What a lovely country we have? Don't you see? This is the only country in the world which announces four days of unexpected holidays overnight. You just wake up to understand that Mr. Ahmadinejad had probably decided to pay a visit to his hometown, Semnan, and all of a sudden decided to close the country for four consecutive days in the emergency meeting of the cabinet the night before. It happens a lot to us, poor Iranians who live inside this GOL-O-BOLBOL country. As if we do not have all this economic problems and our country is not on the verge of international sanctions. Why should our lovely president and his idiot ministers be worried about that at all?
My friends called me in the morning to tell me the much refreshing news about the sudden long holiday. “WOW… Nice… What a country… Oh My God…” These were some of the replies I gave to them. I rejected all their invitations and in one case I had to dodge a visit by another batch of friends, excusing myself for being sick. There was only one reason for all these friend-evasions, the fact that I had no money at home. The events which happened afterwards could be made into the scenario of a comedy show. Penniless in the Islamic Republic. The story went this way:
I looked into my wallet and there was about 15,000 Tomans which by today's standards of Iranian financial system means almost zero. Of course I had my cards and could use them to get money from ATMs in case of emergency. But judging by previous experiences I could tell they would not work this time either. I could not put away my pride and ask any of my friends to lend me a few thousand Tomans. You know, in the past I had lent them money and if I asked them this time it could be misconstrued, as if I was to cash my unpaid loans. It would sound like this,
“Hey, do you remember I gave you 100 thousands last summer? Please give it back, cuz I am in a tight condition right now, you know ATMs are not working and there is no cash in the house.”
Ugh. It was so degrading. I would never do that. So there was only one choice and that was using the ATM. I mean trying to.
I had barely left the building and entered the courtyard, when the mewing of my cats reminded me they are hungry too and their food supply needed to be replenished. I started the car, knowing there was not much gas in the tank either. So I started my ATM-hunting around the city. I tried almost 50 ATMs from north to the south of the capital. To my chagrin most of those machines were out of order, and there were long lines of people in front of the rest of them.
At noon I chose one in Karim Khan which seemed to be working properly and got in line. It was the beginning of the new month (AVAL BORJ) and many people had come to get their salaries so they had to take a lot of money in three or four batches. Long before my turn the poor machine ran out of money. I paid for the gas and cat food and got home with 4000 Tomans.
Suddenly something wise occured to me. There was enough food in the fridge, so why did I have to kill myself for cash? If I could evade my friends and visitors for three days there would be no need for money. There was no other mouth to feed except the cats, so I could survive for the remaining three days without any hard cash.
In the afternoon, I forgot about the money and picked up a few classic DVDs to while away the night. I was in the middle of the second movie starring Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift when the doorbell rang. Wow. Who is it? Maybe my merry-making friends had finally decided to pay a visit to their penniless friend. What could I do? At first I wanted to ignore the bell and pretend to be away, but then I realized they might have seen the car in the yard by then. I picked up the phone.
“Who is it?” I asked , my heart beating like mad.
“Sir, this is the night guard, today is the first day of the month.” The guy on the other side of the line replied which meant I had to pay the monthly 15,000 Tomans.
“Please come back tomorrow. You know, I have locked all the doors,” I replied, making a fool of myself in front of the bemused guy. Locking the door at 7 PM?!
I got back to my Taylor-Clift film, hoping to fetch some money from a damned ATM the next day. An hour later another doorbell got me out of the story and brought me back to the real world. Horrified, with trembling hand I picked up the phone and asked “Who is it?”
“This is the garbage man, sir… monthly fee please.”