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Benjamin Heydary '80

Sullivan Museum and History Center, Norwich University

 

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Benjamin Heydary, Class and Year, Oral History Interview

March 10th, 2015

Northbridge, Massachusetts

Interviewed by Sarah Yahm

SARAH YAHM: And it'll just be me, you know, asking you about your life. Okay. So, let me see. Let me ask you just a dumb question so I can check your levels. What'd you eat for breakfast today?

BENJAMIN HEYDARY: A bagel.

SY: A bagel. With what?

BH: Cream cheese.

SY: Bagel with cream cheese. Delicious. One of my favorites.

BH: All righty.

SY: Okay. So, I'm here. Is that my phone or your phone?

BH: It's mine. I'll turn it off.

SY: It's yours. I'm here in Northbridge, Massachusetts with Ben. How do you pronounce your last name?

BH: Heydary.

SY: With Benjamin Heydary and we're doing an interview and it's March 10th, 2015. It is the tenth, I think.

BH: Yes.

SY: Yes. Excellent. Yeah. So, okay. Let's start from the beginning. Where were you born?

BH: I was born in Isfahan, Iran.

SY: Sorry. One sec. Can you say that again?

BH: I was born Isfahan, Iran. It's a central city in Iran.

SY: Yeah. And what made you decide to join the Imperial Navy?

BH: Well, at the time, I had the opportunity to come outside the country, not necessarily to Unites States, but the Navy sending all the students who got hired in to Navy to study either here in the U.S. or go to Germany, Italy, different part of Europe and United States.

SY: And you wanted to travel?

BH: Yes. I mean my main goal was to get that free education.

SY: Yeah. That makes sense. I'm actually going to switch mics. For some reason, it's a little clearer. Your main goal, you said, was to get that free education.

BH: Yes. I mean, for me, it was important to get education. Yeah.

SY: Bizhan explained to me that everybody did compulsory military service first and then you had the option of joining the Imperial Navy?

BH: No. That's not true. I didn't do compulsory service. I came right from high school actually. Some of them, they did, but not everybody. No. That's not true.

SY: That's not true. Sorry. This is ridiculous but I'm going to switch back. Okay. There we go. Now, I promise no more adjustments. We're all set. Okay. So, did you come to Norwich first? I know that Bizhan went to the Citadel. Where did you go?

BH: Right. I directly was lucky enough to land in Norwich. The first time that we came, I came to Norwich and I stayed in Norwich. So, yes. The group that came with me, like maybe eighty percent of them, they stayed in Norwich. Yes.

SY: And what did you hear about the Citadel? Because I heard it was not a great experience.

BH: I don't know. I didn't go to Citadel so I heard that it was a little bit tougher than Norwich but I never experienced it firsthand myself to know.

SY: And what was your first impression of Norwich? You came from a major city, right, and here you were in the middle of nowhere.

BH: I know! I don't if I mentioned that or not but, so the first thing, Isfahan is like a metropolitan city but the weather in Iran is not really, it's dry, so there's not much grass. It's like there's some trees but mostly dry land, you know. It's like Arizona or maybe worse so when I came here, we landed in Norwich and you see all this grass everywhere. And these old buildings that were very different and all the houses in Iran is basically built from brick and stone and here, it was all this, you know, everything was from wood. So, it was very strange.

SY: Yeah. Did you think it was pretty?

BH: I thought that Norwich was pretty. Yeah. I mean, we landed in middle of the night in that center area in front of Jackman Hall. When I got up next morning, I looked at it and it was gorgeous. Yeah. It really was.

SY: Do you remember that? Did you look out your window? Did you walk out your door?

BH: Well, I remember exactly what day I came here: May 31st, 1976. Yeah. When I got up in the morning, I looked out the window and I saw that engineering building because it was at, I don't remember the hall that we went to. It was the corner one that is opposite to engineering building. That was the one that they put us into. So, I got up, looked from the window. Then, put my clothes on and I came out to just get a walk around the circle and it was nice. Yeah.

SY: So, what was it like being a rook for you?

