Iranscape: Hassan and Daniela

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In this episode of Press TV’s series “Iranscape,” we come to get acquainted with two youngsters with different backgrounds, who have come to Iran to continue their education at higher levels. They are Hassan from Syria and Daniela from Slovenia. Hassan Zelzelah, from Syria, had lived for about 21 years in Damascus and then came to Iran. His father is a chemistry teacher and his mother is a housewife. He has a younger brother, who is 18 years old, and a 13-year-old sister. His family still live in Damascus. He talks about his experience living in Iran. Iranian cuisine, ancient historical sites in different cities of Iran, and the ancient Silk Road are the topics he deals with throughout the episode. The other person we get familiar with in this episode is Daniela from Slovenia, Europe. She was born in the capital city of Slovenia in Ljubljana. She has two sisters. She has studied English, German, Russian, Polish, Czech, and Bulgarian. She is studying Iranology (Iranian Studies) at the MA level at the University of Tehran. She encounters an Iranian researcher, Shahin Pezeshki, who is doing research on needle work across Iran. Daniela is very much interested in the Iranian culture. As for the topic of her MA thesis, she has chosen “The Role of Women and Mother in Iranian Cinema”.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Voice of a men Playing Volleyball: “Hit it! … Oh, hit it!”

CONVERSATION [Persian] Hassan and another man: “- Well Hassan, tell me what kind of sports have you done in Iran? What do you do for entertainment?

- Remember we went mountain climbing?

- Yeah, it was your first time and it was quite difficult for you!

- I haven’t been to Jamshidiyeh … What’s that place called that has a telecabin?

- Tochal?

- I haven’t been to Tochal I used to go to Jamshidiyeh Park. Yeah, I want to go to Tochal!

- Well, we’ll plan it with the guys to go to Tochal this time. How did you learn Farsi? Did you learn it in Iran? Where did you take the courses?

- I didn’t know any Farsi when I came to Iran.

- Well?

- When I got to the airport, I didn’t even know how to get to the dorm! The Syrian students who had come here before us, picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at the dorm. They registered us in Farsi courses at the Qazvin International University, then I learned the language. It took about six months and then I went to pre-university for three months. It took about a year including the holidays and then I got into the university.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hassan Zelzelah, Foreign Student from Syria: “I’m Hassan Zelzelah from Syria, I lived in Damascus for 21 years and then came to Iran. My father’s a chemistry teacher and my mother is a housewife. I have a younger brother who is 18 years old and a 13 year old sister. They still live in Damascus. Our house is located in the old part of the city, where Christians, Muslims, Shias and Sunnis all live together.”

CONVERSATION [Persian] Hassan and another man: “- What dish have you had in Iran that you don’t have in Syria?

- Uuh, I’ve had” Ghermeh-sabzi” in Ian we’ll see “Ghermeh-sabzi”

- Ghormeh-sabzi”

- Yeah, “Gherme-sabzi”! The first time I had it, I didn’t like it, I just hated it! But now I really like it.

- You like it now?!

- Yeah, I really felt that I missed it when I went to visit Syria! I feel the same way about GheymehSibzamini”! We have neither one in Syria. I first tried them in Iran and I really like both!

- What do you usually eat for lunch or dinner over there?

- We have like Magdoos. Magdoos is an eggplant filled with walnut and has olive - So I sure have to taste it.

- Yeah, when you come to the dorm for us to study, I’ll cook some for you.

- Ok. Well, where have you been to in Iran? Have you travelled around as you’ve done in Syria?

- When I went to Hamedan, I went to a cave there.

- Alisadr cave?

- Yeah Alisadr! It was really amazing!

- Did you feel afraid?

- No! I wasn’t scared! It was really cool, we were about a hundred people! They took all language students on a trip there when we were learning Farsi.

- But it is a really beautiful cave!

