The problem with having an open mind…

“The problem with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and putting things in it.”
Terry Pratchett

Except for the nine years I lived in Iran, I have always lived/studied and worked in a multicultural environment. Though none were as diverse as London. Not only there are more diversity in nationalities and ethnic groups, there are more diversity in the social class within the same ethnic group. Yeah, there were loads of [enter ANY nationality here] in Kuwait, but they were more or less from a similar background…not so much so here in London. You’ll encounter the whole range of spectrum of human thoughts and ideology here.

Now, having grew up with people from various backgrounds I had thought I had seen it all. I mean when it comes to religious views, politics, philosophy, etc, I thought I had had debates from every possible angle…never thought I would hear a perceptive that would LITERALLY make my jaw drop!

So I was on a bus having a casual conversation with a fellow student. And here’s how it went:

HIM: By the way Noushin, have you been to the Natural History Museum

ME: Yeah, but not worth going more than once, the best thing about it is the building itself, the architecture is amazing, I have probably taken more than …

HIM: But I heard there are dinosaur bones there

ME: [Thinking he is a bit too old to get excited about dinosaurs] …oh, yeah there are…several in fact

HIM: So it’s real!

ME: [Wondering if is asking or just surprised]..eeeeeh, yeah! [Now wondering if I should be asking or be surprised that he is surprised]

HIM: But, but, so what Darwin said is true?

Now, a little explanation…this classmate I was talking to was …or still is…i’m a little cloudy on the details.. well, a priest. I had totally forgotten, I mean it’s not everyday one of your classmates turns out to be a priest. And I certainly didn’t want to get into a religious debate, so I said:

ME: Well, dinosaurs don’t necessary prove or disapprove Darwin theory.

HIM: But it does show that such animals existed

ME: You mean dinosaurs?

HIM: yeah

ME: [Okay does he doubt the theory of evolution or the existence of dinosaurs?] eeh, I don’t follow.

HIM: Well, how do you know that dinosaurs really did exist?

ME: You think the existence of dinosaurs is a hoax?


ME: [Trying my best not to look shock] Oh, …eeeh, well, ….eeeeh…maybe…oh, look my stop!

Honestly, as I said, I always try to keep an open mind, hey if people have theories different from mine, it’s coz of their upbringing, their experience, their religion, culture, etc…but i have NEVER thought there are people out there who think dinosaurs are a hoax.

So a couple of days later I was telling this little anecdote to another acquaintance. And here’s how it went:

ME: So the guy actually doubts the existence of dinosaurs!!

HER: Well, you know, he is right.

ME: [My jaw fell down so hard and far I still haven’t been able to close my mouth since then]..but, but, there are fossils and bones, and..

HER: But how do you know they are not fake?

ME: [jaw drops further] But why would anyone pull a hoax like this?

HER: For money. It has attracted a attention, hasn’t it. Think of all the movies, toys, exhibitions…people pay a lot to see something like that. But how do you know really know they actually existed

Yes, there are all kinds of people in this world, with all sorts of ideas, and just when you thought you had heard them all, in comes TWO people who doubt the existence of dinosaurs! …oh, and these two people were from different nationalities, religion, continent, social class, and age group.

So, did dinosaurs really exist?

NBK Update: NBK Rocks

I thought I had already posted this; apparently it was stuck in bad


What: Related to last post

Time: A couple of hours after publishing the post

Who: NBK

I was contacted by the wife of the former Head of the Customer Service Manager of NBK. Now, she doesn’t work for NBK nor does her husband anymore. But I guess his sense of responsibility and care for NBK is so strong that it even his family members care.

So, she got all the details from me (oh, and get this, she DID NOT ask me for the EXACT TIME). She called her husband, who called his former colleagues and got them to sort out my problem.

I got home that night and noticed there was a comment by a customer service representative on my previous post and the next morning I checked my account and lo and behold, the money was there!!

I was shocked!!!

So, here’s the story of two managers: The present branch manager of the Salmiya branch tells me to go to the police to have my problem solved; the former Head of Customer Service of NBK solves it for me in less than half a working day.