BH: Ah, surprising. Because we didn't go through much of that kind of a training in Navy. I mean they trained us a little bit in how to shoot a weapon, you know, run around, march, all that. But the rook was surprise because we didn't know what it was in bag for us. We started screaming but this bunch of people. They were all like a year older than, not really freshmen. We came as freshman but we spent a year there. So, we were a little bit, I'm not sure if we were more mature but at least we were older a little bit. It was interesting.

SY: Yeah. I mean, how did you react to being shouted at by these people?

BH: It was strange first but, you know, at least I knew. I don't know if everybody else knew but I thought that was part of the training. That was part of military training here. So, it was strange for a while. It was hard. But after a while, at least I got used to it. Some of my classmates, I don't know if they ever got used to it. I was very adaptable because I worked all my life so basically, I didn't come from very rich background. So, I worked all my life. So, this was nothing in compared to what I went through to put myself through school and stuff.

SY: What work did you do when you were younger?

BH: I used to do, in Iran, during the school year, I used to go to school but the four months that everybody was enjoying themselves, I was working my uncle's shop who had a vegetable and fruit store in Tehran. So, I was delivering basically fruit and vegetables to different people. That wasn't very easy job, you know. You go around and you drive your bicycle all day long. To deliver those fruits wasn't easy.

SY: Yeah. I can imagine. Tehran is pretty hilly, right?

BH: Yeah. Hilly too. Yes. Yes.

SY: Yeah. Do you remember, what was it like to grow up under the Shah? Do you remember fear?

BH: Oh, yeah. There was, I guess, that. It was very open society. I mean, as long as I remember, we didn't know what we had. You know, sometimes you wish for a change and you don't know what you're going to get and if you're going to like the change or not. So, it was like a personal freedom was almost as good as United States. You had a total personal freedom. You wear whatever. You do whatever, you know. Everything was free. I mean, but there was some political restrictions. Naturally, the Shah didn't want to lose all the control he had. He created parliaments and all that. So, people thought that the only thing that, you know, they need, they will keep their personal freedom and so, people gamble and sometimes, when you gamble, you lose.

SY: Right. I mean, it makes sense that people wanted political freedom. Right?

BH: Right.

SY: So, you were young at that time. Were you caught up in conversations with other youth about change?

BH: Well, yeah. At the time. I saw like whispers, especially in the end, after I went back to visit my family in 1978, a year before revolution. All these mullahs were lecturing and talking and start promising the people that when there is a change of regime, I mean, they were talking about change of regime a year before. Honestly, I heard it. All the young people who were my age were very excited about it because they thought that they will have a total freedom of electing their own leader. So, it was really a good conversation going on, especially for a young generation. I went into conversation, at the time, with many people. I didn't agree with what they were saying but I didn't know what is in the bag. How are we going to get that? So, but I wasn't mature enough, like my parents and stuff, to know that religious, I mean, any religious and democracy don't match. Really. They don't mix. Doesn't matter what religious it is and the religion in Iran, I think, is the most extreme of that. So, I mean, that's what happened to us. They gambled.

SY: Yeah. So, okay. Wait. I got us ahead ourselves. So, tell me about, you're at Norwich. You're doing rook week but you're strong because you've been bicycling vegetables all over Tehran. So, it isn't physically that hard for you.

BH: Right. It wasn't.

SY: And then, what was it like? How was your English when you arrived?

BH: Very bad. I mean, after forty years, I still think my English is not that good.

SY: No. It's good.

BH: So, but it was worse then, naturally. I couldn't speak. I didn't know how I'm going to improve. Dealing with people, dealing with roommates, dealing with other people, going to the nightclubs and all that in Norwich. That forced you to speak English and that's how got better a little bit at a time. Yeah.

SY: Who were your roommates? Do you remember them?

BH: Yes. Actually, I do. My first roommate was Greg Olson.

SY: And were you friends?

BH: We didn't stay together more than a year. I spent freshman year with him. But somehow, we got separated because, at that time, we had the tendency of finding other Iranian and want to be roommate. Maybe it was a comfort zone that we were looking for. I didn't have any difficulties being Greg's roommate, I guess.

