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Diaspora

Drained and exhausted
Trying to keep up with Iranian culture

By Heresh Rezavandi
October 24, 2003
The Iranian

You know how when you're walking in a city in the West and you raise your head you see an Iranian face. Both of you look at each other knowing that the other is Iranian but fail even to say "salaam". Or how you're sitting on a train and there's a gorgeous Iranian girl looking at you. You look back wanting to say something, but avoiding the whole trivial process of passing the stages of "roo dar baaystee".

I'm getting this every day. And as time passes I'm getting more of it. I want to scream with frustration. Not because I dislike my fellow people, but because I witness the mass flood of the Iranian peoples out of Iran. Due to an offcial figure there are more that seven million Iranians living outside Iran. Who are these people? Yes, the intellectual, educated and the rich. And every day this number increases resulting in a negative effect on the situation of Iran.

My cousin's friend was selected to go on the Iranian Olympiad team for mathematics in Scotland. After the competition he took a plane to MIT where he was offered a job by the Americans. This is not an invidual case, it's happening to hundreds of Iranian geniuses. When will it stop?

I want to return to my homeland, for better or worse. Because I felt that as an Iranian I'm rotting in the West. Sometimes I wish I was living in the States where I can pretend that the Iranian revolution, which is a favourite topic amongst Iranian family dinners, was purely a revolution by the Iranian people. To pretend not to be suspicious of US involvement during that period and the war with Iraq, so I could hide away the hypocrisy for living in the land of the "free".

Or I can disregard the fact that I am Iranian and be absorbed in the "Western" culture that I am constantly bombarded with after living here for 18 years, like the many other Iranians which have gone with the flow.

I mean how many times have you come across with fellow students saying "yeah my parents are Persian". What the hell do you mean your parents are Persian? If your parents are Persian, so are you! But you can't blame them, you actually feel sorry for them. But do you actually feel sorry for yourself? Who are you kidding? Most of us can't even speak Persian properly let alone write. And how many times did your parents complain that you were "gharb-zadeh"?

Deegeh nemeedoonam. I feel so drained and exhausted trying to keep up with Iranian culture. You know, like getting all excited and ringing and texting every single Iranian I know whenever there's a documentry about the Shah or Khomeini or programmes broadcast to Europeans and Americans -- and all they know is that Iran is in the Middle East, and a good percentage of them don't even know that. Or attending as many Iranian parties as I can, trying to get to know every single Iranian in the city. Or what about the long trips to Iran where you want to feel at home, but you somehow don't fit in -- not to mention the marriage proposals we get.

But we all fled to the West in order that we return to Iran one day. Even if it is a dream.

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