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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Natural Selection

The students are taking a quiz with almost everything around them in a three story building which has all the necessities a school needs to have: clean chairs, enough light with soundproof windows. You can see their cute faces with nice clean jacket and shirts on and even some of them are wearing nice T-shirts which are usually forbidden in the public schools but you know, here is a private school and based on Darwin’s theory, THEY have the right to survive and be the next powerful generation. So don’t fret about it. You can just feel how relaxed most of them are while taking their exam and of course there is nothing wrong with that .Why should they ever worry? Their FATHER is rolling in money, you know! And they are studying in a PRIVATE school. They are almost sure that they will all pass their exams easily so, most of them are taking their exam lightheartedly and none tries to cheat but one. They all have their correction pen near them. I pick up one of them and look at it closely” Shake it gently and squeeze barrel to adjust flow of the fluid.” They are already there close to their destination so, why cheating? The teachers here know that in order to keep their job in those Gheire Entefai schools (private school) they have to be “benevolent” to their students in the entire exam they take because they know that the last teacher who had tried to be exact with the student’s grades didn’t show up in the following year.

the poor:
The first thing that catch your attention is the wastepaper basket on the corner of the cramped class filled with pieces of paper, half eaten apples and all that stuffs. The students who are playing in the yard make so much noise that teaching becomes so dull; I can’t even hear myself. The students who are taking the exam have rough faces full of anxiety with untidy shirt and pants on but, none of them are wearing T-shirt. I had almost forgotten the rule myself that says: “You aren’t allowed to wear T-shirt in public schools.”
One of them uses a broken eraser that he borrows from his friend. The eraser is torn apart because it just wasn’t made of good stuff. If I ever turn my head around, they try to cheat and I don’t blame them either. They are fighting in order to survive too. It’s Natural Selection you know!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


The 1st Story:

The subject of immigration was brought up in the teacher’s lounge in the private school I teach.
A group of teachers are leaning on the chairs to relax and get some rest from the tension and hee ha hoo of the classroom to recharge their batteries for another ”battle”.
A: Who doesn’t have a satellite dish nowadays? Just look around yourself and the roofs and you will find out how many people have access to the satellite...
B: When I leave home, I lock the satellite channels not to allow my family to have access to porno programs …
C: Iranian TV sucks! ….
D: Hey, It’s not that bad, c’mon!
E: If only I could immigrate... Right there, one of the teachers who had paid a visit to Germany last summer for a couple of months started like this:
The law, discipline, a standard human life is all right there but only for the Germans and not for the foreigners. No matter what you do in a foreign country, you will never ever be considered a first class citizen, although you have your PRC (permanent residency card) the people will always look at you as a foreigner. I wish to work in my own country and have an Iranian boss than work in a foreign country and be humiliated by a foreigner.
A lot of Germans are racists and ….
I said “As there are some who consider Afghanis second class people in here, there DO exist people who consider the people of other nationalities as second class citizen and sometimes even worse.

The 2nd Story

Location (private institute)
I was called on by one of my students when I was taking my break. He is about my age and with whom I had a class last term. When I went to him, we shook hand and he touched my left arm gently, in a friendly way and started by saying hello and the usual tarrofat. When I asked him about his immigration procees, he said that he was there to say goodbye to me and this was the last time we could see each other and I could see his teary eyes while he was talking to me. You know the eyes speak to you all the time they were saying things like” I got to go, I want to stay here but the future is dark for me here, I want to see the world with a different glass. He said to me to keep in touch with him and left me.
Hadise safar ham hadise Gharibist.I think they are lots of Iranians who want to stay in their country to serve Iranians but for some reason or another they prefer to immigrate and Farshid is one of them.
Farshid Jann, I just keep my fingers crossed for you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Private School

Let me tell you a bit about this high school kids that will sometimes drive you nuts. A private school with kids that really think they have gotten mature but, it’s up to you to decide if they have.
I helloed the “principle” and then went straight to the class. As usual, the students stood up to show how “respectful” they are to their teacher. I asked them to sit down. I was going to start the new lesson when I noticed that a couple of those naughty ones are smiling devilishly and right there I thought to myself that “It’s one of those practical jokes they are going to play on me for sure once again.” I turned my face to the blackboard to pick a piece of chalk when out of the blue I smelled and heard something awful .Damn! It was one of those students who, I don’t know how to put this word, excuse my language FARTED. It was awful. I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do; In this case nothing works. Should have I started to give them moral lessons on how to behave? Did it work? How about ….?
I didn’t know what to do! I mean he was trying to challenge me through the release of gas from his bowels. I am not a rude teacher and I don’t want to be but, this case was a different one and if you ever have such an experience, you might sympathize with me.
I put one of those relaxed, carefree no big deal faces and I turned my face back to the students and said jokingly” whoever he was, he is the one that needs a stopper(cork) badly.”
The student’s lol and I noticed one of them getting red, blue ….he said nothing and I am thankful or I had to waste the class time calm things down.
What I learnt from this class? Never turn your face to the blackboard when you smell a rat!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Teachers Demands

