A Birthday Celebration
We were there for all her big days... being born (well I was, not AliBob), moving her into college, the boring court thing for her driver's license, her high school graduation, her college orientation for "parents".. although we cheated and left the lectures to go eat. I remember doing her homework when she was little, mostly because I was such a nerd that I enjoyed it, going to her basketball games, watching her first steps, changing diapers, having her be an obnoxious copy cat when I was trying to assert my independence as a 13 year old and I had this "tail" attached to me everywhere I went that also tattle taled to our mom about everything I said or did.
But.. we made it through that unsavory time when she was a brat and no one knew it but me (because she played the goody goody innocent child around everyone else) and now, I'm proud to say that she's my partner in the following crimes: listening to horrible music that we'd never admit we love but we love it and know all the words and even have some choreographed dances to said music; watching horrible trashy tv shows while we both add our quite colorful commentary and turn a trashy show into a work of comic genius; watching and making fun of Indian movies.. we're willing to put the hours in to actually sit through a whole film just so we can hate it; have ugly cheesy dances that are known to make people gag and turn away in horror and disgust; staying in our ratty pajamas all day long for days on end and not understanding why people think we should change into something else; going to the mall (we *detest* going to the mall) and actually managing to have fun while we go through our list of mall chores; eating chocolate tall cakes from Ruby Tuesday (except I get fat and she gets skinnier); and other unmentionable crimes; having her be more like the big sister and me be more like the little sister; spending many a boring lonely New Year not being allowed to do anything fun but knowing that at least we'd be bitter and resentful together (as our brother went out to such cool things like a U2 concert).
Anyway. Somehow she wormed her way into our heart.. like a hagfish burrows into fish corpses and she's there for good.
To celebrate her birthday, AliBob and I decided to go run errands. Yes, the excitement is truly overwhelming.
We took pictures of a bunch of random stuff, which I will try and post on here.
As we walked down towards the bazaars at the city center, we got a pic of the shrine:
So anyway, I did meet someone today who does not like Sunnis, and he said so. He was actually a kind and talkative young man, a helpful shopkeeper as well, and he asked if AliBob was a Shia so we both nodded yes and I suppose maybe he assumed we both were Shia. So then he went on about how Qom has no Sunnis and that's good and that if someone is Shia he likes them, but if someone is Sunni he doesn't like them. I smiled politely and nodded and went along because I just hoped he wouldn't find out I was Sunni because that would just be awkward for us all.
I didn't much mind. He hears of Shias being killed, so of course he might harbor some dislike of Sunnis. It was more uncomfortable than anything... but AliBob apologized to me for it later on and he said.. "now you know how it feels when I sit at dinner parties and have random men talk negatively about Shias (because most people back home don't really know AliBob is a Shia Muslim) and I just smile and nod politely." True.
The shopkeeper also said America is horrible and "we Iranians don't like America" (although the more I talk to people, the more I see a variety of opinions, from negative to positive to not knowing either way) and he said that he hopes one day America is destroyed. To this, I told him that America is a good country, and we love America and our family is there and Americans are very good people and just the government is bad. He agreed that yes, the American people are good. He still hopes that America's government is destroyed.
Despite my dislike of American foreign policy and even some domestic policy, I still can't hope for the destruction of its government because, well, good does come out of it and I love my constitution with its lovely bill of rights. I suppose that after moving around all over the world, I've finally found a place that I can really call home.
So as we went on in the bazaar, we went to the back end and it opened into a little alley that reminisces much more of an old bazaar street in a middle eastern country. There were lots of Iraqis here... there's one walking away!
I saw a disturbing number of sheep heads and other organs displayed nicely and it's times like these that the case for vegetarianism makes itself for me... and, at the risk of sounding like a cheerleader, sheep are so cute! The lamb meat here is also very fatty and chewy so that, of course, makes me less inclined to eat it, not being a big fan of fat and gristle and slimy stuff. Anyway, it always makes me sad to actually see what I eat... I, like most people, prefer not to know where my food came from, lest I have an inevitable attack of conscience.
We got much needed spices and red lentils (masoor daal) which are my lifeline, along with some other foodstuffs I've been needing since we got here and didn't have (garlic powder, baking soda, chapatti flour). We got a picture of where we usually get our IndoPak goods, along with the Afghan shopkeeper and his son. They are good people.
We had a falafel sandwich and curried potato sambusas (dripping in oil and absolutely delicious) at a stall and learned that the shopkeepers are Iraqi cousins who have been living in Iran for almost 20 years. They are fluent in both Arabic and Persian. When asked where we were from, we told them America and one of them said something along the lines of "the ones who are taking our country". It was joking but we still made sure they knew that one is all our government and not us and we apologized. We had a good conversation and they seemed to be honest people so that was good.
There are a lot of Iraqis in Iran. Shias were persecuted by Saddam so many of them fled to Iran where they're welcomed because, while Iraqis and Arabs are still mistrusted from the Iran-Iraq war, these are linked by their Shiism and their siding against Saddam and with Iran.
AliBob and I realized how horrible our Arabic has become, and, with our Persian learning, our Arabic is that much worse because we seem to be unable to distinguish between the two when we talk so we have a perfect mix of Persiabic. On the bright side, the shopkeeper said that for being here 2 months, our Persian was great, so that's nice.
Some entertaining things along the way:
"Ayatollahs" going into a mosque, can it get any more stereotypical than this? Oh yes, if maybe they were burning an American flag, chanting and holding big containers that said "Enriched Uranium for Weapons Making". They're so cute, these little mullahs.
Roadside weighing-- for those times when you are walking along and suddenly realize you have a compelling need to know your weight then and there.. jump on a scale for a small fee and find out so you can have peace of mind for the rest of your day. Bring your friends and make it an impromptu weighing party.
This must be their version of graffiti. Or entertainment. There were several of these murals along this wall, all pseudo-Disney themed (Tom and Jerry, Pluto, Goofy, Mickey and Minnie). Interesting and colorful
I saved the best for last. This is funny, if nothing else. So there are three flags painted on this road, it's a very heavily travelled square as it's at the city center. They are the British, American and Israeli flags and I only noticed them today, when AliBob pointed them out to me. I suppose that's the Iranian version of scoffing in the West's general direction... driving aggressively over the flags, and anyone else who gets in your way, for that matter.