- Yes. I’ve been to the mountains, I’ve been to Rasht, Uhh! I’ve also been to religious sites in Iran …”

SOUNDBITE [English] Daniela, Foreign student from Slovenia: “My name is Daniela and I come from Slovenia, from Europe. I was born in the capital city of Slovenia in Ljubljana. I have two sisters. One is married. Later I also studied English, German, Russian, Polish, Czech, and Bulgarian. I study at the University of Tehran, Iranian studies for the master degree.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

CONVERSATION [Persian] Daniela & another Woman: “- Hello!

- Hello, how are you? Thank you very much.

- Excuse me, may I sit down?

- Please go ahead.

- I’m Daniela, I come from Slovenia. I study at Tehran University.I’ve come here to learn about the Iranian culture and what you do here is really interesting to me. I would like to learn more.

- I’m Shahin Pezeshki. I do research about needle work across the country. Have you ever seen needle work samples?

- Uuuh, no not in Iran. It’s the first time I see it here but I’ve read about it in different books.

- Well see, Iran because of its geographical location was actually a route for those heading to Europe from Eastern Asia or the Far East. Since Iran was located on this Silk Road, it was a region where many people, including those from the Far East migrated to and settled down in. All these migrations have led to ethnic diversity in Iran. This great ethnic diversity has led us to have various forms of art.

- Can you tell me a bit about the history of this fabric? Why is it so important?

- The art of needlework in Iran dates back to more than 8,000 years ago. Each dress represents the people and the features of a geographical location. Well, the needle works represent the different people and tribes in each region. The pattern on the needlework show which tribe it belongs to.

- It is very interesting.

- Well take a look! This is silk needlework from Tabriz, which is located in the northwest of the country. Well, see the needle-works in three different cities in one province are totally different. For example, this pattern is called Tavoos, which they use a lot in their needle-works. And then another region uses star or tulip patterns in their work. This one is silk needlework from Gonabad, which is located south of the Khorasan Razavi Province. This dress is from Badar Abbas, located in the country’s south and this one belongs to Sistan and Baluchestan province, which is located in the south east of the country.

- I think Slovenians like this form of art a lot and they would love Iranian needle-works.

- I’ve been to about 20 countries around the world and have studied their needle-works, especially needle-works done along the Silk Road. Well, hopefully we can stay in touch when you go back, because you speak Farsi very well and that gives me the opportunity to study the needle-works in your country as well. I would like that very much.

- This is a very good idea.

- Yeah.

- Thank you

- Wish you well. Thank you. I hope you have a wonderful time in Iran.

- yeah, I hope the same.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Daniela, Foreign student from Slovenia: “I was just a child, 6 or 7 years old while there was Serbian attack on Slovenia and truly I was really afraid a lot. Because I was really worried for my relatives in Croatia and also in Bosnia & Herzegovina and also my grandmother was watching Television every day and when I was with her I saw the names of the young men who disappeared and who died. I wish somehow with myself that if I was there I wanted to help them, I wanted to rescue them somehow or save them but I couldn’t and thinking about the other children the same age as me was a big pain in my heart.”

CONVERSATION [Persian] Hassan and another man: “-Well Hassan, what did you do in technical drawing class? Did you show the professor your plan?

- Well yeah, I showed it to him, but he found some mistakes and told me I shouldn’t have done this here, he said you should have … He said a number of things I understood and some that I didn’t!

- Well if you have your laptop with you just show it to me, I’ll correct it for you.

- I do have it with me but I don’t want to trouble you!

- No, it is no trouble, I’ll do it for you.

- Well let’s get this open! I solved this part just like the questions in the book were solved. But it wasn’t … Ha ha Like this at all!

- 645 times 940.Aha!

- Well see, one of the mistakes was found! This was one of your mistakes! On the graph, you should connect the dots that you’ve found. Right? Then you should see what information you’ve been given. You should find all your mistakes! See how many mistakes you have got! Well, I wouldn’t approve this either! With all these mistakes you‘ve made!

-What was it that you were telling me about last night?

- I was studying

- Ok

- I learned about a road used 2,500 years ago that stretched from China to Syria.

- Oh!

