Iranscape: Emiko and Lieke

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The unique experience of living in Iran becomes apparent only after one actually lives it and cannot be viewed by outsiders. It is only then that one can discover the liveliness in living in this country. Iranscape takes an effort in filling this unknown gap by depicting the daily lives of a group of foreigners living in Iran for different purposes. In this episode we will meet two of them, Emiko and Lieke. Emiko with a French origin traveling between Cambodia and the U.S., is a professor of anthropology and is currently living in Tehran to learn about the people and culture of Iran. Emiko’s friend, Lieke comes from the Netherlands and is studying about the Middle East by understanding the significance of Iran in this region. They are both improving their Persians in the Dehkhoda Institute. In these series of Iranscape by Press TV, you will meet people from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds living together and with Iranians in perfect harmony. Each episode recounts the life story of two of these people.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Teacher at Dehkhoda Institute: “Would you please introduce yourselves. Once again so we can become better acquainted?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Emiko, Foreign Student: “I am Emiko. I was born in France, but my home is in Cambodia. I work in America at present and so far now I live in America. I am a PhD student of anthropology and I am a university instructor of anthropology.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Teacher at Dehkhoda Institute: “Which university?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Emiko, Foreign Student: “Cornell University, in the state of New York. I’ve been living in New York for the past three years. Half of the year, I live in Cambodia and the other half in the United States.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Emiko, Foreign Student: “I’m Emiko. My name is Japanese. It means a child who smiles. I’m French. I’ve been living in Cambodia for 16 years I think. I had had the opportunity to study and teach in the United States. My life is a little bit between Cambodia, France and the United States. I really liked Tehran from the first day I arrived. Here I guess half of the day, I spend about 3 hours in class at Dehkhoda institute. So when I arrived for the first time at Dehkhoda last year I was really surprised because I didn’t know what to expect at all. You know we never hear about studying Farsi in Iran. We never hear about anybody. So I guess I just expected, I don’t know a whole school with like ten people or may be something like that.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Teacher at Dehkhoda Institute: “All together; at the end of the week, hastily, spring, on time, to wake up, autumn, summer, sleep, again, bicycle, to love, to take a shower.”

Conversation [Persian] Emiko & Student: “- Which day of the week do you like best?

- I like Thursdays because after that it is the weekend.

- It is off.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Emiko, Foreign Student: “When you arrive here the first day of school and it is completely overwhelming because you have all those people from all around the world. It is just I’ve never seen so many different nationalities in the same place. It is quite amazing. All the kinds of languages were spoken everywhere in the institute and … but mainly people were just speaking Farsi because truly that was the only language we have in common you know.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Conversation [Persian] Teacher & Lieke: “By the way, which city in the Netherlands do you come from?

- Amsterdam.

- Amsterdam. Is Amsterdam the capital of the Netherlands?

- Yes.

- is it a big city?

- No, it is a very small city, but it is the biggest city in the Netherlands.

- All right! How long have you been living in Tehran?

- Five months.

- Five months is a lot. Where is your dorm?

- It is in northern Kargar Street.

- ok. You stay in the Tehran University dorm.

- Yes.

- So, you go from Tajrish to northern Kargar and come back every day? You commute. You come and go.

- The people of Iran and Iraq have the same culture and religion. The security is very good in Iran.

- A common culture between Iran and Iraq, that’s right!

What question do you want to ask Ms. Rosol?

- On the news in the Netherlands, they’re always talking about how dangerous Baghdad is.

- It’s dangerous. Life is dangerous. Is that your question? Your question is about Baghdad and how dangerous it is? Is Baghdad really dangerous or is it a little bit better now?

- No. It is better now.

- It’s better now.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Lieke, Foreign Student: “So my name is Lieke. I am originally from Amsterdam. That is where I grew up and I studied the Middle East there in university. I went to Iran last year for the first time, I stayed here then for six weeks also studying at Dehkhoda. I think Tehran is a really nice city, people are great and the atmosphere is really good, people are always up for small talk and they help you out so much when you are on the street and you look like a lost tourist so it feel very good.

