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Photo: Siroos Hozhabri

"I had to see it with my own eyes."

By Siroos Hozhabri
January 28, 1999
The Iranian

    As the plane descended through the clouds, I had my first glimpse of the land I missed so much, that beautiful flat land. We touched down at Mahshahr Airport, walked out and the first breath of air, the salty, humid air, brought back all the memories that were tucked away for more than twenty years.

    My father and I hired a car and drove to Abadan, about an hour away. As we got closer, my heart started to beat faster and I became rather nervous as if I was about to meet a blind date. Our driver friend Mr. Khorshidi narrated our visit telling us that Abadan had been rebuilt. And thank God for that. I don't know if I could endure seeing my town in ruins.

    South Bovardeh was full of buildings riddled with bullets. One in particular was full of holes but still standing. I can't imagine what it must have been like during the war with Iraq. It saddened me to see the tall uncut grass, the steer grazing in the middle of where it used to be well-kept grounds.

    It always bothered the heck out of me when my Abadani friends told me not go to Abadan. "It's not the same," They would say. "You'll be disappointed." To borrow an expression from my niece, DAH! Of course Abadan will never be the same but, so what? I understand that some people just want to remember Abadan the way it was before -- before all the mess. But I had to see it with my own eyes; I had to pay my battered hometown a visit and wish him well.

    All the roads and streets are there. They just look a little narrower than I remember. Braim is more or less intact. There is a huge mosque right in front of the Segoosh Braim swimming pool, which has a dome now and is a sports complex.

    I took so many pictures that I ran out of film. I had no idea where to get a new roll. The only place I could think of was Khoosheh, the mini shopping center. I had no trouble finding it. It looked old and tired. All the shops were empty but one. I walked in, said hi and asked for a roll of film.

    As I was leaving, four or five kids, 14-15 year-olds, walked in. I looked at them and suddenly had a flashback of the old days when I was their age and would get together with a bunch of friends, drop by Khoosheh to get a bakhsam on the way to school.

    I wanted to talk to them so bad; to ask them about life in Abadan and share my stories. But I thought otherwise.

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