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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


January 24, 2000

All political

What I am writing to you perhaps does not make any sense and it is because nothing made sense that day ["All tied up"] ["Rosy Sunday"]. We all wanted to pretend that it was 25 years ago and the revolution had not happen.

I went to two soccer games -- Iran vs. Ecuador and Iran vs. USA. There was a huge difference. Both in players and audience. However, it was all about politics and our lives in the U.S. We started our lives here because of politics and now we somehow want to sweep our past under the rug so we can justify our lives here and ease our conscience.

The games in general were representative of our dual lives, a paradox of being semi immigrants. One foot here and one foot ready to move. Or maybe now both feet are planted here but our past haunts us. The audience was so determined to be civilized and not to appear political . Was that for the benefit of American brothers or for the Islamic Republic brothers? Did we want to show that we are not terrorists? That we are apolitical soccer-loving immigrants? We were also determined not to put the seal of approval on the Islamic Republic in a obvious way.

Yekee bood..Yekee nabood...

How could we not love the football team that illuminated so many of our warm and sweet childhood memories? Of course, we would come out and waive our arms but how could we say that it was Iran that we loved not the government?

Zeereh gonbad-e Kabood heechkeeh nabood!

In the Iran-USA game, I saw many people who did not even know how the game was played and at the beginning said that they did not care. "Who cares?" was their response! To my surprise, they all showed up. How could they miss this event? Although I am sure that they still did not know what they were doing there.

A friend said to me in a stern voice and a "negaahe aagel andar safih" that he would never support the Islamic Republic by showing up at the stadium. I saw him laughing with his friends checking out the babes. Why did he come? I'm sure he didn't know exactly why.

I went because I love football. I used to go to all the games in Abadan with my dad. I went because I wanted to feel at home for a moment. I closed my eyes and I could have been in any stadium in Iran. This was as close as I would ever get to feeling at home. I went to see who had the guts to show their politics. I wanted to observe how we have changed in the past 20 years.

It was the most orderly Iranian event I have been to. There were no fights in the bleachers and no swearing. For once in 20 years, I wanted to yell the name of Iran. I actually got the words to the "Ay Iran" so that I could sing it. I am not sure exactly why but I knew I wanted to. Unfortunately, during Sunday's Iran-USA match they did not play the song.

The audience was not organized and did not cheer well. Everyone was just screaming!They could not get a cheer or a waive going. I guess that also was showed our culture here -- not organized and not hamaahang! (What is the word in English? Harmonious!). This is mostly because we can never agree on what we are doing here and have forgotten why we are here.

I heard a man on the radio talk about all the prisoners in Iran. That would have boiled my blood 20 years ago but now the country he was talking about seems so far away. I felt sad and I thought what do the Iranian people who live under the Islamic Republic think about us? Our behavior on Sunday? Did we betray them? Did we miss our chance at making a statement? It seems that there is not much I can do but find a way to live with my memories.

We kid ourselves if we say that it was not about politics. It was all politics. In Wednesday's Iran-Ecuador match, the Iranian team never acknowledged the audience. They scored two goals and never looked at our side. Were they afraid to acknowledge us? The audience was smaller but well organized and cheered so well. I was amazed that I remembered all these different cheers. "Ecuador beh man goft! Chee Gotf?... Khodesh be man goft ... " I felt so comfortable with all these Iranians I had never seen before. We were all smiling and as soon as a group would start, we would follow their cheers. "Esteelee Esteeleto!"

On Sunday, oh my God, the Iranian team came out waiving to the crowd as if they are in Tehran. Weren't they afraid ? The players seemed all genuine and I guess they were given permission to show emotion, waive, smile, throw soccer balls and flowers to the fans. They really played up to the audience rather than to the American team. They were the same players who played on Wednesday but they behaved so differently. I guess we know who the real winner was that DAY.

It made me think that there is no map or manual for an immigrant. I look at the Cuban community in Florida that has come together to make a statement to the Cuban government about a little boy who has been separated from his father. I think they are wrong on this particular issue but they are right in being united and taking advantage of every chance to remind the world about the lack of democracy in Cuba! Well, maybe the Cubans do not travel back and forth as much as we do!

S. Irani


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