March 05, 2007

Day 0: How I learnt my first word of Farsi

On the plane, I'm seated next to an old man. His wife and two sons are nearby.

"- How was WWI created? A mad guy killed the Archduke of Austria.
- How was WWII created? By a mad guy.
- So you see... I don't know when... but the only thing I'm sure is there will be a regime change in Iran and in the meantime this mad guy will bring us WWIII."

Clear as cristal, right? The old man is an Iranian Bahai. Day 0 being actually the middle of the night (3 am), I got interested in the story of the old man and his family but not so much in the politics...

Pervez left Iran with his wife and children 8 years ago after the government ceased to pay his pension and barred his sons from entering university because they were Bahai. Among other things, the sons were forced to study the Quran in school. He fled to Turkey and later obtained refugee status in Canada.

He is waiting for a regime change in Iran to return and get his pension...

He says he has sympathy for the Jews because he knows what it is to be persecuted. He was engaged to a Jewish girl in his youth and when she died he thought he would never get married.

I have an invitation to join them in Haifa and Akko to visit the holy sites of the Bahai faith, I have my first Bahai prayer booklet. And my first word of Farsi is easy: Hello is "Salam".

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