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Wild & mild
Koon-fused, Part II
Part I

September 20, 2002
The Iranian

Like all Iranians, I was shaagerd aval too. In fact there are over 70 million schools in this world and all are occupied by former and current prize-winning Iranians at the top of each and every class.

OK, I admit it. I was schooled by an Irish/Croatian wanna-be sodomist governess named Shirley, in a cave on the borders of Inner and Outer Mongolia with a tea-cozy on my head, a donkey called Donald the Dumper in hand and sipping Ceylon tea during my pedagogic breaks, made from bacteria-free teabags, shipped all the way from Sri Lanka to South Hampton via Canary Wharf to the nearest port to Mongolia you can find on the map. So, really I had to become first in class, since the only inhabitants of the cave were Shirley, myself and Donald the Dumper. ("Ye rashtiye bood..." )

Click to see photos

The strange thing is that with all this self-delusionary brainpower, as well as grandeur of shaagerd avali, AND my bemusing moments with Shirley, who had a thing for "isms" that went as far as "Samovarism" in that very cave; today nothing has changed.

I still find myself always totally outwitted by the sheer lack of understanding anything. And I mean anything. From the difference between biological and non-biological washing powder, bomb-babbling baboon wanna-be's and the need to chlorine-gas tampons. And what on earth is Quorn or whatever it is called? I just don't get it. Any of it.

However I am not to blame. It all seems to have a root somewhere in my predestined genetically, astrologically, geographically-challenged make-up at birth and/or in my so-called formative years. Hey, I have to find something to blame!

You see apart from Shirley, there was also my Mami. She is German and a patient sort. I didn't have someone following me around the house with a fork to force-feed me in the customary Iranian version of "I'm a Big Mac and I love you". Maybe our house was too small for Mami to exercise such extra cardiovascular activity or maybe Hoovers (vacuum cleaners to you Americans, American-Iranians, Iranian-Americans, Persians or just the wanton-whining-warrior ones) were too big and heavy to schlep around, inbetween Mami's washing of all curtains at least once a week.

In any case, mealtimes were announced on some Asian resonating gong, and like good old Pavlov's dogs we all turned up, albeit sometimes in Lederhosen. Lederhosen are German leathershorts, usually green with hearts on them; if well-worn they are great on slides and great for a scary kind of echoing alpine-avalanche producing, Germanic sing-song called "yodelling". Yes, most amusing.

Of course, as a result of such discipline, I became, at the robust age of four, a revolutionary solitary rebel just for the sake of reappraising "An army marches on an empty stomach" (or vice-versa; which one of these Frenchies said it anyway?). Or maybe I liked the delicacies that Shirley wouldn't let me have but that Donald the Dumper was allowed.

I went on hunger-strike for four whole days. Remember at the age of four! They (the parents, not Shirley and Donald the Dumper) nearly rushed me off to hospital for a drip, because I got fed up with being a dog and thought myself a decision-making human being and because I didn't like the stuff they put in front of me.

That brown stuff. And that white stuff. That stuff that danced on the waves of the river of Prague's Vltava to Smetana's "My Country" that Mami had told me made the flute sounds. (ducks and swans). That stuff that I used to sing about: Schubert's "Die Forelle" (The Trout) that had been cruelly, whimsically murdered. And that stuff that once upon a time taught me the alphabet and went "dogh dogh dogh" or "kikiriki", as the Germans would have it.

By the way, how come chickens make different sounds in different countries? Is it their ears or tongues or a case of good old-fashioned pollution? Or different forms of treatment that gives out corn-fed asthmatic arias or torturous Stockhausenian atonality? And are eggs actually chicken placenta? This minuscule mind of mine doth boggle.

Anyway, leaving this footnote for another session; as I was muttering. Mami used to tell me apparently originally Aryan Grimm fairy-tales, but I've got them all wrong because she had to change them, because all the wicked people had dark hair except for snow-white. I loved snow-white dearly, but wasn't really sure about the seven dwarfs: "Which loo (the bog, the shithouse, the phonetic baaeethroom, the toilet to you American blah blah. non-Brits of dubious, hairy origins like myself) do they use? Mami, the Iranian 'mostaraa' or the 'toaalete almaani'?"

And those peculiarly questioning, Californian self-affirmations of her stepmother were too fathomless too! Poor woman if she had waited a few years she could have had a Guru, plastic surgery and felt better about herself and filled the apple with life-long testosterone and viagra. That prince would have done some serious jogging! Crikey I'm muttering again.

