My first few days

The smells coming from the dining area down stairs were strange


My first few days
by hamidbak

November 24, 1978, yes long time ago. The Iran Air flight landed in New York's JFK, late, as usual, I'm sure, and I arrived into US. After getting my one suitcase I walked outside the double doors, right outside of Iran Air terminal. I was wearing my new leather jacket my friend had gotten me before I left Iran. It was barely warm enough for a late November night in the cold New York air. I put my hands in my pockets and took couple of deep breaths. It was cold and crisp.

Less than 24 hours earlier I had left Iran. My older sister's help me pack that one suitcase with couple of suits, socks, few shirts, and some personal items. No razor, I wasn't old enough, I was only 17. The night seemed long and painful. I didn't get much sleep and remember well that my older sister kept telling me that it was Dad's decision and there is no way I could back out, not now. I didn't want to go.

Our home was warm and full of love. I had no problems with my sisters and got along fine with my parents. I had plenty of friends and family who really loved me. There was nothing missing in my life. But my Father thought it would be a good idea to leave Iran. I think he kind of knew what was happening or going to happen.

So on a cold fall morning, very early, I left our house in a caravan of cars towards the airport. There was not one set of dry eyes in the group, nor in the airport, for that matter. Saying good bye, come to find out, is not easy.

I shook the hands, kissed the faces, hugged the loved ones and gave one of those final looks to those who were special, one, particularly to my cousin, Bahram. He and I grew up together. Neither having a brother, our closeness was no less than of two brothers. He begged me with his eyes not to go, but we both knew it had to be done. We both gave each other that bull shit line, "sure, you'll come to America soon too". Never happened.

Another one of those looks was for my older sister who was very close to me. Her look said, "you'll never come back". Well, she was right, at least for 20 years! I turned quickly and disappeared into the crowd. While wiping my tears, I heard this voice, "don't cry shipmate". I never forget that.

All of these scenes ran through my head and brought tears to my young eyes standing in the doorway of the terminal in JFK. I had accepted the fact that I was here. Tens of thousands of miles away from everything I loved, I was here.

After a night stay in a hotel in NY, paid by Iran Air, I caught a flight to Kansas City with couple of other kids, I spent a day with the brother of a girl whom I helped accompany and took a bus to Hays, Kansas. Yes, Hays, population 12,000, a very small town in the middle of Kansas with nothing for me but a school who had accepted my guardianship. Thomas More Prep High School became my home for the next year and half.

TMP was and is a Catholic School. Brother Mark came to pick me up early Monday morning from the bus station and drove me through the brick covered streets to the school. I remember the streets were covered by frost, which was very strange to me.

School was big and intimidating. I walked up the stairs, sat on a chair with my bag right next to me. It was very early in the morning and the kids were just waking up to come down for prayer and breakfast. They were giving me strange looks and receiving strange looks right back. They were all dressed up in suits and wearing ties. I didn't understand why. Few moments later the only Iranian student came to greet me. Kianoush, whom I thought was a girl, due to his name, turned out to be a guy and later on a pain in the ass, but for the first couple of weeks he was my eyes and ears.

The smells coming from the dining area down stairs were strange. I walked down with Kianoush and sat at a table with six other guys. Out of all the sausages, potatoes, and pancakes, which I had never seen, never mind eating, I could only stomach a carton of milk and hot tea with some toast.

Kianoush helped me get used to the school and it's six or seven million rules and regulations and I gradually made friends and learned everything.

Being pealed away from my family and so many familiar things at such early age was life altering. I have no idea what would have happened if I had stayed in Iran. I may remember my first few days in America, but I sure don't remember how hard it was. Maybe it wasn't that hard. Maybe at such early age I got molded into the society and the way of life here easy. Maybe it was a matter of survival for me to get along quickly and adjust. Maybe it was just me, whatever it was, 29 years later; I have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving. I still don't know if I should give thanks or not.


Recently by hamidbakCommentsDate
افسانه من
Aug 18, 2012
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ریحان بنفش
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more from hamidbak

Amazing story ...

by IranIrooni (not verified) on

I don't think I seriously felt the things that you described, because I came to the US a lot later (in 1986) and was a lot younger. The younger you are, the easier it is to adapt to different cultures or ways of living. But as I get older, I wish to have a chance to introduce my own family to our country, Iran. I hope to help my son understand that Iranians are not as bad as his friends or their parents think they are. i hope to help him know that Iran is not a desert. Iran has thousands of yrs of beautiful history which, even though its under a bad ruling, the beautiful history should keep all Iranians united, respectful of their culture and hopeful for change for the better ... for ALL Iranians.

Lastly, for the guy that used the 'sandnigger' phrase ... I say, its not my fault that Americans call you that, and have called you that for yrs. Deal with it and move on. Luckily, I've met and have been embraced by the open-minded Europeans and Americans. So, sorry to say, but since I haven't been called that word (nor I think many Iranians have), not sure ... what to say ... except go back into your hole and shut da fvck up :)

Peace for everyone.