SY: Yeah. And what was it like interacting with your fellow Norwich students? I know that there was some discrimination. There was some incorrect information about Iranians. Bizhan talked about being called a camel jockey or something, which he thought was ridiculous because he'd never seen a camel in his life before. Did you encounter things like that?

BH: Again, Bizhan's life might have been different from mine. So, again, for the difficulty that I went through in my youth, I mean, I was ready for anything. To be honest, I didn't mind. I just loved the country. So, I took the good with the bad. I don't think that it doesn't matter. I mean, I went to England sometime and they're even worse. So, if you are a foreigner from another country and you're trying to put the roots down, naturally, they don't look at you honestly as somebody from here. And that's true if American comes in Iran. You never look at him as somebody from Iran. So, if you should immigrate, this would be the place to come. And I had that in my mind from childhood. I don't know why because I loved America from the beginning so I really never paid attention to any of the bigotry or anything that went on. I just ignored it so I don't really remember. I can't share that opinion with Bizhan. No. I can't.

SY: So, I wonder how you got, and Bizhan said it wasn't that big a deal. He just remembered a couple instances. How did you get those ideas about America in Iran? Was it movies? Music?

BH: No. Because most of my uncle's customers who bought fruit and vegetable, they were working for Ross Perot. Ross Perot had a computer company in Iran in those years, way back. Most of the customers, those days, they were Americans and English and all that. They were living in Tehran. So, I used to go to them, very decent people. I used to deal with them after, you know, talk to them and stuff. You know, I liked them! They were very polite people. They treated you well. So, I said, "Wow! This is much better than, you know, anything else that I have seen." That kind of treatment gave me a warm feeling about the nation. I mean, when the foreign people, go to other countries. They don't know that. Other people are watching. The public are watching their behavior so that cemented my idea. Wow. These are good people and these are the people that I want to live with.

SY: Interesting. What were your courses like? It must have been hard. You weren't understanding English very well.

BH: But I was smart. I can say. It looks like blowing my own horn here. I got straight As on everything. So, yeah. I was. I had the highest grade on every course in Norwich. For me, it was easy. Some of my classmates struggled with that. As I said, it was super easy for me.

SY: And were you taking mostly engineering classes?

BH: Yes. Math. Engineering. Like my average grade was like ninety-nine.

SY: Did you also take ESL classes with Professor Shelley? George Shelley?

BH: No.

SY: No.

BH: I don't remember. My English courses was with Mrs. Turner.

SY: Yeah.

BH: Yes. Yes.

SY: Yeah. What was that like?

BH: Good. Good. Excellent. She was a good teacher.

SY: Yeah. I'm going to get the tea. I've had this cough for two months.

BH: Oh, really? I'm sorry to hear that.

SY: It just doesn't go away. You know? There's nothing there anymore. It just doesn't go away. Okay. So, the work itself was easy, huh? And then, what about socializing? Where did you go? You said you went to clubs. Where did you go to clubs?

BH: Going through such a tough time to earn money when you were young, here, they gave us bunch of money. I don't know if it was a lot or not but in seventies, getting, you know, you can eat for free at Norwich because Navy paid for it. Then, on top of that, they gave us a thousand dollars those days. Which, you know, college professor in Norwich was making that money. So anyhow, I used to go the club but I was a little bit careful with my money. But still, I was young. So, I was enjoying myself. Went to a couple of clubs, one in Montpelier and one in Burlington. So, it was tough in beginning because we didn't have car but after we had a chance to buy our own car, that made it a little bit easier. So, our socializing was going to those night clubs in different cities, even in Barre. But the difficult part was Christmas and all the holidays because you had to go stay in a hotel.

SY: Oh, no.

BH: So, yeah.

SY: It must have been lonely.

BH: Well, you know, two, three of us get together. That's why we sort of get used to each other. That's why we became roommates at Norwich. Because all the Iranians, you saw two, three of them in the same room because that's how it started, during vacation with no place to go. We rent a room together. We became like friends and stuff, even if you didn't know the person. You become sort of a friend and you get the room at Norwich. Yeah.

