I went to watch Iran play against China in a world cup qualifying match. The game was broadcast live from Iran at a local Irish pub, near Shaheen Khanoom's Persian grocery store in Laguna Niguel, southern California, at 6:30 in the morning. The pub was full of Iranians, over 200 of them, male, female, young and old, each having paid $15 to watch the game.
Shaheen Khanoom was selling haleem and serving free zoolbia and bamiyeh after every goal we scored. We scored four times, each time, followed by zoolbia, the sound of booqs and shaypoors, and the cheer of “bachehaa moteshakereem.” China scored ten minutes before the end of the game. No zoolbia for the Chinese goal. Only broken chopsticks!
Have you ever seen a soprano perform? Your body starts to shiver when the high notes are reached. That is how I felt last Friday. You may call it the “joy of soccer.” But I think it was something more. I think I saw “Maam-e-Vatan” in an Irish Pub.
How odd! I saw a group of Iranians, many now U.S. citizens, cheering for their heritage, despite differences in lifestyles and opinion. There is a link between us and our homeland that will never be broken. It is in our blood. It cannot be taken away by way of a Green Card, political asylum, or life in a different continent. We are all the children of booq-o-shaypoor. Hungry for haleem and kaleh paacheh. Suckers for zoolbia and bamieh.
I intend to revisit our “Maam-e-Vatan” again this Friday when Iran plays against Saudi Arabia in Dhahran. The prestige we had before the revolution, may be restored for a few hours by our national soccer team.
I am sure I will see Dariush, Yazdgerd, Afshin, Babak, Yaghoub, Abu Moslem, and many other friends that have been waiting for another chance to pay their respects to Maam-e-Vatan. You are invited too.