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Amir & Will on laptops

Amir & Will on laptops

Over the past 5 years I have watched my son Will grow up through his teenage years. In Iran, Feri’s sister has done the same with her youngest son Amir who, coincidentally, is just 1 month younger than Will. Common stories of untidy bedrooms, homework started and finished at the last minute, football, too many hours on computer games etc etc were shared between us in the UK and her in Iran. It was clear that these two adolescents were very similar but, growing up in very different environments, I wasn’t prepared for the”common  language” of teenagers to surpass their knowledge of each other’s actual  language when they were thrown together on our recent trip to Iran.

Knowing that Will can’t speak Farsi, and Amir speaks no English I was of course a little concerned that our holiday in Iran would be marred by this barrier. I needn’t have worried. It mattered not one jot and on the first night of our stay Will was out on the town with Amir and his friends. He even had to borrow some clothes as our cases had not accompanied us to Iran. This impressed me even more. I’m not sure that landing in Iran for the first time, not speaking the lingo and dressed in someone else’s clothes I would have felt confident enough to go out with strangers but off he went!

Over the next 3 weeks Will and Amir communicated quite adequately, and by all accounts had great fun together and with Amir’s Iranian friends. Will played football with Amir’s 5-a-side team-again in borrowed kit. He was the first Englishman to play in the local league and was impressed by the skills that they showed. He was also playing on a new 3G pitch, something which we don’t have much in the UK yet and it was an experience for Will. Football definitely has a “global language” of its own most of which I do not intend to share with you here, but it certainly helps to break down barriers! Some of the translations are a bit literal but that makes them more the funnier. Again, most are not suitable for this article!

Apart from playing football, when we arrived both England and Iran were still involved in the World Cup group matches, albeit hanging on by the skin of their teeth. On the Tuesday night everyone was rooting for England. On the Wednesday night we had great hopes for Iran playing against Bosnia after their brilliant performance against Argentina. Sadly Iran looked tired and spent and lost the match but it brought us all together supporting one team.

I’m not sure what impression people have about teenagers in Iran, and I can only comment on our boys, but to me Will and Amir were  doing the same things in Iran as Will does in the UK. This may surprise some people. Will went ten-pin bowling. He went Go-karting and went to restaurants in Esfahan to eat and “chat” with the other guys. One major difference is the segregation of the sexes so that boys and girls shouldn’t mix when unchaperoned and some of the guys were keen to ask Will questions about his girlfriend, and the more relaxed environment in which girls and boys can mix. However, I think it would be a shame if this was the dominant topic of conversation but I do understand why they ask. The allure of “forbidden fruit” can be very appealing but they also need to understand that the grass is not always greener and their traditional values and family oriented society can be to their advantage in the long-term.

Overall I was amazed by how these teenagers from East and West were able to get along quite happily without a common language. However, Will did meet up with one of Amir’s friends who was born in England and who could speak English. His name? George.

Only Will could come home from a holiday in Iran with a new friend called George!

Will and George

I needn’t have worried.

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Villa! Villa!

I’m a big football fan here in the UK and after the Premier league finished yesterday with my team (Aston Villa) just avoiding relegation and sacking their Manager today, I’m looking forward to The European Championships which start on 11 June. I have been attending live matches for 40 years and we still travel to games as and when we can.

If I was allowed to go to football matches in Iran I would support my local team Sepahan Isfahan. ( I like the yellow shirts)

But, as a woman and as the rules stand at the moment, I am not allowed to go.

Just this week however, I learn that  “Ali Kafashian, the head of Iran’s Football Federation, has announced that Iranian women can attend the Asian Youth Football Championship games in Tehran.

The Shargh Newspaper reports that Kafashian said: “We follow the regulation of the Asian Football Confederation and act along its requirements.”

The chairman of the national competitions committee of AFC told ISNA that, according to confederation rules, there must be no gender discrimination in who’s allowed to attend the games”

Small steps but progress all the same.

One day perhaps Sepahan here I come.

Just one question-Do my flashing antlers go with hijab?

 

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