All right! I am actually in the comfort of my own home at the moment as I type this. Since the entries are quite long and will take some time to compose, Ive decided to separate them into sections of 5 days or so to make typing it easier for me, and reading it easier for you. The journey itself was quite unbelievable and life changing…but hey, don’t take my word for it. ENGULF YOURSELF INTO MY EYES!
JUNE 6, 2003 (20:50)
They say every journey begins with a first step. I usually mock the concept by pretending to fall. The first step on this journey will be the plane flight to Germany so God had better not mock me by causing the fucking plane to crash or collide in mid-air or do anything that prevents us from getting to the destination.
It is nearly 9:00 PM and already I feel tired. My goal was to stay awake on the plane trip but looks like I will fail horribly. The woman in my ears speaks German, the language of Germany (redundantly enough). This tiny black book written by black ink will be the record of my trip to and from Iran.
Now I am sitting on the huge plane. I am in the aisle, as middle as middle can get. I loathe sitting here but the ticket said so! Apparently, the tickets are gods when it comes to air travel.
I have in my ears calming German music sung by what could be a hot German blonde. Of course, it could also be a man with the same voice *shivers*, Lord knows I suppose. One by one, people are slowly populating the seats of the plane, slowly crowding on all sides. If I were claustrophobic, I am sure I would be in a state of panic, but I only have a fear of flying so I really have no reason to panic…yet.
June 7, 2003 (6:18 à 12:18 German time)
I sit in a global paradise. Opinions from the past, present and future are all around me. Some asking for war, others begging for peace. In a variety of languages and tones, humanity speaks out on the walls of this toilet stall.
"Enough with the hatred! Educate yourselves! We are people! Citizens of one community! ONE LOVE!" –Unknown
From powerfully moving messages as the one above, to messages as simple as: "Fuck USA", the world voices out its opinion. Amusing enough that people can write anywhere, event on a stall wall (as I write IN it).
(11:01 à 5:01 PM German time)
Now I sit elsewhere, waiting for the next plane that will finally take me directly to Iran. The airline is the same and I feel a great deal of faith in the German Lufthansa. It brought me to Germany in one piece and I feel confident it will get me to Iran as well.
My appetite is completely messed up, the jet lag seemed to be kicking in. I see it is day time, I feel hungry, yet my stomach says NO incase I am sleepwalking. The jet lag is horrible and I am hoping to exhaust myself so that I can reset my biological clock. The people all around me are Persian and they speak farsi, OUR language. I still find myself feeling a little at distance with my Persian kin due to my predominant recent history and upbringing in Canada. Hey, I am writing in English after all! My thinking is also in English. Still, it is very nice to overhear conversations on the wind and actually understand them. In this case, it isnt all Greek to me, or German.
The plane ride to Frankfurt was very comfortable towards the very start. Around the time we passed over Quebec, my stomach started to turn, totally unrelated to passing over Quebec. I am not a supporter of the separatist movement and I feel most chances to leave Canada are long gone for Quebec. I started to feel sick in ‘both’ directions. I became so uncomfortable that I actually found myself turning to God for a bit of help. Either because of fate, or God, or my own digestive system fixing the problem, I began to recover around the time the romantic comedy ‘Just Marries’ began.
I think I am getting soft when I enjoy a movie like that. Either that or the movie filled me with such rage and laughter each time the couple tried, and failed that I felt inclined to continue watching the rest. The rest of the journey seemed OK and I managed to get a few brief moments of half-assed sleep…until that godforesaken woman to the far left decided to open her window and fill the cabin with a blinding light. Why would one do this? She was asleep, so she couldn’t have been looking OUT! Thus, I conclude that her entire existence had only one purpose: to irritate the hell out of the rest of us in that section of the cabin.
I did get some more sleep at the airport after emptying out my system and I managed to eat some German sausage and gingerale. And so now as I sit here, I bid adieu to all the blondes as I get ready to enter DARK HAIR country. God, I will enjoy getting back home to Canada, home of more blondes than in Iran. So hurry up flight people, let us in so I can get this flight over with! I smell of too many bad smells originating from too many time zones! Hah! I smell like…THE EARTH (yes, this is a reference to my dislike for pollution…oh and did I mention Tehran may not be visible from the plane on account of smoke? It is SMOKIN…haw…haw…awwww…bad joke…)
June 7, 2003 (3:40 PM à June 8, 12:10 AM)
Somewhere over Turkish soil, 33,000 feet of air below me, is a sight unlike any. Small golden cobwebs of human civilization are below me in the endless blackish night. Tiny clutters of humans living together, sending out rays of light that reach my eyes high above them.
A gradual increasing ink and voice can be seen in the horizon where the golden cobwebs of humanity reach out and touch the lights of all creation. The universe ahead of me, humanity just below me…so THIS is what it feels like to see through the eyes of God.
To any beings who cross through the fabric of the clouds, they see a sign…they see a greeting of yellow cobwebs begging for attention saying, "Look at us! We are humans! We made all this!"