SY: You must have been homesick at times. What did you miss the most? Bizhan said pistachio nuts. They were hard to get at the time.

BH: Yeah. I mean, I have the same feeling. My dad had a friend that had a sweet shop in Isfahan. I missed that a little bit. When I went back, that was my first trip to get some of that.

SY: To get some sweets.

BH: Yeah.

SY: And I assume it was very hard to make long-distance phone calls then so you probably didn't call home.

BH: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That was the toughest part because they charged like so many dollars per minutes. So, it was like making a phone call costs you like fifty dollars or something. It was tough. Yeah. I couldn't talk. I didn't talk very much. I just wrote letters and stuff.

SY: Yeah. How did you meet your wife?

BH: Oh. So, they came to Norwich as a freshman. It was like twenty, twenty-five ladies came. They were part of Navy also and they brought all of them to Norwich and I was a junior. So, junior, I think that I was upper classmate. I don't remember exactly the time but we met through talking and stuff like that at Norwich. We were upperclassmen giving them direction and all that.

SY: I'm curious about, because it was still very new for women to be in the Navy here, women to be in the military here. When did women join the military in Iran? Was that new or had it been going on for a long time?

BH: No. I mean, that's what I'm saying. The thing that I mentioned about personal freedom, all that, I think that Iran is in the same level as U.S. in terms of giving equal opportunity to men and women.

SY: Seems like they were ahead of the U.S.

BH: Yes. Sometimes, I thought so. I knew when I was in junior high, I saw women generals. I mean, you're talking about a general in Army and they were women. I don't know if U.S. had generals those days in Army. So, it started with the Shah's father, he said that we had to let the people live their life and, you know, men and women are equal and all that. So, that's where it started. It started in maybe before fifties.

SY: Yeah.

BH: Yeah, even before World War II, I think it started in Iran.

SY: Yeah. Interesting.

BH: Yeah.

SY: So, I wonder if the women experienced more discrimination here. They probably did than they had in Iran.

BH: At that time, yeah. Yeah.

SY: At that time.

BH: Yeah.

SY: If it was harder to prove to Americans that a woman should be in the Navy than it was harder to prove to Iranians. I'll have to ask your wife when I get to talk to her.

BH: Yeah. No. My wife had easy time. They didn't discriminate or anything. They hired us. They hired them. There was no restriction on who to hire. Yeah.

SY: In Iran?

BH: In Iran. Yeah.

SY: Yeah. Yeah. I'm curious about when she got here though, what it was like to be a female cadet.

BH: Well, they were, I don't know. I didn't talk to all of them but the people that I talked to, they had the same feeling that we had, you know, the sense of loneliness, a little bit. But again, the way that the Iranian girls grew up there, there was no restriction. So, coming here, I didn't see any difference, how the women taught. Was it any difficult for women than men? I don't think so. I thought that they were very liberated and, you know, they felt that if we felt lonely, they did too.

SY: Yeah. So, I saw in the president's papers, I think it was in Loring Hart's papers, there were two events. I guess there was an event in D.C. that you guys went down for. I think it ended up in a brawl of some sort.

BH: No. What happened was that so, when the Shah came here during, I don't know when President Carter was president. They took us there to, I think I was a sophomore at the time. I'm not sure, sophomore, junior. I think I was a freshman or sophomore, one of those things. So, the Shah was here and they brought all the people that were in military to sort of stay there and stage, you know, when the Shah was meeting Carter and stuff. We were outside the White House. These hooligans, which they end up to be revolutionary guards in Iran, I don't know how the heck they end up here, but they were here. So, they attacked us. I remember that I got, literally, I was standing there and these people just came in with a baseball bat. It was terrifying experience for me because I almost got hit by one of them. It was unexpected. We thought that we were standing there peacefully, listening and all that, listening to music and all that. And suddenly, this group, they were in the other end of White House and suddenly, they just pushed the policemen down. I don't know what happened. They broke the barrier and they just attacked us.

