Iranscape: Mohtada and Amjad

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The unique experience of living in Iran becomes apparent only after one actually lives it and cannot be viewed by outsiders. It is only then that one can discover the liveliness in living in this country. Iranscape takes an effort in filling this unknown gap by depicting the daily lives of a group of foreigners living in Iran for different purposes. In this episode we will meet two of them, Mohtada and Amjad. Mohtada, who is fluent in Farsi, is the son of a martyred Iraqi doctor had moved to Iran many years ago after Saddam’s attack to their home. He is now pursuing his father’s legacy of helping mankind by working as an intern in a hospital. Amjad is taking a post-doctoral course on anti-earthquake building structures in the University of Tehran. He is trying to learn Farsi with the help of Mohtada. In these series of Iranscape by Press TV, you will meet people from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds living together and with Iranians in perfect harmony. Each episode recounts the life story of two of these people.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Conversation [Arabic] Mohtada & Amjad: “- Hello Amjad, good morning.

- Good morning to you. too.

- How are you?

- Well, thanks my dear friend. How are you doing?

- You’re up early today!

- Yeah, I woke up early today. How are you? Did you sleep well last night?

- Yeah, thank God. How are you doing?

- Good, thank God. By the way, I’ve brewed the tea.

- Oh, you’ve brewed the tea? So, I’ll make breakfast.

- Well yeah, you can make the breakfast.

- Okay, sure.

- God willing.

- Well, what are you going to make us today? Eggs?

- Yeah, do you like eggs?

- Yeah, they’re really good!

- Do you like eggs the Iranian way or Iraqi way?

- Are Iranian and Iraqi eggs any different? They’re all the same.

- No, well for instance, I cook eggs with tomatoes. Do you like eggs like this?

- Yeah, that’s good.

- Okay.”

- How do you crack it now, with a spoon?

- Well yeah, how else can I do it?

- Oh, it all spilled!

- What will you be doing today?

- I’ll most probably stay in, do some personal work, follow up on the news a bit and then prepare for my exams because we’re nearing the exam days.

- I see…., what’s the news thing?

- I’ll make some clips and reports by following the news in Iraq, like before. I want to hand in something good.

- God willing.

- God willing.

- Did you learn the Persian words I gave you last night?

- Yeah, I memorized them well.

- All right!

- I want you to teach me some new words.

- What do you think if I watch some movies?

- Yeah, watching movies is really good.

- So I can improve my Persian with them.

- Yes, You should learn Persian through this kind of practice. It also help you To learn everyday expressions.

- Yeah, that’s right.

- Besides that, Persian is an easy for us, because we have many similar and common words.

- Yeah, that’s right. I memorized all the words you gave me and I want you to teach me some new words.

- God willing.

- Where will you be going today?

- I want to go to Enghelab Street to get a few books I need.

- All right.

- I know that you’re used to Iraqi bread.

- Yeah, this bread is thin, unlike our breads that are thick.

- Yeah, thick Iraqi bread and Laffa bread.

- Yeah, thick Iraqi bread and Laffa bread.

- Good old days!

- Which Iranian dish do you like most?

- I’ve had Dizi and Ghorme Sabzi. Their Ghorme Sabzi is no different from ours.

- Yeah, exactly.

- Their Dizi is different though.

- Yeah.

- Their Chelow Kabab is like ours. We have Kebab as well.

- Yeah.

- But our Kebab is different from theirs.

- Yeah, that’s right. Iranian kebab has more onion in it.

- Yeah, it does.

- But our kebab has more meat.

- Yeah, that’s right.

- Yeah, that’s right. Here they add some flour and onion to it as well.

- Well, what do you think about the dish you just had?

- It was tasty. Thanks a million.

- This is a quite well known dish among Iranian students.

- You mean popular.

- That’s why students always make this dish.

- Yeah, because it’s easy to make and it’s delicious.

- That’s why we can smell fried tomatoes all over the place when we wake up in the dorm every morning.

- I see!

- Yeah!

- Thank you so much. Although it’s the first time you cooked this meal, it tastes really delicious.

- Bon appetite!

