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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


November 18, 1999

Whine fest

Ms Darznik,

I read some of your articles in The Iranian. I usually do not read the social commentaries on the site but my serendipitous and fortunate find provided ample interest and amusement. Your frankness is disarming and contrasts strongly with the attitudes of the older Iranians who are obsessed with keeping up appearances. (I exclude my parents from this simplification because they have been ahead of their time).

You openly spoke of the mock-superiority felt by those who have been excluded from the wider society despite their servility towards the "carriageway". You complained of others who escape their identity. These are those who color their hair blond and wear blue lenses but forget the clash between their dark olive skins and the coloring of their cosmetics aimed at the Europeans. Those who tell you " Ay am nut Pershian, Ay am Ferench" and are surprised and embarrassed when you attempt to put your own elementary French into use and when they can not even comprehend your phrase book sentences.).

Your experience of being an outsider within a society of outsiders was incomprehensible to me. How could such a mixed race as ours have such a palpable discomfort with regards to differences. To call you half-anything I think is rude. Iranian racial purity is a myth. Being Iranian is a state of mind. An obsession, a pleasant mental disease akin to mania, a sweet pain and a worthwhile challenge. I think in this day and age, when being an Iranian is a serious disadvantage to one's career advancement, whosoever thinks they are Iranian could not possibly be anything but genuine.

You brought up many points about marriage. One's experience of the issue is entirely different to that of yours. Unlike your mother, one's decision to wed a non-Iranian would not elevate one's social standing, it would scandalize the whole family. All so that the family tree reads "married to Ms Stuck-up, daughter of Professors Dollars and Cents, direct descendants of Fat-Cat Shah who showed great aptitude in killing people and procreating profusely".

The ashamed Iranians appall me. You talked about the man who refuses to speak Persian. I know of someone who has the same attitude. First time I met him, I recognized his name as being Iranian and greeted him pleasantly. He said: "Sorry I do not speak Persian!" (To which my undiplomatic response was " You do not speak much English either. A regular Hellen Keller you are.") He recently rediscovered his Persian identity and decided to ask all to no longer call him by his previous preference. He has reverted to his real name now.

Anyway an email of honest admiration of your obvious moral courage has insensibly decayed into a whine fest. To repeat a well known witticism, amongst Persians it is impolite to pass wind or belch so we whine to relieve the pressure, otherwise we burst. There is a silver lining in this highly hyperbolized (I just invented a new word) dire cloud: my best friend is a most proud and loyal Persian you will ever meet whose values (but mercifully not his opinions, for conflict is the essence of drama) mirror mine in all things Persian and more importantly in the wider context.

Arash Salardini

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