I sit here writing tonight from a friend’s apartment in the north of Tehran, Iran. For a moment, I almost feel as if I’m in the States. I get to watch Oprah talking to Dr. Oz on TV. The AC is blasting. A can of coca-cola is waiting for me in the fridge. How strange it is to be in a completely different coutry in the so-called “developing world”, but feel as if you’re sitting in your own living room in northern California. How globalized our world has become.
I’ve been putting off writing a post for quite some time now, mainly because I’ve been waiting for a noteworthy event to happen that would be interesting to everyone. However, Riad’s beautiful comment on my last post touched me and triggered some thoughts that I thought I would share with all of you tonight.
I’ve been in Iran for a couple of weeks now, traveling from one non-governmental organization to the next, trying to get my foot in the door and become a part of the complicated but beautiful fabric that is Iran. In the process, I’ve found that life is really lived here. People still go to the local baker to get their warm loaf of bread in the morning. They still go to the bank to pay their bills. Pleasantries are everywhere. The drawback, of course, is that everything takes much longer to get done. I don’t mind that much, though, because I’m learning so much just taking it all in.
If it weren’t for the week it took to talk to the director of a drug rehabilitation center, I would have never been able to spend endless hours of time inside this apartment watching the street life happening below me. As I killed time on the balcony peering outside, I learned that a young father comes every evening without fail to clean the apartment complex across from me as his two young sons wait for him outside. The boys often sit on the sidewalk watching cars go by. They laugh beautiful laughs. To the public, they look like neglected, third-world “street kids”, but if you take the time to really see them, they are really just living life and passing time just like any other child in the world. Most importantly, they are content.
If it weren’t for the congested roads and hour-long traffic that took to go to the slums of south Tehran, I would have never seen the two smiling young men carrying enormous packages on their backs, walking on the side of the street. I would have never seen the smile on the young street vendor’s face as she patiently stood on the sidewalk clutching a stack of fortunes in her small hands.
It is in this everyday, mundane life in Iran where the real research begins. It is in the smiling faces of strangers that we can finally understand how similar all our lives really are. This is as real as it gets.