The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran

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The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran

‼ Online The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran page ⁝ By Hooman Majd ⁿ PrologueHello I didnt recognize the number of the incoming call on my cell phone, but it was from Washington,D.C., so I answered, standing on a deserted stretch of the waterfront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, on a September day in 2010 Agha ye Majd Baleh I answered, yesin Farsi, since the caller was obviously Persian.Im calling from the Iranian consulate, and I have a question about your applications for your wife and child.Yes I said.You were married, it seems, after your child was born, the lady said My longtime girlfriend and I had had a son a few months prior, and we had finally gotten married in a civil ceremony a month before he was born Realizing that in order to get them Iranian citizenship and passports, we had to be married in an Islamic ceremonyeven before the Islamic Revolution, the only marriage Iran recognized was a religiously sanctioned onewe had done exactly that, three months later, at the Islamic Institute of New York, which shares a building with the Razi School Academic Excellence in a Distinctive Islamic Environment in Queens My wife was instantly converted to Islam, Shia Islam, as required The mullah had patiently explained then, in Farsi while begging me to translate, that converting didnt mean rejecting Christianity or Jesus Christ it only meant that my wife was accepting Mohammad as the last in line of the holy Abrahamic prophets Yeah, whatever, lets do this That was what my wifes expression had communicated from under a hastily improvised head scarf consisting of our sons monkey print blanket I hadnt realized that scarves were mandatory, although I should have checked the Razi School Web site, where the uniform for girls is listed as navy overcoat, white scarf Meanwhile, our son, now deprived of his blanket, screamed and farted in what sounded to me like pretty good harmony How about Buddha my wife wondered She told me to tell the mullah she accepted him, too I nodded and ignored her request.The lady calling me now was from the Iranian Interests Section at the Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, D.C., the office that handles the consular affairs of Iranians in the United States in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries She was technically incorrect in identifying herself as from the consulate, since there is actually no such thing as an Iranian embassy or consulate on American soil, but it was a minor technicality the Interests Section was authorized to issue citizenship papers for Iranians born in the United States and to issue passports to American wives of Iranian citizensbut not to American husbands of Iranian wives, or to children of those unions, who are not considered Iranian by virtue of marriage or birth to an Iranian woman.Well, I said, we were married before my sons birth, but if you mean our Islamic marriageNo, she interrupted me, its no problem really, but it seems you were married in 2010, and that was afterNo, I said, my turn to interrupt We were married a month before he was born.Its no problem, she repeated, but I mean, umm, you were married after he was, umm, conceived She sounded embarrassed Was he adopted No I replied, taken aback by the question If he was adopted, we wouldnt have been identified as his birth parents on his birth certificate, would we What I wanted to say to her was that it is, perhaps contrary to her beliefs, actually possible for a man and woman to have a child out of wedlock, that conception doesnt happen only if the man and woman are married, but I bit my tongue I knew that in the Islamic Republic authorities have to maintain the appearance, at least, that men and women do notperhaps even cannothave sex before marriage Just the appearance, mind you, for no one is that nave in Iran, not even employees of the Islamic state.Well, she said, it is possible to have you listed as the father if you adopted, but its no problem We just ask you to fax us a letter saying that your son is not adopted, and Tehran will be able to issue his birth certificate, and then we can issue a passport It seems she still didnt believe that I was the biological father, perhaps not just because of the premarital sex that may have offended her sensibilities, but also because of my age, which she must have thought far too old Iranians my age tend to be grandfathers But there was another ele ment at play, too this passive aggressive and very Persian behavior in social intercourse really meant that she wanted me to agree and declare, to her and the Iranian bureaucratic world, that my son was conceived out of wedlock Gotcha Getting citizenshippapers for my family was actually much easier while we were still in the United States or anywhere else outside Iran than it would have been in Iran, and it had been something I was eager to do, since I was confident that a time would come when I would want to visit Iran with my wife and son My wife had expressed her desire to travel to Iran with me in the past, when it was a practical impossibility, but now that we were married, her having an Iranian passport meant there would be no obstacles to her accompanying me on one of my trips, with our son if we wanted, even a trip that came up at the very last minute, as had often happened for me before Appearances aside, paperwork is something the Iranian bureaucracy, the single largest employer of Iranians, excels in, even in the age of paperless communication and record