This administrator of our institute deserves all the taboo words one can get and I am wondering as how so many people fall into this institute and register. Oh, I almost forgot that there are lots of ads here and there to “publicize” the institute.
I was in the middle of my teaching when he knocked at the door to get my permission to talk to the students about their” problems”. He came in as if I am not there, I mean, he could have asked for my permission to sit on my chair and in my place.Oh, I had almost forgotten that he is my boss too. A (Boss) B (my nagging mind)
A: I am Mr. X the head, and I am here to listen to your suggestions and complaints about the institute and your teacher.
B (Talking inside) you son of a gun! Why the hell you are getting the student’s complaints in front of ME? Wanna despise me in front of my students? What if they say something awful?
I am not a bit afraid of being criticized _ although I hate it a lot_ if it is fair and I have enough self-confidence about my teaching methodology and classroom management while I am teaching; the point was that he asked the students this question in front of ME which was a pain in the you know where.” Are you satisfied with you teacher, any complaints?”
The class goes to a stand by mood and suddenly one of them (grown ups) says:” Yes, of course we are.”
B:”Do they dare not to be satisfied with their teacher?” I said jokingly to the head and felt his heavy look over myself. Right there one of them said “We have to put up with him.”
I had a bad feeling, although he said it jokingly. I think my mindset is in the 1980s where no students dared to give such comments In front of his classmates, let alone in front of his teacher. Everything is changing so fast…
Even in public schools you can find “complaint box” where students can criticize their teachers and I don’t mind the Democracy at all and I truly believe that in order to advance a head we have to have a democratic society that interpellate even the presidents actions but the point is that there was an embezzlement in one of Iranian banks (an amount of 200,000,000 tomans(about 210,000 $) and the case is under “investigation”. This county is suffering from all kinds of corruption (from economical to cultural) now who is at fault?
Last but not least, I wished as we are more getting scrutinized ,the society’s conscience wakes up as well for the teachers demands which haven’t been fulfilled yet. After the teacher’s nationwide protest which was about 2 years ago, the government has promised to promote the teacher’s standard of living but you know, they are polluticians_ pollution and politicians make polluticians_ Once in a while, they put big headlines and I mean big ones on the newspaper to propagandize how they are doing a big job to “fulfill” teacher’s demands. Of all the shit they are talking about!!!
Sorry for beating around the bush _Not the real Bush of course_The words were popped up right in my head.
The students started talking about how inexperienced the previous teacher was and maybe they were right but, is it right to complain in front of another teacher and students? Couldn’t they have complained when the other teacher was present to defend his rights?
I said nothing, I didn’t want to start a quarrel in front of my students; not because I might have gotten fired but just because I wanted to save face in front of my students but I AM going to talk to him about this later on. He asked for 2 minutes but left there after about 15 minutes.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Rostam&My American Pen pal

After reading Farzad weblog click here 2 read Ferdosi Shahnaameh I sent the article to one of my dearest American pen pals “John” with whom I have been communicating for about 9 months I asked him to read the article and let me know what he thinks of it and here is his answer:

The article was an interesting read: Ferdosi Shahnaameh and his exploits sound to me (at first hearing) to be a mix of Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian, with perhaps a little King Arthur thrown in as well. If this project is handled with enough balance, it will bring some of your ancient Culture with it, and people will finally realize that there is something rich and valuable and discoverable about Iran. Perhaps that's a little too much hope to place in a comic project, but if it could pave the way for more of Iran's ancient past, it would be worth exploring, I think.

