A pink taxi

A pink taxi

July 27, 2010

Khomeiny at Crans Montana

The first time I traveled without my family,  I was about 8 or 9 years old. It was  in 1979, right at start of the Iranian Revolution. My parents sent me to a ski camp called Les Coccinelles, in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

I don't remember how my mother found me ski clothes, but I clearly remember one item of clothing my mother packed for me with the following guidelines: "wear this sweatshirt over your pjs at bedtime because you will be cold". That sweatshirt was a gift she had received that year from her lebanese sister in law. My youngest aunt, who is infamous for her sense of humor, had found and purchased for her Iranian sister-in-law, a light blue, almost gray, sweatshirt with the stern face of Ayatollah Khomeini.

My mother  was regarded by all her in-laws to be  very strict, affectionately nicknaming her Savak in the days of the Shah, referring to his severe secret police. With the outbreak of the revolution, and the desire of Iran to export its revolution, the Shiite of Lebanon felt empowered. How intimate geopolitics can sometimes be! The current affairs of both my parents' countries were now interlinked. My aunt had found the sweat shirt in the outskirts of Beirut.  West Beirut was already wallpapered with effegies of Khomeini. His face was the first one that greeted you at the airport up until President Assad's of Syria took over.

Without hesitating, my mother had sent me to Switzerland with the sweatshirt, which as you can imagine had a high content of polyester, considering the place and year my aunt bought it. I obeyed and wore it despite the light mockery of the supervisors. Luckily for me, the children there didn't understand.

Ironically, it was on this same trip, that my own lifestyle became slightly fundamentalist. I met  a  Lebanese girl at that ski camp, who was a little older than me,  who  made me wash my mouth out after I ate a ham sandwich. I never touched another product containing pork since then!


  1. It was spring '69 when we got married in Beirut.It was big news,since there were few inter Iranian-Arab marriages.Though the marriage announcement was a small paragraph in the society page,the front page headlines,was about the Shah of Iran severing the diplomatic relations between the Empire and the small Republic!The reason was that the ex director of the feared Savak took refuge in the Beka'a valley with one of the infamous drug leaders.
    Decades passed,and Beirut changed a lot after 15 years of civil war,and several invasions from Israel.Nevertheless,our Lebanese-Iranian family ties have never been stronger: thousand intermarriages have been registered since we started the trend.

  2. I find it hilarious that you were walking around a swiss ski camp with a picture of Khomeiny blasted on your sweater. This would be like sending Syrat out today to the geneva parks with Osama Bin Laden smirking on her back pack. I remember visiting Lebanon during that same period from Iraq and always asking myself why were there some many pictures of this 'mean' looking man everywhere you went. The image of Khomeiny is not particularly soothing to a child's imagination. I never understood the obsession and still do not.

    The Iranian regime instilled post the Islamic revolution has been nothing but detrimental to the Iranians first and foremost. The best of the Iranian intellectuals silenced, forced to flee or disappear. How unfortunate that the images of the man who brought with him a period hardship to the Iranians to be so publicly embraced and honored in Lebanon. Is that what the Lebanese really want - The part 2 to the Iranian story?