Age – episode 2: Judy

March 4, 2009

I don’t know Judy. She is not my friend or colleague. I just met her once in a party. The party was a farewell gathering among some colleagues. Judy is the mother of one of those who were leaving.
I had heard a story that once Judy provided a supporting shoulder, a motherhood relief, for somebody, somehow stranger, who desperately needed emotional support. That’s adorable, however, does not amaze me. What is interesting about Judy is that she decided to replace her daughter’s position at work. She decided to be trained for a complete new job, in order to carry out her daughter’s duties as a part-time work. And the point is that Judy is 61 years old.
I come from a country that age plays an important role in many aspects of life, especially for women. Unfortunately, I am like others, my age is something always in my mind. There are so many things in Iran reminding you of your age, and its imposing limits. If you are in your mid-thirties, you have already faced restriction in employment opportunities. There are age conditions in postgraduate scholarships of universities in Iran. If you are not married, there is already rumors around you that you probably suffer from a disease or there is something wrong with you! In such cases, if you are a woman, other women behave as if you are a possible risk, threatening their marriage by trying to seduce their husbands (I remember the mother-in-law of a friend has recommended her short after wedding that it’s time to avoid her single girl friends or at least restrict her social life with them). Over fifties should be worried about children in-laws or grand ones. In best cases, let’s enjoy retirement; why bothering starting something, anything new? The most optimistic view is if you are over 60, and you still wear colorful dresses and go jogging in the morning and are concerned about your health, you are considered a “cute” elderly.
Yesterday, there was a report on TV about the women reaching or passing 40s. They were talking about re-planning their life and experiencing new things. Some were talking about having a child. That reminded me of a 40 year old female swimmer participated in the past Olympics. It was her 4th or 5th Olympics. She got silver medal, I suppose (look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dara_Torres for correct and more info).
I know Judy is using a sort of connection to start a new job. If her daughter was not already working there, and if the employer was not so generous and kind, she would not probably have such opportunity. However, it is admirable that Judy, herself, uses this opportunity at 61. So far, I have not seen any age limit in employment advertisements or study opportunities here (there is sometimes a senior/junior classification, which seems to separate wage categories for those over/under 18). I have no idea about hidden rules in practice. In theory, in this country, it is said that such conditions about age is a kind of discrimination.

The electronic frame took me home

January 10, 2009

Listening to Celin Dion’s “je sais pas”, I gave myself a break to rest and have my apple of the day. I walked a bit and returned to my chair when I was caught by the photo of my Mom on the electronic frame behind me. She was sitting with my sister in the kitchen of our beautiful home in Iran, posing to camera. After a couple of seconds, the second photo appeared: our fabulous super chandelier, from top, then from bottom, then from side. The next was photos of simple wooden antlers Mom made months ago. Then the metal and clay bells hangings from the kitchen roof. The show continued by scenes of the hall, sister sitting on sofa or rocking chair, then ‘chelo-kabab’ being served at table by my Dad, then outside, neighboring buildings, the construction site nearby, us walking to the park, the park itself, old and new automobiles on the streets, shops, restaurants, heads and tongues of sheeps (!) in market, the messy room of my sister, photos of shrine of Imam Reza, …
Mesmerized by visual effects of electronic frame and Celine Dion singing out of laptop, I found electronic frame is a fantastic gadget. And for the first time in my life, I understood having the habit of taking photo of everything, any tiny detail, any corner without posing or making it prepared in advance is not bad. It was so natural that I felt I was home.

