White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tehran --> Prague --> Berlin --> USA (Home)

After visiting the warm Tehran, beautiful mountains of Bakhtiari and Kurdistan with memorable moments with familiy and friends, we wrapped up the Iran trip and came to beautiful Prague yesterday. Prague the city of Kafka and Kundra is a real paradise that only lacks one important thing: Nice human gestures. Czechs literally suck in customer service and it's obvious that most people here don't have so much of excitement about foreigners. But the beauties of this magnificent city is really stunning. More about Prague (and later about Berlin) will come ....

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Amsterdam Airport. 10 years after that day

Amsterdam Airport. 10 years after that day

I’m heading home! To reunion with Reyhan after such a long time. It was truly a very long time.
Is Tehran really home for me? It’s still quite easy for me to catch up with life in Tehran more than anywhere else in the world. I guess that’s pretty much good reason to make it home.

Amsterdam airport: 10 years ago, I left Iran for US for the first time. That very sad and confusing morning that for the first time in my life I felt homesick. The emotional farewell to Reyhan and the large crowd of friends. It’s so interesting that except a few, all of those friends now live outside Iran. My 6 hours layover in Amsterdam Airport gave me quite a bit of time to explore. Iran Air arrived with no delay from Tehran today. And I went there and looked at my country men as they were arriving in Nederlands:

- Tears, three kisses on chins and hugs
- Camcorders which don’t stop recording the moments
- A lot of flowers bouquets.
- Loose and tight hejabs and suspicious eye contacts of the groups.
- Middle age guys in grey suites
- Middle age Ladies in Black
- Sharp eyes contacts by guys who are checking out the girls (and of course the reverse)
- Nagging about the price of pistachio in Tehran!
- Mixed interactions between men and women: Traditionalists, Liberals, but majority somewhere between (probably confused)
- Swearing at Iran Air that does accept their 70 kilo loads of luggage with no charge.

It’s such a pleasure for me to sit there for a long time and look at the interactions of my countrymen outside Iran. Looking at our strengths and insecurities. Realizing that what large but disjoint community we are outside Iran.

It’s always a combination of anxiety and hapiness when I get close to Tehran. Both feelings are extreme and different from what I get in other parts of the world. The anxiety comes from the unstable nature of Iran. From the fact that even president’s son can be challanged by the lowest level guard. There is no airport in the world that I feel this unique type of stress about it: What if something goes wrong this time? What about my passport or my exit stamps? What if they stop me and ask me about my American passport? What about one friend or family member who have done something political? After 12 years of traveling with no single incident like these, there is still such a fear inside me. Even at the times that Reyhan had some problems with the US INS, I never felt these types of feelings when we were stopped at INS. I guess all of these types of paranoyas relates back to dark years of the war when such incidents were more frequent. At least now the custom is quite relaxed. But as I pass through the custom, there is a 10 meter walk to reach your crowd. The crowd that love you in a different way. Different than what you get other places in the world. I told you, the whole thing is different from anywhere else.

PS: I’m posting the above notes one week after my arrival. The Iran Air flight to Tehran was one of the best flights I have had in years. Perfect service and food. And Home sweet home! Tehran is great as usual. Better traffic thanks to a new Tunnel that has been opened recently. More will come soon...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bravo Ganji

" we have also learned that we have to gain our freedom ourselves, and that only we can nourish that freedom and create a political system that can sustain it. Ours is a difficult struggle; it could even be a long one. Anyone who claims to possess a golden formula for bringing freedom to Iran, and claims that all he needs is foreign cash and foreign help to put his plan into effect, is a swindler."

Read the full article by Akbar Ganji on NY Times.
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