Thursday, October 26, 2006

ramzan experience in (so-called islamic republic of) iran

I came to Tehran on 25th of September this time (which is my third trip). I was bit apprehensive this time, as the holy (no, I mean it) month of Ramadan, or Ramzan as we call it in India, had just started. To add to that, there were mails from HR about the rules; like how we are not going to get any lunch & things in office, and we should not eat n drink in office, etc etc…

There was no coffee in the office. No lunch, no tea, nothing. We started finding alternatives. Soon the vending machine in the reception started making nice money; but we couldn’t have coffee in front of the building like we used to do earlier. So we started going to the backyard of the building where many generators, n such machines are kept. Picture a den where the climax-fight is done in a Tamil movie, the place looked something like that. That place was used as coffee area, smoking zone (oh, one can’t even smoke in public in Ramadan month), and discussion room. Discussion room because it’s a known fact that wherever there are stimulants like caffeine n nicotine, ideas are bound to flow.

Well, why all these rules? Because our respected Iranian colleagues would be fasting; and it’s not nice to eat & drink in front of them. That’s sin. But the question is ‘were they actually fasting?’ We were surprised to know that only 2% of our staff were fasting!! Younger generation of Tehran doesn’t fast at all. Only people who were seen fasting were old ladies who are pantry staff, and old drivers.

That’s about office. Our office is bit conservative type as Iran government is 51% stakeholder.

It’s the same scene outside. You can’t eat/drink/smoke in public. Restaurants, coffee shops are closed till 6 pm. But people are busy buying sandwiches, cakes, n stuff from supermarkets, and rotis from baker houses. I heard that only 10% Iran population fasts, don’t know if it’s true!!

Well, the point is ‘what you see is not what you get in Iran’. People have entirely different lives than what they seem they have. I know, Iran is pictured n shown as conservative, extreme-Islamic country. But the truth is only the government is extreme-Islamic. The people are not. The rules are imposed on them. Their religion is Islam, but their culture is Persian or Farsi. [Farsi is a religion which is extinct here now. We have quite a few Farsis in India; Tatas, Azim Premji, Boman Irani… to name a few.]

These days I often hear/read in the news that the president of Iran is becoming kattar day by day. But as I said it’s only he and his government. I am very interested in the future of social and cultural Iran.

ps: These days I was often questioned ‘do you have any fasting like this in your religion?’ I get reminded of the software engineer girls in the MNCs who fast on 'samkashti' days.

5 comments:

Jyothi said...

Thanks Srilatha, good insightful write-up about a country/culture that we don't know. Thank you.

ಬೆತ್ತ್ ಓಳು hiking ಪೋಯರ್? ಎಂಚ ಆನ್. ಐತ್ತ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಬರೆಪರ?
ನಿಂಕ್ಳೆ ಊರು ಓಳ್?
ಸ್ವಯಂಪಾಕ ಮಾಂತೆರೆಗ್‍ಲಾ ಬೋರ್. ಎನ್ನೊ ಸ್ವಯಂಪಾಕ ಸುಮಾರ್ ೨೦ ವರ್ಷತ್ತಿಂಚಿ ನಡತ್ತೊಂತ್ ಉಂಡ್, ಏತ್ ಬೋರಾತ್ತಿಪ್ಪು, ಪಣ್ಲೆ.

OK, then. Take Care, bye bye.

Shrilatha Puthi said...

ಅಂದ್, ಕೋಡೆ trekking ಪೋತಿತ್ತೆ, ಭಯಂಕರ ಪೊರ್ಲಾನೊ ಜಾಗ್, ಪೊಸಾ postಡ್ ಬರೆಪೆ.

ಯಂಕ್ಳೆ ಊರು ಸದ್ಯಗ್ Tehran.. :-)

leena said...

hmm.. quite an information about Iran.
BTW, when you say 'its only the govt which is extreme-islamic'. What makes the govt.? the ppl. who live in that country, right?

Shrilatha Puthi said...

yes u r very right leena.. i guess i shud change my thinking on this, but we always refer to government as a separate entity. have u heard the saying 'there is no such thing called good govt'? well, if govt is nothing but ppl, why they are generally bad? iam jus thinking aloud..

Shiv said...

shrilatha,
Never thought Ramzan in Iran wud be like that.It was insight into a country which is behind the curtain..