The night makes things all even. Humanity appears as humanity, the golden rays of self-created light that have spread nearly all over the globe. And where our lights end, stars continue the golden trail. The cities below, each with a different shape and size are almost a mirror image of the star constellations above…majestic…hopeful…twinkling with promise.
It pains me to look at this harmonious beauty. For behind the beauty and serenity and unity of the city lights just below the stars, lies a world in war, a world of turmoil…a world of pain. The bittersweetness is evident. Tonight (or day in whatever time zone you are in), tonight I looked upon humanity as it SHOULD be, as it hopefully will be one day, peaceful, united, the only other beauty that can compare to everything ELSE out there…
July 8, 2003 (4:05AM)
Since I am in Iran and will be here for some time, I have decided to adopt this time zone since all others have become somewhat irrelevant. From here on in, all times are IRAN TIME!
So the city itself is huge from the golden threads that I saw above. We landed, went through immigration and out the exit where ghost-like faces from my past went all over me. The airport was filled with people and as I looked upon them, (all looking like strangers to my eye), I felt right, as if everyone at the airport was family some how…That is the feeling one gets when returning to the soil they were born on. The family did rush forward and swarm me with hugs, kisses and roses. I even nearly hugged a random beggar person trying to sell me something, thinking he was family. Hey! He knew my name, so I thought he HAD to be family since EVERYONE was shouting, "AGHA SINA! HEY! SINA!"
But now I am tired and sleeping in Baba Shahrokh’s house in the semi-warmth of Tehran, alive and well. I am very very very tired and thus i will go to sleep immediately. God help me reset my body clock to that of Irans, GOODNIGHT EVERYONE!
July 8, 2003 (6:05 PM)
I am now at my grandmother’s house, another image from my past. I remembered it fairly accurately. I woke up today at 1:30ish and feeling slightly confused. I had dreams last night but I recall none of them. I woke up, had breakfast and prepared to drive to Madarjoon’s house.
The driving was…interesting! We got into the taxi (my brother immediately noting that it had no seat belts). In the heat, we drove down the hill and entered the main street. There are lines and signs on the road. There are rules on the road…all APPEARS normal. Here is the interesting bit. These rules, signs and lines are non-existant in the eyes of the drivers here! I don’t know what material they are made of, but they are invisible to the locals.
People driving millimeters from each other, driving all over the place, including against traffic, backwards and to some degree, upside down! Motorists suddenly go by us as though we never existed. I was reminded of Trinity on the motorcycle going against traffic in THE MATRIX RELOADED. I was seeing the same thing in that small taxi, and this was going WITH traffic!
Eventually, we made it to Madarjoon’s house and I hardly recognized it! It was like being blind. It didn’t feel new, and it didn’t feel old, I was recognizing and failing to recognize at the same time. Like touching something and not quite feeling it on the fingertips.
The inside of the house I recognized though, but like Babashahrokh’s house, it seemed bigger than what was in my mind. THAT is strange since I have grown up and one would expect the houses to appear smaller! Perhaps I was underestimating them Iran too much? I replied to a few emails as well, explaining my journeys to friends and so on.
So far, I am enjoying my time here…one month remains and I will try to enjoy it as best that I can. Those crazy drivers…heheh…
June 9, 2003 (3:42 PM)
The sound of cars driving, the slow humming of the fridge, the loud click when it shuts off, the gentle drip of the tab, the high-pitches squealing of a mosquito and a drunkard singing outside. These are the sounds that kept me awake all night, not quite letting me fall asleep (especially that BLEEPING mosquito!)
The lack of sleep allowed me to think up thoughts about a few novels I’d like to write about dreams and the dream world. I am still shocked at the drivers in this city who think they are all Neos capable of breaking the laws of the Matrix and driving without so much as a scratch. The people here are VERY nice, overly kind people. They always say, "Ghabel nadareh" when you ask them how much it is for driving you to point B from point A. Now that translates to, "Its ok, don’t worry about it." Being Iranian, we are compelled to say, "Tahrof nadareh!" Meaning, "I insist!" And the politeness continues. An American with no Iranian blood in him WILL walk out of the car when the guy says "Ghabel nadareh". This being said, I find it odd that these same kind people go insane when they are on the roads. I wonder why that is?
Also, today I discovered that the window in the bathroom doesn’t quite go where I thought it did. It goes outside, somehow, even though it faces the inside of the building. Who designed these places? Ah, probably the guys who decided to put random blocks of useless in the middle of the streets causing the already insane drivers to go even further insane. I mean come on, A RANDOM BLOCK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET IS ENOUGH TO MAKE ANYONE NUTS!
The definition of civilization must be re-examined. I see around me the crazy yet VERY accurate drivers of Iran, and I think that these people cannot be civilized with the viciousness they drive! Now, these people have AMAZING hand-eye coordination, something that jedi’s would KILL to have. Then again, these same people talk, drive cars and live in a society…so what does this mean? What is the definition of civilization? Is it carrying a briefcase? Is it being intelligent? For that matter, what is the definition of intelligent? Obviously, driving like this does not hinder one’s name as A MEMBER OF CIVILIZATION. I did survive the car ride, so I will stop complaining now…
June 10, 2003 (3:13 AM)
In the late hour of the night, mankind has often asked itself the most interesting and fundamental questions about everything around them. "Who are we?" "Why are we here?" "What is the meaning of life?" "Why are things the way they are?" "Why is there a man operating a chainsaw on what appears to be my window ledge at 3:00 in the morning?" And such complex questions, their existence floats through our essence as we try to use every fiber in our body to answer them.