Et si tu crois que j’ai eu peur, c’est faux
Je donne des vacances a mon coeur, un peu de repos
Et si tu crois que j’ai eu tord, attends
Respire un peu le souffle d’or qui me pousse en avant
Et, fais comme si j’avais pris la mer
J’ai sorti la grande voile et j’ai glisse sous le vent
Fais comme si je quittais la terre
J’ai trouve mon etoile, je l’ai suivie un instant

Sous Le Vent
Et si tu crois que c’est fini, jamais
C’est juste une pause, un repit apres les dangers
Et si tu crois que je t’oubli, ecoute
Ouvre ton port aux vents de la nuit, ferme les yeux
Et fais comme si j’avais pris la mer
J’ai sorti la grande voile et j’ai glissee sous le vent
Fais comme si je quittais la terre
J’ai trouve mon toile, je l’ai suivie un instant
Sous Le Vent
Et si tu crois que c’est fini, jamais

Sous Le Vent
Sous Le Vent

Sous Le Vent – Celin Dion and Garou

Ostracised … Australi-azed

January 9, 2009

I confess it was the first time I came across the formal word ‘ostracised’; and I hope I got the sense of that correctly. Dictionary presents the sentence below as the example : « Their children were ostracised by teachers and pupils alike » I can feel extreme sadness of the sentence above as it is what I felt frequently in some periods of my life in my own country, and in the past couple of years, specially in 2007, that horrible feeling increased its strenght. Without doing anything bad, anything harmful, anything illegal, any crime, I just had the horrible feeling of being cast away – just feeling. However the feeling was enough to take all your energy and optimistic view at life.*

Getting ‘Australi-azed’ was an spontaneous reaction to that feeling of ‘Ostracised’

There is always a group of reasons which makes us to take a particular action, and immigration is not an exception. Actually, after a long time reflecting on what subject and how I should write a new post, this is the simple way to say, now I am in Australia, and with that, update my blog after a long while.
So many things happened in between, before departue, during flight, after arrival, and all these days. New wonderful environment, potential facilities and opportunities, challenging the facts always taken as granted, worries about future, planning, worldwide economic crisis… Yes, life is going on, ostracised… australi-azed…make no difference.

*obviously there are concrete reasons for this kind of feelings. I do not want to share and analyse them here as I prefer to avoid making my blog a misrable pesimistic negative political sociological psychological anthropological …al …al …al manifest toward life.

Elecomp 2008

December 3, 2008

The fair starts as I get off the taxi. At the escalator of the pedestrian overpass, two average men give out the crowd a carrying plastic bag containing an advertising letter of a computing company and a decorating non swollen balloon.

On the other side of the overpass, the crowd enters the open corridor which leads into the northern entrance of the grand place of International Fair of Tehran. The corridor is an exposition itself, as usual. The salesmen have spread out their things on the both sides of the corridor, some shouting, describing the goods they sell: small kitchen wares for cutting and shaping carrots or cucumbers or molding purees, hand-made knitted traditional socks or hats, posters, CDs and DVDs of old or recent movies, fake jewelries, semi-precious stones, some old books, nuts, cheep perhaps low quality China-made shoes… almost a kind of anything. Some youths distribute catalogue, brochures and leaflets of the companies in the fair. The crowd usually gets them, give them a look and throw them just away. Therefore, the floor of the corridor is carpeted with colorful papers under the steps of the crowd, in an avant-garde-but-dirty style! – how many trees have been cut, how much ink has been used to create this disgusting collage which cleans the bottom of the shoes of people during 5 days of Elecomp 2008? and of any other similar exhibition?

Nothing has changed in the grand place of International Fair; well, it is uglier than 15 years ago! This big place has tempted its officials to make any kind of construction at any place and any corner of it. There is no harmony, a mess of everything, everywhere. And strangely, there is still a lot of open space in the place. I always enjoy this open space, but not the constructions. I took a look at the plan of the fair and walk towards the hall number 40 in the building called “Persian Gulf”. It is not a new building, I recall about 10 years ago the building was constructed; however, it is still one of the acceptable halls of the place.

