Memories of Living in Iran

As I page through my latest  book,  “A Broad Abroad in Iran,” a memoir about living in Iran during the revolution of the 70s, I feel a need to post this somewhat revised blog to get myself in the writing mode for my next book, “A Broad in the Big Easy.”

In the 70s, with the revolution already in motion (of course we expats had no clue), the Iranian people seemed unhappy, cross, maybe even pissed that westerners had invaded their land.

In retrospect, it’s somewhat easier to look back and understand why the Iranians so hated Americans, but at the time we assumed they weren’t happy campers and let it go at that. In our ignorance, we thought the shah was all about bringing his country up to the 20th Century, and not leave it lagging in the Old Testament days.

Hiring expatriates from all over the world to help bring his country to a new global respect seemed like a generous undertaking. But, retrospection is a wondrous tool. We seem to want to look at casualties “after the fact” and then sort out the problems. But, at the time, we didn’t know there were problems.

The people wanted their country back. Back from the onslaught of foreigners hired by the shah to make more money for his coffers. I guess ignorance is bliss, as they say, because we went on our merry way thinking that we were welcome. Oh how wrong we were!

What I did take notice of was the country and the incongruity of it all:

The well-dressed driver of a Mercedes-Benz lays on his horn as he is surrounded by a herd of sheep. They slowly meander across the potholed dirt road, brushing against the front, sides and back of his gleaming car with their filthy, wet coats, while he screams obscenities at the sheep, the herder and at his illiterate countrymen that would allow this to happen.

A chador-clad woman stands in the street. As she waves her arm and tries to hail a taxi, her chador rides up revealing a forearm dripping with a fortune in gold bangles, while an ancient, blind woman squats at her feet, begging for money or scraps of food.

A towering mosque laden with gold and jade, stands in tribute to the incredible architecture of centuries past, while beggars with limbs missing seek shelter in the shade provided by its magnificent minarets.

In the capital city of Tehran, a theater marquee stands twelve feet high and pictures a female strapped to a pillar; she is wearing black fishnet stockings, garter belt, stiletto heels, and black bra with cleavage pouring forth. Lined up on the sidewalk and spilling over into the dirty streets are throngs of men, salivating as they wait to enter the theater. Walking by the theater and on both sides of the street are other figures, covered from head to toe in the traditional black chador, eyes, nose and mouth the only indication that they are women, yet having to hide every strand of hair and femininity to insure they do not cause a man to have “unholy thoughts.” Hellllooooooooooooo!

Okay, now I have to get busy and sell it.

Agents, feel free to contact me!

A Broad in The Big Easy, 1984

A Visit to Gulfport

A Broad in the Big Easy

Started my third book, “A Broad in the Big Easy” today and thought I’d give you a sneak peak. It is bittersweet recalling our family’s time in Louisiana. It was the last time we would be together as a family on a job assignment, and the last time my husband would be able to work.

Prologue – 1984

“Hey buddy, how ‘bout comin’ inside and bringin’ your two lovely daughters with ya.”
My husband and I, along with our daughter, Lauri, were strolling down Bourbon Street in New Orleans at the time, and I knew immediately that I’d love this place. I gave the barker a thankful smile, while my nineteen-year old daughter said: “Gross!”

A Great Review from a Reviewer

Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (10/12)

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read the first of Dodie Cross’ memoirs, an extremely funny book called “A Broad Abroad in Thailand,” and have been rather impatiently waiting on the next one, which Ms. Cross sort of promised back then. Five years is a long time to wait, but I am so glad that I have. Just like the first one, “A Broad Abroad in Iran” by Dodie Cross is effortlessly funny, which is truly an accomplishment considering the time period that it is set in.

The author’s family relocated to Iran in 1977, shortly before the Islamic revolution there forever changed the country, and in many ways the world we live in. So you can imagine that things were not exactly rosy, yet Ms. Cross managed to find a spark of humor in just about anything. It started with her misadventures in the months before the actual departure to Iran, when she was left alone in the U.S. with four children, trying to pack their entire life in boxes and rent or sell the house before joining her husband in Esfahan. If there is something that could possibly go wrong, you can bet that it will, and that period was no exception.

But her American troubles paled in comparison with the culture shock awaiting her in Iran, a male-dominated country even back then. Yet Ms. Cross dealt with it all in her usual can-do style. Reading about the day-to-day life in Iran made me realize, yet again, how lucky we are to be living where we are living. There certainly are no public stonings held here, and I hope there never will be. Luckily the descriptions of such horrors in Ms. Cross’ books are wonderfully balanced out by much more fun experiences, be it getting a really good Dorothy Hamill haircut or something that probably wasn’t much fun for her at the time, but certainly made me laugh out loud – her shopping experiences, particularly trying to shop for groceries.

I was completely enthralled by the stories, and I felt like I was actually sitting in a coffee shop somewhere, talking to a friend. Ms. Cross’ writing style is so nicely chatty that one tends to forget that she’s not an actual friend whom you’ve known your entire life. I marveled at her downright infectious enthusiasm and wonder, laughed at the charming way she described her many… let’s call them “adventures,” and I also felt her terror when things became really scary and the “Death to Amrikins” signs took the country over. I held my breath when their plane was sitting on the hot tarmac, and I actually shed a few tears when I read the very last chapter in this book. This was armchair travel at its best – it truly made me feel like I was there right along Ms. Cross and her family.

Do yourself a favor and get “A Broad Abroad in Iran” by Dodie Cross. You won’t regret it. 2

Face Your Fears, otherwise known as put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye

No Thanks, way too big!

“Face your fears,” the psychologists tell you. “Say to yourself I’m safe. Visualize yourself taking off and landing safely.” However, they’re sitting in a nice, air-conditioned office or in a TV studio spouting this philosophy, while you’re suspended in a metal sphere 35,000 feet above the ground, which at any moment could plummet to earth. I’m still amazed that people can sleep on a plane. It ticks me off when the passenger in the seat next to me sits, buckles up, leans back, closes his eyes, and doesn’t open them until they feel the plane set down. How do they do that? My husband used to say that they had a clear conscience. Right!

I remember a friend once told me before I boarded my flight to Iran in the 70s: “Relax! If it’s not your time, it’s not your time. BUT,” he added as I thanked him for making me feel better, “it could be the pilot’s time.”

I’ve always hated flying into SFO. It’s terrifying for a “white-knuckler” like me. I’m flying to Oregon in 19 days on Alaska Air, and of course the flight stops in SFO and comes in on that freaking, terrifying runway. So close to the water you hold your breath until you feel the wheels touch down on solid ground. Then you’re still tense until you hear the brakes take hold and don’t relax until you feel the plane come to a stop. I wonder if there is an airline that flies non-stop to Oregon.