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Part 4

October 23, 2003
The Iranian

We arrived in Tehran with no place of our own. Luckily, we knew a family from Abadan who had moved to Tehran a little while earlier, so we were able to stay with them for a while. They had two boys who were about the same age as my brother and me.

The first night we arrived at their house was great (notwithstanding having nowhere to live and having just escaped severe bombing in southern Iran). With four boys, all young and having too much energy for our own good, you would think that we would tear the house apart. Nope, we went over to one of the rooms, sat quietly and played Monopoly till 2 in the morning.

Now for those of you who don't know this, there really is an Iranian version of Monopoly with street names like Ferdosi and Naderi. Who knew such obedience was possible from a bunch of bratty kids? Anyway, this Monopoly-playing thing continued for another week until my parents' search for a home was finally successful.

With that, we moved into our "lavish" apartment in the southern end of Tehran. Not knowing much about the area, my parents were ecstatic that we had a place of our own. We also didn't know that it is pretty standard, virtually worldwide, that the southern part of any city is the less desirable part in relation to the north. The place was a 2-bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of a little apartment building.

Our first and most obvious issue was that the place was completely bare since we were forced to leave all our furniture behind during the evacuation from Abadan. We also soon found out why the fourth floor of this apartment building was empty.

First, there was absolutely no water pressure in the afternoon. This was a major issue with my dad since he insisted on taking showers in the morning, and again at after work (he was big on the multiple-shower a day thing). Furthermore, we actually had to carry our dirty dishes to the garage in the evenings to wash and fill with water for drinking. Oh yes, and to add insult to injury, the cursed elevator never worked either.

On a positive note, however, we found a naan and kabob restaurant across the street. It was a quaint little restaurant that served its guests in a tranquil and peaceful garden. The food was fantastic and the service was remarkable (especially for Iran). However, one straight month of eating kabob every night pretty much ended our love affair with this hangout.

After sitting on the floor for a month, my dad's back started to act up. Backaches are our family's identity. The Kennedys have a history in politics, the Gettys have a history in the oil business and my family prides itself on its rich tradition of backaches. In my family, the first time you get a legitimate backache marks your entry into adulthood. It's sort of like a weird coming of age or Bar Mitzvah without the grandiose party.

Anyway, when my dad's "kamar dard" acted up he took it as a direct sign that something had to be done. So he logically decided to get in the car and go to Abadan to get our furniture. One of my mom's poor younger brothers "volunteered" to go with him. They rented a truck and headed down to Abadan. A week into their trip we heard back in Tehran that Abadan was now surrounded and no one could get in or out.

This was about 1982 in Iran; we couldn't just call my dad on his cell phone to give him a heads up on the situation in Abadan. All we could do is sit around nervously and hope that somehow, someone alerted them of what was going on.

We suffered through an entire sleepless night until my dad called us early in the morning the next day mentioning that he had gotten out just a couple of hours before the city was surrounded. He arrived a few days later with all our furniture which the poor movers and my uncle had to bring up four flights of stairs. By the time they finished, the apartment was so packed that there was no room for us to move. Apparently our couches and beds were too big for our new palatial digs in southern Tehran >>> Part 5 >>> Index

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By Houman Jazaeri
Escape from Abadan





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