It is the last day of Elecomp 2008, and as a result, there are lots of people crammed in front of different stalls. As usual, I prefer not to get close to the stalls and look at the exhibitions of new technical achievements from distance. Well, let’s ask myself, why then I am there? I am there… I am there…, well, it is quite a long time I have decided to buy a laptop, and I imagined I may find a variety of selection in the fair… but, honestly, with my usual habit of avoiding crowded places, I already knew I would fail! Then, I assume, my internal vague intention was to recall those old days of wandering in similar fairs as a young student, and perhaps, to come across an old classmate or acquaintance, although I recall later most of them are abroad now…

Anyway, I wander around two or three halls and assess Elecomp 2008 with my own values from afar: many stalls present some hardware, boards, circuits, racks; generally they are specialized in network solutions. One would find lots of companies providing web solutions and software for quick site building, as well as e-business solutions and e-shops. The market of language learning over phone was hot. So many stalls sell similar software, rarely there are companies selling own-developed new software. Business solutions and financial software are exposed as usual. In two stalls, I find something related to management of office knowledge or something similar (I guess so). Some firms have security solutions. Interestingly, there are stalls presenting the print services on CDs, DVDs, and T-shirts.

With no clear reason, I recall some 18 years ago when experts in one well-known Iranian universities aimed to develop the first Persian Operation System. Even now, I ask myself do we really need such a thing? And even if there is a Persian Operating System, what would be the use? I accept I am extremely pessimist, but I believe nothing has been changed since then. Where are we – Iranians – really standing in the world of computer and technology? And more important, what are we aiming at in this world?

To stay alive in IT market, we need creativity, innovation and imagination. I confess embarrassedly, I see none of them in Elecomp 2008. Even the names of companies are repetitive and imitative. Most of the names are the same names of software products, the name of famous international computing companies or their equivalent Persian translation. Ridiculously funny, I still cannot understand how come we have so many ‘Pioneers’ and “First-runners”: pioneers in electronics and computing, electronics and computing pioneers, network solutions pioneers, software development pioneers, first-runners in Iran electronics industry,…*

*I admit I have exaggerated in this last paragraph, however, it does not make a great difference in reality: our role in the world of technology is hardly more than copying software, cracking programs, and photoshopping – my personal opinion.

Reinforcers

November 11, 2008

never give up,
fight bravely with the vampire of frustration,
he is just an effigy,
who occupies your nightmares,
but would die, whenever you open your eyes,
at the morning sun…,

In 2004, I sent the above semi-poem-of-mine to a beloved-one-at-the-time who had found herself helpless, miles away from home. I told her this was written for her, but actually, I wrote it spontaneously, due to extreme frustration I felt in challenging my boss “Lord Dracula”*
I have never felt talented in art, let alone poesy, however, it was the second time I could produce something “un peu différent” – the first one was just one verse in Persian!
No matter it can be called art or not, I really need to “internalize” the words above these days.

*It was really difficult dealing with “Lord Dracula”, but I did not know the real nightmare would arrive later… I should have entitled the new boss with “Lord Dracula”… mon dieu…

à Holden*

November 9, 2008

Chère Holden,

Je veux seulement te dire que Je te comprends. Tu as raison; c’est très horrible quand tu dis “au revoir” à quelqu’un, il crie a toi “bon courage” tandis que la port se ferme! C’est terrible qu’il y ait les mots et phrases gâchis sur les murs des écoles et musées dont tous les élèves peuvent les voir! C’est vraiment déprimant qu’il n y ait pas aucun que transmet ton message à les autre!

Mais tu sais… tu est heureux, parce que tu a 16 ans et tu a déjà compris ces faits. Je connais une personne qui a compris celles-ci après elle est morte! C’est vraiment plus horrible que les autre! vraiment!

*Holden Caulfield; le personnage du roman “L’Attrape-cœurs” (“The Catcher in the Rye” ou “ناتور دشت”) par D.J. Salinger

Age — episode 1: shall I cry or laugh?

