Flower delivery in Iran


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Part 1
New York, Sunday, September 4

2:00 p.m.
Head feels like overripe watermelon splitting at the sides. Barely dragged myself from bed about 45 minutes ago which is when I woke up suddenly from recurring nightmare where I am at a party with giant self-serve buffet table and all I want to do is to get to the damn table to have a tall refreshing glass of lemonade but annoying acquaintances keep bumping into me, forever detaining me from quenching my unbearable thirst.

Partied at the Cactus Cafe with Manny, Bruce, Nance, and the gang, til God knows when last night... or should I say this morning. Everything starts becoming blurry after approximately 11:00 p.m. That's when I got the bright idea to match one tequila shot for every year since my birth. Oh yeah... Whole thing was in honor of my birthday... Actually my birthday is today, but for obvious reasons, we decided to celebrate on a Saturday night.

Yep...turned the big 2-6... Officially on the wrong side of my 20s... If Ally McBeal has visions of dancing babies haunting her, I have visions of dancing pickles: Am I really torshideh? A single Iranian girl in her 20s (wrong side of the 20s) who is about as close to settling down as a chihuahua confronted by a big bulldog... Sigh... Not for lack of wanting though ... Why can't I meet the right man? ... Oh wait, this is how that whole tequila experiment started last night... Better put that aside for now... Damn!

This is not at all how I wanted to start off this diary... Oh yeah, this diary, pink leather covers, with black fur-like decorations: a bright birthday gift idea from Manny... Her idea of a joke, I guess... Seeing as I have been bitching for the past few months about getting "over-the-hill" so she gave me this Sweet Sixteen Diary on my birthday. Gee, thanks. Well, the joke will just backfire because I am actually going to use this diary, and it will help me better myself. Hey, a little self-analysis never hurt did it? Maybe I can even pick up some self-motivation along the way. Maybe I will even end up publishing this diary one day as an example of "turning your life around" and become a New York Times best-seller and Oprah will invite me on her show in a special segment on "finding your spirit". Maybe I will even get married to a nice Iranian guy and get mAmAn off my back!...Mmmm, better start right away, where is my "good" pen?

3:30 p.m.
Went to look for my good pen and the phone rang. Was mAmAn and bAbA Joon calling to wish me happy birthday, and reminding me to get there on time. Damn! Completely forgot that I am to go the burbs for an afternoon tea and cake, though God knows why; I'm 26-years old for God's sake! Looked at the clock and it was 2:30 p.m., tea is at 4:00 p.m., one hour to get from the city to the burbs. That means half an hour to erase any traces of last night's debacle from my face and body AND find something proper to wear... Sigh.... Head still feels like watermelon though now interestingly like one that is slowly and painfully being drained through two inserted needles on each side of my temples.

Managed to jump in and out of the shower in about five minutes including washing my enormous lion's mane of hair which I will simply pull back in a bun (no time to blow-dry). After searching for various items of clothing strewn here and there in closet, on chairs, under my bed, finally managed to find mAmAn-approved green twin set (tank and sweater) with knee-length black skirt for a "smart outfit". Finish off with white gold set (a gift from grandma) and spray of Bijan (I bought it one day when I was feeling very patriotic). Dumped keys and wallet (depressingly thin after last night's tequila charity donation) AND my new diary into my imitation black Fendi purse from Iran (one of mom's gifts from her trip to Kish, I only carry it when I visit her) and scooted out just in time to catch the 3:24 p.m. to Mount Vernon at Grand Central. The only thing I love about these visits (well, apart from kissing bAbA Joon on his forehead) is gazing at all the greenery outside the train window as we slowly but surely leave the smog-filled city that I love despite all its faults.

10:00 p.m.
Grrrr ... Thank God I finally convinced mAmAn to let me go back home. This is always her trap. She drags me to the burbs on the pretext of a quick afternoon "tea" and then invites enough distanced relatives, acquaintances and friends to fill an entire cattle car to shame me into staying for dinner, since everyone is just "dying" to catch up with me. Then, when it's finally dark outside, she tries to convince me to "sleep-over" as it would not be safe for me to go back to the big bad dark city all by myself, fully realizing that every precious minute that goes by makes me even more late and more susceptible to the boogeyman she envisions lurking in the corner of every subway station from Grand Central to my little hole-in-the-wall apartment on Broadway and Third.