It’s true, the reputation of any organization is in the hands of its people. I was about to go and close all my accounts at NBK because of the words of one manager, but now I believe they have the best customer service because of the actions of another.


I also received a call from an employee at my NBK branch who apologies for the inconvenience…no not that same employee one who told me she can’t help me because it is too much paper work!! It was someone named Adel. Thank you Adel. And thank you NBK

I’ll be moving to London in 2 weeks and sincerely hope the staff over there are more like Adel and less like that Ms. EXACT TIME.

NBK sucks!!

Where: NBK Salmiya Branch

Who: NBK Manager

When: This morning

What did she say: It’s best you file a complaint against us at the police station!!


Background to the story:

So I go to deposit KD 600 in my account using their ATM on a Wednesday night. After the stupid machine took my money it gives me an error signal and says I should contact my nearest branch. So I do. I go to my nearest branch after the Eid holiday and the customer representative takes all the details except for the EXACT TIME. I couldn’t remember the exact time, it was a whole week ago. All I remembered was that is was after dark on the Wednesday before Eid.

So she calls me the next day:

Her: Ma’am, which ATM was it?

Me: The one on the right.

She calls again the next day

Her: Ma’am, you have to remember the EXACT TIME.

Me: I have a terrible memory. I don’t remember the EXACT TIME.

Her: But You have to; I checked until 4 in the evening and couldn’t find it.

Me: We’ll, it was after 4; it was dark.

Her: Ma’aam I can’t check all those hours. It’s too much paper I have to print. Give me the EXACT TIME.

Me: So, you are telling me I have lost my KD 600 because it is too much work to find the error the ATM machine made?? What am I suppose to do now? Go to the central bank?

Her: no, no, no, need. But if I don’t find it you would have to talk to my manager.

She didn’t call me for 4 working days!!

So this morning I go to the bank again. After being made to wait for 35 minutes, another customer representative takes me to her manager.

NBK Manager: Ma’am, you have to tell us the EXACT TIME.

Me: [huge sigh]: If I knew the EXACT TIME, why do you think I would hide it from you??? I don’t know the EXACT TIME.

NBK Manager: Well, you have to try to remember it. We will try to search again from 3 pm to 3 am on Wednesday. But if we can’t find it, it’s best that you file a complaint with the police station!!

Okay, my question is this: How many errors do you get on that ATM per day? If it’s less than 10, it should take you 5 seconds to find it. If it’s more, there’s something wrong with your system, update it!!! I am going to leave Kuwait in about 3 weeks, I don’t have time to file a complaint!!!!

PS. I wonder who I pissed off that Karma is getting back at me by making my life cross paths with these imbeciles at NBK

The Tale of a Keseh, Sefidab, and my Face

My stay in Isfahan (last week) was exactly what I wanted it to be: To reconnect my inner being with the mystic souls of my yester-years. I am not sure if the correct word to use here is ‘reconnect’? Did I ever float comfortably with these serene souls?

Anyhoo, I’ll tell the story of how I rekindled my soul in a later post—but what I wanna tell you now is WHY THE #$%^ MY FACE BURNS LIKE HELL

So, one early afternoon I was lingering in the labyrinth of Shah/Imam square’s bazaar. I chatted for a while with a lady working on a miniature-design clock

Isfahany Minaturist Artist working on a clock

Isfahany Miniaturist Artist working on a clock

And a grumpy copper-smith

Isfahany copper-smith

Isfahany copper-smith

Then I spotted a lively, beautifully aged woman sitting on the stone benches of the main entrance to the bazaar.

Copper Bazaar

Copper Bazaar

I overheard her talking to another old man. She had a Yazdy accent; my dad’s city. She noticed me–well I was kind of hard to miss. I was just standing there for a good 5 minutes starring at the pattern of the engravings on the old door to the bazaar

“Are you a school girl?”

Now at my age, that is always a delight to hear,

“Nope, I passed that stage long time back.”

“You are a photographer?” pointing to the camera hung around my neck.

