Abadan with an accent

I enjoyed reading ”
Let him go home” and ”
The good old days” even though I did not agree with everything. They touched me because I am also from Abadan and I have the same childhood memories. I was fascinated with politics and ideas of justice at the time of revolution.

I agree with you that nobody cared about religion at schools in Abadan but I do remember the Arab boys in school who were poor and ignored by others most of the time. I was from a blue-collar
sherkat nafti (oil company) family and I also got my toys at the time of Charshanbeh-soori and Noruz at Abadan Club.

I was not interested in religion at the time of the revolution even though I was following all the events. Maybe because my mother was religious and she tried to put me through religious rituals and I always tried to escape.

We face questions about our identity when we are teenagers. We tend to introduce ourselves to our parents as independent adults, with ideas different than theirs. If my mother didn't try to put me through religious practices, maybe I would have been an Islamic activist, and if your father hadn't told you that politics is bad or the Shah is good, maybe you would have never gotten interested in politics and anti-shah Islamic ideas.

I didn't get a chance to engage in politics because I quickly found myself in the frontline of the war with Iraq. I was in Abadan, Ahvaz, Hamid Barracks, Hoveizeh, and finally Bostan, where I was injured after spending almost a year and a half in the field doing my military service as a conscript officer.

I never had a chance to visit Abadan again. I left Iran 15 years ago. I visited my family in Iran almost every two years. But they always prevented me from visiting Abadan. My sister believed that seeing the devastation in my hometown would make me sad.

Finally I visited Abadan last year. I felt I was seeing myself 20 years ago when I was injured in the war. I was seeing the injured Abadan in front of my eyes. The city looked sad and poor to me. That was the first impression I got, but after a couple of days I started to see a new soul in the city.

I was excited to see many teenagers with the same dress that I used to wear 30 years ago: shalvaare jeen va zir-piraahane Captain (jeans and Captain undershirts). But when I tried to talk to them, I was surprised by their strong a Arabic accent. It was noticeable almost everywhere — in taxis, hotels, schools and restaurants.

The fact is that the city's composition has changed. The native Arabs who used to live in the outskirts are now running Abadan's economy, from the oil refinery to downtown shops, schools and transportation.

As I was sitting in the airplane and leaving Abadan, these questions came to my mind: What happened to the experience of building a modern city in the south of Iran with thousands of Iranians who had setteled there from different cities with different cultures? What happened to Abadan's fascinating multi-cultural community? What happened after eight years of war? Is life a closed circle? Abadan is again in being run by people who used to run it 80 years ago.

I love Abadani Arabs. They deserve recogntion for staying in Abadan and defending it, especially during the two-year Iraqi siege. But Abadan — like Khoramshahr, Susangerd, Bostan and other cities in Khuzestan — is dominated by Arab culture. It is easy to have a city with a single culture but it is not so easy to recreate the experience of building a multi-cultural city within two generations. It might never happen again, at least as long as I'm on this planet.










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