keeping You know, one Iranian official at the Interests Section, a longtime resident of Washington, mentioned to me when I told him I was sending in my applications, Tehranwont return the original American birth certificates of your son or your wife When I expressed surprise and was a little hesitant to just hand over these precious documents to the Iranian government, never to be recovered, he said,Well, America is not like Iran, is it Its not like you have to jump through hoops to get a replacement birth certificateyou just ask for one in any U.S state, and theyll send it to you I hadnt thought of it, but of course he was right Its not that hard to get a birth certificate, a drivers license, or even a passport in America or Europe Its not that hard to open a bank account, rent an apartment, register a child for school, or get a doctors appointment if you can afford it or have insurance I may be Iranian by birth, and I may have traveled there often enough, and I may have friends and relatives and connections there across the political spectrum, but I hadnt lived there as an adult, and only barely as a child I was aware, at second hand, of what living in Tehran entails and understood Iranian bureaucracy, but if I ever wanted to live there myself, with a family no less, it was going to be another thing altogether Doing anything concerning Iran is generally impossible, as a bureaucrat usually explains with a regretful shaking of the head, and the occasional tut tut But with passports in hand, I realized, if we ever decided we did want to live there, whatever the reason, it would be a simple matter of buying airplane tickets.My wife, who comes from a small farming town in rural Wisconsin, was as eager to become an Iranian citizen and secure her sons dual citizenship as I was, which was why she had readily converted to Islam Before we had a child, she had expressed interest in traveling with me to my country of birth, mainly out of curiosity, I thought, but also because, she told me, she worried that if I ever got into trouble in Iranand she had read reports of Americans and Iranian Americans who had been arrested thereshe wanted to be able to get on the first plane to Tehran as easily as an Iranian could.We had met years ago, and I would talk to her about Iran, well before I visited the country for the first time in adulthood, and she continually urged me to go there, to not let anything stand in the way of my reconnecting to the land of my birth You need to go home she once said, after I described my grandfathers house to her Youll never be happy with your life until you do She was right, I realized after I finally set foot in Iran That was reason enough for me to want to take her there, tooto let her actually see why she was right When it came to converting to Islam, she also understood well that for Iranians, the appearance of belief is paramount,not belief itself, so she hud the mullah who married us, and he seemingly understood the same, given his relaxed attitude, humor, and the almost dismissive manner in which he converted Karri to submission to Allah.For years it has been extremely difficult for Americans to travel to Iran as tourists, obtaining a visa being the single biggest obstacle, but Karri, to my surprise, was keen on spending an extended period of time therewell, perhaps a month or two In a way, it shouldnt have been surprising, given what I knew about her She wanted our son to see, feel, smell, and touch where her family had lived since the eighteenth century from an early age We had taken him to Wisconsin and the family farm as an infant, and her sense of fair play, and her insistence that we all have a sense of our roots, made her want him to experience his fathers birthplace, too It was her willingness, even eagerness, to travel to Iran, as well as the newly minted Iranian passports that showed up via FedEx not long after I sent in the applications, that persuaded me to look at the idea of actually moving to Iran for a year, or less, to give me an opportunity to properly reconnect with my history, and to give Karri and our young son a proper introduction to my culture, but also to chronicle our lives as insider outsiders in a land so few know very much about.I imagined my story as one that could illustrate and illuminate the larger culture, not so much in the gee whiz isnt this fascinating way that often prevails among memoirs of expatriates living abroad, or in the politicized form that most writing, even travel writing, on Iran has taken, but as an account of what is to be an Iranian in Iran Of course, an Iranian who is also fully American, or at least thats how I, and my friends, imagine me to be My wife warmed to the idea, even if it meant leaving her family, friends, and work behind, and she understood that the opportunity might never present itself again, especially now that we had a child who would, before we knew it, be in school and have a life that would be difficult to interrupt for any long period of time Karri, who had over the years spent months alone in India on intensive yoga programs and had lived alone in Italy, modeling and studying Italian after college , was still adventurous and even fearless, and a year, she reasoned, was not very long in the scheme of things Our son would, if we went to Iran, be about the same age as I had been when I left it, less than a year old I had accompanied my diplomatic family on my fathers first posting abroad, to London , and he would spend his first birthday in the country of his fathers birth That probably mattered mostly to me, certainly not to him and by nature less to my wife, but I was happy that she was as keen on exposing our son