November 5, 2008

It was already dark when I step out the language institute. I was feeling happy and content, as I could still recall some of those naughty innocent funny remarks the boys at the course had been exchanging; the ones which make a 3-hour intensive evening language course more than just endurable. That is why our class is usually pleasant and delightful; no matter we are only four. I must have maintained my usual subtle smile as a sign of satisfaction.
While getting on the taxi, I was reviewing some ideas for writing a new post on my weblog. “Mrs, Pearl” and “la situation de femmes iraniennes” were already in the queue. “Age”, “respect” and “funny classmates” were turning round in my mind and different words and sentences in both French and English crossed my thought. I was structuring them in my mind, trying to find missing words, expressions and phrases I did not know, when I got off the taxi and passed alongside the street to the northern side of the crossroad in order to catch another taxi. At that place, the taxis usually destine at avenue A or B, and my destination was avenue B. I had just placed myself among the crowd who were calling taxis, when a black Pride braked quickly in front of me and the driver bent his head, stared at me and asked:” Didn’t you recognize me? are you going to avenue A?” I gave him a glance. “Why the hell should I recognize you, pest”, I murmured to myself. I ignored him, looked at another direction and changed my place. I moved a bit down the street and located myself beside a woman wearing a black long veil. I would feel more secure, and the guy had no other choice except to just move on his way, as it was a crowded one-way street with no possibility to reverse or turning round.
Most of the taxis were loaded by passengers of avenue A. Avenue B has almost always a huge traffic jam which makes drivers to refuse passengers. Five minutes later, while calling taxis by saying “Avenue B”, I heard somebody addressing me from behind: “Are you going to avenue B?” I turned my head. The same young driver continued quickly: “My name is Babak. I am the stage designer of M.M. [the famous Iranian comedian and director]. I was just driving by, when suddenly you drew my attention. You are really photogenic [poof!] and we are looking for new talents. Could we have a work discussion in the car, please?”
I was bewildered. Work discussion? On a car? At 8 in the evening? Finding a new talent? All would sound ridiculous to me, however, it came quickly into my mind the similar story which had happened to my brother-in-law just recently. He is in his second visit of Iran and two or three days ago, he had been offered an excellent job quite unexpectedly in the street. I looked the guy over. He was a thin, not-tall not-short young man in his twenties, with black eyes and black hair, wearing jeans. An average youth one can see around every day. I felt self-confidence in his voice, no sign of shyness or dishonesty. He sounded determined and decisive. And he was not rude. So, I decided to give it a try. And why not? There was no chance for any insecurity, I assumed, as there was a terrible traffic jam and huge crowds on streets as usual. By the way, I am obviously at least 10 years older than him, he must have definitely realized that I was not certainly his sort.
I followed him to his car which was parked by the side of the street about 50 meters ahead. “I just bought the hair gel [maybe conditioner] I was looking for from this pharmacy”, he started the conversation, showing me a bottle of hair gel and turning on the car.
“May I ask your name again, please? May I know your surname as well? And what did you say, you are what? “, I asked, decided not to give him any chance to beat around the bush*.
– I am Babak G. and I am stage designer. What’s your name?
– Well, can I talk about it later? What is the work about, please?
– I found you really photogenic and we are looking for new faces. By the way, I would like to talk about our emotions. I would like you to feel comfortable.
– My face is not new, actually many others have similar face. And about emotions, I think it is too late for me to deal with them in this way. I have passed those ages of…
– Oh, no… you are modest. You look artistic. It seems you are involved with art. I have a strong impression that you are talented. You look also sportive. You are in a good shape for your age. Many women do not care about their bodies. Do you do swimming?
– Sorry to say but I think your impression might not be correct. I do not do much of art. And I know so many women even having some children who care a lot about their shape, so there is nothing special about me. Could you please tell me more about the work?
