After going to Iran two summers ago, I decided to do some research for my doctorate.
Me: Hi, I was wondering whether I could take up 2 minutes of your time?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Why? What for?
Me: I'm writing my thesis on social and political awareness in Iran. I'm Iranian but I've been living in the UK since I was 2, I currently doing my doctorate and I'm interested in hearing the opinion of the Iranians living in Iran.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire looks at me suspiciously.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Get out of here, not only do you speak Persian perfectly, you've got no accent. You think I'm going to fall for this… hey this isn't hidden camera or anything?
I sigh, its not the first time I've had fellow Iranians bewildered by my ability to impersonate the major Iranian accents and dialects. If I began busting my Dari which I learnt from Afghan friends in London, he would have pestered me about my real nationality.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: No wait, you son of a bitch, you're a khoshteep Basiji, yeah I know you guys, you shave your beard off, wear CK jeans, gel your hair, and want to provoke me in an anti-Islamic Iranian conversation.
Me: No! wait-
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Yeah, yeah, get lost… then what? Once I've opened my mouth, arrest me, and then get my dad to pay you a bribe?
Me: No man, wait. Let me show me my university card.
I pull out my university card and show it to him. Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire looks at it.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: You really from London?
Me: Of course.
I begin speaking in English.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: OK, I believe you, what do you want to know?
I hit him with the most heated question on the Iranian dinner table.
Me: If the USA attacks Iran, what are the consequences?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: If the USA attacks? Oh man, I've been praying for it every day. They'll get rid of the sin of a bitch akhoonds, set up a real democratic vote, and Iran will be free.
I close my eyes, and begin to do that scratching thing on the left side of my face that annoys my girlfriend so much.
Me: I see. Like Iraq.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Huh?
Me: And Afghanistan.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire realises I'm being sarcastic and hits me with Tehrani style convincing.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Listen man, Iran is different from Iraq and Afghanistan. We will never have civil war in our country, we're civilized and cultured. We're different. Do you remember the Iran-Iraq war? Do you remember how well we treated the Iraqi prisoners, while those Arab lizards tortured and killed our brothers?
The fact that the majority of Iraqi POWs refused to return to Iraq, married to exiled Iraqi women is proof of the Iranians' treatment of Iraqi POWs. The south of Tehran, most particularly Rey, has a vibrant Iraqi community, both Shia and Sunni.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Bush has promised once he gets rid of the akhoonds and the nuclear threat he'll hand over Iran to its people.
Me: You really believe that?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Of course!
I begin scratching my face again, more violently.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Are you OK man, your face is getting red. It must be all of this pollution. Bastard mullahs, they can't even sort out our cars. Can you believe it? The shitty paykan has a 2 litre engine. A 2 litre engine! Can you believe it! Western cars with 2 litre engines fly into the sky. What can the paykan do except choke lead into our air and turn away girls?
Me: Didn't Khomeini promise to separate religion from politics.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Hey man, are you comparing Bush with Khomeini?
Me: Sure, why not?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: You're crazy man. Khomeini was a liar, a thief and a murderer. They rigged the vote at the start of the revolution claiming he got 98%, executed thousands of prisoners, and promised us victory in Iraq in a short space of time. Damn! The sacrifices we gave to our country.
I can see irony raining on our heads.
Me: Do you watch the Iranian satellite channels broadcasting from the West?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: No, I watch the Islamic sharia programmes on national TV. Of course I do man!
He slicks back his long black gelled hair. I notice he's plucked his eyebrows, got a huge death skull on this chain. His Slayer t-shirt has been neatly kept, a classic from the 80s. Impossible to find, even on e-bay.
Me: You believe the stuff they feed you?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Man, they've got some real educated people on that channel man. Like that-
Me: Like that dude who asked Iranians around the world to donate money to him so he could invade Tehran with a couple of helicopters and some ex-Immortal Guard commandos to topple the Islamic regime?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Come on man, everyone knew he was a hoax.
