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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?

HIM: YES!

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 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!!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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So I am chatting online with a friend:

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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

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

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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’.

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The emotion she sent me then will remain censored :O

The Drifter

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I am the captain of my boat

I navigate it well

The years have taught me how

When the wind was fierce

…the sails soared up

When the tide was wild

…the wheel was held on tight

…but alas

…there is no anchor

My boat has no anchor

It’s forever adrift

Time to anchor?

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Once you have reached a season in your life where more than 30 birthday memories have been recorded, a birthday starts taking a new meaning onto itself. It no longer becomes a time for you to just giggle away over the sound of merry games, Kodak moments, cake indulging, gift shaking, and candles flickering away. Once you are over a certain age, the giggles remain but another ritual is added… for some reason it also becomes a time to evaluate–to evaluate those moments between each birthday.

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On my last birthday, a friend took onto herself to evaluate my moments. Me, well, I was just still busy giggling the moments away, so she stepped in.

Her diagnosis of my life:

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I have no anchor!!!

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HER: If you were to die tomorrow, what would you say was your biggest accomplishment?

ME: [not wanting to go down that road] Can we not have this conversation on my birthday?

HER: You want to talk about the weather? Fine…it’s hot!!! There, we are done with that topic so what should we talk about now? Oh, I know…when are you gonna stop being a coward?

ME: [playing with the sugar packet on the desk] Hahaha, first time I hear you talk in a sarcastic tone…[all smiles]

HER: Listen, ‘Darya’, do not make the same mistake as I did…drop your anchor

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Now since this was not the first time she had brought up this topic I knew where she was going with this, and to be honest with you my ears weren’t tuning in to her words. AND she knew this…she felt it…yet she kept on talking…more like she wanted her own ears to hear her words.

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HER: I am 43 years old and have nothing to hold me down…never got married…never got truly attached to anyone…every time I got close I came up with a good excuse why it’s not in my best interest to anchor now…JUST LIKE YOU ARE DOING NOW

ME: Moi???!!!! Excuses??!!!

HER: [just raises her right eyebrow]

ME: They are not excuses. I just haven’t found the right port to anchor yet. Besides I love sailing freely from one port to another. No I don’t have the intention of sailing for ever but trust me, once I find the right port, I will anchor.

HER: There’s no perfect port. I mean you didn’t anchor at the last port, just because of one lousy day. Every single port would have beautiful days as well rainy ones.

ME: Yes, but IF I love the port, I would love the rainy days as well. Sweetie, I am not naïve, I know there’s no perfect port…but I also KNOW there’s a port somewhere just perfect for my boat. I’ll anchor once I find it. Ok, yes, there are days I get tired of sailing…or at least of sailing solo…yes there are days I think back to a port I had just left and think maybe I shouldn’t have been too hasty, maybe I should have explored it more…but the fact that I didn’t is a sign that my boat doesn’t belong to that port.

HER: That was my reasoning all my life. Stop kidding yourself. I know you too well Darya. You don’t even get close to the port before you turn around and leave. As soon as you begin to get close enough to make out a couple of the features of this port, you get scared and turn around.

ME: [silent]

HER: You get scared just like I got scared. Promise me something, promise me that you will turn around and go and explore your last port a bit more before you leave…at least for God’s sake drift around it for a month before you leave.

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Well, that conversation took place on my birthday…since then I have turned my boat around…back to the port…the port I had just happily left…and yes, she was right…there are no stormy days here anymore…yes the port is a nice place…it’s flawless…it’s an ideal place to anchor…but my boat wants to leave…it feels like the beauty of this port doesn’t belong to it.

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Now I am stuck…the port is perfect…it’s the port I’d envisioned in my dreams…I am stuck at this port…yet I can’t bring myself to drop the anchor.

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How could the perfect port not be perfect for my boat?

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Is something wrong with the captain?

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Will she always be a drifter?

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…and once again she sails away……

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The Philosopher and the Fish

Quick question: What is happiness? How can you tell when you are happy? And how can you tell when someone else is happy?

I received an email from an friend with the subject line: Poor woman

Here’s the email:

Mum set for 18th baby

An Arknsas woman is pregnant with her 18th child – and says she plans to have more.

