Once Upon a Time in Iran: Cloudio and Riccardo

Cloudio and Riccardo are two Italians who have decided to live in Iran. Riccardo is a professional chef and owns his own restaurant in northern Tehran where he serves Italian food. Cloudio has been living in Tehran for some time and speaks Farsi fluently. He started to learn Farsi in the University of Venice in Italy and travelled to Iran to complete his education, now he even has his own student which he tutors. Cloudio is planning on writing a travel guide of Tehran. This documentary follows these two friends on a routine day in Tehran and provides an interesting perspective of life in Iran’s capital city.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Hello, problem with the wheel

How much?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Be our guest!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Goodbye.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Hi!

Ok, Ok, Thank you.

You don’t have bigger?


Only this?

Second, second plastic bag.

Eighty eight, ninety two, good?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, tang!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Tang? No, ten! Farsi?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Dah”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Ok, Dah, Dah, Dah! Good!

And, olive oil.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Olive oil, ha?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Yes, this one.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “How much?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Sixty two. In Farsi?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Sixty two”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “No, in English sixty two, in Farsi?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Shast-o-Doh Hezar”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Cloudio: “Shast-o-Doh Hezar”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “How are you? I’m good!

This is good!

Ok? Thank you.

My friend! All Ok? How are you?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Parking Curator: “How are you?

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “I’m fine and you?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Parking Curator: “I’m fine. Thank you.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Prof. Seyyed Mahmood Hesabi was born in 1281 in Tehran. His parents were originally from Tafresh. When he was 4 years old, his family immigrated to Beirut. His religious and knowledgeable mother started to teach him about religion and Farsi literature from the age of 7. Professor had memorized the whole contents of the Holy Quran and Hafez poems. He also had a deep understanding of other grand books such as Boostan and Gulestan e Saadi, ... Shahnameh, Masnavi-e-Molavi.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Attention of the oil. Ok?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Hello sir! How are you doing?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Hi! How are you?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Thank you. Well I’m writing a new tourist guide for Tehran. Is it possible to take a few pictures from this place? This museum is not mentioned in any international tourist guide. I thought maybe I can write something about it in mine.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Let me ask something first! How did you learn to speak Farsi so good?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Well, I went to university, I studied in university of Venice and I’ve been living here for a while.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Did you learn to speak Farsi while you were in Venice?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Both in Italy and in Iran.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “I have been his assistant for almost 25 years. Prof. Hessabi had his bachelor degree in Arabic literature when he was 17. By the age of 19, he got his bachelor degree in biology and when he was 21, he had finished full civil engineering courses. He also accomplished a lot of other studies in medicine, mathematics, astronomy and electrical engineering. He got his PH.D in physics and submitted a few remarkable theories in this field. His most famous theory is “Infinity of Particles”. Einstein once said this theory would revolutionize the modern physics in near future. He was well renowned by his positive attitude and respecting almost everything and everybody. What did catch your attention the most, the moment you came in?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Well, mostly the architecture of the building. Personally, I really like the old houses in Tehran. This houses architecture is very Shemirani.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Yes exactly, the Professor’s grandfather built this place in the end of Qajars Period as a summer house. Naturally summer houses used to be surrounded by trees. Most of people, just cut them down in times of renovating when the trees do not seem to be functional; but Professor Hessabi kept them and altered the structure of the building in a way that the tree could live on while its head had popped out of the roof.

These lotuses you see here, were brought from Bandar-Abbass almost 40 years ago. In about a month, all the flowers will bloom.

Here we have a little gazelle. It broke its leg when it was little. They brought it to a vet, but the vet applied the wrong treatment, which made the legs’ condition worse. The vet called Professors’ son and said there was no other choice but to euthanize the poor cripple animal. Professors’ son asked him to send it back immediately. Here, in the research department of the museum, we made this wheelchair for the gazelle. We just have to help it sit on the wheelchair and fasten the belts; but our research department is also trying to make an artificial leg for it.

I just want to apologize for the noise; right now we are reconstructing some very important sections of the museum including the section where you can see the works and achievements of professor. Sorry you cannot see them today, but you need to come back visit those sections as well! Yes, we can keep in contact.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “But you know? It’s a shame that I’ve lived in Tehran for 6 years and never visited this place. I always go to the park nearby.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “It’s a nice place to visit.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Yes, Sure.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Come and visit us again!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Sure, It’s very helpful for the tourist guide I’m writing. Thank you very much!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “You’re welcome!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “The exit is this way, right?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian]: Professor Hessabi’s Assistant: “Thank you very much, goodbye!”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

Song in Italian: Oriental perfumes, souvenirs of the borders

Imposing a breath, splashes off the plain

Three hundred coffee? And the moon on their wings.

It’s three o’clock in the morning and we’re all alone.

I think of you, with my photography and your melancholy, like in the movies.

In colorful crowd… you’re gone!

The plug of the sun has scratched the horizon…three hundred people wake up already…

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “Professor! Teacher! Riccardo! Hello! My name is Sufia, I’m Italian. I was born in Roveritto, in 1987. Now I live in Tehran.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Why did you come to Iran?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “To learn to speak Farsi. What else to say? I visited Tehran, some museums…”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Which ones?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “For example, Golestan palace, Niavaran palace, or that palace…what was its name?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Sa'd-Abad?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “Yes. Sa'd-Abad.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Which one is your favorite?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “What does “Tarjih” mean?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “It means “to prefer”. It’s one of the first things you should’ve learned. How come you don’t know this word?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “Sorry. I really like Golestan palace because you can put on traditional clothes and take photos there.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Hafteh” in Farsi is written with a "ه".

