where are you from?


by buna

I cant remember exactly, but it was a few years after the revolution, right when the “begir begir” (mass arrests) started, the passport office in tehran started issuing new IRI passports so we went and stood in line for days and got them. The swiss embassy in tehran had a USA desk and I was able to get exit visas for my wife and baby son. We flew to bern with the $500 dollars we were allowed to take with us, and had to stay at the jugenhostel (youth hostel) for a week while the US consulate there processed our visas. There were three ex-hostages working at the US consulate and they werent very friendly to iranians, yet we were able to get our papers.

The lady at the reception desk at the jugenhostel was very rude and condescending to the iranians there, as well as to the arabs and africans. She put all of us in uncarpeted rooms without toiletsin an unfinished part of the hostel, while the european guests stayed in “luxury” rooms. We had to be out of the rooms from 9am until 5pm and without money we would just sit around the lunch table and chat. One day we had our swaddled baby boy sleeping in his carrier on the table and she yelled at us that we were animals and ordered us to get the filth of the tables, they were for eating, not sleeping. She made many other impolite comments during our stay there and on the day we got our stamps and called a taxi to go to the airport and fly to chicago, as we were checking out, I told her she was a racist. She went red with anger, said she had had enough of these arabs, called the police and kicked out all the iranians staying there, as well as the other arabs and people of color. I remember getting in the taxi and looking back at the line of people streaming out of the jugenhostel under police supervision (they had arrived in less than two minutes). The poor people looked back at me, not in anger, they just shook their heads in disbelief that such an idiot as I could exist in this world.

We flew to chicago and went to sawyer michagan, about a 90 minute drive, to stay with grampa larson in his log cabin near the beach. It was a boring 6 months, just teevee and rednecks. When summer came around we would go to the beach everyday, and I would take this opportunity to look for iranians. We were so close to chicago I was sure that I would be able to find an iranian on the beach. We had left our friends and families in iran, and the constant visits and friends dropping over, and sitting around telling the same jokes over and over, and drinking homemade spirits and laughing until we cried to come to the land of teevee and rednecks. I so wanted to find an iranian to talk to and maybe even invite over for a cup tea. Then one day I saw him. He was sitting on a blanket with three american girls in bikinis and he looked so iranian; hairy, brown, arrogant and happy to be on a blanket with three girls. I was kicking a ball around with my son, so I kicked it over by the guy and yelled loudly to my son, “behrang, boro tupo begir (go get the ball)” and the guy looked over right at me. There was panic on his face as I walked toward him, but I didnt notice it, and with a big smile said, “salaam!”, as his eyebrows pleaded for mercy, he said in the thickest iranain accent I have ever heard, “ayy don't underrrstand.” so I asked him where he was from and he said, “ayy am, uh, uh, ayy am yoonani (the farsi word for greek)”, it was then I realized it was still too near to the hostage crisis for iranians to get laid in the states, so I said, “sorry, I thought you were from kharkosde island.” he looked at me, pleading with his eyes for me to leave him alone and just pitifully shrugged his shoulders. I walkd away.

We wouldnt see iranians until we bought a 73 michigan-rusted-out ford maveric for $300 and drove across country in a snow blizzard to california to camp at bella and nersi's berkeley “refugee center” for a couple months until we could get jobs and an apartment of our own.


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Ali P.

My experience

by Ali P. on

 I am not questioning everyone else's experience, but in the last 26 years that I have lived abroad- and yes, a few years in Germany- not even once, have I been called a name or mistreated because of my Iranian nationality. I don't know if it has been due to my mild manners, light complextion, my non-Arabic sounding name ( I am only Ali P., here, mind you), or my size ( 6'2", 220 lbs.), but honestly, not even once have I tried to conceal my nationality, and not once have I felt the racism that some of you, I am sure, have experienced.


Racist ham racist-haye ghadim...

by Buna Fan (not verified) on

Yeah, I got my Iranian passport thrown in my face too in Switzerland. In 1978 in a train at some border. In Germany they were more restrained -- the conductor picked up my passport with the tip of his fingers like a najes thing.

Oh, the good old days where people were forthcoming with what they really think...


Buna, if I were to define you

by Jaleho on

I'd say you're the grown up "little Johnnie" whom everyone loves, but boy... you'd be a tough kid for parents to raise!


One thing is sure, you are a natural writer!!

Your character just jumps out of your pen, and it is a lovely one :-)


تاریخ را دوباره ننویسید

امیر کبیر در حمام فین و مشکوک که سفیر انگلیس آنجا چه میکند (not verified)

غم انگیز است که چگونه در عرض یک با دو نسل تاریخ تحریف شده و به فحشا کشیده میشود.

همان ملت ساکت و مطیع و فرمانبردار که اکنون در ایران دنبال یک لقمه نان است، بهمان صورت هم در رژیم گذشته ملتی تو سری خور، مطیع و صلحدوست بودند.

آن ملت و مردم ایران نبودند که آمریکائیان را به گروگان گرفتند و چرا تاریخ را تحریف میکنید؟

در عرض دو قرن نفوذ انگلیس در ایران در حدود دو تا سه هزار نفر وطنفروش جیره خوار انگلیس و فرزندان ایشان امور آن مملکت را در دست دارند.

