and not living in Iran, I would say my friend was right. I am relaxed, I am happy; I am free, but I am still looking for answers to my friend’s questions, particularly, why Iran takes one step forward and 5 back? Any ideas?