The range of difficulty of these questions also varies from simple to difficult. For example, a simple question would be "What is the meaning of life?" In which case I would simply reply, "The answer is sooo damn simple that I will not open my mouth to say it!" Difficult questions such as, "Why is there a man operating a chainsaw on what appears to be my window ledge at 3:00 in the morning?" require a bit more pondering before an answer can be discovered.
In this highly unique situation, all forces operate to prevent me from answering this fundamental question. First of all, it is quite warm. Second, it is 3 in the morning. Third, I am VERY tired. Four, the "opera of the chainsaw" appears to be at its climatic stage, thus preventing any REAL thinking. Also, the very fact that a man is operating a chainsaw just outside my window ledge at 3 in the morning boggles my already confused mind.
Perhaps it is customary in Iran to have men come out at 3:00 in the morning and play with chainsaws just outside my window…perhaps not. One thing is certain, the fact that I am writing this sentence proves that this is one fundamental question TOO important to ignore…Either that, or the chainsaw is too damned loud for me to get some sleep! These questions and more will plague my mind as I try to get some sleep, music in the background flowing into my ears from a talented group called, "Stupid fucking man with chainsaw out on my window ledge at 3 in the morning who simply will not shut up!"
Wait…he seems to have finally shut up…This is good because I can now get back to the original background music entitled, "Many loud cars driving on Iranian streets honking and screetching endlessly through the night." This will all go on a CD soundtrack that I will make when I return titled, "Why I didn’t sleep in Iran." GOODNIGHT!!!!!!
June 10, 2003 (3:16 PM)
Nearly 12 hours have passed since the musical appearance of the man with a chainsaw out on my window ledge at 3 in the morning. I slept at around 4:00 AM again, and slept until 12:30 PM! Today, I took my first shower in the Iranian ‘hamoom’. It is a skill to be able to take a proper shower. There are many knobs. One for hot water, one for cold water, one knob going up and down to send water up or down, and another sending it out midway or out the very end. First of all, you need to have an excellent control of the hot/cold water which can be difficult. See, there is a furnace that uses fire to heat up the water and the higher the water pressure is IN the pipes, the colder the water becomes. The balance between cold and hot water must be kept.
I (being slightly confused because of the man with chainsaw last night) failed to remember which way the knob must be turned to decrease the cold of the water. I turned the cold knob to turn it off a bit, and instead I turned it up to FULL BLAST causing much confusion, cold feelings, and anger. Cursing in Iranian was also involved. I managed to balance the hot/cold water after some time, eventually restoring my comfort. I then burnt, froze, burnt again and finally figured it out and quickly finished my business before the water had another seizure on me…
In the middle of all this Iranian culture, and feeling VERY cold because of the shower, and watching the lack of english on Iranian channels, I find myself longing for that very symbol of Canada that I used to hate…AVRIL LAVIGNE!
Today we did a bit of ‘hanging out’ with Amoo Masoud who took me to see the ‘better’ parts of town. There was this fairly modern shopping mall with 10 out of 15 of its stores being suit shops. Who needs to shop for this many suits? It was convenient I suppose for ONLY those shopping for that many suits. The mall itself was quite classy, a contrast from everything else. We then drove around somewhere in the lawless streets of Iran and came to a ‘Boof’ fast food restaurant where I had a ‘boofet’ of delights. Bad joke, sorry, its late!
Boof was very future like by any standards. There were large metallic columns with advanced looking lights built into it. On the walls were very odd looking paintings of random abstractness. We had Pizza which was EXCELLENT (making sure to note that most people put KETCHUP on their Pizzas). Also, there was a bathroom with large signs on it making one think it is a huge bathroom when in fact it was a tiny room with a hole in the ground. Today I really learnt the meaning of the phrase, "Don’t judge a book by its cover…"
June 11, 2003 (11:59 PM)
Only after having spent nearly 6 hours trying to send ONE 5k email does one understand the value of high speed internet. The internet here is too slow for comfort, especially in the fast paced world Im used to. We are back to MODEMS people, STONE AGE DIAL UPS!
Today I also visited the park close to Madarjoon’s house. The park was a very very beautiful, calm and tranquil place. Couples were walking hand in hand, some were hiding in the bushes, and I also found myself feeling at calm. The beautiful trees, the small pebble paths, bridges and step stones over tiny little streams and rivers. The grass was a thick green, the people old and young, the air fresh with that right bit of dew hanging in its scent, the moon out shining on the rivers and streams, the sounds of youths living their lives, old and elderly reliving their youth and relaxing, and this was truly one of the best places I visited on this trip.
I used to come to the park as a child, happily running around. The trees seemed much taller now having grown as I have. Maybe it was my own childhood echo I heard, but suddenly I found myself feeling like a child, with few worries or troubles in life.