SY: Hmm. That sounds terrifying.

BH: It was.

SY: How'd it end?

BH: I think police got involved and it was tear gas, I remember. Many people got injured actually. I can't really remember, to be honest, but I remember the attack. It was like yesterday. It was pre-planned.

SY: Yeah. Yeah and unexpected.

BH: Yeah.

SY: Okay. So, let's start talking about after the revolution. So, you're at Norwich when the revolution starts.

BH: Happened. Right.

SY: Yeah. When it happens. So, how did you hear about it?

BH: We saw it on TV actually. We saw it. Khomeini came to, they were showing this guy on TV first in France. Then, he end up in Iran. People came. After a few weeks, the central government fell and here we go. The next thing we know, they're executing people by bunches. That's where I thought that trouble start. Well, don't they supposed to have a trial more than five minutes? They had like five minutes trial and executing people!

SY: So, you're hearing about all this in Vermont.

BH: In Vermont. Yes.

SY: And is your family communicating with you at all?

BH: Yeah. Like my family, they weren't in politics much. They were just watching from the sideline, hoping that my dad and my uncle thought that, "This is just a temporary thing. These people have done a crime." It's like they were thinking about like Nazi Germany. Even though the generals in Iran, they were not really like Nazis. Trust me when I tell you. They were protecting Shah but they didn't really kill the people by bunches and stuff. But these people, these mullahs, I mean they were crude. After they executed three of them, they executed the prime minister of Iran and then, after that, it was like execution by numbers! It's like anybody that they didn't like at that time got executed. Doesn't matter his rank or whatever.

SY: So, this is going on and you know you're going to have to go home.

BH: Right. That was the scary part. I thought that, you know. I have to because we were committed at that time. We didn't even have a normal passport. I think that at least I had option. I was the only one that went back without being deported, the single person from Norwich or I say from the U.S. that went back without the, well, I can't make that statement because there were other people ahead of us that they were other colleges. They might have gone. But at least from Norwich, I was the first one that didn't get deported. I went back in January and everybody else deported in March or April or something.

SY: And did you try to figure out a way to stay or did you want to go?

BH: No. Because I finished. So, I went back and I said, "Well, I will go to Navy. See how it looks." The hostage crisis, it was happening at that time. My thinking process was that, "Oh my God! I'm going to Navy now." I mean, we could have had war with U.S. at that time because they took our diplomats there. So, I went back and end up in Bandar Abbas. After they got deported, everybody else got deported came back. The first elected president of Iran, Banisadr, gave, after a year or so, in 1980, and then, they announced in 1981 whoever want to resign and doesn't want military, you can get out.

SY: So, you had to do two years though before that, huh? Or a year?

BH: It was about a year. Yeah.

SY: And what was that like?

BH: It was tough. I remember I tried to call from ship. I used to call my family in Isfahan and I'd see their recording on the other end, somebody recording my conversation. Do you believe it? I said, "Wait a minute. There's something wrong here." So, you could see the signs of it, the worst of coming but you never could have seen what happened now. I mean, you never could imagine what kind of a rule restricted. It was still free. Women didn't have to wear scarf and all that. Still free but you never knew that. I could see what happening because I see that the people getting a bit more depressed and I said, "I have to get out of here. This is not going to get any better."

SY: And at that point, you guys weren't married yet, at this point.

BH: No. I couldn't come back either. Because most of the people that resigned, they had girlfriends here or wives here or whatever. I don't know them, what they had but they end up using that relationship to come back. I didn't have that. So, I went out. I ended up United Arab Emirates. I worked there from 1981 to '85 there. And then, at that time, I had the privilege of getting tourist visa and come back here and try to find a job and settle down at that time. Yes.

SY: Yeah. So, you came back with a tourist visa. And then, you got a green card. You had to finagle.

BH: Yeah. Yeah. So, my wife came after and of getting job and stuff. Yeah.

SY: And you were, I mean, the fact that you were an electrical engineer or an engineer probably helped you also.