- This road is known as the Silk Road.

- I’ve never heard that name before! May be it’s called something else in Syria!

- Well this Silk Road wasn’t a normal road.

- Aha!

- At that time, it connected the East to the West. Well Syria gives way to the Mediterranean Sea and the Mediterranean is how you go to the West by boat. So this road was used to take all sorts of goods from the East to Syria, then to Europe via Mediterranean Sea and vice versa.

- What was I telling you? Syria has more than 20 different ethnic groups: Kurds, Turks, no we haven’t got any Turks. We have some Kurds. Uuuh! Arabs, most of them are Arabs, uuuh! But there are many ethnic groups like Sunnis, Shias and Alawites.

- It is the same in Iran, We have many churches in northwestern Iran. We have Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, uuuh! We also have Assyrians and for instance we have a number of temples for Hindus in Bandar Abbas.

- Aha!

- Hindus used to travel there a lot for business and presenting their goods. Many of them settled down in the region so we have Hindu temples there.

- Where?

- In Bandar Abbas.

- I’ve once been to a temple in Yazd, It belonged to Zoroaster. There was a fire there.

- The fire temple?

- They said the fire’s never been put out!

- Yeah!

- It belonged to Zoroaster.

- That’s the oldest fire that’s still burning!

- Yeah, that’s what the said …

- I think it’s called Baharestan Fire.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hassan Zelzelah, Foreign Student from Syria: “When we were kids, we usually played football in the street with the other guys. I was a very active kid. I used to go out and run and jump all around. I never stayed at home. My father and I used to go out to shop groceries everyday cause back then we did the shopping daily. I sometimes miss my family so much that I dream about them. But well what can I do? My studies are a priority for me. I’ve dreamt about my mother several times and I’ve seen my sister in my dreams too.”

CONVERSATION [English] Daniela & another Woman: “-Uuuh! What’s the book in your hand about?

- History of Persia!

- Aha! I think better to continue in English.

- It is in English language but I didn’t read it before. Actually I have finished my studies. Now I’m working on my master thesis. Actually we had a lot of subjects, everything about Iran and this course was only for foreign students, the students who came from other countries to study Iranian studies.

- Actually I wanted to know the field of your study. What are you studying in Tehran University?

- In Tehran University I’m Studying Iranology that is Iranian studies at the faculty of world studies in Amir Abad.

- I have seen you for two or three times in the dormitory but you were busy speaking with your friends.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

CONVERSATION [English] Daniela & another Woman: “- Aha!

- Yes. You were busy to explain something about policy (?), even I can remember this.

- May be, maybe it was something like that, yeah!

- About Scandinavia.

- I would like to ask you how and where you studied Russian language.

- You know, learning this language completely changed my life, I can say this. Because I have very good professors. They are teaching us and we are learning.

- I am actually pretty surprised when I see how many Iranian students who are Iranians by origin decide to study Russian language.

- I felt that I was really interested, I really wanted to learn. I started especially with its literature. Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin, I live all.

- This is for the Iranian people to read.

- Yes. I wanted to tell you that to make you aware that, in two weeks, in 15 days I’m going to meet my family for a very short time, may be two days and I’d like to invite you to our home to Tabriz.

-.I have not seen Tabriz yet and I would really like to see it and I think that even Tabriz is very special in its own way.

- For me Tabriz is always like a grandfather.

- Yes.

- I don’t know why I have such a feeling but it is like this.

- This is everything in Tabriz?

- Yes.

- It is a very beautiful city.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Daniela, Foreign student from Slovenia: “For my master thesis I chose the topic, the role of women and mother in Iranian cinema. One movie is “Madar” by director Ali Hatami and the other movie is exactly “Shiyar-e 143”. This is a war movie which speaks about the war between Iraq and Iran whose son went to the waragainst the Iraqis and she was actually waiting for her son to return. That son would finally return from the war and at the end she came to his coffin too and the coffin was covered by Iranian flags.”

