By Bahar Jaberi
A friend of mine who recently went to Iran came back and sent me a package of lavashak, an Iranian snack of plum pulp spread into thin layers and dried into sheets. At first, the fragrance of the plums and the sour taste brought back all the memories of childhood for me.
Going to school, waiting for the street vendors to come around with their laboo (baked beets), chaghale badoom (unripe almonds), and goje sabz (sour green plums), and getting yelled at by my mother and then my father -- when he came home from work -- for eating food from street vendors.
The memory was so strong for me that it left me feeling nostalgic. I wished for a moment that I could go back and be the same person I was when I was secretly buying the fresh pistachios from the grimy hands of the street vendor and looking at his toothless grin. I wished I could play in my school's playground and be with my friends, with whom I felt so at ease.
But the blaring sound of a commercial song jolted me out of my reverie and into reality. I can't go back to Iran, I can't be a child and be irresponsible -- those days are gone and they will never return and anyway, I had a toothache from chewing too hard on a sour piece of lavashak or was it a piece of rock?
I guess going back to Iran has its responsibilities. The fact that the whole country is now going through a dreadful state of inflation does not help one to decide wholeheartedly to visit.
My parents live in the same town as I do, so I don't really have an immediate need to go back. My language, my mannerisms and my attitude have changed over the years and it might be difficult trying to slip back into the social structure.
Here's an example. Recently I visited some friends in San Diego. I noticed the man of the house, after coming home from work, sat at the dinner table and his wife ran around in circles to get food on the table for him. He said, "Bring me this, bring me that." She replied, "Chashm, azizam" -- yes sir, my dear.
I was fuming. I thought, "What is she, his servant?" I have respect for other people's lifestyles but this was going way too far.
"But that's the way a lot of people are," my aunt said. "You should see your uncle and the way he treats me."
I just threw up my hands in despair. Maybe I come from a strange family in which the father of the house cooks, cleans and washes the dishes, or maybe my parents have changed too.
So is it really worth going to Iran to renew old ties and feel what you felt as a child even for a week or two? What do you think?