Me: What about Soosan Roshan presenting those political programmes. I heard she's got a doctorate in Sociology.
I was beginning to get even more sarcastic than Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire, but I was enjoying it.
Me: Why do you think Iraq has turned into a hell hole?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Because those Iraqi dogs don't appreciate what the Americans have done for them.
Me: Like rape their women, loot their homes and put bullets in 8 month old babies' heads?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Oh my God, you're worst than the mullahs. I knew you were a khoshtip Basiji. You-
My anger begins to show.
Me: For God's sake! Do you want to check my wallet for my Basij ID card? Go on check! I've told you before, I'm not a Basiji, I'm a PhD student from London.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire looks taken back.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: OK man, I believe you. I'm not going to go through your wallet. I just can't believe you've been fed with so much propaganda.
Me: What propaganda? On what basis do you think you will benefit from the USA attacking Iran?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: They'll get rid of the mullahs. That's enough.
Me: What if the situation escalates like Iraq, or like Afghanistan? Do you know that until 2002 there wasn't one standing non-residential building left in the whole of Afghanistan? Not one.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Afghanistan is different.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Because they're Afghans.
Me: Hmm. What if the mullahs go, and the Americans install the Mujahedin, you know, Rajavi.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: That will never happen. Bush branded them as terrorists, he doesn't co-operate with terrorists. Besides that, the MEK have no support in Iran.
Me: But according to you, nor do the mullahs. What's to stop the MEK holding power. What's to stop the MEK doing precisely what the mullahs are doing, you know eliminating political opponents, ruling Iran with an Iron fist, corruption, scandal-
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Because it won't! Look man, I respect you, but you just haven't been living in Iran. You don't know anything about Iran. You just come here during the summer, cruise the streets, pick up some whores, eat some kabab, then go back to the West and say:
“Hey! Iran is great”. No my brother, its not great, we've got corruption, drug addiction, an uncontrollable prostitute crisis and rampant unemployment. I can't even go to university! I've tried 3 times and I've never been able to get in! I just don't have the brains, nor a shaheed uncle, nor the connections.
Me: But how will a USA attack solve this?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Because the mullahs will be overthrown! They want these problems to rise and persist, so they can hold power. When the people are weak, they remain strong. Don't you get it?
Me: Look, I know what you're saying, but the Bush adminstration doesn't really have a rosy record of invading a country, respecting its people, installing a democratically elected government, packing its bags and saying adios. They invade, kill, rape, and take the oil. Why don't they invade Western Sahara? Don't they have a corrupt dictator? Why is the USA so attracted to the Middle East?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: I know, the Americans do want oil. OK, let them take some. Aren't the mullahs doing enough stealing anyway? The oil is going to be stolen anyway, but at least let our country develop.
Me: Is Iraq developing after the USA rained more bombs on Baghdad than the all of the bombs in the Second World War?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Stop exaggerating, that's ridiculous.
Me: I swear to God I'm telling you the truth. Let me ask you another question. How many American soldiers in now?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: I don't know, 100,000.
Me: OK, lets say 100,000. They've been there for 4 years, right?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Go on.
Me: So does Bush send them their girlfriends or wives for regular visits?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Of course not, there's a war going on in Iraq.
Me: So has he sent 10,000 hookers for his troops to enjoy?
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: I don't know, er, no it doesn't seem likely.
Me: So what does an American soldier to when he gets drunk, has a joint and feels horny? Does he jack off to his M16, or does he go into an Iraqi house with his fellow soldiers, kill the husband and rapes the wife and daughter.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: Of course these things happen it's war.
Me: What if that American soldier came to Iran? What if that was your mother or sister.
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire is stunned. It doesn't appear that the scenario that I'm presenting him has ever crossed his mind. He goes white in the face, and I'm sure that its not the hashish taking effect. I begin to feel that he's beginning to lower his guard and actually listen to the facts, rather than to argue. He mutters;
Disillusioned Upper Tehran Vampire: That's never going to happen, not in Iran.
I shake his hand, thank him for his time, and let him think a bit more.