Conversation [English] Amjad & bookseller: “-Can you give me the Farsi language book?

- For teaching?

- For teaching, for learning..

-This is English Dictionary and this is Arabic dictionary

- Which one do you want?

- Can I see?

- Yes, search it.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Conversation [English] Amjad & bookseller: “- What do you do in Iran?

- I came to Tehran University to study earthquake University, But I should learn Persian.

-Learning Persian?

-Yes It must be, to stand courses on Earthquake Engineer

-Are these both books suitable for you?

- Not suitable , must be more books for learning.

-Another book?

- Yes another book.

- Big dictionary?

- Good. This is very good

-This is Arabic in Persian Dictionary

- This is enough

- Good bye

- Good Luck.”

Conversation [Persian] Mohtada& Shokeeper: “-Hi, How are you? I’d like a birthday cake , please.

- Goodbye.”

Conversation [Arabic] Mohtada & Amjad: “- I hope you like this dish Amjad. I’ve cooked it.

- Thanks a million! So you’ve cooked it?

- Yeah, with the help of my mother.

- I thought you must’ve missed having an Iraqi dish.

- Yeah, Fasuliyah stew (beans) is a traditional Iraqi dish.

- Did you like it?

- I like this dish very much.

- Bon appetite! I'm glad you like it.

- It's great! Thanks a million.

- As you already know, I hardly know anything about engineering, but you're an expert. What is the difference between Iranian and Iraqi architecture?

- The plans in Iranian and Iraqi architecture are the same, but the construction materials that are used are different.

Here, they mostly use a steel structure, but on the contrary, we mostly use concrete because it’s cheap in our country. Concrete, brick and clay are among the cheap building materials in our country, but in Iran steel and iron are essential components of a structure because their buildings are exposed to earthquakes. That’s why they mostly use steel. Brick and concrete are different and for this reason, they use these materials.

- Yeah.

- But the architectural plans of buildings are the same and make no difference, whether it be Iraqi, Iranian or American.

- Okay.

- Because their principles are the same, but they use are different.

- Yes.

- They use materials that are different from ours.

- Would you like a glass of water?

- Thanks a lot.

- Amjad, my brother made this film when he travelled to Iraq and was in the battlefield.

- May God protect him.

- He said that they’d even booby trapped the Qur’an’s in houses. When Iraqi or popular forces opened the Qur’an it would explode.

- They have different ways!

- Yeah, Takfiri ways!

- That’s right.They even use the Qur’an to prevent our forces from advancing, but thank God our forces were able to advance even further and have greater influence.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

Conversation [Arabic] Mohtada & Amjad: “- I can’t understand who they can kill so many human beings.

- They’ve been trained to do so.

- Such behaviors and ideology are completely terroristic.

- Yeah, that’s right.

- I wonder how people patiently cope with all this. May God protect them.

- Where exactly is this region?

- As far as I know it’s in the al-Nabaee region that’s located between the Taj and Sayyed Mohammed region in Samarra.

- Oh! So it’s to the north of Baghdad.

- Yeah, it is.

- So it must be close to Daesh.

- Yes, it is. it’s on the other side.

- But our forces are real heroes.

- Yeah, you're exactly right.

- Our youth are real heroes and put their lives on the line for their country.

- Yeah, they honestly do.

- They are heroes who have left their families without a guardian and stepped in the path of martyrdom. Yes without a father!

- Where are we going now?

- We’re going to visit the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim Hasani, a grandson of Imam Hassan (peace be upon him) who was laid to rest in Iran.

- You mean it’s close to where we live?

- Yeah, it’s close. We can visit the shrine and there are other shrines there too that belong to the Imam’s grandchildren.

-I've visited many different places in Iran. I've been to Mashhad, Qom, Isfahan, Kermanshah, and Tehran. I've visited many Iranian universities, like the University of Science and Technology and the University of Tehran, which I will be studying in. I've also seen Shahid Beheshti University, the Isfahan University of Technology and the Islamic Azad University in Isfahan.

There were many universities where I myself witnessed their scientific progress.

- Yeah!

