Portraits of Migrants : Hanny, a car addict from Persia

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Hanny is 28, from Tehran, in Persia/Iran. For a couple of months now, we are in the same class of our Integrationkurs, both struggling with German language. In Germany for just a year, she manages her way around pretty well in this tricky language. All which follows was expressed in German (aouch!).

Hanny loves cars. Especially when they are stylish and powerful. Among other cars (4 in total!), she and her husband own a yellow Porsche which, she concedes in a giggle, she sometimes drives up to 280 km/h on German free speed limitation motorways… It reminds her the few races she got engaged in, back home in Iran. Hanny’s story revolves around speed!

The love for speed (and a man who loves speed) pushed her to Germany, not Goethe

Such a speed lover, you might think, can only fall for another racer. Indeed, she did. Her husband used to race in superbike (motorbikes) competitions.They actually met through a common friend by chatting on sport car mechanics. Followed a 7-months intense virtual relationship where they’ve been chatting every single day! At the occasion of family visit of her future husband, the real encounter turns into a wedding. But it is alone that he goes back in Germany, and a couple of weeks later crash in a very bad moto accident. The toll is high: several vertebra, metal plates screwed in the back, and a ticket for a month in hospital. The accident is what decides her to make the move to Germany.

She was indeed not so enthusiastic about living in the country of Goethe as she does not speak a word of the language, and also apprehend  a bit the attitude of the Germans towards middle easterners. A feeling she had while interacting with the German embassy in Tehran: her worst memory of Germans! It is not only the administrative headache but the impression of being considered as a beggar that makes her anxious about the way she would be welcomed in Germany. Fortunately as soon as she arrived in the country, she quickly appreciates the openness of normal Germans. She also discovers an administration that works almost as well as the national mechanics and where she feels she is treated as any other citizen.

Hanny is not German, but she is married to a German. He, son of a couple of Iranian immigrants, grew up in Germany, studied IT, raced superbikes, and now works by Deutsche Telekom when he does not operate his business manufacturing and selling carbon motorbikes parts. A second job which actually consists in managing a 10-staff business!

A couple of workaholics

If Hanny does not hold a regular job yet, she is increasingly helping her husband in running the business. Indeed, for the moment, Hanny does not have a regular job as such. In Tehran she was working in the media industry, for the national market place for TV productions, writing reviews for distributors that acquire films and shows before broadcasting. Now, she focuses on learning German, three hours every morning. Language is a priority for her who fears social isolation. It is also obviously the key to the next step of her professional career. She misses her three (!) jobs back home in Iran… she also admits that she is a workaholic – like her husband – and would like to continue her media career. She also mentions her project of launching her own online shop.

The fact is that she is a graduate in Fine Arts, and as such, she nurtures a small obsession for stylish objects. What she sees in German home furniture shops depresses her! Fascinated by oriental curves and fantasy shapes, Scandinavian design is not her tea cup. So, logically, as the workaholic she is, she thinks about launching her own online decoration shop. She says she loves color, and shows her hidjab perfectly matching the rest of her outfit including the handbag. Coquette, she switches color combinations everyday. Still, the shape is always the same, tightly adjusted around her permanently smiling face.

Religion, friends, family, Iran, and Facebook

The mention of the hijab brings automatically the question of the religion and more surprisingly the one of friends and Facebook. Raised in a liberal family she says she had not much interest for spiritual matters. Studying Fine Arts, she says, many of her friends were not wearing the hijab at university in (only) a couple of (mixed) amphiteatres. She was wearing one though, without much conviction. It is actually in making friends from Lebanon that she has the opportunity to start discussing religion. She is enthusiastic about the diversity of interpretations of the Quran she can discover in Lebanon through books and films. This contrasts with the very monolithic way to approach Islam in her homeland, she says. The widening of her views on religion has strengthened her faith, and she pays now more attention to the way she wears her hijab, according to the sacred text. About the hijab, she thinks that about 3/4 of the Iranian women – at least among her friends – on Facebook don’t wear the hijab on their profile. She likes this diversity.

A diversity she found with her many Lebanese and other foreign friends whom she met in the media industry. Through the web she manages to keep the contact with the ones she misses. She particularly miss the family and all the friends, back in Iran. Still, she says she really appreciates living in Germany, even if she complains a bit about the rules Germans love to make. But, she praises social security as a great tool for solidarity. Something that does not work so well in Iran. Hanny says that she has never been very comfortable with the way Persian men usually interact with girls. She feels there is always a second thought that prevents normal friendships. Hanny even confesses in a big laughter that she was absolutely sure that she would not marry an Iranian guy. Fail… in the times she had refused to add her future husband on her MSN chat as he was Iranian… But the common passion for fast cars made it happen eventually!

 

This article is issued from the personal blog of Adrien that you can read in its integrality here. The article has also been linked in the special edition prepared by the FYEG Working Group on Migration, Culture and Identity, whose blog can be found here.

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