Just last week, I was online chatting with my little cousin in Iran. I asked him about his friends at school. He told me that the wealthy students eat caviar during the recess and make fun of him for living in a neighborhood which--to my surprise--is fairly wealthy. Shocked by his stories, I remembered when I was growing up in Iran. In the 90s, such an eminent social class gap did not exist and crossing it was not accepted. At school, for example, the students were not allowed to eat bananas (an expensive fruit back then.) Even though it was a middle to upper class area/ school, it was obvious that the majority could not afford bananas. Back then, it was just simply not socially accepted to show off one’s wealth. Also, there was such a sense of shame in being nadar that a dara would normally not publicly display his or her privileges.
So, last week, I spent some times wondering why how the lines between the social classes are blurred in Iran. Why do the shame and the self-censorship I had witnessed no longer exist? Drowned in these thoughts my search through social media and viral emails from Iran took me to a new discovery. I noticed how Iranians are using a new method of spreading stories to talk about their social and economical problems. Of course, no doubt that word of mouth gets modified on the way, but generally stories I’ve been reading capture the essence of what many nowadays are going through in Iran.
Here is a short Facebook piece which the author asks for “Share” so that “people know there are some Iranians who can’t afford to eat meat any more.”
“I was in the butcher shop where an old woman walked in and stood in the corner. A younger man followed, walked up to the butcher and asked for five kilos of beef. As the butcher started to cut the meat and separate the bones and fat, he asked the woman what she wants. The woman handed him a 500 Tooman bill (roughly 50 cents) and asked for whatever this money can buy her. The butcher said “this will only pay for scraps.” The young man who was playing with his mobile phone, looked at the woman and asked “do you want them for your dog? My dog makes fuss about boneless meat, let alone the scraps.” The woman said she wants them to make a stew for her children who haven’t had meat in so long. The young man ashamed, put aside some of his order for the woman’s but she refused saying “I don’t give dog food to my children.”By Parisa Saranj, Aslan Media Columnist