Michelle Duggar, 41, is due on New Year’s Day, and the latest addition will join seven sisters and 10 brothers, including two sets of twins.

All of the children’s names start with the letter J – and they are all schooled at the family’s home in Tontitown.

“We’ve had three in January, three in December. Those two months are a busy time for us,” she said.

The Duggars’ oldest child, Josh, is 20, and the youngest, Jennifer, is nine months old.

Mrs Duggar has been been pregnant for more than 11 years of her life, and she and her husband, Jim Bob, say they’ll keep having children as long as God wills it.

“The success in a family is first off, a love for God, and secondly, treating each other like you want to be treated,” Mr Duggar said.

“Our goal is for each one of our children to be best friends, and everybody working together to serve each other makes that happen.”

The children, in between Joshua and Jennifer, are: Jana, 18; John-David, 18; Jill, 16; Jessa, 15; Jinger, 14; Joseph, 13; Josiah, 11; Joy-Anna, 10; Jeremiah, 9; Jedidiah, 9; Jason, 7; James, 6; Justin, 5; Jackson, 3; and Johannah, 2.

So when I saw my friend, I go:

Me: why did you say ‘poor’ woman

Her: DID you NOT read HOW MANY kids she has??!!!

Me: DID you NOT see her picture?

Her: Huh???

Me: Just stare at her eyes; with a piece of paper cover her mouth and forehead so you can only see her eyes. She is smiling with her eyes, there’s bright joy in those lanterns. Very rarely you can look deep into someone’s eye and not notice any fear; in hers not only I didn’t see any fear, they were kinds soothing as well.

Her: Would you be happy being her?

Me: Me?!! No!! Of course not…well I don’t think so anyway…but the point is I’m not her. The things that make me happy probably won’t make her happy.

Her: I still think she’s not happy. No one can be happy with 18 kids!!!

This conversation kinda reminded me of the story of the philosopher and the fish. Enjoy the story:

A philosopher once said to a fish, “The purpose of life is to reason and become wise.” The fish answered, “The purpose of life is to swim and catch flies.” The philosopher muttered “Poor fish.” Back came a whisper, “Poor philosopher.”

Did I hear a ssshhhhhh? Ahhh so you must be Persian

Conversation 1: Me and some new teacher I just met

New dude I just met: So where are you from?

Me: Guess.

New dude I just met: Iran

Me: Wooooo that was quick. It usually takes people 8-10 guesses. What gave me away? My Persian eyes..heheheh.

New dude I just met: Nope. It was your name.

Me: Ahhhhhhh, hold on I thought you said you just came to Kuwait from Egypt. There aren’t that many Iranians in Egypt so how come you are so familiar with iranain names?

New dude I just met: Actually this is the first time I hear a name like yours. I just “knew’ it’s an Iranian name.

ME: You just ‘knew’??!!

New dude I just met: Yeah coz it has ‘sh’ in it.

Me: WTH!!! You guessed my nationality from the sh sound in my name??!!!

New dude I just met: Yep. See since coming to Kuwait you are the 6th Iranian I’ve met and all but 1 of you had a sh in their names. Even when I hear 2 Iranians speaking I hear a lot of the ‘sh’ sounds. And when Marina FM put some Iranian music, again lots and lots of the ‘sh’ sound. Your name has ‘sh’ in it, even your last name has ‘sh’ in it, so I guessed you are Iranian…and I was right.

Ok, so I gotta put his little theory to test.

First the songs:

So with a pen and paper in hand I start to listen attentively to a couple of songs. To be honest with you I didn’t hear THAT many sh’s. Ok maybe it sounds a lot coz most of the common words in songs have sh in them:

Love=eshgh

Night=shab

Eyes=cheshm

To become: shodan (this is very common)

Fire: Ateesh (don’t ask me why this was quite common in the songs I listened to)

City: shahr (ok this is common coz lovers always want to leave the city…don’t ask)

You killed me=mano koshtee (this is a way of saying “I love you” :P)

Second the name

From a site of Iranian female names I counted 44 female names out of 320 that had the sh sound in it

That’s 13.75%.

Now how would I know if that is a high percentage?? Hmm I guess I gotta count all the other sounds as well….

PS. I counted very quickly so don’t bug me that my numbers are incorrect…leave 5 names for margin of error