– I have worked with M.M. and J.R. We are just finished a series to be on air for new year….but, take it easy. Let’s talk about our feelings. You are full of energy. Why are you so tough?
– I don’t like J.R., actually [well, I hate him , no matter lots of Iranians are fond of him and his works]
– Well…you may find this new series completely different. What’s your job? You should do some art work, no?
– I am an engineer. And I don’t do art. I was once accepted as news commentator on Iranian TV but I did not follow that. The circumstances would not sound OK. Can we talk about the job? By the way , I am already feeling there was a mistake. I am not probably your good choice.
– No, no, no … it’s not TV… let’s first talk about ourselves and our feelings, then I will give you my phone number. Let me put your bag at the back seat.
His hand grabbed my bag firmly, but he tried gently to take it away from me. “No, thanks, I hold it myself as I am going to get off soon”, I said.
“You have a strong character, however, why are you so tough?”, he pulled back his hand from my bag and put it on my seat, slightly touching with his fingertips the side of my manteau over my lap, and obviously aiming at stroking my leg!
– Please, take off your hand of my seat!
– Why? I want to exchange the energy of my emotions with you. I want you to understand how much energy you are giving me. What’s the problem with that?
– Everybody has his/her own believes. I do not like it. I do not want it. That’s it. It is all about respect. Please do not put your hand on my seat!
– I am full of respect toward you, I am not rude. However, I want you to know how much energy you radiate by yourself, specially your eyes, which are so hot! Why you are so tough? Take it easy, let’s talk more comfortably…
– I am too old for such things. By the way, you told me it is about work and I accepted to get on your car just because of that. I think, there was a mistake. I am not your sort. I am happy if I give you energy but I hope you find an appropriate younger one of your kind. If you want somebody to share your emotions, I am certainly not the right person. I am sorry that I may have made your path longer, I thank you for giving me a ride, and I appreciate it if you let me get off the car.
– Isn’t there any opportunity you give it a second thought?
– Not at all!
– You are soooo tough!
– Yes, it’s me, and my character
– Let me drop you off at the corner…
I did not see any sign of embarrassment, shame or regret in his behavior. However, he was definitely impressed by me, particularly when he admired my response of “not at all!” We were polite to each other to that point, in only 15 minutes of our conversation, although neither of us compromised his/her objectives or attitude! In my first experience of this kind, I tolerated the absurd conversation and I managed to hide my fury.
I was filled with mixed feeling. I was happy that I was old! Yes, one of those rare moments a woman would thank god for the age. Due my age, I was in full control of the situation. Years ago, I would have shivered of fear and scare. I was not tempted and seduced by funny girlish talks. I was polite, honest and at the same time firm, so I was proud of myself.
However, I felt sorry for the guy, and also for the girls who would be seduced by him. Is it exactly the way by which the generation younger than me tries to attract the attention of the opposite gender? And are today girls really seduced by M.M.s and J.R.s or by having a photogenic look? [if so, I am pleased I do not belong to this new generation] How far a young adolescent would let the hand of a guy touch her lap in order to exchange emotional energy?!
I also felt a bit sad. No matter I am not at all in an urgent need for a job, no matter I am about to start a new life abroad, no matter I am enjoying my time taking up some of those activities I have always dreamt for, I certainly miss something. After having lost my job unfairly as a result of a wrong decision (the highest manager of the office admitted it when it was too late to change the decision. Although the office faced the consequences and paid indirectly for it, I did not return to the office), I developed a kind of feeling that all my efforts at work which was appreciated by lots of colleagues and managers did not pay me back. I was left with feeling of being useless. Once a possible job offered to me, I was so excited and felt again precious and worthy. I felt sad, thinking, how many unemployed and jobless Iranians are waiting for a job opportunity to feel useful and precious again?