to the culture of his father and his fathers father, even if he didnt quite understand yet, early in his life That Karri would finally see what she had heard about for so many years, and that I could show her something of my country of birth that might explain me better, was equally, if not , appealing.Like most Americans and Europeans, my wife had an image of Iran and of Iranians that was shaped by the headlines, and the headlines have not been kind to Iran or Iranians for over thirty years Unlike most non Iranians, however, her life was intertwined with that of an Iranian and Persian culture, even Islamic Persian culture, to which she had been exposed through meeting the religious members of my family and which she recognized was quite different from Arab culture, was not completely unfamiliar to her It is a culture that has been described to Westerners mostly by Iranians, but it is still very much hidden behind veils of modesty, furtiveness, and suspicion We have an idea of what it is to be French or Italian, or to live in Paris or in Florence, based on a certain familiarity with those cultures and the writings of English speakers whove lived there, but we have little idea of what it is to be Persian or what Iranian society is really like The idea of trying to discover that, both for myself and for potential readers, began to hold greater and greater appeal.You dont know, you dont know, how life can be shameful. Those are lyrics from a song, a piece of music in the classical Iranian form, written by playwright Bijan Mofid in the early 1970s and recorded by many different artists over the years The song, Dota cheshm e seeyah daree You Have Two Black Eyes , can be searched today on Google, in Finglish, the term Iranians use to signify Farsi words written in the Latin alphabet, and an important tool in the days before most computers came with Arabic fonts installed I often think of the song when Im thinking of Iran and Iranians, of what defines our behavior and our view of life Unlike Western classical music, Iranian classical music coexistsand is equally popular among all age groupswith contemporary pop I think of the song because it had struck a chord with Iranians well before the revolutionwhen I wasa teenager, my father would listen to it while drinking his whiskeyand it continues to be relevant to Iranians today.But life is shameful Yes The idea that life in this world can be or even is shameful resonates with Iranians, a Shia people who, regardless of their piety or lack of it, are culturally programmed to imagine human behavior as ignoble as ignoble as the prophets successors murder of his offspring, and as ignoble as the tyranny that they suffer no matter what leaders rule them Theres certainly an element of self loathing to it, although not quite the self loathing that Western psychology analyzes The pizza deliveryman in Tehran believes it, as does the pizza restaurant owner, and so does the customer ordering from the comfort of his high rise apartment, worth millions of dollars yes, dollars The Iranian government officials who wanted to know if my son was adopted believe it, as does the mullah who married my wife and me in New York while sheepishly acknowledging the greatness, but not the divinity, of Jesus Christ Living in Iran, I knew, would mean confronting that concept head on, something few non Iranians have done in recent times, and writing about Iranians and Iranian culture, even if only about ones own experiences, would mean understanding it In Iran, life isnt necessarily ugly or difficult, but regardless of ones standingwhetherone is rich or poor, a success or a failure in lovethe idea that life is somehow shameful is powerful and one that I wanted to explore.Iran, the country once known to Westerners as Persia, its name evoking exotic images of A Thousand and OneNights and bejeweled kings ruling over adoring masses, fully burst into the American consciousness in 1979 with the Islamic Revolution essentially reversing the image we had, if we had any at all, of the country that American politicians had usually described as our staunchestally in the Middle East After Israel, of course, which happened to be an ally of Iran then, too, albeit unofficially Naturally, as long as Iran was Americas staunchest ally, ordinary Westernfolk had little interest in the country beyond the occasional news item related to oil or concerning some intriguing event in the royal family, say a marriage, a divorce, or a coronation Iran was a curiosity at best, and although there were at one time some forty thousand Americans living there, most were expats in what we now think of as a colonial sense they lived insulated and isolated from the native population,attendedtheir own schools and clubs, and undertook tourist jaunts to famous sites while rarely experiencing theculture of the land Practically no Americans or Europeans moved to Iran simply to experience the Persian life Althoughthe shah once proclaimed, in his vainglory years, that Tehran would soon become the Paris of the Middle East, Tehran of the 1970s was certainly not Paris of the 1920s, and Iran held no attraction for artists and intellectuals looking for inspiration away from home That was equally true for Iranian artists, most of whom, including one of my uncles who ran away from home to become a painter in Paris, at that time looked for inspiration in the cities of Europe.Themodernizing and Francophileshahof Iran or assome Americans occasionally mistakenly wrote, the Shaw of Iran, unintentionally ascribing to him perhaps the one talent, playwright, that he didnt claim seemed to symbolize Iran, at least until the day he unceremoniously departed Tehran, and