As I was saying before I lost the plot. Mami in her great strives and struggle to educate, tried to find solace in versing me in the grizzly Old Testament. Not on my great-hits collection, I must say: "Where is Sinai? Is it where we went last Friday (Damavand)? Why did it take Moses so long?"

And anyway I didn't like Moses at all. What a creep! First his own son and then the baby 'maaaa eeeeeee maaaaa eeeee babai'? Who would be next? Bambi? The entire cast of Sesame Street? My canary called Dovomi (Avali had been let out to be free by me!) that I used to carry everywhere in a bright-red basket with white polka dots basket?

I was a veteran four-five year old vegetarian, if they (the parents and stingy Donald the Dumper didn't like sharing either) would only let me! The guy Moses gave me nightmares: "Mami, which knife in the kitchen did he use?" Now Mami was starting to have nightmares. Mami gave up. And so legend has it that Mami never got as far as subjecting me to Salome nor the New Testament when swimming lessons were a real danger when Jesus was walking on water.

TV in Iran was banned too. The reason? 'The Flying Nun'. But I was upgraded from golden goose eggs, snakes and sticks to all insides. Combustible confusion crept in again. Why was I eating "jigar" when it was my neighbour's son's household nickname? And why did sheep behave so sheepishly and give their dangly bits to people to eat? "Mami, do they go and see the doctor and get new ones? Do sheep have money to pay the doctor like Baba?"

OK, I made this bit up and it isn't very good, is it? But I'm not making up this next bit .

To you men out there: Don't even start to enjoy your own childhood memories and reveries! Beware of the dangerous statistical fact that most accidents happen at home: I'm not the only Iranian woman who could be a nuisance at an adult barmitzvah. As a stickler for precision (induced and instilled by Shirley the Irish/Croatian Grande Dame governess and Donald the donkey's dumping and lack of space in the cave) I know exactly how to remove hair and skin for a recipe of revenge-marinated "donbalaan kebab"!

But despite such elevated education in culinary delights, alas, all confusion still remains with me to this very day. As you can see, I was an environmentalist at age 13! What a hippy! (See poem, my first year in England).

But nowadays my troubles have different names but are of the same root. For example the trouble I have with concentration (please, see above) and vegetable concentrates. I don't like mixing letters; thus confusion leads to concentration. See the logic? You poor soul! Welcome to the land of Going-going-gone-gaga. Welcome to the club! You are shaagerd aval number 1001.

And please do answer this: If, for example, I squish my small amounts of concentration cells into a concentrated niche will I become like Heinz tomato ketchup and be able to get out of my hermit cave (Shirley and Donald the Dumper went exploring a long time ago; Shirley is still a stern 'Samovarist' and Donald the Dumper is still stingy, or so I've heard.) and make friends with Big Mac, in beef-extract fried-chips (french fries to you on the other side) and Coca Cola and be more marketable and successful, omni-present and bubbly, become the centre of the world's concentration and take it over? And be really, really Post-Hegelian Happy?!

OK, you've got me; it's a trick question. But all in line with centralization and concentrated vegetable matter without the Alpha, but plenty of E's!? Every time such questions arise however in order to uphold the denial of confusion in front of other people and pushing reality forward just a little bit; I have developed a full fool-proof remedy.

Here's a tip. I dwell upon and exist in the certainty that first of all I loathe tofu sausages, secondly that I can't bring myself to let a lobster go into conscious coma for fifteen minutes in boiling water before waking up on my dinner date's side of the table and say "Hi, I'm Lilly the Lobster, you're special this evening." (Lilly is not insured by the way, because she smoked too much, all cooped up in the restaurant tank and couldn't keep up with the premiums).

Thirdly, Shirley was right in her admiration for Sodom-ism and all other "isms", although impossible for her to become an Sodomist, as the word doesn't exist, except when stuffing the Christmas turkey. You see, Sodom has blessed the English language with "sod off". Refreshing, isn't it? And eat your hearts out before any of you can tell me to 'sod off? With all the above rubbish!

I'm shaagerd aval again. Got there before you do: I use this expression in front of the mirror everyday. Three times for good old-fashioned luck and white voodoo magic. Just like snow-white's step-mum, but with a prescription for Prozac in one hand and yodelling in sign language with the other! I could win another shaagerd aval prize, couldn't I?! See photos

PS Please, all spare a thought for my poor Mami. She is still trying. Told you she is a patient sort!

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to Marjaneh Zahed-Khorassani-Kindersley

By Marjaneh Zahed-Khorassani-Kindersley

Suddenly Pavarotti hit the high C. And so did I!
July 2002



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