22 Bahman in pictures

22 Bahman in pictures

Today marked the 38th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. We went out for the rahpaymah, or procession, in Qom.

Below: “The movement continues…”

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Today those of us in Iran answered Trump’s threats by coming out on the streets in large numbers.

No, we don’t fear you. Bring it on.

Groceries delivered to my door? Yes, please!

Groceries delivered to my door? Yes, please!

On Friday I did something I have never done, even when living in America.

I ordered my groceries online! Yes, folks. This is the new Qom.

After using the mobile site, www.kowsareshop.com, I signed up as a new customer/user and submitted my order. Within an hour we got a call from a customer service representative who confirmed the order and told us to expect delivery within 1-3 hours.

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Here is our delivery! Comes with a free tote bag!

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Only a couple of things ended up going out of stock after my order, but the representative called again to let us know.

We were able to pay via card or cash upon delivery. Yes, the delivery guy comes with a card reader.

Did I mention this was FREE DELIVERY?

I found the site easy to navigate with a drop-down menu of all things related to shopping for household items. It was not only grocery, but as you can see I ordered wooden skewers and what you can’t see, is the laundry detergent (it’s in the green tote bag).

Looking forward to doing this again soon!

Having friends from all over the world

Having friends from all over the world

One of the greatest blessings of being in Qom is meeting people from all over the world. We get a chance to see what life is like in different countries.

In school, we are surrounded by so many languages! You can hear people conversing in English, Urdu, German, Spanish, Arabic, among others. It’s given me a chance to practice my Spanish again, which I had unfortunately forgotten when I started learning Farsi. Even now, when my Venezuelan neighbor talks to me in Spanish, I reply in Farsi, even though I want to reply in Spanish!

Besides getting a taste for different cultures, perhaps the biggest blessing is being able to learn about life and culture, and how Islam is practiced around the world. Sitting in our little bubbles in the West we hardly had any exposure from the outside. Living in America even though we are of different ethnicities, since we are raised in the same environment speaking the same language, we end up sharing the same experiences, with little exposure to our respective ethnic cultures.

But here it’s different. I actually run into people surprised to see I was born and raised in America. But then how did you get here, they ask. It’s not like all of America is what you see and hear on the news. And that, unfortunately, is the case for most parts of the Eastern world, too.

I remember kids in school asking if Pakistan had roads and cars. Uh, yes, I would reply, totally stunned. And even now, when folks ask about Iran, I stand completely baffled at what the media portrays about this country, and what I see on a daily basis. It’s not the same.

I am grateful my children have friends from different places. When we have summer break and many of us go back home to our respective countries, my children will excitedly want to point out on a map where their friends are going home.

Exposure to many cultures and countries is often lost on many of those living in the West. People think if you just travel to Europe, you’ve seen it all. You really haven’t seen anything. Travel and experience different cultures, if not yourself, at least for your children. Share the world with them, and help expand their understanding of other cultures. It is imperative, if we desire a better relationship among the youth of the next generation.

What is the date today?

What is the date today?

I used to be able to answer this question quite easily, but since moving to Qom, I am usually left searching frantically for my phone.

Today is the 5th of Dey. Year? 1395.

You see in Iran, they go by the Iranian calendar. The Iranian calendar coincides with the seasons, so the first day falls on the 21st of every Gregorian (or miladi) month. The new year, Nawrooz, starts with the first day of Spring, or March 21.

The countries of Iran and Afghanistan both follow the solar Hijri calendar. (But the Afghan months are named differently than the Iranian months). The year count starts with the migration of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) to Madina.

The year is divided into 12 months. The first 6 months have 31 days, and the next 5 months have 30 days. And the last month, Esfand, has 29 days in a common year and 30 days in a leap year.

I found this awesome app to help me figure out what day it is.

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So now that I regularly converse in three different languages, I am also fluent in three different calendars – the Gregorian one, the Islamic one, and now the Iranian one.

Here is the breakdown of the Iranian calendar:

  • Spring (Bahar)
    Farvardin
    Ordibehesht
    Khordad
  • Summer (Tabestan)
    Teer
    Mordad
    Shahrivar
  • Fall (Payeez)
    Mehr
    Aban
    Azar
  • Winter (Zamestan)
    Dey
    Bahman
    Isfand

The different calendar makes for interesting conversations regarding birthdays or other important dates. Usually when you sign up for something you are asked for your birthdate or the day’s date. And it’s not the Gregorian one or the Islamic one they are asking for. To make life easier I have converted our kids’ birthdays to the Iranian calendar so I am not left struggling at the last minute.

Dates are really important in Iranian culture, too. Often you will see roads named for important dates, like 15 Khordad, 19 Dey, etc.

 

Saying ‘no’ with your eyebrows

Saying ‘no’ with your eyebrows

It caught me totally by surprise. Here we were newly arrived in Qom, and we had to visit a local shop. I asked the owner if he had a certain item (can’t recall now what it was). He didn’t have it, but instead of saying “no,” he just raised his eyebrows.

So I started looking for the item in another direction.

“Na, na daram.”

My husband (who knew a little Farsi before we moved to Qom) says to me,”He doesn’t have it.”

Sometimes if you’re lucky, the raised eyebrows are accompanied by a little click from the mouth, and moving the face in upwards.

My younger daughter has, of course, learned just the eyebrows.

“Marium, did you put away your toys?”

All I get are raised eyebrows.

One day, after Fatima Zahra had started school in Qom, she came home and responded to one of my questions with the click and eyebrows. Uh no, not in this house.

I calmly told her that in our house when you need to say no, you will say no.

Suffice it to say, I have never had to remind my kids again.

It definitely takes many people off guard, especially those with no prior experience with any Iranians.

While I first found it quite rude, especially when my daughter responded to me in that manner, since almost everyone does it, you pretty much get used to it.

 

The day we met a Sunni in Iran…

The day we met a Sunni in Iran…

And contrary to what mainstream media tells me, he actually was happily living here.

Back story: We were driving back home to Qom from Mashhad, and stopped in Aradan. In the village of Deh Namak there was an old fortress used in the time of Shah Abbas (according to the manager it was some 500 years old) which had been turned into a hotel/restaurant/rest stop, called Caravan Saraye Deh Namak.

It was a beautiful fortress. We went inside and the hayat had gardens and small fountains. There were individual rooms you could rent for the night. I wish we could have stayed longer.

But we were hungry and ready to just hit the road and get back home. We met the manager who led us inside the restaurant. It was a sunnati, or traditional, restaurant, which means they serve the typical kabab platters (koobideh, joojeh), deyzi, among other dishes. The seating arrangement was quite lovely – you go up these small steps to private areas furnished with rugs and cushions so you can relax and eat on the floor.

My husband struck up a conversation with the manager and finds out he is Ahle Sunnat.

“Do you find yourself being discriminated against here?” my husband asks.

“No, not really,” the manager says. “I find no trouble at all.”

He has leased the fortress from the government and is currently living there with his wife while he tries to finish renovating it. He has two kids – one is a university student and one is married.

My husband then tells him that we often read articles about how Sunnis are discriminated against in Iran, a predominantly Shia country.

The manager again confirmed that he has no problems here, but that there are plenty of people who exaggerate these issues for their own benefits.

“Extremism on either side is a problem,” he said. “A person who doesn’t eat at all is harming his health, just like someone who eats too much.”

So now if someone tells you Sunnis are being discriminated in Iran, at least you can say you know one who says this is not the case.