Good old days

I don’t remember problems when I lived in Iran during the Shah. I remember that we were not wealthy but had everything that we wanted. I guess the reason was that Shah took care of the government employees. My father was a teacher. We lived in a one bedroom apartment, four of us. The school was about 10 minutes from our apartment. At the time I thought that we are living in a backward nation. I thought if we had such happy life in Iran, how life would be in the west, especially in the United States. I envied the kids that were born in the west. To me, going to the west was an impossible dream.

My sister was infatuated with the idea of the west. She was willing to marry an old man as long as he was a westerner. Those days, we knew that we were happy and fortunate, not rich but fortunate. We knew that they were many poor neighborhoods and we knew that many places didn’t have the things that we had, like a super market. We just called it Super. I don’t ever remember shopping from there since we had ba’ghaali right across from our apartment. We had a park and huge sidewalks along the boulevard that many neighborhoods could only dream of.

Our school was the first school to become gender mixed. We joined the girls when I was in the third grade. We were very proud about that. “Chairs” and “tables”, unlike the normal benches, were made in Israel and our class sizes were below 30 students. We were proud of that. We had teachers as young as 23 years of age, good looking and kind, we were proud of that. We knew that most of Iran had tough teachers, mean ones; we knew that we were lucky.

The neighborhood was poor, based on the western standards [we thought], but we knew that we were fortunate. We played carelessly because we could. We were told that we have opportunities. We knew that things would only get better. No one could imagine living in the future of Iran without the minimal necessities. We were told that we are taking care of.

We all recalled the day that the principle lined us up, after singing the Shahanshahi national anthem, and told us that we need to study hard so we can beat Germany in less than fifteen years. He meant economically, although my best friend argued that he meant in soccer. We didn’t think much of anything. We just were happy to be fortunate. Iran was happiness, dance, and songs for us. We knew that many unfortunate people were all around the country, but we knew that we were the fortunate ones. Not the rich ones, just fortunate.

Our teacher once said that Shahanshah has created a class in our society that never existed before, and in the future of Iran many will join this class. A well educated social class that would mature to be a real supporter of the regime. A middle class. We didn’t care, we were happy counting the seconds so the school bells would ring. We would scream and run, laugh and jump with joy, we were free.

We knew that wars were all around, but not for us. Foreign news meant Lebanon, Israel and South American forces, something foggy in our memory, something about wars. To us, wars were only in the movies. Those places were stories of horror, just like horror movies and we didn’t think of it as real. We were happily innocent.

My father would come back from his trip to the south and talk about Abadan and Khoramshahr as if he had visited some exotic land. My uncle would tell us that Shiraz was better than Paris and Rezaiyeh is like Europe. If we had it all, then why was I so envious to the west? We didn’t care, we just thought if things are so great here, how life would be in the west, especially the United States. My sister just wanted to leave. She hated Iran. She thought the men are not gentlemen like, Americans were. Her views were mostly shaped by the TV series and the movies that we cherished.

The characters of some of my close friends were shaped by some popular TV shows; almost all of them were American shows. They were good. Crimes and wars, Western and guns, all seem unreal and fun, just like the nightly foreign news. My friend got too much in to the characters. He suddenly jumped from a second story building, pretending to be the Bionic man. That was our news and gossips for many months to come. We visited him a few times in a downtown hospital. Downtown Tehran was a mystery to us. We rarely went there. We had everything we needed in that little place, not so little then in our eyes.

The place was a world. Distance was a vague concept then. They called it downtown but it wasn’t. Not something you would see in a western metropolitan city. It was just another part of the city called “Downtown”. My Downtown was the boulevard that stretched the length of our town. That was the center of my “city” where we would gather to play hide and seek or haft sang, layleh or Alak dolak. Our playground and meeting place. Where the boys and girls, every evening would hold hand, or some try to hold hand shyly, and walk the stretch. Up and down, down and up the boulevard.

We biked, ran, screamed while our parents sat under the “Naarvan” trees and chatted. Our neighborhood was full of kids ranging from five to twenty five. Night times we lay on the grass and looked to the sky. I would ask if the west is as fun as our world, and Ramin would say yes, if we have cars in Iran, they have planes in America. They are far more advanced than us. Ali would ask if we had seen some science fiction movie. He would then describe the west as a futuristic society. We would just say wow and envied the people who lived in the west, especially the United States.

Those days we were scared to question the government, our parents told us that the walls have mice and mice have ears. Meaning someone could be listening. We didn’t feel claustrophobic from the lack of political freedom since we were socially free. We knew that they were some people who were angry and hated the Shah, but we didn’t care. I heard in school that a cousin of a friend of a family of a guy who once was my classmate, was a communist! He had to sign a forgiveness note in order to be released. We knew some things were going on but it didn’t seem to have anything to do with us. We didn’t care. We knew that we were fortunate. How little did we know!

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Meet your Persian Love Today!
Meet your Persian Love Today!