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Not without my laptop
I'm going to Iran -- Really this time

By Joni Mashti
March 19, 2002
The Iranian

I'm getting ready to travel to Iran. I really am getting ready to go this time. If you know me at all, you know I've been saying that for years and years. But, THIS year I'm really going to go. To prove it to you, I'm promising you here and now -- as my Persian New Year's Resolution. Another year will NOT pass without my visiting Iran. I'm not only going to go, I'm going to share my trip week by week from why I didn't go earlier, to the planning stages to the actual visit with everyone who cares to know about it.

This week, I will explain to you why I didn't go in the 70's. Now I know there are NO good excuses for not visiting Iran -- It's just something everyone, everywhere just MUST do.  You must visit Iran at least once in your life -- the sooner the better. But, let me tell you about my excuses for waiting so long.

1975-1976 -- Too bad I Don't Speak Arabic

My wish to visit Iran started back in 1975 or 1976 before I knew where Iran was in the world. I met a fellow student at "Across the Street U". I don't remember her name -- I think it was Fatima or something like that. We chatted briefly in the student union. I just remember that she seemed like such a nice person that I thought to myself. "Now Iran would be a nice place to visit . Too bad I don't speak Arabic." Of course, that wasn't a good excuse.

The fact that I didn't speak Arabic -- or that I didn't know that Arabic was not the language of Iran -- wasn't the reason that I didn't go to Iran that year. The real reason was that I couldn't bring my computer. In fact, I didn't have a computer and if I did have a computer it would have taken up a room in my parents' house. Never mind why -- just take my word for it.

1976-1977 -- Aide Shoma Mobarak

In 1977 I learned that people don't speak Arabic in Iran. What a relief. I really did NOT want to learn Arabic. This year I moved to the main campus. There were lots of Iranians on the main campus. A woman I knew in high school was dating an Iranian. I remember her telling me that she might go back with him to live in Iran with him.

I remember asking, "Would you really want to do that? Iran has been in the news lately. In fact, weren't those Iranians demonstrating on campus with bags over their heads? Wasn't there a 60 Minutes show about the SAVAK?"

Her reply was, "Well, it will be safe for me -- After all I'm American and my sweetheart isn't one who would get in trouble for demonstrating. In fact, I think he's actually related to the Shah's family in some way. What could be more safe?" Anyway, it was this friend who taught me my first words in Farsi (not Arabic): Aide Shoma Mobarak. 

Before visiting Iran, I knew I would have to learn more than how to say Happy New Year in Farsi. The fact that my Farsi was limited to "Aide shoma mobarak" had nothing to do with my real reason for not going to Iran that year. The real reason was that I couldn't bring my computer. Even if I could bring a computer, I wouldn't have known how to use it. I was majoring in "Pre Wed" at the time. At least that's what my engineering-major friends in school called my liberal arts major.

1977-1978 -- Meeting My Husband in a Dream

In the fall of 1977 I found a very good friend from the Middle East. We lived down the hall from each other in cheap student apartments just off campus. He was studying nuclear engineering. Here was someone who had it made. His future was set. Nuclear Engineering -- what could be better?

My very good friend was Palestinian. We might have become more than "very good friends," but, one day while studying with him in a way too comfortable place, I drifted off to sleep only to wake myself up from a dream saying very loudly "Jam-sheeeed!" My very good friend's name was Mohammad. We were never quite as close after that.

I didn't know where I had heard the name Jamsheed before. I didn't know why I was dreaming about him. I didn't know why Jamsheed was trying to give me trinkets in the dream or why I didn't think it was a good thing. Mohammad didn't care about the dream. Mohammad just wanted to know who the hell Jamsheed was.

Mohammad went home soon after that. He had wanted to go to MIT for his doctorate. He was accepted to MIT, but he had problems with immigration. Mohammad went home teach physics or something at Birzeit University. Shortly after he left, I heard on the news that they closed Birzeit University. I tried to call him on the phone. When I got through, he told me never to call again. I never called again.

But, the fact that I had only met my Iranian husband in a dream and the fact that my Farsi was still limited to "Aide shoma mobarak" had nothing to do with the reason I didn't go to visit Iran that year. The real reason was that I couldn't take a computer. In fact, at the time I had only used a computer for one FORTRAN class and one statistics class -- and I was about to fail the statistics class. But, for reasons I will have to explain later, I didn't go to Iran that year because I couldn't bring a computer.

Next episode - 1978-1979: Jigar-e To Bekhoram
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