We were stuck in traffic in Tehran on the way to my grandmother's house one afternoon and as would typically happen, a beggar came and tapped on the window. I rolled the window down and said hi, which he ignored and started his litany of problems: his pregnant wife, hungry kids, sick mother...I was already digging through my backpack for money. Just as I found a couple of coins (the equivalent of about 50 cents), my mom grabbed my wrist and chastised me, "Don't give him money! He's probably a drug addict. He's just going to buy drugs!" She continued lecturing me, and didn't notice that the beggar had moved to her side of the car and was tapping at her window, his hand held out and repeating his story. She didn't skip a beat. She reached into her pocket, pulled out a bunch of bills (about $15) and handed the money to him, and promised to bring clothes for his girls if he was around there later in the week. I stared at her in disbelief as she rolled up her window.
"What?! I can't let him go home empty handed. But you shouldn't be so gullible, you need to toughen up!"
I'm sorry to say, that hasn't really happened.
We went to
A crowd of about 10-15 people had surrounded a wailing woman, offering comfort in hushed tones and promising to help her. Out of sheer curiosity, I walked over and heard her crying, "My baby! I lost my baby! Someone, please bring her back to me! She's all I have in this world." For a brief second, I felt so bad for this black clad woman, I wanted to join in and promise to help her find her child. But that passed quickly.
"Sister, what does she look like? What was she wearing? How tall is she?" An older looking cleric was standing beside her, trying to extract as much information as possible. To his credit, he was already motioning to organize people to help find her poor child.
"She was wearing a black chador--just like this one. She has big green eyes, with little specks in them. She's about my height, but thinner than me..." The whole crowd just stopped. Up to that point, they thought this woman had lost a baby/infant/toddler; not a person her own size. A few laughed and started to walk away. The cleric smiled and said, "I'm sure your daughter is very smart and will meet you at the hotel. Would you like us to call and see if she's already there?"
And before my mom could tell the world how innocent and incapable I was of finding my way anywhere, I called out, "Mom! Let's go.", which turned a few heads when uttered in English in an Iranian house of worship. I will say that the cleric was a much better person than me for not bursting out laughing at the bi-lingual 'baby' that had found its mother.
The first few minutes of our walk back to the hotel was passed in complete silent. She finally turned to me and said, "Young lady, getting that kind of attention is wrong! You can't be melodramatic and hysterical all the time. Think and then..." Unfortunately, I couldn't hear anything else she said after that; I was laughing too hard.
To this day, I have no idea how that was going to be a lesson for me. I just know she wanted me to be better and more successful than she was. I love that about her.