Iran has one of the oldest Cultures on Earth, and every Culture has its own set of Heroes, Mythologies, and ancient tales, and with such an old yet energetic Culture, how could Iran not have such things? It is this intangible yet real set of knowledge that gives us all the feeling of unity and such things must be preserved; they are the property of none, yet the treasure of all. We must hold on to all the intangible stories, the ancient tales, because when they fade, part of us goes along with them. Remember some of the things in my previous letters, about how we are all an "amnesiac" people? This is in no small part because we've let so much of our ancient Culture go, and now we have no way of getting it back.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Reward Of Teaching

It was one of those windy days in fall when the school bell rang and while the students were shuffling through the door, I was on my way home.some of my students were sticking to me like glue and I was thinking on how personal Iranian students are when compared with non-Iranian American or European students.That’s one of those things I love in them.They were saying jokes and things to entertain me and of course themselves;The point was that among them was a student of mine who had been punished severly an hour earlier.Hey don’t get me wrong It was one of those “talking to” that harms nobody and It was a must.Isn’t it a bit weird to see that he wasn’t offended at all or may be he was but I am sure he could undrestand that It was for his own good. I was on the other side of the street to take a taxi _here in big cities every one can be a taxi driver if one has a car but of course there are people who have their driver licences as a taxi driver_ it isn’t the same in other countries or Is it? Any way, one of those kids raised his thumb to get a taxi for me.When one stopped finally I got in.”Mr.taxi driver pay special attention to the guy on the backseat, he is our teacher.”Said that student of mine.While the taxi was disappearing I could hear a bunch of them yelling “Franky(not my real name), we love you and leave you. “ (Franky doset darim)The taxi driver got wind of me being a teacher and said:” that’s really nice that others appreciate your job, nobody appreciates a taxi driver’s job ;it’s The hardest job one earth.” I was smiling as he was talking because everyone sees the hardships and the dark sides of his/her life according to other people’s happiness and the point is that there are only “limited” people who understand that everyone can have his/her ups and downs in life. The taxi driver stopped and shook hand with me without getting the fare.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Location(In a private English school with about 10 male students whose mean age is 25 and almost all of them are graduates of university with degrees of chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, business management and other degrees and this is our first session)
A (me) B, C, D, E, are the students.
The mood of the classroom is a kind of quietness and almost every one is listening.
A: What are three important qualities you look for in your would_ be wife?
B: number one is physical attractiveness and then she has to be good tempered and ….
C: But I think first we have to do some search about the girl’s family and to see if they are from a religious family or not….
A: When you say RELIGIOUS, I can’t help thinking that what you are looking for is her piousness not for the sake of her religiosity but also you are looking for a faithful girl who can be faithful to you and not a religious one necessarily. Am I right?
B: I think so; and I think another aspect can be the girl’s mother. In Farsi we say: Madaro bebeen ,dokhtaro begir(see the mother, get the daughter which means if the mother is good-looking and healthy you can be sure that you are marrying the right girl.)
A couple of students don’t show any interest to the topic and when I ask them why, one of them says: I am 30 but I don’t want to get married, I feel by marriage you lose a lot but, gain a little ….
C: In order to know your would be wife better, you have to go on a trip with her every now and then and see how she behaves; she can’t hide her feeling from you after a while and you should be with her every other day in order to get a better understanding of her and she must have a job as well…
A: C’mon!! Can you find a lot of Iranian families who let their daughter to go on a trip with a guy? You aren’t in the United States you know…
C: I don’t mean to go on a trip together alone, my sister and the girl’s sister can accompany us and that’s Ok with me...
I felt that most of them don’t think about marriage at all and it’s not on their list of priorities and asked this question” What are your fears on marriage that stops you to tie the knot?”
4 out of 10 answered that they are afraid to get married because” they are afraid that their wife becomes unfaithful to them and cheats on them some day.”
3 of them are afraid of taking the responsibility of some one else” I can’t manage my own life, let alone another poor girl who wants to depend on me…
D: I don’t want my would be wife be, Excuse me, how do we say”Jelf” in English?
One of his classmates who is a friend of him as well turns to him and says: Jelf means Prostitute…
A: God damn you man! (Jokingly) You gave your friend a wrong equivalent,”Jelf” can be translated to let’s say a flirty girl in English.
As I gave the students the Farsi equivalent, a couple of them started whispering things and giggling.
Unfortunately, I become high strung when some students start giggling and whispering when some thing serious is being talked over even if it is something that has sexual connotation.
The atmosphere becomes tense…
A: Please don’t be “bi Jan be” (Don’t act like a child) you are all grownups and I thought we can have this kind of discussions in this classroom…..
One of the most talkative one said” Excuse me but time is over!”
I was angry and I don’t know how he dared to make such a statement.
He made me angrier “Time isn’t over as long as I (with an emphasis on I) tell you. CLEAR?
Nobody moved, I think I had a good beginning but, the whole class turned into hell at the end and it was my fault? Their fault? No clear idea this time.
While I was reviewing the post to see if it looks “good”, a sentence passed through my head” Men are all the same no matter where they are.”