“Hmmm, not a photographer; just like to capture the beauty of it. What’s that?”

Now I knew perfectly well what she was selling. I know it sounds absurd, but she kind of reminded me of a similar old woman sitting on these very cold stones 20 years ago when I first visited Isfahan who was also selling loofahs. Could she be the very one?

“These? These are keesehs (special kind of loofahs). You come from abroad, right? Here on vacation?”

I smile and just nod my head.

“Well my dear, we call these loofahs.”

That’s so sweet, she is explaining to me what a loofah is. Don’t know why she suddenly felt like the grandmother I never knew.

“And what are these?” I asked pointing to the Sefidab (traditional Iranian soap)

Keeseh and Sefidab

Keeseh and Sefidab


Now before you start rolling your eyes, yes, I do know what sefidab is…though I myself have never used them before. But her eyes, tone of voice, smile, all signaled to me that she wants to talk about keeseh and sefidab. So I asked:

“What do I do with this?”

Ever so delicately,s he took out one sefidab and then looked up at me,

“See this is a keeseh. You take this and you rub two strokes on the keeseh, then you take the keeseh and scrub your skin with it. Oooooooh, your skin would become sooooooo clean, your face would glow with redness, your cheeks would become so red, just like a baby, oooh you would be so so so so glowing. So much dirt would come off your skin that you would be actually able to see them on the keeseh!!”

“So would I have to use water?”

Need I remind you guys not to roll your eyes!! But I think I did shock her with that question. She paused for a while and then said:

“Yes, my daughter, there’s water in the bathroom. You should take a bath with water.”

Ok, fine I deserved that. But would you believe she wasn’t sarcastic when she said that. She genuinely wanted to teach me.


Now since I really wanted to rekindle with my lost tradition, and was looking forward to having my cheeks become baby-like, I got a bag of sefiab, the keeseh loofah and a face loofah.

So last week I decided to take a bath the way my ancestors did several hundred years ago.

Now when my mommy dear saw the keseh and sefidab, she warned me, “I hope you got those at an ‘Atary’ (a traditional Iranian herbal/natural medicine shop)

“Nope! I got them from an old street vendor from some remote village near Yazd. She had a cloth laid out in imam square in Isfahan, a very charming woman.”

“I wouldn’t use it if I were you; most likely it isn’t very ….”

I didn’t hear the end of that sentence for by then I was already rubbing that Sefidab on the keseh.


1 hour later—my skin did turn red, yeaaaah it was working

3 hours later–skin still red, way too red

5 hours later—skin unnaturally way too red

The next day at work—colleagues point, gasp and awe at the redness of my cheeks when they passed by. Some even seemed scared

2 days later—skin less red now but very dry

2.5 days later—skin so dry brother is thinking of using it as sandpaper for his project

4 days later—all is back to normal


PS. Ok, so apparently the culprit over here was not the poor sefidab, the keeseh, or that wonderful lady, the problem was….ehhmm…it was…moi ..i used the body keseh on my face coz I figured hey why not up the dosage a bit 🙂 So I scrubbed, scrubbed like lady Macbeth scrubbing the blood off her hands—except she wanted to rub the red off, I got it on 🙂

I am a “Sweet Flower”

I took this pic of a Hibiscus (Malaysia's National Flower) in Cameron..or was this at the Hibiscus Garden in KL?...Damn my memory!!

Sweet like moi


So I am chatting online with a friend:


Me: LOL , ROFL, LOL ….You know what? I now officially crown you as The Food Queen.

Her: Ahhh, thanks, so now that I am knighted, what do I get?

Me: You have the honor of getting a link from me.

Her: Oh goody, [Darya] sharing a link, yipeeee…..

Me: [Ignoring her sarcastic tone] Here you go: 100 Things You Should Eat Before You Die


[20 minutes later, after going through the list one by one together]


Her: Hahaha, I have also tried no. 13 flowers.

Me: ….ooookkaaaay….guess I could also crown you as The Bizarre Queen.

Her: My friends and I tried chrysanthemum when we were kids.

