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I have a dear friend, whom I have had for almost 10 years. I met him online long time ago when I was looking to talk to someone from Iran because I so vainly thought that every one knew every one there and somehow I would find my step-dad from the early 80’s. Well instead I found a friend whom I will call Farid. We have both been there for each other through highs and lows. He watched my daughter grow from an infant into the sassy little girl that she is. I saw him get married and I saw him finish school, I have no idea how many degrees he has but he is seven years younger than me and packed in so much higher education, I would never have been able to pay all that off here in America, even with the current “low interest” lay-a-way plan the government has. I have come to a point in my life where I have accepted that I am not going to finish college. Not because I don’t think I can, because I am sure I can—even with my current loan gathering interest like a stray dog gathers fleas, but because I don’t want to be owing this government for the rest of my time here on Earth…I owe them enough. And enough is enough. I do have Google and Wikipedia. I am 40 years old now and it is honestly time to encourage and stand by my children while their star shines here on Earth. I asked Farid if he will write down a day in his life, so that I may compare it to a day in my life. The media between here and there is so awful to each other, that I want to document what daily life is like for me and what it is like for him. There are misconceptions on both sides I am sure. Although, being an American and a Indian, I never trust what the media says about people. What I have experienced with media both personal and historical, are lies. Even looking in the history books in the schools, which some say they are trying to make right now, for real? After 500 years? I doubt it. Anyway, onto the comparison. One time, when we realized we may never meet in person, although I know I would be welcome in Iran and the culture I embrace so dearly-he would probably never be welcome here or maybe even want to come here, so I told him, in a poem—(we share poetry)-as it seems both our cultures are very poetic people, I told him that even if we never meet-we still share the same sky. So respectively, here is a day in the life of Farid and I. FARID:Although I feel completely fresh physically, it is a little difficult for me to get up as soon as I wake up. My cell phone has not set off yet. It is raining heavily and this also adds up to my sluggishness. The New Year holidays are over and again I have to get ready to meet the heavy traffic, air pollution and annoying noises in Tehran. The streets are jammed with cars early in the morning in normal days let alone today that it is raining; and although I know the later I go out of home the later I will get to work I still remain lying in bed. Zahra is going to university earlier today and asked me the last night to wake her up at 6:30, but I wait for her cell phone to set off; after a few moments she gets up. At last I also get up and, after washing, say my prayers and get dressed. With an umbrella in my hand, Zahra and I get out and go to the end of the alley to take a taxi in the autobahn. The rain has almost stopped but a wind has begun to blow strongly enough to make the umbrella inside out. On the first day of the week after a long period of holidays (though it is not my first working day in the New Year, for I went to work during the second week of the holidays) it is no surprise in such weather not to be able to take a taxi for about 15 minutes. Finally, a car stops but the street is so jammed that it takes 20 minutes to get to Sadeqyeh square, which is only 2-3 kilometers away. Taking a glance at the cars shows that a relatively large number of them carry no one but only the driver. If we had a more effective public transportation system and if we had much more disciplined way of driving we could probably have less traffic and less pollution and as a result less cancer, less anger, less nervousness but more patience, more pleasure and more relaxation . Driving is like a car racing in Iran. Everybody tries to reach the destination sooner no matter if this may lead to breaking laws or disrespecting other people’s rights. And the irony is that this behavior makes them reach the destination not sooner but later. A few minutes before getting out of the car, I start thinking about the fare and wonder if it has been increased or not. Increasing the taxi fares after new year holidays is a routine and during the early days of this increase, there occur some rows between drivers and passengers especially the drivers whose job is not taxi driving but they have personal cars and take passengers on their way work or home. Some drivers are not quite fare to passengers and make them to pay much more. I hate it. At last, we get out of the car and get apart, with Zahra going to Azadi square to take a bus to Rasht where her university is located. It takes her about 5 hours to reach the university. She leaves on Saturday and comes back on Sunday night. She is so fond of studying that rarely complains about such a far distance and the energy and time it takes her. In order to help her, I try to do some house chores, for example cooking. Actually, somehow I enjoy cooking and these days that I am not busy at work I come back home earlier to cook whenever Zahra is not at home. DANA: I am always tired, always. Usually if I work evenings, I struggle to wake up before 7am, sometimes I push the snooze button, knowing full well-the snooze button is the enemy and that extra fifteen minutes of “not really sleeping” will only make it harder for me and my 8 year old daughter to get along when it is time to get her up and ready for school. It also makes us rush around but we do it at least once, twice a week. Instead of getting her there on time, we rush in right before the tardy bell and she JUST makes it. I rush home, walking the only two blocks back and think of my bed all the way. It is better than when we lived in the hood and