The Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani has a routine about the stereotypical views of Iranians as fanatics often presented in the Western media:
Every time they show us on TV they always show the crazy guy burning the flag going ‘Death to America!’ Just once I wish they would show us, I don’t know, baking a cookie. Just once I want them to go to Mohammed in Iran and show some guy who goes ‘Hello, I’m Mohammed and I’m just baking a cookie. Back to you Bob’.
I’ve just completed the Iranian leg of my Language-on-the-Move in the Middle East tour and was frequently reminded of that routine because everyone I’ve met over the past three weeks was baking cookies metaphorically speaking; they were doing mundane things. It is testimony to the pervasiveness of mass-mediated images that despite the fact that this was not my first visit to Iran, each time I come, I initially have this small sense of surprise that life here is just as normal as everywhere else.
I will write more about my observations of multilingualism, language learning and intercultural communication in Iran in the near future. However, today, on my last day in Tehran, I want to go out and enjoy some tea and cookies! So, this is a quick post to thank everyone who has helped to make my visit so productive and enjoyable. Sepas gozaram to all the colleagues, students, family and friends I’ve had the privilege to spend time with!