October 1, 2003
Arak is an industrial town in the center of Iran. My
uncle lived in a high-rise outside of downtown Arak.
My entire family, and I mean my ENTIRE family,
temporarily lived in the "Refugee Center", as we
affectionately called my uncle's house during the
initial phase of the war. Yup, the entire house was
like a hostel filled with various uncles, cousins,
aunts, grandparents and whatever other blood relatives
you could think of.
I swear there were times when I saw
people walking around the house who I had never seen
before, just to give an indication of how many people
were crammed in there. Luckily though, we all
loved each other and had a lot of fun hanging out.
Since the war had just begun, however, many of my
uncles and cousins were jobless and needed to find
ways of entertaining themselves.
Since there were no American shows on TV, the quest for entertainment
served as the impetus for the Backgammon Championships. With 20
participants, backgammon would become the hottest game in the house.
Everyone would discuss each
participant's strategy with such vigor and
intensity, so much so that you'd think we were talking about
soccer players in World Cup finals.
Half the fun was watching
the names being drawn from the hat and seeing what the draw was
going to be. As soon as the matchups were official,
the oddsmakers were quick to peg favorites versus the
underdogs. The games would go on for a week with the
final match being played in the evening to give the
game a dramatic effect and to insure that everyone was
home from work or school, so we could all watch the
masters at work. Unfortunately, that would only
provide entertainment for a week out of the
The rest of the month was allocated for Black Jack. We
had a room set aside on the second floor specifically
designated for the Black Jack Crowd (BJC), which
consisted of ten of my uncles and cousins who would
play the game late into night. To emphasize their
great hand, a member of BJC, would slam his cards on
the floor and say what he thought was the coolest
phrase (which it clearly was not), such as "delet besoozeh". They
would get extra points if they could quote a movie line that was appropriate.
emphatic slam of the cards on the floor, the whole
house would rattle and shake and we all knew someone
had a great hand. Sometimes, though, it was followed
quickly by a second shaking, which inadvertently
alerted the household that a better hand was in the
mix and that someone had just lost a lot of money.
Sometimes the second shaking would also be quickly
followed by some cursing >>> Part
3 >>> Index
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