And it was fun seeing the different kind of people that are doing the same thing for studying for example last year my class was made up of some Mexican people, some Chinese people. Some of course European. There were people from all over the world basically. There were all coming here to learn Farsi. As I don’t only have the experience of being in Iran and experiencing Iranians but also making friend with people from all over the world basically. That was really a nice thing.”

Conversation [English] Emiko & Lieke: “- Have you heard Ashura?

- I know vaguely what it is. It has to do with the story of …I think …

- of Kerbala?

- yes, exactly. Hussein and Hassan?

- Hussein and Hassan are under attack and there is no water and everybody dies of not having enough water and they are the only ones left and Hussein knows that he is going to a certain death but he still goes because he feels it is necessary for the truth to be made or something like that.

- I saw they just play it every year.

- I think at Ashura that’s when they play Tazieh. It is like a commemoration of that very difficult moment and but I guess there is a different style to play it and as a Tazieh or may be with puppets or things like that I guess.

- Uhum!”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [English] Emiko: “When I started to talk about Iran and wanting to go to Iran and when I started to tell my friends or my family I had different reactions according to different countries, so you know I was in Cambodia and I phone my parents and told them that I’m going to Iran and my mom screamed. She was like are you crazy? You can’t do that to us and then I told her but mom I have to pick up my visa in Paris, at the Iranian embassy in Paris, and then she said oh if every time you have to go to Iran you have to go to France then I love Iran. What I really like about Iran and what I also found in Cambodia is how people improvise life like you know, that is a quality that you find in everyday life in Cambodia and I get the feeling that it is a quality that people have in Iran.”

Conversation [English] Emiko & Lieke: “-I think we can’t go wrong if we get Behrouz Gharibpour. There is Macbeth from him. There is also … this one is also from him, it is Rostam and Shohrab.

- Sohrab?

- Oh, Sohrab, Yeah! What is it?

- It is a part of Shahnameh I think. I believe it is a sort of epic battle of something.

- Oh, that could be good.

- Oh, yeah! I’m not sure.

- But that look really good.

- Yeah, that is really good. It is like they are humans.

- Let’s take these ones, that one.

- Do you take this one?

- Yeah. I’m getting that one.

- Hi sir. Excuse me. How much is this?

- 20,000 Tomans.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Lieke: “Basically what my day looks like here is I get up very early. And I go from my dorm to Dehkhoda. Classes start there at 9 o clock and they go until 12. I think that is pretty good because then you have three hours of studying and then you are free to do whatever you want. Of course you need to do some homework too. After class most of the time I just go to a café, I meet with some friends or we might go to a park or sometimes we see a movie or you know have small parties with some friends and stuff like that.”

Conversation [Persian] Emiko & Lieke & seller: “- Hi. Excuse me. What is the movie of the day?

- The Dowry. It’s a comedy.

- No, that’s not a comedy.

- Time to Love?

- Yes, Time to Love. How much is it?

- 4 thousand tomans per person.

- 4 thousand tomans, what time does it start?

- Half past three.

- half past three. Ok. Thank you. Two tickets, please.

- 8 thousand tomans.

- Ok, thanks.”

Conversation [Persian] Actors in movie: “- We should do something. We should save 700 thousand tomans for the apartment rental. You don’t understand; property rents are really high.

- I read it in the newspapers. The prices are really high.

- We should stay here, no matter what.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Emiko: “When I was a kid I was living in a suburb in France. A city very close to Paris and it was kind of a new neighborhood and most of the neighborhood was made of migrants and of Muslims. So many people were from Tunisia, Algeria but also Iran because at that time it was just in the middle of Iran-Iraq war and so a lot of people lot were going abroad and it happened that the family living next door to my family was Iranian and because my parents were working a lot they were not home that often so that Iranian family took care of me after school or before school or times like that. I don’t remember that much, but I remember the sound of Farsi somehow really sounds familiar. Even when I was not learning the language yet. Somehow I guess years later it would come back to me with the urge to come back to Iran to basically explore what happened then which was nothing which was just to be with people who were speaking the language and who had the same culture.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

Conversation [Persian & English] Emiko & Lieke, Café man: “- Peyman doesn’t like his job. This is not correct.

- Hi

- Hi.

- Welcome.

- Thanks.

- We have coffee and tea here. What would you like?

- Latte and Espresso.

- Espresso. Ok.

