Iranscape: Marcello and Hussein

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In each episode of Press TV's fascinating series "Iranscape," we come to get familiar with two individuals coming from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds who are living in Iran, mostly with the purpose of continuing their education at higher levels, and tell us about their life stories and their experiences of living in Iran. In this episode, we meet Hussein and Marcello. Hussein, who is 24 years old and is from Lebanon, has come, along with his family, to Iran to continue his education. His father works at al-Alam News Network, his mother is a housewife and his sister and brother study at Tehran University. The other individual appearing in the film is Marcello Pradon from Mexico. He is an MA student studying Iranology at Tehran University. In the meanwhile, he is learning the Persian language. In a quest to learn more about the Iranian culture and as one of his course projects, Marcello embarks on doing an inquiry about Allameh Ali Akbar Dehkhoda, a prominent Iranian linguist and the author of the most extensive dictionary of the Persian language ever published.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Conversation [Arabic] Hossein & woman:

“- Good morning!

- Good morning!

- How are you? Are you fine?

- How are you? Are you fine today?

- Thank God!

- What’s up? Everything’s fine?

- How are you? Are you ok?

- Thank God! Ain’t you going to university today?

- Yeah, Where is Fatma?

- Fatma is just over there.

- Shouldn’t have she been at university today?

- No, She has no classes today. She’s off today. She has classes on Saturdays and Sundays.

- I see.

- Yes, thank God. She’s going good at school.

- By the way …

- What?

- Ali, my cousin, sent me a photo the other day.

- I see.

- He had gone to the al-Asi river.

- Really? So he had gone to the al-Asi river.

- They have gone to the riverside several times.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Hossein, Lebanese student: “I’m Hossein. I’m from Lebanon. I’m 24 years old. I came to Iran to study and complete my education because the universities in Iran are the best and they have record in the world. I loved Iran before I came here because Iran is very beautiful. I didn’t know that Iran is beautiful like that.”

Conversation [Arabic] Hossein & woman:

“- They often use sugar cubes to make their tea sweet.

- I like sweet tea. I mean, I’d like sugar more than sugar cubes.

- Well, tell me what you want me to buy before I go out.

- When you return home from university, buy me chicken because I want to make you molokhia stew.

- How much? One kilo?

- No, two kilos. Two kilos of chicken.

- Two kilos of chicken?

- Yes, buy me some cilantro as well.”

Conversation [Persian] Teacher & Foreign students: “- The last group of Aryans who are called Iranians came to the Persian plateau nearly three thousand years ago. We discussed plateau. What’s a plateau?

- It is a land with level surface …

- A land with a level surface, which means the land is flat…with little water.Many researchers believe that many Arian poulterer tribes, those who raised cattle, moved here due to cold weather, increasing population and the shortage of pastures…Well what’s next?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Marcello, Foreign Student: “My name is Marcello Pradon and I’m from Mexico. I’ve come here from California. I registered for this course, Iranology, at Tehran University three years ago…I was accepted to study in Iran…I came here the following year. Since then, I’ve been a Master of Arts student…till now .To study Iranology, one should know Persian language. I think one can’t study a place or a country, and its politics or society without knowing or understanding its language. That’s why I came here!”

Conversation [Persian] Teacher & Foreign students: “-Is silence related to culture?

- Yes. What is related to silence?

- Silence! They say that in Japan silence doesn’t have a negative meaning.

- Exactly!

- What you said meant being embarrassed.

- Maybe their paying attention when they’re silent! ... They are paying attention…I mean they’re thinking …

- Well that’s not negative!

- No, I mean it can have several meanings…not just one or two…but mostly, like when you are at work and don’t show it…you don’t reveal anything…It might mean that you are not paying attention…or maybe you are daydreaming or something…You are not interested.

- You are supposed to do research about one of these renowned Iranian figures…Do your research and bring it to class tomorrow so we can have a discussion about it.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hossein, Foreign Student: “A good thing that has happened to me is that I’m here with my family. My father works at al-Alam News Network, my mother is a housewife and my sister and brother study at Tehran University.”

