June 20, 2003
I have seen more things in the last two days here in Iran than in 2 years in Amsterdam. I am definitely overwhelmed. I am also outraged. I am like the newscaster in the beautiful film called “Network.” I want to open the window of my mother's house and put my head out and scream, "I'm mad as hell, and I can’t take it any more!"
The state of the Islamic republic of Iran sucks.
This is the first time I am writing to you from Iran, so let me please say this:
this government is corrupt, unimaginative, and old-fashioned in the worst way. It is a powerful and growing cancer which forces its victims to give up first before it will take the last breath out of their bodies. Unfortunately a lot of Iranians like to be victims and are still waiting for god, in the form of Uncle Sam, to come and free them. They make the argument that Germany, Italy, Japan, and others were freed from evil governments with the help of Uncle Sam. We are not better than G I Joe. I have heard this argument from neo-conservatives in the US too.
Let me tell you one experience.
Yesterday we left the house around 10 am. We did this to change my Euros to Iranian money, Toman. It is now a good time for people who bring Euros here because the exchange rate is excellent. I pay 1 Euro and I get 958 Toman. With 5 euro I can have excellent food in very good restaurant in Tehran. Anyway, the first bank could not change the Euros because they did not have a machine to see if the Euros were good. We had to take a taxi and go to the other side of the town, to a very nice part of Tehran to exchange money. We went to Bank Melie Iran. The ugly long and square bank had a very long and rounded shape right middle of it which gave you the feeling that the number of customers in the bank was much less than there really were. After asking the director of the bank what we need to do, we get in line to exchange my Euros, There was no way to know where to go when you got in the lobby of the bank, no sign, and nobody to answer your questions. We waited there for almost 20 minutes before somebody came to ask if we needed help. We explained what we needed, and he gave us a form to fill in. He took the money and the form and left. After my nephew asked many times why we needed to wait so long for our money, the guy came back with the form in his hand and left it on the desk of the guy next to him and told us “okay he will take care of the rest.” We move to the next window. Hey we got it done. All we needed to do was to get our money. It took us another 2 hours to get the Iranian travelers checks. This process will take me only 10 minutes on a very busy day in any bank in Amsterdam. The lesson here is that you will not get any work done unless you beg or bribe.
You have to be super human to be able to stay cool and live under these conditions in Iran. Life in Iran will break you one way or another. It has its daily painful effect on my dearest people in the world: my family. I am in constant pain since I came here to see my family living this way. My 8 year old niece is wearing a veil, and when I said, "You are just 8 years old, and it is night, you don’t need that," she answered, "But my father gets upset if I don't wear it."
I know her father better than I know myself. There is nothing Islamic about him. He is just sick of protest. He has given up on changing his life, and I am not sure if he sees any changes for his kids. I am not sure how many people like him live in this country of about 67 million. I know this is what the hardliners in Iran want: to make you worth nothing, with no desire for a better life, no hope for change, and more importantly, no power to make change. I know you get stuck here, and you want to get out.
I love football. In the last couple of days I have found out that I have a couple of things in common with my brothers, they all like to see football alone, without anybody in the room, No talking when there is football on TV. That is the way to watch football.
Football is great.
In Iran I hate football.
It is one of the best tools that the Iranian government has to keep Iranian men with their asses nailed to the ground watching. I saw France playing Colombia. The first 20 minutes was a video of the walls of stadium, but not people. That was probably because there were women in the audience who were not wearing the veil or something like that.
When I look the size of the stomachs of my family looking at the football games, which are bigger than the size of the TV they are watching, I tell myself that the Iranian government will stay here forever because of this wonderful sport. My brothers no everything there is to know about the football players. They know where they live, what they eat for breakfast, what they do for fun. They know all about their parents and where their parents live and what they eat for breakfast.
It is so sad to see all these big dreams go away. The other they somebody told me that we shouldn’t have revolution, because it will be a big and shocking thing. They give you so much bullshit about every player’s personal life and how much money they make that you don’t have to think of other things. I know for sure that this is one of the best ways the Iranian government has of keeping Iranians in line. A lot of us are hooking up to the TV box, so they don’t need to do anything good. Iranians are obsessed with football.
So fuck football in Iran.
Okay I need to calm done before my blood pressure goes as high as Mount Everest. I should stop taking about this. The next time I will be more positive. Help me god. Fuck. god…….