Monday, February 27, 2006

Taxi Talk

“Where else do you have such poverty next to such wealth?” a young taxi driver asked. (A lot of places…) “These rich young men buy $200,000 cars with their father’s money and then lie around all day, while we live in the south of the city struggling to make a living. It breaks your heart. With all that we could have. We have four seasons, oil, good people who have become liars and cheaters, but it is all stolen from us. Sometimes I am just so tired of the pressure.”

“I picked up this American. He did not speak Persian, and I do not have many words of English. I had to take him to the airport. The whole way he was nervous, afraid. I could see him almost shaking. I kept thinking why is he so nervous? And then I realized that I had not shaved for several days, and my beard was full. He was afraid of my beard. He thought I was a terrorist and that I would cut off his head. When we got to the airport he said “Tank you, tank you, tank you,” a thousand times. I helped him with his luggage. Obviously he was happy he still had his head.”

I laughed.

“We have a problem with out religion. It is a religion of force.”

I argued, “No it’s religion mixed with politics.”

“No,” he responded. “It is our religion. We are the ones with all of the terrorists, aren’t we? It is every religion. We are a good people who have become bad with religion just like the Christians were bad a thousand years ago. Now they do not have religion and they are better.”

I said, “No it’s still politics. Islam is the biggest religion in the world, it’s no wonder that it also has its problems.” But he stuck to his guns.

“I always had Jewish friends and Christian friends and Muslim friends and Bahai friends and Zoroastrian friends. We went to each other’s houses. We drank and ate together. We sang and danced together. What do I have against Christians or Jews or Israelis? Nothing. I have nothing against them. My Christian friend came to me and asked, ‘Do you think I am dirty?’

‘Dirty, why?’

‘Doesn’t your religion say that Christians are dirty?’

‘Eeeh baba, what difference does that make? Why would you suddenly become dirty after being my friend for 14 years? Do you think I am dirty?’”

Older man, big, white knit skullcap, loose-fitting maroon suit

“Every night I go to sleep dreaming of waking up to find the American military telling me what to do. This is the dream of many Iranians. The mullahs are terrible. They steal our money. I say they should leave our country. Leave us alone. They have enough money. They can all buy houses in Denmark.” Laughs at his own joke.

“Aren’t you afraid of them?”

“Aren’t you afraid of dogs?” (Actually no…)

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