Thanks Giving

by Mehrdad Shar (not verified) on

Make Thanks Giving your own special day for giving thanks to whatever or whom ever you wish to thank. Don't linger on to bad or negative thoughts and memories. Create happy and new memories each year. My thanks this year is for my current health and future happiness which I will create by being HAPPY and THANKFUL.



by hamidbak on

The answers to your questions not question, since there were three, actually four, are best given im private not in this forum.

But again for a "person" (??????) of your stature, who cannot spell his last name, yes Mr. ass hole, ass hole are two words and should not be written as one...and one who cannot count...

Ohh what the hell, I'm wasting my time. You just like to bitch. See a psychologist, I'll pay for it.



Just a questoion!

by Hassan Agha (not verified) on

Why all the assholes from Iran seem to have arrived here in 1978-79? Was there an Asshole Convention and they were the delegates from Iran? Or was it that they they didn't have the balls to stay there and fight the Shah/Khomeni?


Parviz, You are a

by Anonymous^2 (not verified) on

genuine Sandnigger that belongs to the Islamic Republic of shithole! Keep living there and don't visit America again!


Thanks but NO thanks.

by Parviz (not verified) on

What a coincident. I came around the same time and went to Emporia, Kansas. The people were quiet backward and it was not and still is not America which was thrown at our faces. Farmers who had never left Emporia, let alone Kansas. They had cowboy mentality. I left Emporia very soon.

Life took me to many countries because I never felt comfortable in the U.S. People looked at me as if I had no country. I live mostly in Iran and visit the U.S. once in a blue moon.

In my view, Iranians, in general had it better and still do have it better in Iran. Comparing how our students study and live, Iran is better. As someone mentioned, Omerikar (America), has been good for some and millions do not know the difference of good or better because they never lived in another place or country. Omerikar offers more job opportunities.

The Western countries stole and still steal from LDC (less developed countries), and start war to make money, either in selling arms, muster gas, or other junks.

As some of you are going to be thankful, think about companies such as Bloodwater (a.k.a blackwater) that send un-educated idiot Americans to countries such as Iraq and pay them good money to steal Iraqi oil. I suppose some people will be thankful, it won’t be me.


Thanks? You bet!

by iii (not verified) on

Besides the same nationality, another experience hundreds of thousands of Iranians
have in common (since 1978-79) has been the
cultural shock and loneliness of exile.

Many of us have gone through the same hardships, softer for some, harder for others.

You were certainly lucky in having a great father and family who pushed you into safety.
The alternative would have been compulsory
military service with high probability of
serious injury or death in Iran-Iraq war of

Thanks for sharing the experience, and hope
you are having a good life.


My First Few Days

by Anonymous1234 (not verified) on

At first, when I read your story, I thought it was my story and someone was just messing with me and printing it. I left Iran in 1978 also. I had similar experiences as you except that I went from NY to Pratt, Kansas. They have a junior college there and I was one of the only two Iranians that went to that school for a year before the rest followed. Life was indeed hard and after the hostages were taken it got even harder. For as you know, in a small community in Kansas, it is very hard to be someone from another state, let alone another country with a bad reputation. We were harassed by a lot of people as many Iranians have been and still are. Anyway, your story reminded me of what I had to go through. Thank you.


Thanksgiving is just another commercial

by kimia on

kimia yar

Hi.Enjoyed reading your story.  As years go by, I tend to dislike TG/

It is just another holiday which people stuff themselves like the Poor Poor turkey. 

Have you noticed between thanksgiving and christmas everybody all of a sudden go in that festive and giving mood and become like angels?

Anyway, I don't  like it because their is so much waste  We are sitting here (US by the Pacific Ocean), and then there are so many people out in the world who don't even get clean water! 

Anyway, I hope I teach my kids what to thank for.First is Health and then they should feel so privilidged to live with abundance.




by hamidbak on

Right, never did imagine this life in those first days.

I share muc with you, but since I decided not to have any children, I don't know how that part of it feels. But I do know that they know nothing, at least not what we know.

May they just grow up and become fairly normal. May they never endure the pain of being alone and missing family the way we did.




Give thanks but not because of Thanksgiving

by Hamvatan (not verified) on

Give thanks but not because of Thanksgiving. You are like me and many others who moved at the same age and are now parents of the 2nd generations being pain in our asses! We have our own world and our own stories. Our parents spent their youth their way and we did it this way. Our children know nothing! sometimes I feel sorry for them and what future will have for them, considering everything economically and socially. We should be thankful for having a life but not for Thanksgiving which is now just another commercial. If we had stayed we may have died in war or in prisons or in streets. Or we may have ended up more or less the same life, except in Iran. We made it and are now living what we never imagined in those first days.