Conversation [Arabic] Hossein & woman: “- Hurry up! Come here to see what’s going on in the world to follow the news. Look, these are scenes from Palestine. We haven’t watched any news all day … The headlines will say it all.

- What’s going on?

- Clashes with youth protesters; and the Israelis have apparently killed one person. By the way, did they go camping a while ago?

- Yeah, the program was held

- Really?

- They took us to the North of Iran.

- Really?

- Yes, and we stayed there for three days. They got us a room in a hotel near the sea.It was really beautiful. We would sit by the sea; and they took us to Gilan University.

- Oh, you went to Gilan University? How wonderful!

- They took us to Masouleh as well. The place is mountainous covered with trees.

- When will the exams start?

- Exams are usually held once every three or four months and there are two terms in one year.

- Is it easy or difficult?

- It is easy.

- Really?

- But you have to study anyway!

- Please stay with me! Now, our courses are a little bit easy but they will become difficult later.

-:Yes, then you have to work hard.

- Yes, I have to. I was telling mom that after the library I would go to see my friends. I have neither heard from them nor seen them for a long time.

- You’re right. We’d better go and see them.

- My friend sent you greetings.

- Send my greetings to him.

- Oh, I’m already late. I have to go. Here is the remote control. Watch the TV by yourself. I have to go. Don’t need anything?

- No, Thank you.”

Conversation [Persian] Marcello & Woman: “- This Persian dictionary is what we are working on now. Our colleagues who come here for meetings are working on this, too. This is the section on the letter “B” in the dictionary.

- I’d be grateful if you could tell me a bit about Dr. Dehkhoda.

- Allameh Ali Akbar Dehkhoda is one of the most renowned men in this country. He may be the first person to have thought of writing a complete dictionary for the Persian language. Before that, there were dictionaries but they were each incomplete.

- Do you think this institute has any preferences …I mean does it want foreign students to take part or not?

- If I got your question right, what is important for us is that they come here and learn Persian. It makes no difference which country they are from.

- From any country?

- Yes! It all started when a few foreign students had come to Tehran University from Somalia, Sudan, etc. The Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Tehran University had no idea how to train them. Dr. Taghikhani who was one of the literature professors there spoke to Dr. Sotoudeh who was Dr. Shahidi’d deputy at this institute and proposed establishing a place to teach foreign students.

- What do you think about the high number of foreign students attending these courses? Does it show that Iran has an influential role?...I mean…

- We think the world has realized how important Iran is in literature;how important the literary works written in the Persian language are. The sessions we hold here are for writing down this comprehensive dictionary. I can say about 14,000 people have so far graduated from this institute. Imeanthey have learned Persian at this institute.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

Conversation [Persian] Marcello & Woman: -Which countries had the students come from?

- If you go upstairs, you’ll see a chart that shows where the students came from. The figures can sometimes change. Koreans sometimes have the highest statistics.

-Thank you!

- How come you decided to study Iranology?

- Eight years ago, we came here for a visit. My brother and sister, a friend of ours and I came on a trip here together. It was good! We travelled all around and visited Isfahan, Shiraz and other tourist hubs. My interest in this culture made me return the next summer.

- How well do you know Persian literature?

- Not much, I can’t say I know them well, but I’ve learned about Mawlana (Rumi) and Hafez…but I prefer Mawlana.

- Do you like Iran?

- Yeah absolutely! I’m still living here although I can go back. I’ve decided to stay.”

Conversation [Arabic] Hossein& Classmate:

“- Why did you come late today?

- I just forgot! I didn’t know we have a class today? I completely forgot, that’s why I missed the class! I would have come if you’d given me a call and reminded me!

- Should I remind you every day? Didn’t I tell you not to show up late for class?

- This wouldn’t have happened if you’d called me!

- You missed the lesson!

- You’re explaining for a long time. Tell me what the teacher said in class and what he explained.