- Especially their laboratories and teaching equipment, the students were well disciplined; and their teaching methodology ....

- This bazaar is an old historical bazaar, which is located near the shrine of Shah-Abdol-Azim Hasani.

- Yeah, I've seen many historical places here.

- Yeah, that's right.

- They're all Islamic.

- Yeah, you're a master in that field and you know about Islamic architecture and monuments.

- The whole structure of the bazaar is Islamic.

- Okay.

-This place is like a big spice market we have in Mosul, Iraq.

Yeah, people there use a lot of spice. This is barberry.

- Yeah, it's barberry.

- The people in Najaf use it.

- Yeah, they do use it, they sprinkle it on rice.

- Especially if it's rice with chicken.

- Yeah, they use saffron and barberry on rice.

- There’s rice, a layer of saffron rice and red barberries comes on top.

- Okay.

- And these are the sweets we talked about.These are the sweets that are taken abroad from Iran as souvenirs. ‘sohan’ is a souvenir from Qom - and ‘gaz’ is a gift from Isfahan.

-Where is ‘Kak’ from?


- A box of Kak please.

- What are these?

- These taste sour, I forgot what it’s called.

- Rings.

- Yeah, they’re beautiful and delicate.

- There are bigger ones.

- The perfumes they use …

- Yeah, these perfumes are Islamic.

-They are.

- Are you on a pilgrimage from Iraq?

- No, we are students. He is studying for a PH.D in civil engineering and I am a dentistry students.

- We are students at the University of Tehran. We are here on a pilgrimage.

-Which city in Iraq?

- I’m from the holy city of Najaf.

- And I’m from Mosul.

- And I’m from Karbala.

- Nice to meet you!

- You speak Persian very well.

- You said you’re studying here, but you speak Persian very well.

-I’ve lived here before. After Saddam’s fall, we went to Iraq and again returned to Iran.

- He’s been here for years.

- You mean you’re a deported?

- Yeah, we were. My parents were deportees, too.

- Your friend has just come here to study?


- Ten days ago.

- To continue your studies?

- Yes, to continue our studies.

- Wish you all the best.

- Same to you. Thank you.

- Thank you very much.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Translator: “Dr Amjad is lecturer at Kufa University. He was supervising some of our projects there. We did some works there. He has come to Iran on a sabbatical leave and we can benefit from him in different Projects.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “Doctor, what will your post-doctoral researches be about? What have you come to study here?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “I’ve come to the University of Tehran this year to study anti-earthquake architecture and the impact of earthquakes on buildings.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “There are no earthquakes in Iraq so why are you doing that?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “First of all, I have to say that until now we’ve had no defined code for earthquakes in Iraq.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “Yes that’s right, you have no defined code for earthquakes.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “And we have recently witnessed earthquakes on the Iran-Iraq border.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “On the border?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “Yes, in Amarah, al-Kut and the Kurdistan region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “No defined earthquake code?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “No, we’ve never had that.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Translator: “They don’t have any standards or codes for earthquakes in Iraq. In fact, with this academic opportunity they are trying to set the standards.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Unknown man in meeting: “Is there a long way ahead of them?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Translator: “Yes, they’ve just started their job in Iraq.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “Steelwork is very rare in Iraq and you brought something new, or better to say ‘domes’, to our country. In fact, all the work was done in Isfahan and it was only assembled in Iraq.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “Okay, okay.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “In fact, they found it interesting seeing us establishing those columns. They have come there from the universities of Baghdad and Kufa to see how the work is done. Consulting engineers were there as well.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Translator: “When I was making the columns some guys come from the Ministry of Housing to see us as we were working on the dome. Let’s talk about the projects.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Unknown man in meeting: “Yes, our own project. Let’s boast about it later and toot our horns then.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “This is a 27-storey building and the entire metal structure of this building is produced in the factory that belongs to this company. That means their company owns a steel factory that designs and makes the metal structures of these buildings and then builds it.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Amjad: “Are these the moulds concrete is poured in?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Translator: “Yes. The height has been thoroughly studied and planned. That means even in the case of earthquakes, depending on the strength of the earthquake, their thickness is evaluated and considered. It’s been about four years that they are using these strong anti-earthquake sheets in structures. In the past, some used them and some didn’t. Before them, polystyrene was used, but with the import of these sheets, they were replaced in buildings structures and that’s accelerated the construction process and increased the quality of the structures. These sheets also make the structure weigh 15 percent less.”