BH: Yes. I mean, when I came here in '85, that's why I tried to find a job. I couldn't. Then, I going back to college and getting my masters helped me for become a little bit marketable for a company to hire me. Yes.

SY: Yeah. So, was it hard to say goodbye to your family when you left?

BH: Oh, yes. Yes.

SY: Did you know you might not see them again?

BH: Yes. I mean, it was tough. It's like, you know, I haven't seen, my brother was five years old and he's forty now and he has kids and the kids getting married. Their kids having kids and I haven't seen them. So, it has been tough. It has been. You know, this regime has put a weight on people's shoulders. The biggest thing that they have done, I think, Sarah, they alienated people like me, all the Iranians. There's millions of them in the U.S. There's millions of it around the world that they'd like to at least go visit. But these people, they put such a restriction that it's like they don't care if you're alienated. It's sayonara. Goodbye. Don't come back. We don't want you. It has been strange, you know. There's no rule of law in Iran. Something happens to you, like you cannot hire a lawyer to defend you. For any reason, they could execute you. Any reason! I mean any reason!

SY: Yeah. So, have you been able to see any of your family members?

BH: Yeah. I went about fourteen years ago. I went to Turkey and my parents and brothers came out. Yeah. We saw each other. Yeah. That was fourteen years ago. Yeah.

SY: That's a long time ago. But still, you got to see them.

BH: Yes.

SY: And that's good.

BH: Yeah.

SY: Yeah. Do you think you'll do that again?

BH: Yeah. I might. I mean, when I retire I guess I'll have plenty of time to do that. Yes.

SY: Yeah. Are there things you miss, not about the Iran of today, but Iran of your childhood? Do you get homesick still?

BH: I used to. Not anymore though. I used to. I mean, how would you not? I'd like to go back to Iran. I'm a proud citizen of this country right now, as I said in my bio. I consider this as my country. But still, you want to go back to the place of your birth, have the freedom of going back without the scare of being prosecuted by government. Go back and just be free to go back and see the land that you were born on. Now we, most of the Iranians don't have that option. Yeah.

SY: Yeah. When your wife comes back from Iran, will she bring you gifts that will remind you of home?

BH: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, she normally brings some sweets and stuff. Yeah. It does. It does.

SY: Persian sweets. So, did you go to the event when President Schneider gave the degrees to the people who hadn't got, the honorary degrees to the people who hadn't gotten degrees? Do you know what I'm talking about? A couple years ago.

BH: I did not. I did not. No. Because I had my degrees in 1980. Yes. Oh! Yes. Yes. I did. I did. Yes.

SY: Yeah.

BH: I'm sorry.

SY: What was it like?

BH: It was humbling for the people that came back from all the way from Iran or different parts of the world. They got their degree, finally, after thirty-five or so years. That was sweet. Yeah.

SY: And have you kept in touch with some of your fellow Norwich students?

BH: Yeah. I go back every year! I go back to Norwich almost every single year since 1985. I go back every year. Yeah.

SY: Hmm. I'm wondering if I have more questions. Let's see. So, I asked about the Navy.

BH: You want a tea? Do you want a warmer tea?

SY: No. I'm fine. If I drink a lot of caffeine, I'll be awake for a long time. Let's see. I asked you about your first day on campus. Oh, yeah. Do you remember Commander Rumi?

BH: Yes. Of course.

SY: Yeah. Because I spent a lot of time in the archives and it seems like there were some issues like the dining hall kept serving pork. Do you remember those?

BH: Yes. What was the issue?

SY: Even though most of the Iranian students weren't very religious, still they didn't want to eat pork. Do you remember?

BH: I did.

SY: You didn't have issues with that.

BH: I didn't have issues. As I said, I was eating pork. I like pork. I'm not that much of a religious person. I used to be more religious until I saw what the religious can do actually to people. But still, you know, it's food. But I remember Rumi. He was a bit restrained, you know. Rumi was nice to me though. Because he didn't care, as long as you had a really good grade, he was always smiley and funny and all that. I can't say Rumi was funny but, you know, he wasn't really, he was rude to some people but not rude to everybody.

