Iran unveiled: ‘Here’s looking at us’

Iran unveiled: ‘Here’s looking at us’

Neeta KolhatkarUpdated: Sunday, October 27, 2019, 01:42 AM IST
article-image
Marzi Khorshidi |

Mumbai: If you get an opportunity to step on Persian soil, just grab it. You are definitely in for a surprise, an absolutely pleasant one. Before one even takes off, one is brainwashed, especially regarding women’s rights and status there. But rest assured, despite all claims, foreign women are not forced to wear a ridha or veil, or even gloves. One must cover their head and if one wears a cap, one's head is covered better than the scarved ones of local women.

The fact is, from the time one sets foot here, right from the airport to every kiosk, toll plaza and shop, women are running the show. They are in the security business and they wait at tables. Only when one speaks to them does one realise, every Iranian woman is looking for an escape, in one way or the other and each one is coping with restrictions to the best of their capacity.

Young girls escape to the nearest ‘free’ country, Oman, for short holidays. At the Oman airport, one sees bubbly young women in sleeveless, short tops, spaghetti straps, greeting one another with a salaam. They line up at the entrance of the gate, to catch the eye of the pursers and pilots on duty, smiling broadly and greeting them with the same warm salaams. One of them quietly says, “Marriage to a pilot or purser is our only ticket out of the country.”

The minute these young ladies have boarded, they rush to the lavatories and don their scarves and long coats, compulsory for the women. Iran could be called the capital of cosmetic surgery. The sight of women walking around with bandaged noses is as common as the cold. Many have undergone liposuction and bariatric surgeries. They are rather nonchalant about the plastic surgery. Straight, sharp noses, golden-blonde hair, heavily made-up faces and lipstick pouring out of their lips, is the standard look. To women from the rest of the world, it may appear frivolous and vain. But many young men too walk around with plastered noses. “This is a way to protest the restrictions. Women use beauty to say, ‘Look at me’. That is our way of protest,” says another Iranian woman.

Older womenfolk subtly nudge their way ahead in their families and society. Many older women are seen running small businesses, shops and as managers. One such is Marzi Khorshidi, in her fifties and the mother of three. She suffered a personal setback after when she lost her son, who had started a restaurant. She wanted to fulfil his dream and her husband supported her with the new restaurant. ‘Delicious Burger’, the outlet in Tehran, is one of the many fast food outlets, the difference is Marzi’s mayonnaise sauce. She has spent hours toiling in the kitchen, experimenting and burning her fingers with spicy chillies, to get the exact taste. Many youngsters come excitedly, asking, ‘Is it the same delicious burger with the creamy mayonnaise dip?” In this reporter's presence, a young man appreciates Marzi for the sauce. “I remember this taste from when I was a child, thank you. Please pack two extra containers of your special sauce,” he requests.

A young lady, who serves at the coffee shop in the public library inside a recently opened mall, says she loves moonlighting, to earn an extra buck. In English, she says, “We are not allowed to speak in English, but at work, I get to practise it and I like it. I have to put in extra hours on holidays, otherwise I complete my high school hours and work either before or after.” The Islamic Republic of Iran has stopped all education in English. However, there are private institutions that teach the language and many have enrolled, hoping to find work with foreign companies or as an additional qualification when applying to foreign institutions and companies.

The fact is, more women are coming out to work and hopefully, this will make a change, feel many women. Speaking of the higher number of women working, a wiser, older woman observed: “We are also cheap labour, do not forget that,” she said, succinctly.

A group of young schoolgirls rush to this reporter’s side at the museum in Esfahan, asking if they can speak in English. “Are you Hind? (For Indian)? Can we speak in English, so that we can practice,” say the girls, excitedly. They are bursting with questions, which range from the cost of the trip to the profession and their education.

The fact is, Iran has no other choice but to change. Iranian women believe it is now or never. They admit the veil may never be shed, but any relaxation of rules will be a breath of fresh air.

RECENT STORIES

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi's Helicopter Mysteriously Crashes In East Azerbaijan; Video Of Search...

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi's Helicopter Mysteriously Crashes In East Azerbaijan; Video Of Search...

University Of Sheffield Invites Applications For MSc Environmental Change And International...

University Of Sheffield Invites Applications For MSc Environmental Change And International...

"We Want To Return To India": Indian Students Terrified In Kyrgyzstan Seek Urgent Evacuation Amid...

US University Grants Honorary Degree To A Cat; 'Doctor of Litter-ature'

US University Grants Honorary Degree To A Cat; 'Doctor of Litter-ature'

Australia: Indian Student Paralysed After Assault; Faces Financial Struggles

Australia: Indian Student Paralysed After Assault; Faces Financial Struggles