Conversation [Persian] Mohtada & Patient: “-Don’t you have diarrhea?

-Hi there, Mr. Mohtada!


-How are you?


-What’s wrong with the patient?

-He has a fever as well as stomachache and to some extent diarrhea.

- Did you have abdominal cramp?

- How many times did you have diarrhea?

- Two times.

-So you had a fever too.

- Well, how many times did you throw up?

- Once.

- Well, some tests must be done including CBC, He needs an IV as well. All in all, The patient has to remain in bed. If he needs to go to the toilet, he must be given a basin. If you have any questions, you can call me.

- Thank you.

- Thank you.

- I‘m going to fix those for you.”

Conversation [Arabic] Mohtada & Another Doctor: “God bless your father’s soul, Dr. Mashhadani. I first met him in 1985, which is the year 1364 in the solar calendar, when he came to Iran with a group of young doctors. They were true believers who never accepted to cooperate in Iraq’s imposed war against Iran. When I first met him, he was the symbol of a well-informed and goal-oriented person for me whose only concern was serving his people and his displaced fellow citizens. You are his son and I was more than a brother to him because my situation is different from yours.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:36

Conversation [Arabic] Mohtada & Another Doctor: “-Yes.

-As different ways for migration were available for us.

- Yeah, when he went to Iraq and started working there, I was a child and can’t remember much about him. There are a number of things I can remember though.

I grew a bit older and was 8 or 9 years old when we went to Iraq, but I still remember the same things. I still come to the same conclusion when I compare your description with my father’s behavior - Although he was offered high ranking government jobs, like becoming the head of the Medical and Health Service in Nineveh province and getting into ministerial jobs, he chose to serve his people and said it's the best and noblest thing one can do.

- Yes, we lived with him for years, but as you know not everyone is privileged enough to become a martyr. In fact, it's a process that takes place step by step and after that one reaches a stage where one deserves it. And he was the symbol of a living martyr.”

Conversation [Arabic] A man on the phone & Amjad: “Hello Doctor, how are you?

- Hello, how are you doing Doctor?

- How are you?

- What's up? Did you finish the work that needed to be done?

- Do you mean the money? Yeah, I received it today.

- Very well.

- How's Qasim's project going? What stage is it at?

- Wasim and I are busy doing a report.

- Oohu! You mean you're busy completing the reports? Okay, I wish you well.

- Yes, Doctor.

- Thank you, give them my regards.

- You're welcome. May God protect you.”

Conversation [Arabic] Amjad & Mohtada & their friends: “-This is the cake that I prepared.

-Bravo, well done!

- What a beautiful cake.

- What's this? Are there apples or bananas on it?

- Doctor deserves more than all this.

- And this is number six, and this is ....

- You mean you're 62 years old, Doc?

- 26.

- No, Mohtada is the only one who knows my real age. He knows my secrets.

- You mean you're 26 years old?

- Why don't you tell us your real age? Women are the only ones who don't say their real age. Mohtada, tell us the truth, why are you hiding his real age?

- Maybe, that may be right!

- No, 26 years old, and Doc was born of the eighth day of the eighth month, which coincides with end of the Iraq-Iran war, and 26 years have passed since then so we’ve used this date as a starting point.

- Which means he considers my birthday from when the war ended.

- That's exactly right, but in reality he's 35 years old.

- 35 years old.

- Now let's light the candles.

- Ceasefire!

- You're so fun to be around!

- One, two, three ...

- Thank you very much.

- This is the Rubaiyat of Khayyam, the renowned Iranian poet.

- Open your present right now so everyone can see it.

- It's a useful present!

- It's actually a present.

- Congratulations!

- Now it's your turn.

- A shirt with an Iranian design.

- Happy, happy, happy birthday Doc.


- Thanks, you went to so much trouble!”


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