*This is not the exact conversation we had, but it covers almost all the points raised in our discussion. Please remember, I wrote this text mainly to practice my english and revise the vocabulary in order to find the appropriate words for expressing my view. Please correct my mistakes…

“Adieu Gary Cooper” … Salut Romain Gary

October 21, 2008

Je ne connais pas ce que a causé que j’ai lu ce livre. Le titre de livre m’a rappelé toujours les scènes cinématographiques dont lesquelles l’acteur “Gregory Peck” et l’actrice “Audrey Hepburn” jouent ensemble les rôles; dans le film “Roman Holiday”, par exemple! Je sais, c’est très bizarre, il n’y a aucune relation entre le livre et ce film, mais c’est l’imagination qui parcourt tout les côtes du monde! c’était cette imagination bizarre, que m’impressionait que le livre était si banale que m’avait interdit de lire le livre pour long temps.
Un jour – n’importe quel temps – j’ai pris “Adieu Gary Cooper” et je n’ai pas pu le laisser avant que je l’aie fini. Il y avait quelque chose là… l’histoire était simple, mais il y avait bien sûr quelque chose là…. Maintenant, j’ai oublié les détails de l’histoire de “Adieu Gary Cooper”, mais jusqu’à ce moment, j’ai un sentiment positive sur les œuvres des Romain Gary. J’ai lu “Éducation Européenne”, “Les Racines du Ciel” ( pas finir encore ), et “La Vie devant soi”. Je les adore tous, et je ne sais pas encore exactement pourquoi elles m’intéresse. Peut-être, ce sont le sentiment et l’émotion humains dans ces livres qu’attirent l’attention de lecteur. On peut trouver facilement cet humanité, surtout à “Éducation européenne” et “La Vie devant soi”
Je rêve de lire ces livres en français; un jour, j’espère…

Un souvenir de la traduction en Persan

September 21, 2008

Je me souviens que nous avions un collègue russe. Il connaissait bien le Persan, parsequ’il avait travaillé en Afghanistan, comme un officier militaire pour quelque temps. J’avais entendu aussi qu’il avait étudié le Persan en Russie. Donc, il nous comprenait quand nous étions en train de discuter à propos de quelque sujet. Il pouvait même parler en Persan mais avec un accent insolite, un accent qu’il avait l’air d’un Afghan parlait. Les phrases et mots qu’il utilisait n’étaient pas exactement lesqueles nous utilisons, mais on pouvait le comprendre facilement.
Un jour, il avait acheté des gâteaux pour des collègues. Il a voulu inviter les autres à les manger. Il a voulu dire “servez-vous, s’il vous plait” (“Please serve yourself “) que ça veut dire en Persan:
“لطفا از خودتان پذيرايي كنيد”
Mais il a fait une pause. à ce moment, il n’y avait personne que nous – trios filles – dans le bureau. Donc, il a decidé de montrer sa maîtrise de langue. Il a pensé, et pensé, et a la fin il a dit
“لطفا خودتان را سرويس كنيد”
que ça veut dire quelque chose comme “Faites vous réparer, s’il vous plait” (“please service yourself”)
nous pouvions à pein nous empêcher de rire avant qu’il parte le bureau.

Revivified Blog

September 11, 2008

Like many Iranians, I started learning the second language – English – at secondary and high school (by secondary I mean what is called guidance school in Iran education system) I did not attend any language institute at those old days. Even at university, I did not take any systematic method for improving my English, however, I was confident enough to sit for TOEFL exam at that time and, considering the facts above, got a reasonable mark. After graduation, following what my sister was doing, I attended a language institute starting from level 9, and since then I have been “involved” with English frequently and seriously.

Till now, I have taken part in so many different classes within about 15 years: regular courses with a variety of methods, conversation classes with native English teacher, writing courses and courses for official certificates from Cambridge University. At times, I took English even more solemnly as my major at university. Moreover, I worked for six years in an international organization where communication and official reports were all in English, and I came into contact with many people in English, in Iran or abroad.

However, I am not a native English speaker, neither have experienced long everyday life in English speaking communities (so far!), nor learnt it in childhood. As a result, although confident about my English, I am at a distance from what I desire for: a “natural” English. It may sound I am too tough to myself. Let’s say, yes. In this issue, I am a kind of perfectionist!

I revive this blog with posts in foreign languages I know (sounds strange!? but it’s true) and my aim is not only writing a sort of diary of mine for maybe communicating with others, but also, practicing, improving and learning.

I welcome any comments of yours to rectify any error, mistake, blunder or solecism, misconception or oversight.