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Last… week…I watched …a famous… movie … in one of the … big movie theaters.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “And it was so crowded. I visited a lot of places with a friend who had come to Iran for two weeks. We flew to Shiraz and then took the bus to Yazd, we also went to see the desert and visited Isfahan. I saw the pictures of my classmates in Dehkhoda, who had travelled to Bam.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Where is Bam?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “It’s in the eastern south of Iran. Ahh... I also want to go to Bandar-Abass!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Me too!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Sufia: “They say it’s really nice to go there.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Guys, I brought you some coffee.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Thank you dear.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “I didn’t add sugar….so, learning Farsi, right?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Yes, but I don’t think she’ll pass her Farsi exam!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Sufia: He’s kidding, but, in fact, he’s right!”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Parking Curator: “Do you know Farsi?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “No, I don’t speak Farsi”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Parking Curator: “Why?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “I need a park place.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Parking Curator: “ok”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Hello!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Salam!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Hello my friend!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Hi my friend!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “How do you do? Good?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Thank you!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “What you have nice here?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “It’s yoghurt, Dough.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Yoghourt?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Yes yoghourt! and Aash. There is vegetable and chickpeas…”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Yeah! Give me one of these!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Where are you from my friend?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “I’m from Italy?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Italy? Good Italy.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Good Italy? Oh nice!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Mint?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Mint? Yes Ok, mint is good.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “I don’t know how you call it in English…”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Ah… onion! Yes onion is good.” Piaz!””

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “This also something similar to yoghourt.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “A little but!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “A little? Ok.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Enough!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Hey, what is your name?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Cloudio!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Shopkeeper: “Cloudio, welcome!”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Thank you!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Cloudio, did you like it?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “Very good.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Can I bring you anything else? Tea or coffee?”

SOUNDBITE [English] Cloudio: “You have Nescafe? One Nescafe, Thank you!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Where are you now? I’m in this place where they sell Aash. Let’s get a coffee first.”

“Sorry being late!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Hey handsome!”How are you?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Fine, but there was a heavy traffic.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Would you like to drink some coffee?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “No not coffee, I’d like some tea.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Excuse me! Hi! How do you do?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Hey, how can I help you?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “A tea please!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “With sugar?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “Yes, sugar and ginger please!”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “Don’t you need anything else, Mr. Cloudio?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “No the coffee is good. Thank you.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Well, I wanted to make this appointment in Darakeh, because you’ve been here for almost a year but been working the whole time! Do you know what Darakeh means?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “No idea”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Dareh means village and “-ak” is a suffix representing minority. Therefore, Darakeh means small village. This small village used to be far from Tehran, a subordination of Shemiran town. But now it’s a touristic part of the city where people can eat and go hiking. By the way, have you eaten anything yet?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “I ate some Ash.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “You need to say: Aash!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Aash.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Riccardo: “How much does it cost?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Shopkeeper: “20”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Excuse me, but you say there is a lot of traffic in Tehran; didn’t you have traffic in your hometown?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “No.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “At all?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “No!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “You lived in a forest?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Yes! The town was surrounded by forest.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Like here? With a river?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Yes!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “And mountain?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Yes. Mountain, river, and the source of Danube was only 20 kilometers away.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Ahhh…nice. How long did you live there?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Until I was 38.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:14

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “38? And when did you go Italy?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Only for the some holidays.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Where I live in Novara, by the lake of Majore, the ducks are quite aggressive.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “look at that one! It has no feather, so sweet! Sorry, what you were saying? Until you’re 38…?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Where did you go afterwards?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “To Italy.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Where in Italia?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “To Avelino”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Did you study in Germany as well?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Yes.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Which university? What did you study?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Business and economy.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “No surprise you are good at counting money then!”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Why did you come to Iran? To Tehran?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Tehran, because it’s the capital city.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Ok but why Iran?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Because studied Farsi in university.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Which university?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “University of Venice.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “You just woke up one morning and decided to study Farsi?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “No I always wanted to learn it.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Well, Ricca, I like it in Iran. I think I’m going to stay here for a while. I hope I’ll open other restaurants as well. I’m looking for a good market for my business. I want to make the brand Riccardo well-known in Iran. In the end, I like Iran, I like Tehran. I think Italians and Iranians are the same. Both are friendly and warm… After all, I’d really like to stay here I don’t know what you think Riccardo, but having spent almost seven years in this country, I ‘m pretty Sure that you think the same.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “Yes. Darakeh Square.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “This is “D”. But where is “A”?”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Riccardo: “It’s not written, because it’s a vowel.”

SOUNDBITE [Italian] Cloudio: “Riccardo, as I said, Iran is a beautiful country. Remember that I said I have problems with mountain and like crowded cities? I like the traffic, the buildings and... Tehran, as a city, is big and busy. Anyway, you come here with a completely wrong idea and realize that living here is actually a good idea. Also finding friends is not difficult at all. People are really friendly, just like Italians. They get close to you pretty easy; they offer you coffee or tea , so it’s a very nice situation.”

Singing: Oriental perfumes, souvenirs of the borders

Imposing a breath, splashes off the plain

Three hundred coffee? And the moon on their wings.

It’s three o’clock in the morning and we’re all alone.

I think of you, with my photography and your melancholy, like in the movies.

In colorful crowd… you’re gone!

The plug of the sun has scratched the horizon…three hundred people wake up already…

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