Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Grandma, you smell so good.  How do you do it?

I pick Jasmine flowers every morning.  When I dress, I slip them inside my bra.  That way, I always smell good.

That’s great!

Not the sort of thing I would expect to hear from an Iranian grandmother speaking to her granddaughter.

I watched a little movie today called Persepolis.


In my haste to watch I didn’t peruse the menu to discover that I could have watched it dubbed in English.  I instead listened to beautiful French and read subtitles.

I’m very glad it happened this way.

It made for a more intimate experience because I related to this young Iranian girl living in Tehran during the Muslim revolution.  I felt her friendship, laughed at her Granny, and marveled at the history lesson I received.  I commiserated with her love of the Bee Gees even though she lived in a world I didn’t know and spoke in a language I didn’t understand.

I missed nothing and I gained so much.

While I was graduating high school she was sleeping on a park bench in Austria in an attempt to escape the horrors of war.

The family in this movie were no more extremists than my family in America.  In fact, I saw eerie parallels.

How quickly could the same fate await us?

They were so hopeful after the collapse of the shah, but the new Muslim regime forced a stifling moral code on this damaged Iran.  No smoking, drinking, cursing, or revealing clothes.  No parties.  No running down the street because it causes a woman’s behind to shake in a provacative way.

Wait a minute.  Am I in Tehran or Southwest Missouri?

My own Baptist upbringing discourages all of these things. Well, I can run (not that I do), but in some more conservative denominations, dancing is still forbidden. Of course I’m not hauled off to jail for smoking the occasional cigarette in public and thankfully so, but I'm often less than forthright under the strict moral code.

It’s beginning to exhaust me.  This double standard that I bristle under yet still maintain.

Finally, though.  I recognize it.

In this time of war and political madness it is very easy to forget that we are all just people.  We all breath air, walk on two legs, enjoy music, treasure the snow on the mountains and hide in our hearts the sweet smell of grandmother.

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