When you live in Iran, you start to realize how much pleasure there is in casual social drinking. I am not a big drinker. I come from a long line of lightweights. But in Iran, I really miss having the occasional social drink. When Iranians drink, they down a bottle of vodka in one sitting. (I know, I know: this is not always the case. But most Iranians in Iran drink to get drunk.)
K loves to tell this story:
The first time I came to Iran, my brothers took me out for a drink. When I say out, it was really out! It was the middle of winter. There was snow everywhere, and we walked to a park. They brought out a bottle of this horrible vodka and poured drinks. I mean, they had these tall glasses filled with vodka. I'm good for a shot or two, but a water glass filled with vodka? I don't think so. I was shocked. They drank these tall glasses like they were filled with water. I was terrified we would be arrested walking home. We passed soldiers and police. We were obviously drunk, but they did not care.
Iranians have forgotten how to have a casual drink.
Foreigners make a big deal of the casual drink, but there really is something to it. It is pleasurable to have wine with dinner. Sometimes I really want a beer after a hard day. Most of all, I want to drink in public.
But there is no more boring topic than whining about alcohol. Oh, unless it's whining about the hijab. Or whining about being bored. Which is why I am offering this tip to foreigners in Iran: Don't complain about being bored. I mean, there is so much you could do: you could learn Persian, hike, learn to ride a horse, travel, volunteer on an archaeological dig, volunteer with an NGO, write, paint, draw, dream, walk, shop, watch tv, go to the movies, visit museums, drink coffee, read, learn to play the tar, take lessons from real philosophers…
Being bored is just plain boring.
That said, there are things I would really like to do: go swimming in the ocean in my swimsuit with K, wear a short skirt outside, spend a lazy afternoon drinking a beer and eating croquettes…