we had to walk almost 8 blocks, but still when you lack sleep all the time, a step is a step. Sometimes I am just getting off work in the morning and am on auto pilot on the bus all the way home. I walk like a zombie back. I always travel bus in the morning or afternoon, night and Sundays I travel by catching a ride because I hate driving-the traffic is too crazy, and I can never afford a car, anyway. When I happen to get off work at 7am and there is no way I can get her to school. My little sister Jonna makes it her duty to get her ready and take her to school, I am forever grateful for the times she has to go get her from school and pick her up. I am trying hard to be there for her as much as I can, but my job gets in the way most of the time, even if it is four days a week only. Only because the hours are so odd, but I would never complain, I am blessed with my job. I was a housekeeper before this, which I loved that job too, but it was so much harder on my body for less hours and less money. I am truly blessed with this job and the people I work with. I seriously remember not too long ago when I was hitting the bricks and being looked down upon or applying for a fast food job as if I were applying to be a rocket scientist. I was screaming on the inside “HEY DON”T YOU KNOW I WRITE???? I AM INTELLIGENT AND SENSITIVE, FUCKER!!! HIRE ME!!” It took 2 and a half jobs to find my spot now, but I am here. And I know how lucky I am, 14 million are unemployed here. I used to be one of them. FARID:There are around 20 people standing in the line waiting for taxis. Because of the rain and therefore the heavy traffic there is a lack of taxis. After about 15 minutes, finally I get in a Van. A taxi can take 4 passengers while a Van takes 10 passengers. It was a chance that the van came; otherwise I had to wait more. Always I have a book in my bag and try to read it on my way work or home; most of the time on my way work, because I am usually too tired to be able to read while going back home. Since Zahra studies Persian Literature for a PhD and also since I am myself interested in literature and philosophy, our libraries at home are full of literary and philosophical books. Zahra bought a very interesting book a few days ago which was about the masterpiece of Molavi called “Mathnavi”. The book was so interesting that I put it in my bag to read as soon as possible. The writer is an Iranian researcher in London who has been able to discover the literary structure in this invaluable literary work. Right after getting seated in the Van I took out the book and resumed my reading. Reading a few pages makes me sleepy in such a way that I cannot concentrate on the sentences anymore and therefore I have to close the book. It is very enjoyable to close the eyes and take a nap until you reach your destination. You feel yourself in a very interesting state; neither awake nor asleep. Images come to your mind and get mixed with your surrounding sounds and also with the stress that you may pass your destination while you are asleep. It is about 9 O’clock when I get out of the van at the newsstand. At first I take a look at the magazines but do not find my favorite one (entitled My Homeland). It is a monthly that introduces natural, historical, cultural … attractions of Iran containing very beautiful pictures and sometimes exciting articles. Because of the holidays it will be issued with delay this month. I start looking at the newspapers. The political atmosphere is not good at all. The headlines are about the nuclear challenge between Iran and US. A few of the large foreign car factories including Peugeot, Hyundai, Nissan and maybe Renault have just cut their cooperation with the Iranian car factories, most of the foreign banks have stopped their relations with the Iranian banks apparently leading to the suspension of some oil/gas projects in Iran with the authorities seeking other ways to finance the projects somehow. A critical meeting is going to be held in Istanbul on the 14th of April in which Iran has to negotiate with “5+1” group in order to solve the problems. Everybody is waiting for the result of the summit but not so much hopefully. I think any agreement would improve the conditions even to a small extent. The broad range and high intensity of the sanctions and the coincidence of such sanctions and the liberal economic policies (eliminating the subsidies) have resulted in intolerable inflations in such a way that the price of some basic goods such as meat and chicken have increased by about 70-100% comparing this time last year. I was going to buy a second-hand car this year with my savings that I earned as the Norooz1 awards or through technical training courses I held at the end of the last year; but according to this unclear economic situation and the uncertainty of my salary raise this year I can I have to wait a few months for the situation to become more clear. There are rumors of job losses in our company. Some say if the situation goes on like this the company will make redundant up to 40-50% of its personnel. Anyway, I bought a newspaper as usual and walked the rest of the way to my work. DANA: Usually after I arrive home from work, the only thing on my mind is sleep, but it never comes right away. Because my schedule is so odd, I first will eat something and/or listen to the news. I listen to reports of the homeless, unemployed, the poor, or even women, getting programs cut that are like basically denying their rights. I always say quick prayer of thanks that I have a job and roof over my head. There is a misconception in America though, that if you have a place to live or work-you are “doing good”. That is never true because maybe you have another paycheck coming and maybe you have a home to go to but you don’t always have a good healthy meal to eat. But if I have a pack of ramen noodles to feed me and my daughter, I am thankful. And I pray my sons have a least that with their dad. It is hard for me to live without my sons, I miss them every minute of every day. But I know they had established themselves on the rez. And of all places, I wanted them to know their