-let me remember! Hold this so I can explain it to you. Ok, I’ll tell you.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hossein, Foreign Student: “What I really like about Iran is that one can find a lot of foreigners here. I have friends from many different countries like form China, which is on the other side of the world, Korea and Japan. The Ministry of Science, Research and Technology hosts a gathering every once in a while, which allows foreigners to get together in a park or somewhere to hold their own program.”

Conversation [Arabic] Hossein& Classmate:

“- They’re very easy.

- No, I don’t mean those ones but this one.

- I wouldn’t have asked you if I’d known! What time is it? Yesterday when I was sorting out and archiving the photos, I came across the photos we took in Qazvin which dates back to a time we were learning Persian.

- Oh, good old days!

- Yeah boy, they were pretty photos and they really bucked me up. I found the photos we’d taken in Qazvin.

- Oh, what a nice memory!

- Yeah! Look at this picture! … See how you looked! See how young we were! I fell that we’ve grown up now!

- Have we grown up now? Ha ha!

- Yeah, we’ve grown up. Ha ha! Good memories! Look at this! It is so beautiful! Did you see it? You know, I can now remember our teachers better! Can you remember our chemistry teacher?

- Yeah!

- And our English teacher?

- Oh yeah, I remember them!

- They came to our university a few days ago and I got to see them … at the exhibition.

- Really?Can’t you remember the exhibition?

- Yeah, they came here and I was glad to meet them again. He’s been calling me every day ever since to see how I’m doing!

- He used to hate me.

- But he used to like me.

- Yes, because you are clever and know what to do. But no one like me.

- Yes, I’m smart.

- Yes, you are. Good old days!

- Yes.

- What should we do now?

- Should we go to class?

- Yeah, Let’s go to class.”

Conversation [Persian] Marcello & Woman: “-Hello Ma’am.

- Hello.

- I’m Marcello… I’m a student at Tehran University, but I’m doing research at Dehkhoda Institute. I would like to ask you a few questions.

- My pleasure!

- Mrs. Soltani sent me here.

- Well, what would you like to know Marcello?

- I’d like to know more about this place …

- And Dehkhoda himself?

- Yeah.

- Ok, let’s see, Ali Akbar Dehkhoda was born in Tehran in 1257 under the solar calendar (1878 AD). If I’m not mistaken, in 1908, our country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a school, which in fact held the first Bachelor’s degree in Iran … a four year course… It was called the School of Political Science.Dehkhoda entered this school and learned the French language among other subjects. What is known in our country as the Literacy Movement Organization, which many here are interested in and have joined, was established and pushed through parliament by AllamehDehkhoda.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

Conversation [Persian] Marcello & Woman:What happened later was that AllamehDehkhoda became a guest of the Bakhtiari tribe. You may call it a sort of self-imposed exile. I’ve got his picture here Marcello. He was a guest there for two and a half years. He had a small Larousse French dictionary; he started writing the Persian translation for each word in front of the French entry, which means translating the words. That’s when he thought that there was a need for a new and up-to-date dictionary. He started making cue cards. Gradually, the well-educated, those with good vocabulary knowledge, and those who valued Dehkhoda’s work joined in one by one. One other thing Marcello, AllamehDehkhoda achieved another great thing besides writing a dictionary. He published a four volume book entitled, “AmsaloHekam”. “AmsaloHekam” is a book about Persian proverbs. It tells you where and how they’re used, like a dictionary. It tells you where they originate from, like when a proverb is used in Sa’di’s “Gulistan”. He documented all the origins. He was summoned to a military court after the August 18 coup d’état in 1953 for supporting the nationalization on Iran’s oil industry. They kept this man, then 76 years old, in cold weather all night. When he eventually complained, they took him to his house and left him there in the porch. But after that incident, AllamehDehkhoda’s illness worsened and unfortunately we lost him a while later on February 26, 1956. Marcello, we’ve got 2.5 million of Dehkhoda’s cue cards here!

- Are they Authentic?

- They are in his own handwriting, most of them have been written by himself.This is a photo of Dehkhoda’s brother; this is AllamehDehkhoda when he was the dean of theLaw School, or the School of Political Science I told you about. This is a photo of when Tagore and Indian poet, came to Iran. I would suggest that you take a look at this later as well.