I love mAmAn joon. I just hate what she becomes when she has guests over. I turn into some kind of trophy on display for everyone to "ooh" and "aah" over and examine the "merchandise" from up close with the secret hope that an interested "buyer" (i.e. khAsstegAr) will receive a beneficial report from the agent he has sent to negotiate the transaction. And mAmAn joon is only too happy to oblige in front of countless SoghrAs and KobrAs who are merely interested in their Sunday evening dinner, eating some delicious home-made pollo khoresh (if I'm really going to turn my life around, I have to include a section about learning how to make khoresh bAdemjoon from mAmAn, the best chef in the Tri-State area as far as I'm concerned: my rotund belly is a witness to the fact).

Well, here goes the routine. I entered the family home and as soon as the door was opened, I was greeted by a cacophony of half-screaming voices (the neighbours must think there is an auction of Persian rugs at my house every Sunday). First to run to the door is mAmAn: "nAzeeeeeee ressidi!!! CherA en ghad deer kardi mAmAn jAn, negarAn shodam. Behett zang zadam khooneh naboodi!" (Sure enough, when I got back home, there were five messages on the answering machines, all hang-ups with distant murmurs of Iranian voices in the background). She planted two firm kisses on my cheeks and whispered in my ear:"CherA mAteek namAlidi mAmAn jAn? Boro yezareh mAle mano bemAl bekhodett."

Before I get a chance to to run upstairs to her bedroom, she grabs my hand and brings me to the kitchen where all the neighbourhood ladies are assembled. Some are peeking over the stove at the khoresh and pollo-filled pots and pans. Others are sitting at the counter sipping tea, munching on dates, and gossiping. Still others are running back and forth in the kitchen setting the table outside. (It's still nice enough weather to have dinner in the patio in the backyard). Everyone is either talking, screaming, laughing, whispering, ordering about and generally moving around very quickly like a hen with its head cut off. By contrast, I glance at the men all assembled in the adjoining TV room, in complete silence, without a muscle moving from their easy chairs, glued to the televised football game (not soccer, football!). The only odd thing is I don't notice bAbA Joon anywhere.

Well, I have to make the rounds as usual: kissy kissy on both cheeks, sometimes air kisses, 10 shades of Chanel lipstick on my cheeks (here, is that enough color for you mAmAn?) and then mom starts reciting all my attributes: "Nazee-ye man folAn folAn jA tahsseel kardeh, too folAn folAn jA kAre kheili khoobi gerefteh, ...etc. etc." First of all, I hate it when she calls me Nazee. My name is Nazanin but people call me Naz, plain and simple, and I like that. I have terrible flashbacks of my first day of school, where mAmAn with her then broken English took me to my American teacher who asked her whether I had a nickname I would prefer to be used in class and mAmAn said: "Yes, vee call her nAzee...nAAAAA-zeeeeeeee". To which my teacher asked her to spell it and mAmAn wrote on a piece of paper "NAZI". The teacher gave her a VERY funny look and though I did not know about World War II and Nazis at the time, I felt one of many future moments where you realize you are "different" from everyone else. Anyways, I got over all those childish insecurities, but I want to be called Naz.

Tthere was the usual pause after the recital of all my praises and then, almost in unison, like a Greek chorus in a Socratic play, the ladies exclaimed: "Bah!Bah! Pass key shoharesh midi?" To which I tried to put on my best poker face, trying to not show my complete humiliation. After all that jazz, things began to calm down again, and everyone went more or less back to their routine. I took the opportunity to go upstairs and refresh my face a bit. When I went in my old room, to my surprise I found bAbA Joon sitting on the bed, with what looked like a book in his lap. "Hi bAbA Jooooonam," I exclaimed and sauntered over to him to give him a kiss on his almost bald head. He hugged me back and motioned to sit beside him. I looked down and saw that he was leafing through the pages of my baby album. So that's where he had been hiding all this time, away from the mayhem downstairs? I put my arm around his shoulders and we both quietly looked at the pictures from Iran until a shrill voice from downstairs advised us that dinner was ready.

First thing tomorrow, after work, I'm really seriously going to look for my good pen.

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