[By Shideh] It’s this time of the year again and everyday as I walk through the campus I experience the beauties of the Fall season in Berkeley. Of course you don’t see as many mesmerizing colors here as you would in the east coast of the U.S. but Berkeley has its own “haal o havaa”. Today though, I long for Tehran’s “Payeez” and can’t stop thinking about the “Vali Asr” Avenue (i.e. Pahlavi Ave.) and its trees in the fall. The nostalgia of pomegranate juice stands, the smell of “laboo and baghela forooshees” in the narrow streets of Tehran, near Meydoon e Vanak on a rainy day. There is so much life and extreme emotions there. Shawhin often says, “Tehran feels like the center of the universe once you get to know it.” I must agree.
I always wondered why our emotions are so extreme when we are in Tehran. We had a short trip to New York City last week and it made me compare the two as NYC reminds me of Tehran in many ways. I usually purely enjoy myself when I’m in NYC, but in Tehran there are many feelings combined. The problems are real and are deeply disturbing there. On the other hand, you can truly have fun in the full meaning of the term in Tehran like no other city. Or perhaps it’s because I think of myself as a Tehrani, I feel the responsibility for the problems I face there and then allow them to affect me; whereas in NYC, I feel no burden or responsibility for the negativities and just enjoy the positivities. What would it be like if we all stopped focusing so much on the problems in Iran in general and started a new trend of thought? Instead of focusing on others and what they do and letting them affect us and our daily actions, perhaps we can spend our energies on what we do everyday and how much we get to enjoy our surroundings ignoring the problems around us. Isn’t happiness our final goal? Is it wishful thinking or is it possible to enjoy one’s life regardless of the daily obstacles and negativities? Based on conversations with a few Indian friends, I think this is a major difference between our culture and that of the people in India, where they seem happier and less tense and are progressing faster despite the existing problems in their country (that are in many areas much more severe than Iran). This may also be the case in the South American countries (up for debate).
In conclusion, if we agree that what really matters is how we can enjoy our lives in Tehran given the current state of problems and how we can improve the quality of life in this city by our little random every day actions such as: taking the metro as opposed to driving to work, building our houses correctly, not collaborating with corrupt developers and engineers for easy money, caring about the environment, etc., then can we do all these and much more while enjoying every second of our lives as opposed to being frustrated and affected? I think perhaps one of the major obstacles in Tehran’s improvement is our attitude of despair and lack of hope and energy (as I talked about before as well) which drains people’s energy and leads to their giving up. Positive attitude is a key element that will give us all the energy to improve our city enormously. Please note that these are just my thoughts which are open to discussion. The topic is broad and there are many aspects of Tehran’s sociology/history/economy/etc. that must be taken into account when drawing a final conclusion for a given problem. But on a more simple level, it seems intuitively productive to focus our energies on improving our own personal lives while being happy and helping our city on a small scale while not letting others’ hopelessness and frustration affect us. Of course, this line of thought is nothing new; but today for some reason I felt it more than before.