CONVERSATION [Persian] Hassan and another man: “- The scientific level at our university is very high. Well, see, Iranians are very good at theoretical subjects and mathematics. I have a Lebanese friend who lived in California; he told me that two students from Sharif University had gone there for their masters and ranked the highest in the entrance exam. They beat everyone!

- Would you like some tea?

- Uuh, yeah I’d like some. Thanks. I like Farahzad! It reminds me of Syria, the traditional culture, picturesque sites.

- Yeah.

- I usually come here to study. Do you usually go camping with your family?

- I usually go with my family, but I’ve gone to many places on my own when my family didn’t have time to come along. You can come along with me and my family once. We can go to the museum if you like or if you prefer an entertainment place, we can go to a place like Eram Park.

- I sure will!

- Sometimes we have guests on special occasions like during Nowruz when it’s customary to go see relatives and friends and they also come to our house as well.

- During Nowruz?

- They call it Eid visits! Eid visits!

- I’ve heard about it.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:46

CONVERSATION [Persian] Hassan and another man: “- And there’s another special day in the year, which is the last day of autumn and is known as “Yalda” night. Scientifically speaking, it is the longest night of the year. It has always been customary to stay up all night and celebrate. By celebration I mean it is more important to gather together. On Yalda night, you serve your guests with watermelon, nuts, bring a Hafez book and they fortune tell based on Hafez Poems.

- Do you know what Iranians are known for in our country?

- What?

- Persian rugs form Tabriz and Kashan which are very expensive, and saffron.

- If you like and have the time we can go somewhere out of Tehran like to the North, the woods there. We can also go to the seaside because Iran has beautiful beaches. If you are willing to see beautiful and untouched nature, the Semnan desert is extremely beautiful. During the night in Semnan, you’re able to clearly see the stars. It would be even much better if you bring a telescope along or if you like humid weather, we can go to the south of Iran, the Persian Gulf coast. You have got all four seasons here!

- Haha!

- Yeah, all four seasons!

- Yeah!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hassan Zelzelah, Foreign Student from Syria: “Many foreign students study here. There are students from Lebanon, Iraq, China, India, France, some have come from Russia and Germany. When I was learning English in Syria I used to go around with foreign students who spoke English to learn how to speak better. They also needed someone to help them out there. You could easily become much better because of being with them.”

CONVERSATION [Slovene] Daniela & her Families: “-Hello dad how are you?

- It goes well.

- That’s good. Are you working now? Are you busy today?

- Yes, I’m very busy today. Your uncle and I were in the factory. Your mother just called me now and told me that you were on the Skype, so I came here to see you. Are your studies going well?

- Yes it goes well, I’m looking for my material and I am still writing the thesis now but, yes I think it goes well. My defense session will be in October or , If delayed, in the 5th semester.

- Your studies are really important for you. This shows that Iranians have a very old and rich culture.

- Do you remember when you were in Iran, walking in the streets?

- You also liked the parks that we saw. Yes.

- The parks were beautiful but the people were also very open to conversation.

- I remember this phrase that I learned in Farsi: Do ta nan!

- I will say to my friends that my father only learned two Persian words! Do ta nan. That means two Loaves of bread.

- Try to connect everything. Try to combine your goals and pursue your goals.

- Ok, I will try to male my goals connected. Goodbye dad, goodbye mom.

- Goodbye.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Hassan Zelzelah, Foreign Student from Syria: “I’ve come to this conclusion, and I’ve learned this here that no one but you will rebuild your country because we have everything! Good nature, good people whether it be historical or religious places. With all these refuges that we have in Syria after the war, many of our youth left to other places and got to see different cultures. I’d say no I promise that these youth knowing their culture, will return to Syria someday and rebuild their country with what they have learned from being in other countries.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Daniela, Foreign student from Slovenia: “One of my wishes for the whole world is that the nations and people from different countries and different nationalities and different backgrounds would stop argue with each other, that they would stop wars with each other and they would finally be able to reach common agreements and cooperation, This is also one of my very big desires for the whole world.”


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