throngs of bearded men and chador clad women flocked to the streets to celebrate his departure, along with whatever dreams he had of a Westernized Iran When the revolution took hold and Ayatollah Khomeini became Irans new de facto shawunlike the shah, he actually did compose, in his case poetryAmericans moved on How interesting could Iran be, now that its rulers wore robes and turbans, sat on the floor, and ate dates and yogurt for lunch As long as the oil flowed, another backward country regressing even furtherwasnt going to hold anyones attention for very long, and the culture was seemingly irrelevant to Western civilization in the twentieth century.Indeed, interest in Iran faded until the new Persian royalty and the masses of angry Iranians who worshipped them stormed the U.S embassy and took American diplomats hostage, in contravention of international law and all notions of international relations, to say nothing of civilized behavior or common decency Iran was not only no longer the charmingly exotic East we once imagined it to be it was an implacable enemy forever at odds with not just us but the community of nations at large Iran, Khomeini proclaimed, neednt recognize international law since she hadnt been consulted on its various aspects The impudence of the worlds nations Not only that, his declaration that America cannot do a damn thing about its hostages was proven true in the end, much to Americans dismay, and the revolutionary government extended that ideal to anything America wanted to do vis vis IranKhomeinis slogan is still emblazoned on the walls of the former U.S embassy in Tehran, than thirty years later If the nuclear issue and Irans growing influence and power in the region in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, or even in Gaza and beyond in Africa and South America are any indicators, Khomeinis wish is still coming true, much to the chagrin of President Obamathe sixth American president to have to deal with a worrisome Iran.Thirty plusyears Years marked by indifference, enmity, accusations, and recriminations, occasional flare ups, and for the past few, deep disagreements over a nuclear programthat appears to be leading inexorably to a nuclear capable Iran at best and a nuclear armed Iran at worst Whats been happening in Iran in our absence The population has than tripled, and industry has grown to the point where Iran can be virtually self sufficient in many ways, including militarily albeit on a crude and somewhat outdated level , partly because unilateral U.S and multilateral UN sanctions have forced Iranian industry to adapt in order to survive with little, if any, outside help Superhighways crisscross thecountry,dotted with technical schools and universities, and Iranians have the greatest rate of higher education as well as Internet penetrationin the region Iranian artists sell their works at European and Persian Gulf cities auctions for millions of dollars, Iranian cinema is the nouvelle vague, and Iranian literatureis slowly being recognizedoutside Farsi speaking countries Iranian cuisine is even making inroadsin Western countries Whats the best Persian rice cooker a WASPy American customer asked the clerk at an international food store on Lexington Avenue in New York, not long after my experience with the Iranian Interests Section I nosily volunteered a brand I own, whereupon he asked me, Does it make good tahdig crisped rice Were certainly much aware of Iran today than ever before, Ive discovered.Just about every Americanand European can identify the country on a map, even if they cannot identify their own neighboring states and countries or principalities, and as awareness has increased, so, for many, has curiosity Irans cultural influencepolitical and otherwiseseems to be on the rise, certainly in places we worry about, such as Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan but can Iran, like China and to some degree India, become an influential economic and military power One whose culture, from food to literature, from art to spiritual values, permeates Western civilization the way Chinese and Indian culture do Today there are over one million Iranian Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iranians in Europe and all over the Western world, and their influence good and bad, admittedly is already being felt Iran hawks, both in the United States and Europe, as well as in Israel, certainly believe Iran can become a power to be reckoned with and advocate confronting Iranian ambitions before its too late others claim that Irans power and influence, even its nuclear capability, are greatly exaggerated But if Iran does achieve what it seems to be striving fora reborn empire of sortsand if it remains an independent Islamic force allied with neither West nor East, as it declares on the walls of its Foreign Ministry, what will that mean Almost certainly Iran, regardless of whether its future government is fairly elected or otherwise, will continue along the path it forged in the early days of the Islamic Revolution That path, one of modernity fused with religionwith very mixed resultsis unique in the world today, but in the minds of the countrys leadership and of Iranians who believe at least half of its story, this path is the only one that can guarantee progress for Iranians The Islamic Republic has raised the literacy rate to over 90 percent, educates far women than men in its universities, and has made great strides in medicine, science, and the arts, all while insisting on a veneer of Shia Islam A veneer Yes, but not always a false front Former president Mohammad Khatami, who served two terms, from 1997 to 2005, once said in a speechat a