Me: So what does it taste like?

Her: Sweet, it was a sweet flower.

Me: Hey, that’s my name…sweet flower.

Her: come again??!!

Me: My name in Persian translates to “Sweet Flower”. See my first name means Sweet, and my last name means what something is when it has been raised, and raise has a meaning similar to rise and the past tense of rise is rose and rose is also a flower; so there you go, my last name translates to flower. So I am a ‘Sweet Flower’.


The emotion she sent me then will remain censored :O

YES, I survived, I’m alive, I’m alive…Phew… NOPE, I didn’t die…well not yet anyway

Let me start off by saying I am an excellent driver…I really am…NONE and I mean NONE of my accidents were my fault (despite the police reports :D)…and NONE of any future accidents I’ll ever be in will be my fault 😀

So, I leave the house at an hour I don’t normally leave, I take a route I don’t normally take, I make a turn that I don’t normally have to make…I hear a loud screeching noise, I turn and out of my window i see a view very similar to this view:

Now just imagine that you see a pic of a a woman driver (with much better hair than this driver) and she is in a White Jeep Liberty approaching me very very very fast




Well…since you are reading this so you probably know it wasn’t the end…but OH MY GOD…what a headache…I could have sworn after the clash my head flipped off my head and bounced off the window several times, then the roof and dashboard before clicking back on my neck.


[3 days later]

Now that my neurons had time to reconnect to my brain I have thunk out the following:

1. Why aren’t there any airbags on the side window…or better yet why aren’t car windows made of soft wobbly things so one would actually enjoy getting their head banged on…maybe something ticklish

2. Why can’t they make cars that detects when it is about to hit another car and then some kind of mechanism comes into play so it leap frogs over it. Aaahhh see if her car had leaped frogged over mine I would be sitting here grinning at the memory instead of going, ‘OUUUUUCCCCH MY HEAD, MOMMY DO SOMETHING” every 10 minutes.

3. So since the axiom goes: ‘Thou shall make a humongous life changing decision after a new death experience’ from now on I’m gonna drive a lot faster…seriously in both my accidents since coming to Kuwait my car was motionless…it’s other people that keep hitting me…so I saw the light…I’m enlightened… the message is that I gotta speed up!!

4. I’m gonna quit trying to lose weight…I mean if I were lighter I would have bounced around a lot more…guess that’s another advantage of being slightly over weight 😀

BTW, I would like to thank all those wonderful people who came to my aid right after the accident. I guess the care I sensed in the voice of these complete strangers spiritually helped to ease the pain. So thank you 😀

A lesson from Rumi

No, seriously what’s with us Iranians and poetry. Why is it that all Iranians over 30 years old feel they are compelled to say this sentence somewhere in any sort of conversation they are having:

“As [name of poet] says,

“Blaaaaa blaaaaaa blaaaaa blaa Blaaaaa blaaaaaa blaaaaa blaa”

Am I the only Iranian born without the innate ability to understand poetry? What bugs me most is that even illiterate Iranians can not only recite at least 100 different verses by heart, but they can even write their own piece of poetic lines. WTF!!!!

Do I sound upset? GDI, of course I am. Why? Coz I feel so stupid around them that’s why. Seriously!!

Now what has triggered all of this? Well, I received an email from a newly hired Iranian co-worker who wanted to see me regarding something. At the end of his email, instead of signing it off the same boring way we all do, he quoted some meaningful gibberish.

Well I saw him today. At the end of our conversation I had to open my big mouth and say, “By the way, I didn’t quite understand 1 or 2 parts of the poetry you wrote.”

“Which part?”


[More pause]

Finally, “Well all of it”

[Innocent smile]

“That was, “Blaaaaa………..”

Abruptly interrupted, “Yeh, what does that ‘blaa’ mean?”

So long story cut short, he explained that it meant that things in life are subjective. What one person finds sweet could be bitter to someone else. The trick is to show compassion. Love and compassion is what makes life sweet.

