Did you know there's been a revolution?
August 18, 2000
"Brother! Brother! Sir! Excuse me, brother!"
This is the voice I hear from behind. I turn. It's a man around 35-years
old, 220 lbs. more or less, with a black beard that covers his chest. He
is wearing a not-so-clean white shirt under a white suite with thin black
stripes. Three Bic pens are stuffed in the chest pocket of his jacket which
is down to his knees. He is pointing at me with his finger:
"Brother! Sir! Yes, I'm talking to you! Do you have a minute please?"
I am walking with my German girlfriend by the Sio-Seh-Pol bridge in
Isfahan. We became a couple according to the Islamic Sharia, just a week
before our flight to Iran. Honestly, for a moment I had forgotten where
I am. I ask her to wait as I walk toward the man.
"Yes Sir? Are you talking to me?"
"Yes Sir, Salamon-Alaikom. How do you do?"
"Oh! Gee thanks! How do you do? Is there anything I can do for
"Is your wife a foreigner?"
"Yes certainly. She's (with your permission) German ."
"(Smirking) Oh, I see. Do you reside abroad?"
"With your permission. And you are?"
"I'm from the Ministry of Guidance Sir. Please tell me, how long
have you been away from Iran?"
"Let me see. It's been 10 years. Why you are asking?"
"I was wondering, do you know what's been going on in this country?"
"Well, I try to read as many articles in Iranian and foreign newspapers
as possible. What's the matter? Has something happened that concerns me?"
"(Laughing) Oh, no, I was just wondering Do you know what has happened
here since the revolution?"
"Oh, I see! Yes Sir! I do indeed. I was involved in the revolution
myself! I also served during the war for two years. I should know what's
been going on here -- even if I was a complete moron! Oh certainly!"
"So you should know that the Islamic hijab is compulsory for women
"I know that too!"
"So please remind your wife!"
All of a sudden, I look at my girlfriend, who is earnestly standing
where I told her to wait. She reminds me of the Muslim saint, Fatemeh Zahra,
observing the hijab much stricter than the average Iranian girl! I tell
the man: "Is there something wrong with the my wife's hijab?"
"Well, I didn't want to mention that."
"So, if you don't want to mention that, then why did you ask me
to come here?"
"So you could mention it!"
"I don't think there is anything to be mentioned, sir. If you think
it's necessary, you do it!"
"Please be kind enough to mention it."
(This reminds me of cab drivers in Iran, "Please pay as much as
"What should I tell her? I believe her hijab is good enough. If
you have nothing to mention, let us go!"
"Just mention it."
"Okay sir, sure thing! But you know how women are. I just hope
when I mention it she won't slap me!"
"Have a safe trip!"
As I return to my girlfriend, she asks: "Na? Was ist?" (So?
"That gentleman thought we were newly weds, so he wanted to congratulate
"Die Iraner sind sooooo nett." (These Iranians are soooooo
sweet and kind!)
"Ja! Das ist Ja nur der Anfang! (Yeah! You haven't seen nothing