Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Iran has been totally brilliant even if a little surreal at times. What has attracted my attention the most on this trip is how gifted some of the people here are at replying to a question you have asked without actually giving you an answer.
For the first few days I thought either I was going a little crazy or I had forgotten my Farsi and was asking questions that didn’t make sense.
For example I would ask my uncle if he wanted my mum to give him a call when she came out of the shower, he would give me a long lecture about how he doesn’t have any hot water in house! Or I would ask my grandmother how long she usually left chicken drumsticks to cook before they were tender, she would give me a complete chicken recipe with orange juice and onions, entirely missing out the part about how long it takes for it to cook. Apparently ‘The trick is to put a lot of onions and a tiny bit of water. The onions make it very tasty.’
The answers usually went on for so long that by the end I couldn’t even be sure what my question had been in the first place. So I came up with a cunning plan. Every time I asked a question and people started going off on one, I would keep interrupting with the same question until I got my answer.
This tactic worked for a few days and I was very proud of myself for having solved this problem.

I wanted to go to the Friday Market and buy something but since I had absolutely no idea how much this thing was, I decided to do some research about the price first before going all the way downtown and finding out that it was too expensive.
Anyway we went to someone’s house and I noticed that she had a few of these things so I thought great; this person will probably know about prices and all that. So I asked her, ‘Can you tell me how much these things usually cost please?’ She replied, ‘Why? Are you thinking of buying some?’
‘Yes but I wanted to know how much they are before going all the way to the Friday Market.’
‘Yes that’s where I bought mine from, the Friday Market. You know…’ Here I sensed she was getting a bit sidetracked and could do with a little interruption. ‘Yes but how much did you buy them for?’
‘You know you can buy them in all different colours now.’
‘Yes but how much for?’
‘You know when I went to buy these a friend of mine came with me and bought some as well. Would you like me to ask her if she wants to sell hers?’ She wasn’t giving up.
But neither was I. ‘That’s a good idea.’ I said, ‘So how much do you think your friend might want to sell hers for?’ Clever I thought; I had well and truly cornered her.
She paused for a moment and then replied, ‘I could call her and ask her about that but I don’t understand why you want to buy hers instead of just going to the Friday Market and getting some for yourself. Don’t be so lazy, it’s very easy to get there.’
I had met my match.


Hamid, Oxford said...

You seemed to be on the right track! for survival. But tactics can change and the secret is that you shouldn't unravel them! or should you!?

Alireza said...

I think that is why we don't know the answer to anything! becasue we have learn to play around the thing and avoid it!
oh, so, good we are all at that!

Behrooz said...

Hi Shirin; really funny; I just laughed. That lady who could evade your tacticts must be something. Anyway, don't forget that not only do we wait for your stories posted both from Iran and from Uk we also want to see Kamyar's photoes. Have a pen and paper at hand wherever you go and just put down some casual words as the ossassion suits and then you can make tens of posts of them. I say this because sometimes we don't think this or that is worth telling to others but later who knows? Be safe and happy.

Shadgoli said...

I know exactly what you mean. I usually turn so persistant that borderlines with abrupt, but when a girl needs an answer, the girl needs an answer. You should see my flat, I have finally put the lamps I brought from Iran in the living room, on two tree trunks that dori, vandi and I collected from Radlett House. It's so cute. When are you coming back. Oh my dad was meant to send me Ilkhaanan in the post, if he hasn't, could you bring me one (signed please). May the force be with you.

Amir (ex-behdashti) said...

Ooooh my God! I laughed my loins out! That was hillarious and so true. Yeah, I am myself still like that. Ask me a question and hear a story!

Well, enjoy the trip in vatan and give best ever regards to Nader and Kamyar.

marieh said...

Hi Shirin,I just came back yesterday. Iran was fantastic, people are great and the mountains were just unbelivebly beatiful. major problem was corruption (like what we went throu for visa and the flight confirmation, queuing before the airport...)
not sure about your tactic, I found it easier to wait til the story finished and repeated my question again. And I never asked anything when there were other people around, or I had to wait til each one has said his lecture. If I did, I got quite tired and felt sleepy by the time the most little person has had its chance to talk about the subject.
I really miss it now, please empty my place or fill it :)

marieh said...

I just read that you didnt use iran air. I am glad you didnt. this was my experience: baghali polo finished just after my row which was about the middle of the airplane, I arrived on new year in the morning my suitcase in the evening and I had to pay the delivery thou it was iran airs fault loosing it in tehran. Althou I confirmed my return flight in advance personaly in the mashhad iran air office I was denied boarding in tehran. appearently they could not find it in the computer and rudely shifted the blaim to mashhad office. I was pushed aside with no further comment. after shouting and crying the whole mehrabad for 1 hour I was allowed to board last second. my friends veggy-food was not present either. I have complained to the Air transport users coucil this morning. if any one has an idea where in iran i can forward my complaint to, please let me know. before the trouble with iran air, I was standing in a queue for 2 hours in front of the airport. i was offered by some suspecious guy to be taken in quickly If I pay 10 000 toman! altogether i never had a worse experience with any airline before and did not receive even the slightest apology for their mistakes. sorry if this got very long now but I decided that its necessary to be told.

Tamara said...

Hi Shirin. Hope you're having a great time in Iran.

I have a couple of "reasons" for why at least some of these people behaved as they did:

1. some people don't like to talk about money; it's embarrassing to them for one reason or another -- who knows, someone might think they're a cheapskate or extravagant, etc..

2. mentioning your mother in the shower (naked) might have been too embarrassing for your uncle... and maybe unconsciously he felt that he had to deflect the conversation somehow.... That's the Freud in me!

Go figure!

Foulla said...

in Morocco too, when you ask someone about the price of something in his house ..he just doesn't tell u!!
Enjoy Iran;)

Em said...


Nevermind just be more prepared the next time you to the quicker!

Tima said...

I'm still waiting for more on Iran ....

Tima said...

Shirin joon I keep checking for more blogs from Tehran, yet alas ...:-( Are you still there?

Shirin said...

I guess it’s too late to reply to these comments now. Internet connection in Iran was slow and since my every second there counts, I didn’t want to waste any time waiting around for windows to open on the computer! Thanks for all your comments though and welcome Hamid and Amir. So Behdashti, are you going to come to Oxford then or what? Give us a call :-) your trip sounds terrible Marieh :-( They’re funny about that whole reconfirmation thing in Iran air. I’ve had problems with them about that before as well.

Anonymous said...

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from Sri Lanka,
and I'm 19 y.o

Hi, All
I've studied English sinse this Winter .
It's Really difficult
I want like to meet girls and practisice My English with them.

Thank You

Anonymous said...

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