people, their land, their home-after being raised in poverty here and there in cities off the rez but always in the ghetto. I wanted them to know who they are and where they come from, and I think they got it. The main thing that surprised them was the stray dogs. News on TV and in print is always so one sided, all I ever hear is how the people of Iran are so horrible, and they want war, and they want to kill Israelis. It is as if from the moment they open their eyes, this is all they think of. I think if my IQ was a little lower or a lot lower I would believe this, maybe…except I have met so many Iranians in real life and one in virtual life I know the news is wrong. I don’t know about their leader, if he hates America or what, but I feel it is none of my business if he does. I hate the Boston Red Sox and no one should care about that. I feel as if the leaders of countries do not depict the people of their countries, because for the love of God, I hope no one thought at all I was in any way supportive or like George W. Bush. FARID:A few months have passed since we finished our last project at work and we have been since then waiting for a new one. The last thing I have heard is that a gas project is going to be started but because of the financing problems it is not known when it will get started. Therefore, I am not busy at work very much and try to take the full advantage of this period to improve my engineering knowledge by reading eBooks. There are political talks at my work every day with my colleagues expressing their worries regarding the effects of the political issues on the future of the country. I have been thinking about restarting my lessons in Setar playing since last week when a friend of mine encouraged me to do so. I used to learn to play the Setar many years ago (about 15 years ago) and continued it irregularly for a few years and then decided to stop it; although still I practiced somehow at home without going to a teacher. And now after such a long time again I have to decide whether or not to resume my learning. Whenever I am tempted by this thought, I have told myself that I have to spend my time on something more important for my life, because it is too late for me to become a professional player and therefore such an activity will not worth the required effort. But now I look at the matter from another point of view; I think to myself that I spend a certain amount of time every day on playing the pieces of music I have already learned so why not spending that time on learning new playing techniques and new pieces of music. In other words, I can use my time more creatively. This though made my mind busy for a few days and at last made me decide to resume my lessons. I found the telephone number of the institute where a great master of Setar playing teaches at; called Masood Shoari. He is really a great master and I used to go to him ten years ago, although just for a few sessions. Anyway, I called the institute and asked about the conditions. They told me that I would have to take a playing test for my level being determined and then start my course. It is very exciting for me to see my master after such a long time. I am waiting impatiently for the day I am supposed to go there. It is about 6 o’clock that I leave the office for home. It has been raining alternately since morning helping to lessen the air pollution in Tehran. There is a 15 minute walk to the taxi station. While walking in the freshened weather and drowning in my thoughts I thanked God for endowing me with so many blessings; eyes to watch such beautiful things as the high peak of Damavand, my wife, my dad, my siblings, ears to hear the beautiful music of raining, nose to smell the fascinating scent of flowers, feet to feel the pleasure of running in the rain, hands to hug my loved ones and lots of other things. Thank you God for any goodness you gave me and for every badness you kept me away from. I love you so much. DANA:I would lie if I said I wasn’t worried about my job, every day I worry. Only because I know what it is like to be without a job. Too many times and too many places I have lived struggling to get by on my beadwork. I have never had the support of a man to help me along, somehow, nowadays I don’t see any one guy believing in marriage, unless he is gay. The guy I married dipped out on the responsibility of marrage. Maybe my sons dad is responsible now, 20 years later, but maybe it also because I let him live in my house with my sons while I went and did what I had to do. It is easier for me to believe my shotgun wedding will be the only one in my life. I know that most of the men on my reservation will always want to be with younger women and have babies at age 50 and 60 rather relax and accept age. I remember one old guy that was my mother in law’s friend was my grandma’s age and had one in diapers. Some women seem to think it makes them think they are immortal but age is going to happen anyway. I am thankful for my beadwork and writing, I know I may never be a famous writer or make a ton of money from beading, but I know because of the two, I will always at least have money for the next meal-within budget. Because I have been hustling my arts for years. Anyway, these are some of the thoughts I have on a daily basis, usually while riding the bus or doing my beadwork. Lastly, I want to say that I am Lakota. I am not an American. I am a Lakota, living in the land they call America. And every night I thank Tunkasila, the Grandfather and the Creator, for making me Lakota—-along with everything else I have to be thankful for, my job, my health, my children, my family, my ability to produce and sell art, the purple trees, the beautiful Black Hills, the cotton that falls off the “star” cottonwood trees ever so gently,the smell of rain, and the way the moon shines on this poor planet like a coat of lip balm, and above all of that, I am thankful to be Lakota. So there you have it. From two friends who share the same fears, worries, hopes, dreams, faith in God, and love of life. From two friends who live in countries that hate each other but yet they share the same sky.