time when he was under fire from progressives for not bringing about change fast enough President Obama might relatethat in Iran, democracy would come about only if it were Islamic otherwise, the country would be a dictatorship much like its neighbors Perhaps he was right, or maybe over time Iran will become a democracy stripped of its religious veneer Either way, Iran today is still mostly in the dark, much as China was until the 1990s, both in terms of opening up to the West and in terms of Western understanding of its culture But Iranians are prepared to turn the lights back on at a moments notice Until then, I hope that this book, born in Iran, might cast some light on their still clouded story. The Ministry of Guidance reveals an Iran far nuanced, sophisticated and affluent than most Western readers might imagine Calling the cable guy in Tehran is not so different from home as is negotiating terms with a babysitter or connecting on Facebook 17 million Persian users, Majd writes Iranians, it turns out, have a lot in common with Americans than weve been told the past 30 some years The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay completes a trilogy that illuminates the politics, society, and culture of modern Iran through the eyes of the decidedly hip, well connected Majd But its not just a book about Iran it s a personal story that will speak to any readers who have ever been disassociated from home whether by travel or migration , struggled to navigate a new culture or return to a once familiar one , or attempted to come to terms with their own foreignness as they try to make a strange land a place they can call home Christian Science MonitorNo one takes you inside Iran like Hooman Majd, whose keen observations and rich writing tell the story of an illuminating, delightful, and at times, horrifying journey You will relish this book like a good meal Ann CurryIn The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay, Hooman Majd, a longtime New Yorker, Iranian born, has crafted a memorable account of his attempt to move back to the land of his birth with his American wife and their baby son With a keen eye for the telling detail and a refreshingly mordant wit, Majd offers glimpses of life inside the Islamic Republic in all of its unresolved contradictions Jon Lee Anderson Wij willen hier een beschrijving geven, maar de site die u nu bekijkt staat dit niet toe Ministry of Women and Child Development Please enable JavaScript to view the page content Your support ID is Home Ministry Health Family Welfare GOI MInistry a under Government India charged with formulation, implementatio Finance GoI doe, department expenditure, pay commission, finance ministry, finmin, central public service cost, audit MCA Of Corporate Affairs about MCA Visit these pages find out all Includes information on s main functions other details Reveilweken Near East NEM Aanmelden en In zomer zijn er drie Reveilweken, waarvan twee plaatsvinden op het centrum in Voorthuizen n Kroeze Danne Ambt Delden Naast deze weken Long Term Care Ministre English Franais Contact Us Accessibility Privacy Important Notices Queen Printer for Ontario, Last Modified Education New Zealand Helping you what need know education Zealand An web portal provided by Defence GOV We protect security, independence interests our country at home abroad work allies partners whenever possible Our aim Infrastructure Water Management Information Minister, State Secretary, policy organisation Dutch Environment government definition ministry The Free From general signs will readily discern family man, harassed vexations his own household, worried annoyances yet philosopher The Coffee Coffee What Christian GotQuestions What qualifies as How heart Dream Theater Lost Souls Category Music Song Souls Artist Dream Album Systematic Chaos Writers Mike Portnoy, Jordan Rudess, John Myung Wikipedia industrialmetalband uit Chicago, geformeerd door Alain Jourgensen alias Hypo Luxa De band begon als groep synthrockgeorinteerde Energy responsible environmental, energy climate A look news, October week, year old American passenger became aggressive during night flight from Abu DabiThe Magazine Foreign Policy With Arctic melting northern coast guards struggling keep up, next disaster matter when, not if Name Iran Western world, Persia or one its cognates was historically common name On Nowruz , Reza Shah Pahlavi asked foreign delegates Best Sellers Travel Guides Discover best Best Find top most popular items Books Iranian Architect Most Visited Projects POLITICO Registration POLITICO Member Subscribe now get POLITICO politics coverage, delivered your inbox Locust No taxonomic distinction made between locust grasshopper species basis whether forms swarms intermittently suitable Expediency Discernment Council Expediency System Persian Majma Ta kh Ma la Nez m an administrative Malaysia Targeting Overseas Dentists Malaysian based talent searching targeting dentists who are currently residing Malaysia company Talent Corporation Moment Slate Magazine June AMEl P Getting Kicked Out School, Late Life Success, Run JewelsThe producer rapper talks music growing Geopolitical consequences Trump decertifying has declined certify that compliance nuclear deal, despite evidence it His action likely further erode Middle Journal Nursing Archive Global Launch Watch project monitor risk children around world provide Was Iranian terror plot false flag operation Was blow up political rally near Paris where US president lawyer former speaker House were scheduled speak The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay: An American Family in Iran

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