- Can I take a photograph?

- Yeah, you can take a picture, but without flash.

- It is really good!

- Dehkhoda was a free man, giving and helpful, a great man and a real patriot.

- Great! You are proud of him I believe, aren’t you?

-He is an icon to every Iranian.”

Conversation [Persian] Hossein& Man: “- Hello

- Hi there. How are you doing? Are you ok?

- Are you fine? What’s up?

- I missed you.

- Well, why are you alone?

- Well, my family couldn’t come.

- I wish you told them to come.

- Well, they are busy with work and stuff.

- Where do you want to sit?

- It is just ok over here! Thanks. I thought I’d come over because I really missed you.

- I tried calling you on your cell phone several times a while ago. You saw my number, didn’t you? I wanted to talk to you.

- By the way, where’s your son?

- Taha has gone to school.

- How wonderful! So he has started school?

- Yeah, and his mother has gone to take him.Yeah, it’s his first year. Did you have a good time in Lebanon?

- It was great! I wish you were there too!

- The weather must have been pleasant!

- Yeah, it was wonderful,like here, but here you’ve got 14 million people, there they have a thousand.What a situation! The weather is so wonderful there, clean air!

-I think Lebanon has a two million population, right?

- No, the latest government statistics show 4.5 or 5 million.

- Really?

- Yes.

- How many years have you been in Iran?

- It has been almost more than 3.5 years.

- You’ve never told me what brought you here?

- Just like the other youth there, I wanted to study abroad. Of course, the Lebanese universitieshave a high international level, but I just preferred studying abroad … so we came here. Before that I studies Italian for a year.

- Really?

- Yeah, the Italian language. I wanted to go to Italy, but it didn’t work out! Shortly before the academic year started they asked me if I’d like to go to Iran and I said,“Yes”. I stamped the papers and just left.

- You came here and dragged your whole family along!”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:15

Conversation [Persian] Hossein& Man:-Yeah, I dragged them along! We came here together.

- I think you had just come to Iran when we met each other on the train, right?

- No.

- I think one of you was in our cabin?

- No, we’re six, including my parents but every train cabin has four beds so we had to get one and a half cabins!

- And we were only two!

- Yeah, the second half were with you!

- Now I remember.

- Then we developed good relations with each other.

- We got to know each other in no time and became friends.

-About four years have passed since then, we must go out together with our families once again.

- There is no “must”!!!

- Yes, but I mean we have to do it again!

- Sure, sure.

- Let’s set a date.

- Really? Yeah, the other day my wife was saying that she hadn’t seen Fatma and Rabe’a for a long time. She said we should invite them over for dinner someday.

- Well hopefully we will set a date.I go home and arrange it with my father so we can go out together.

- God willing.

- God willing.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Marcello, Foreign Student:

“- Hello!

- Hello!

- Good morning. Ladies and gentlemen! I’m going to read a section of Sooreh Maryam of Quran. It is about the story of Jesus from Ayat 16 to 34. She said: “indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, if you should be fearing of Allah. He said: “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you a pure boy.” She said: How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” He said, “Thus; your Lord says, it is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter decreed.” “

SOUNDBITE [English] Figi, Foreign Student: “I’m FigiAsayaf from Indonesia. I have a funny and sweet memory about the Iranian Nowruz, whose importance in the Iranian culture bears a resemblance to Christmas [in Christianity]. One day, we had gone to the house of one of my husband’s relatives to see them for Nowruz. When we were saying goodbye, the mother of the family opened the Qur’an in front of me, and there were some new banknotes, smelling fragrant and fresh, in between the pages.After she offered [one of] the banknotes to me and said, “Here you are!” I happily took all the banknotes. Eventually, we got home and I counted the money I’d taken and I said to myself, “Oh, why I have taken so much?” I immediately told my mother-in-law the story, then she told me that I should’ve only taken one or two of the banknotes. I got really upset when I found out about it. Then I insisted that my mother-in-law call that lady and apologize on my behalf!”


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