- Do you know how poets in Iran have (inaudible)

- Yeah. That’s so beautiful.

- When I read anything I feel ridiculous.

- But I think you need to be very good in speaking Farsi if you want to understand the rhythm of the poem, so basically…

-Yeah, like the rhythm of the sound…

- For example if you “Alef” you should know that you have to speak like this “aaa”. The longer soundsand the other words they are shorter and then again some are longer. That is why it is like it is singing almost you know.

- Exactly.

- Why shall the weather fowl worry? Is the bird of the air that should be anxious… oh it’s the bird of the air that should be anxious. Our faces are lighted up with gratitude. Schools as we are in wave and sea, in as much as ocean and flood our life is increasing to the fish. When I came here for the first day for my second day it was much easier because you know what to expect. And when I was here for two days I felt like I’ve been here for a month already. So I feel really at home actually.

- Yeah. It very nice. It is like going back to somewhere you know. It is exactly like that. It is like having another home in another country and you just go from one to another and this is my Iran home. So the Iranian home or something like that.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Lieke: “I started studying this. I think I was interested in politics mainly but I didn’t really know what to do after highschool. So the Middle East was interesting for me because it is kind of an interesting region, there is always something happening. I don’t think there is anybody who likes war but I’m kind of a realist so I think power is the biggest reason. I think that’s the start of a lot of things, for example the invasion of Iraq by America. it is obvious that there were also you know bigger things that were important for America than only getting rid of Saddam Hussein.”

Conversation [Persian & English] Lieke & Emiko & Sayideh: “-Hi

- Hi . How are you?

- Fine, thanks.

- I’m Sayideh.

- This is my friend, Lieke.

- I’m preparing for some puppet show and I told you to come here to show you the puppets and how to make puppets.

- Great.

- What is the show about?

- About a man named “PahlavanKachal” who wants to get married with the daughter of this woman, who is a witch.

- She is a witch?

- Yeah.

- That’s cool. What is the meaning of witch in Farsi?

- Witch.

- Mrs. Witch.

- The daughter of a witch. The bald hero falls in love with the daughter of a witch. Then he wants to get married with her daughter, but he cannot. She then casts a spell on him and he is transformed into a stone or something like that.

- So do you want to do it yourself?

- Yeah, ok.

- You must do it with this part and this part. Like this, it can be the hands.

- Aha!

- The arms.

Lieke: So let’s do it at the same time. That’s ok.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_24:53

Conversation [Persian & English] Lieke & Emiko & Sayideh: “- You can cut them.

- Yeah?

- Yeah. But I like these puppets more.

- Why?

- Because they are easy to manipulate and also to make.

- It looks really difficult.

- How do you make the hands?

- With paper and glue.

- Really?

- Yeah. And they talk with this. (Making noises)

- (Laughter) اردک

- It is super cool.

- Hello. Are you fine (making noises)

-I’m fine thank you. What about you?

-I’m fine, thanks.”

Conversation [Persian & English] Theater: “-Wow! So many spectators! Hi. Hi

- Hi

- Hi

- How are you?

- I’m fine and you?

- Thank God. Excuse me. Excuse me I want to get married.

- Oh congratulations.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Emiko: “I went to different places in Iran. But I guess my favorite place is Ahvaz. Because of a little personal connection. My father was a receptionist in a hotel in the 70s and he was just married at the time. One day his boss comes to him and says hey I’m going to open a hotel in Iran in Ahvaz. My mom was getting fatter and fatter because she had a baby inside and the baby was born before term so it couldn’t travel or anything. I guess I was sort of not born in Ahvaz but the plan was so that I could have been born in Ahvaz so my favorite place is Ahvaz. My ideal plan is of course when I finish my PhD like anybody else is to get a job in academia in anthropology hopefully and if that job can basically give me an opportunity to go back and forth between Cambodia and Iran and wherever my job is if it is in the States, in Europe in Asia, wherever then it would be wonderful.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Lieke: “Actually I already have the feeling that Iran is a great country. It is kind of becoming a cliché because I hear it so much right now that oh Iran is not like they say it is, you know. This message for me is becoming a cliché because I don’t know everybody says it of course. Everybody who has been there who has heard about people about going there and also stuff like that. So I think it is a big improvement.”  


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