My next question was gonna be WTH did he send me this verse, and then I realized it was coz he wanted a favor so this was his way of making sure I didn’t decline. I had to be sweet or everything I tasted would taste poisonous!

Anyway, back to my original question: Am I the only Iranian who goes brain dead when they hear poetry? The dude then went on to say that this verse is from Mollana (aka Rumi). Now the only thing I could say to get out of seeming ignorant was:

“Yeah, that dude could dig 1 or 2 things” (areh agha mollana eey cheezahaee haleesh boud)

I could then kinda sense Rumi turning in his grave.

[Head down]

I am so ashamed.

He later on went to say that Rumi’s poetry is very soothing for him. Whenever he wants answers to life’s big questions he turns to the old master.

I said:

“I get my answers from Tom and Jerry…well when I was a kid I mean…not now…definitely not now…nooooooo sireeey…honest”

The poor dude was such a good sport. He said,

“Tom and Jerry is your sweet. Whatever makes us happy”

Something new everyday: Day 1

“So where do you wanna go?”

“Dunno, surprise me”


Yeh ‘course. Have we ever been highway cruising without music?”

“Persian, English, or Arabic?”

“Surprise me.”

So on goes the stereo and The Corrs comes on. I just recently discovered them. They are very good.

“Why hadn’t I heard of them before?”

[No answer]

Well I guess my car was done talking to me. Maybe it’s time I tried tuning in my shrink.

“Yo shrink, you there?”

“Yeh, I am here. I see you are highway cruising again.”

“Yeh, don’t feel like going home yet.”

“Wanna tell me why?”

“Nah, not now. Maybe later.”

“So why did you call?”

“Something someone said to me yesterday struck a cord. She was giving me advice. Sincere, very sincere.”

[Two minute pause]

“Well, go on.”

“I just remembered I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, what do you think of a project I have in mind. I have decided that I am going to find at least 1 thing to do everyday that I have never ever done before.”

“Everyday you will try out something new?!!!”



“Well it doesn’t have to be anything major. Knowing myself I would probably try a new food or something.”

“So what did you do today that you have never done before?”

“I had a Malteser ice cream.”

[No comment]

An apology to my car

Well I can now officially call myself insane. A few days ago I got into my car and gave it a sincere heartfelt apology. I don’t think I have ever apology to another fellow human being the way I apologized to my car.

The background of the story
I hate my car (correction: I used to hate my car). I just find it truly boring mainly because there aren’t any buttons or gadgets I can fiddle around with. All I can do with this car is drive it!!!! Booooorrrriiiinngg. Well I have not made this hatred a secret. I badmouth the poor thing any chance I get.

Anyway, few days ago I went to see a show (Midsummer Night’ Dream performance at the British Embassy) with a couple of friends. After the show we wanted to go to Salmiya for a cup of coffee. I left my car parked in an isolated parking lot and went with them. Around midnight one of them said, “Won’t it be funny if your car is towed by now”.

Ouch!!! The thought of my poor car being stuck all alone in the middle of a car pound with strangers just broke my heart. I just had to get to it. Boom bang bam around 10 minutes later I saw my car in that isolated quiet parking lot all alone in a corner. I approach it very timidly. I was too embarrassed to look up at it in the windshield. Very meekly I put my keys in and opened the door. As soon as I got in, I whispered out loud, “Sorry, I will never ever leave you alone”. And I meant it.

I will also no longer bad mouth my laptop or imate. I will treat each one of them with the respect they deserve.

Business English Class

The only downside to today was that one of my favorite Business English classes ended. I am so going to miss this class. I mean they were everything a teacher could ask for: motivated, intelligent, active, but above all…….they cracked me up.

On Saturday after we had covered the first and second conditional sentences, I asked them if they use this kind of sentence at their workplace. You know, sentences like, ‘If you deliver the goods today, I will pay 50% in advance’.

So one trainee quickly looked at me and “Yeah, I use it all the time”.

“Great. In what kind of situations?” Of course the answer I was expecting and hoping to elicit from him was that he uses it in negotiations or when making concessions.

“I use it when I need to bribe someone”