در سال 1979 انگلیس به جبره خواران خود فرمان حمله به سفارت آمریکا را صادر کرد. در کشور شیعه اثنی عشری ایران، فرمان انگلیس کاملا مساوی با فتوای یک آیت الله است و بارها در تاریخ ما این ثابت شده است.

با اشغال سفارت آمریکا، دولت انگلیس موفق شد بیش از سی سال پای آمریکا را از ایران بریده و مذهب شیعه را برای نفوذ و ایجاد نفاق در عراق قویتر کند.

دانشجویان خط امام جمعا چه آگاهانه و یا ابلهانه همه پادوهای سفارت انگلیس بودند که مملکت ما را به اینجا کشاندند.

حالا شما نشسته اید و احساس ندامت میکنید که چرا سفارت آمریکا را اشغال کردیم! آخر هیچ کدام از خود پرسیده اید که اگر این ملت عرضه و جر بزه سفارت گرفتن داشت پس چرا آن لانه فساد و شیره کش خانه ای بنام سفارت انگلیس هنوز سر پا ایستاده است؟

آنقدر خود را کوچک و حقیر نکنید و از اجنبی پوزش نخواهید.


Be realistic........a comment

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

By God i want to be realistic. The matter is that american imperialism has taken away from Iran whatever was transportable and wahtever they wished to take. As the honorable iranian nation begann to say no to that rubbery their hate and aggressivity against exots was more than 100 fold potencialized. The afghan do not have any logical and reasonable arguments to akt against Iran. I think the comparation does simply not fit. However as i have been so free to mention in my other comment and question the euro-americans were also bevore 1978 impolite against exopts and behaved very hatefull. Anyhow the western media report today about bankruptsy of the "World-society". They mean of course Euro-American countries. For these Non-human-beings other areas and countries do not exist. Little by little make the europians free themselves from falangs of the american imperialism. I hope that this isn the last time that europian mony streams to american banks to cover the finances for the Irak and Afghanistan war. I hope that the nations of the real world would be abel to live in peace and friendship with each other.
last remark: In reality is the hate of natives against immigrants is against their own government. And practicing this against exots is some kind of ventil. Greetin


Be realistic

by Iva (not verified) on

Say, Afghni government attacks Iranian embassy, takes Iranian diplomats as hostages and imprisons them for 444 days then to top it off, every day for 30 years brings its citizens to the city streets to yell death to Iran. How would treat an Afghanies when your path crosses their? Without above scenario, Iranians treat Afghni citizens like shit let alone if those guys yell "death to Iran" every day.

So, don't be too surprised to come across Americans, Europeans who don't care much for our kind. Az must ke bar must!

by the way, for every case of an Iranian who had to deal with a redneck, how many cases you know that Iranians have excelled in US companies, etc. Can you say the same for citizens of other countries in Iran?! I don't think so.


Mmm...I wonder...

by Reza K. (not verified) on

It seems unfriendliness followed you everywhere you went...
Could it be, the problem lied elsewhere?
Just a thought..


where are you from?

by Faribors Maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

Dear Sir, since you have given a lot of your privates may be it is not too indiscritly when i allow me to ask you if you stil remember WHY you left that country? You write it was begir begir. On the otherhand you and your family could get a passport and exitvisa and leave. it means - as far as i am able to consider the situation - you were not on the "List". Otherwise you could have not be able to leave legaly. I hope you have now a satifactorily life and your Son- child may be is father himself.
The euro-americans have been allways hatefull and impolite to Irano-Africo-Arabs. One can say well, after 1978/79 they had and stil have reasons to behave hatefull because "OON CHEES HARA LOOLOO BORD". But they behaved the same also before 1978 exactly so.
I am sure also in the United states poeple can have a nice life. Greeting


Dear Buna sometimes past is so painful we just want to forget it

by Tahirih on

I don't know if my first few years  outside Iran was  as exciting as this young man on a carpet with 3 American girls :))) but I remember not wanting  to remember Iran and anything related to it. It did just hurt so much. I really am a tea fanatic!! you can find  so many different tea blends in my house. But for the first 10 years we did not drink tea!!!

one day we were at a party and was offered Ahmed, brewed tea,both of us looked at each other and said why  are  we not drinking tea?

I did not know the answer, being younger, but I know it now.

Today , after starting our recovery and healing , I am proud to say that we live as if we are living in the middle of Tehran,fully Iranian.

 I really enjoy your writing sir,


Azadeh Azmoudeh

So Familiar!

by Azadeh Azmoudeh on

Your story is so familiar to what my husband went through. Except during hostage' time, he (Iranian by then) introduce himself as a Turk. He was in U of M by the time, the hostility for Iranian,as he explained it to me was aweful.Good thing is it's over and all you have now is bitter-sweet memories:)


Niki Tehranchi

I don't know whether to laugh or cry

by Niki Tehranchi on

Such horrible circumstances yet you put them in such a humorous manner that I couldn't help laughing out loud.  I like your writing style :)