Lazy Letter: Canteen
The seminar that I told you about happened yesterday. I found it very informative, good thing that I went. I hesitated in the morning, as I woke up, and wondered if I really needed to attend this event. I’d promised my uncle the day before, and made sure I’d be in the conference hall of the Ministry of Petroleum before eight. It’d look terribly embarrassing if I didn’t show up. Well, good thing that I went!
It was exactly the type of knowledge I needed at the moment, loads of information on a whole other channel to feed my inspiration; my creativity needs a big pinch of salt at the moment. The conference was about oil spill and ecosystem science, and how to prevent the disaster from becoming a tragedy. Each expert explained different aspects of the subject. Pictures of the largest oil spills were shown, facts were told, cases discussed, questions asked and in the end, we were all illuminated that the truth is way deeper, far more crucial than we thought it was. It wasn’t just about the fishes and turtles and the workers of the platform, you see, it was about the shores too far away from the incident to be counted as “damaged”. The environmental impact is infinite. The oil floats on the water, and kills the living creatures wherever it goes. We, the human beings, don’t feel like we are a part of this world, and we’re still acting so alien to the Planet Earth. Still haven’t realized that this is our Planet Earth, and we should stop damaging it constantly.
The lunch break was a bit delayed, and I was absolutely starving once we left the conference room. I went upstairs, to the restaurant, with my uncle and his employees. Javier was walking with us too. He was my uncle’s guest, and for some reason, I felt like I had to company him, although I wasn’t any less foreign than him to the whole scenario. We waited at the door and checked out the menu. There was a table with the samples of the day’s food. Javier was wondering which food should he pick, and I told him to go with Ghormeh Sabzi. “You can have the other foods in any other part of the world, but not this one,” I suggested. Well, I wish I hadn’t.
We waited for others to join u so that we could have lunch all together. I mean, that’s what I was thinking! I thought we were going to eat at the same table, but turned out things work differently in the ministries of this country. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that Mr. Something, one of the employees, told me that men and women dine separately here, and that I should get my lunch from the women’s section. That sounded funny at first, more like a dull joke. I laughed, thought he was kidding. But he was dead serious. Then I got mad. I got even angrier once I tasted the food. It was horrible. Absolutely disgusting. The cheap low-quality herbs weren’t fresh at all, and were floating in a pool of oil; they’d been fried up way too long that neither an aroma was left, nor a decent color. The meat was greasy and fatty, and I could tell that it was rather old by the color of it. The red beans were alright, but it wouldn’t save the dish from being so terrible. I kept having yogurt in between to be able to swallow up that food. I mean, I couldn’t waste it either, it’s food after all!
I was sitting at this long table in front of the window, to the view of the backyard with small thin trees by the wall. There were two other women sitting at the end of the table, not so far away from me, and eating their lunch very slowly, as if it was an enjoyable experience or some kind. I couldn’t keep Javier out of mind, picturing him having this distasteful Ghorme Sabzi. I wished he’d understand how good the homemade version of this food would be like. I wished from the bottom of my heart that Mr. Something made him pick the chicken, or Baghali Polo or something. Anything but the Gormeh Sabzi.
11.May.17 – Tehran, Iran