Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Iranian talks about Iran...

Stream of consciousness follows--

Last summer, I think it was, I went to get a haircut in Houston and found myself alone in the shop with the hairdresser, who was a middle aged Iranian woman. I asked lots of questions and she seemed happy to talk about her life and her immigration to the States.

I was quite pleased that this had happened. I always like to visit with people whose lives are part and parcel of what makes the news, so that I can get the truth I don't get from TV.

Today it happened again. This time in Irving, Texas.

I sat down, the nice lady came to put the cloth on me, and I discerned from her nametag and her looks that she was Iranian.

And once more, she was quite pleased that an American was able to recognize her nationality.

She told me of her uncle, who had his satellite dish and his DVD player confiscated by the secret police... his store was raided and most of his merchandise taken.... he was imprisoned for several days, beaten, and fined several thousand dollars.

Nobody ever said what crime he had committed.

She told me people live in fear of those secret police and routinely inform on each other to get on the good side of the cops. It is apparently almost entirely based on who you are, where you live, etc.

She said there are some very wealthy people in Iran who continue to grow wealthier, but overall the economy is in a shambles, nobody has any money and it's impossible to get ahead.

When I mentioned Ahmedinejad's pronouncement that there are no gays in Iran, she bellowed with laughter.

All in all, she gave a mixed report. It is perhaps not as horrible as some dictatorships, and yet would any of us here endure such a life?

She even joked about her marriage, saying that she had been married 14 years but would not have made it that long had she still lived in Iran... because Islam teaches men that they have more rights over women than they actually DO, she said, smiling but not with her eyes.

She said the men enjoyed hearing that part of Islam, probably too much.

Her own husband never took to heart the instructions on how to beat your wife.... but many, she said, do... and the women cannot get jobs, cannot get credit for shopping, cannot be taken seriously in public, and must stay married because there are no other options.

Polygamy is not uncommon, she says, because women alone are supposed to be cared for; apparently in their version of Islam it is necessary for a woman to be married in order to be cared for, even if her husband already had a wife. Polygamy as charity.

In Iran, if I were to take a second wife, it would be considered big of me.

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