SY: Yeah. I guess I wonder how your perspective on the world has changed since living in the U.S.

BH: Well, I still think that, first of all, I can answer you in two-part question, very nice, good question too. The part here is that I always did feel and I still feel that people in this country do not appreciate what they have. I'm not talking about money-wise or richness or whatever. I'm talking about the freedom. You don't know how important it is to have a freedom and do everything in your power to keep it and don't let anybody to take that away. Because when the politicians start taking that away from you, they won't take it all at once. They chisel it out, little by little. So, the first part of question, I don't think that everybody in this country know what they have, people who are born and raised here. The second part is that when you look at the world, there's so many countries that they go through death and destruction every day. I mean, even a good country is bombing and all of that, you know. It's like murders and stuff. But I still think that this is the best country to live. But I would have been happy if I never came to this country, I would have been happy living in Europe. But there is a lot of countries in the world that they don't offer the basic freedom to their people and that's really a tragedy.

SY: Yeah. And do ever think about what your life would have been like if you had stayed in Iran, if you hadn't decided to leave?

BH: I would have been a different person because when you don't go outside your space and your eyes never open up. I think that I would have never end up in this country ever. I'm sort of a, from my childhood and when I was very young, I was looking for a way out. I would say that I would have end up somewhere outside the country but I don't think that I would have end up in the U.S. and my life would have been totally different.

SY: Hmm. So, were you looking for a way out just because of poverty, because of what?

BH: A way out because of, yeah, financial situation and stuff. Because my parents had a lot of kids, eight of them, so they were very small income. Yeah. I was one of the self-made person that wanted to make something out of the life rather than stay with the status quo and do, you know, but I wasn't happy just being, "Okay. This is the life. Let's live it." I wanted to make a better life.

SY: You were ambitious.

BH: For myself. Yeah, ambitious. A little. Yeah.

SY: Yeah. I don't know if I have any other question. Do you have any other thoughts? Do you remember where you were when you heard about the hostage crisis?

BH: Yeah. I was at Norwich and I thought that the U.S. is going to go to war with Iran because this was the first time that a country takes over somebody's embassy because somebody's embassy's like their home. It's like attacking another country.

SY: So, what did you guys, you guys must have been talking to each other then, that day, like, "What's going to happen? What's going on?"

BH: Yeah. At least I was talking to the people. I said that, "Look. You know, if President Carter attacks Iran, I don't blame this guy. It's like, this is bad, you know. It's like somebody attacking Pearl Harbor, like Japanese, you know. You go in and you, you know, blindfold a diplomat. Are you kidding? What the hell these people are doing? So, I think that Carter lost his presidency on that, I think. He didn't attack. He showed a lot of restraint. What I'm saying, he tried to resolve it peacefully and that cost him his job actually. That's what I think.

SY: Yeah. Americans don't usually like it when people try and resolve things peacefully, unfortunately.

BH: Yeah! I don't know why.

SY: Yeah. Too many Hollywood movies, maybe.

BH: Look what happened to President Obama now. Yeah. I see what you are saying.

SY: Trying to resolve peacefully. I know. I know. And then, everyone freaks out. Yeah. What do you think about President Obama's policy towards Iran? What do you think about?

BH: You know, I have a, it's like a double-sided thing for me. In one hand, I don't want any misery for that country because that country has gone through a lot. It is mullahs in power and, you know, enslaving the country in their own way. On the other hand, if U.S. attacked them, they get slaughtered. Innocent people is going to die. In another hand, these people are dead. They don't care about their people. They only care about staying in power. So, I think that it's good that he's not really gung ho that, "Just attack Iran and get rid of those," but I don't know if I trust the regime, you know.

SY: Yeah. Coughs. Sorry. All right. Any final thoughts?

BH: No. Thank you for coming. Getting all the way here to talk and I appreciate for doing this. I hope we meet again at Norwich.

SY: I hope we do too. I hope to, next time I'm in the Boston area to come.

End of recording.