October 12, 2001
I remember when I was about 10-years old, we used to go visit my grandmother's
house on Meydoon Ferdowsi in downtown Tehran where the entire family would
gather every Friday for lunch.
Back then, in 1967, there was no Nintendo or video games. So the kids
(all cousins) would go to the top floor of the building and watch the happenings
on Shahreza Avenue (now called Enqelab-Revolution). We would watch taxis
go by, sometimes yell stuff to people way down on the street and then hide.
Once or twice we may have made prank calls to the phone number advertised
on the building. But we never did anything that would be considered dangerous
There was one regrettable incident. One Friday we picked up the phone
and called a local chelokababi and ordered ten soltanis for the business
across the street. We saw a poor soul riding a bike with a big platter on
his head with 10 mouth-watering soltanis arriving at the other building.
He rang the buzzer.
We could see the "customer" waving his hands, basically saying
he had not ordered the kababs. The delivery boy gestured that someone there
had ordered it (fortunately there was no caller ID back then). This went
back and forth a few minutes until the "customer" either felt
sorry, or actually got hungry, and paid for the kababs and the delivery
guy left. We all laughed and thought we had played a great prank. I am not
proud of having been part of it, but I realize no real harm was done, and
actually the end result was beneficial to both parties involved.
I had forgotten all about this episode until this week. On Monday Kian
my son who attends kindergarten in a nice suburb outside of Washington D.C.,
had to be evacuated with the rest of his classmates due to a telephone bomb
threat. The same thing happened again on Wednesday, this time by email.
Then last night, when I got home my wife informed me that our other son,
Riyan, who is only 2-years old, had to be evacuated from day care, again
due to a bomb threat. In addition, a suspicious package had been delivered
to their school with "strange" writing on it (I think they meant
Arabic script), and it was shipped off to the National Institute of Health
(NIH) for evaluation. Kian couldn't wait to tell tell me how the kindergarten
kids got evacuated, had to hold hands and walk, not run. I said why, he
said, "We had a bond scare!"
People in the know suspect it may be some sick individual(s) who get
a kick out of doing such things. They can be teenagers, adults, who knows?
That's what got me thinking, about my the time I was growing up, when we
had no computers or 500 TV channels. We didn't have a soccer field and a
playground on every street corner.
I keep on reading about the "sleeper terrorists" who may still
be in this country waiting to do something. What about the locals who are
calling in these threats, not only bomb threats, but anthrax threats, and
all the rest. These people probably have nothing to do with the September
11 tragedy, but are terrorists nonetheless. They have and continue to terrorize
us. They don't do it for some sick ideological or religious reason. To them
it's only a prank, and they probably believe they are having a little "fun".
It's quite sad. It makes me nostalgic for 20th century pranks we pulled
in Iran where one guy got a nice lunch, and the other made some money. I
only wish the perpetrators of what goes on today realize that there's nothing
funny about their 21st century pranks.