‘Why people always compare 2017 with a war poverty period?’ An Iranian handballer about Belarus

The Handball club Meshkov Brest palyer  Iman Jamali was born in Iran. He plays for the national Hungary team and has been living within 6 months in Brest. A 26 year-old Jamali told about his attitude to polygamy, the Islamic Republic rules and Belarusian slogan ‘just not worse’.


When I was 20 years old I came in Europe and soon acquired Hungarian citizenship. I made it for the perspectives in big-time sports.

– I easily adapt to the new reality. In Iran I’m Iranian and in Europe I’m European. After my relocation to Europe I was really surprised that almost my friends’ parents were divorced. In Iran family values are extremely respected. People are willing to abandon money, beautiful life and career opportunities if it can be detrimental to their family. Unbelievable that in the European countries prospective parents don’t support their adult children. In Iran you are always a child for your parents. Mother doesn’t matter that her son has his own family: wife, 3 children. She still wants her little boy visits her at least 3 times a week and to feed him his favorite dishes. And children give as good as they gets: care of their older parents and devoted their life to parents.


‘I’m Persian not Arab. We don’t have polygamy’

In Iran family values are related with rigorous legislation with the Islamic Republic. For example, at Jamala’s home alcohol selling is prohibited.

– In Iran as in many other Muslim countries you can’t legally buy alcohol. But if you want it very much, of course, you can do it and buy whatever you like: beer or vodka. Smugglers bring in country different types of alcohol. I know the Iranians who from time to time drink alcohol. In my opinion such type of prohibition is not effective. It is everyone’s business what to drink and dress. We are not as religious as people in other Islamic countries. But in the Islamic Republic there are some rules, for example, women must wear the hijab. But it is not as strictly as in Arabs. In Iran small shawl which covers hair is already hijab. We are the Persians not the Arabs. But sometimes people don’t know the difference and I don’t try to clarify. It is a sign of stupidity and limited knowledge of the individual. Because the Persians – nation with rich history extends back thousands of years. Sometimes people ask me: ‘Is it allowed to have 5 wives?’ And after that I get really angry: ‘Oh my God! We don’t have polygamy.

Women in Iran live like queens. The Arabs in contrast with the Iranians drive a car – that’s why we have such a big number of accidents. Some women do business, run companies and other prefer going to the gym, learning foreign languages and enjoying life. In Iran girls are crazy about plastic surgery. It seems that Iran takes the 1st place in the world for nose job. In recent years, women have gone to plastic surgeon to have a Barbie appearance. The Iranians like heavy make-up. But Belarusian girls are natural and beautiful.


‘What I had known about Belarus before I came here? Only that country exists’

Iman Jamali plays for HC Meshkov Brest as a rent player. He remembers that the proposal from Brest was really unexpected.

– What I have known about Belarus? Only that country exists. I made a decision within 3 days to play for HC Meshkov Brest and refused from contracts with Sweden, Poland and Germany. Why? I liked that the club plays in SEHA-league and confidently confront the Championship League leaders. My friends told to me that Belarus isn’t European country and shouldn’t build castles in the air. I tried to find some information about Brest, but I found Brest Fortress pictures only. Frankly speaking, I was surprised when I saw it. In my opinion Brest is a wonderful city for living. There some cafes opened until 11 p.m. each weekday (in Sweden there is no such opportunity.) Brest cafes are always full of people. I like that people can have dinner in the restaurant so they have money. And in Brest taxi is the cheapest: sometimes drivers wait for me about 40 minutes and still take from me just some dollars. In such cases I pay some extra-money as a real rich man.

Now I feel better than 3 months ago in Brest. I live in the city centre so when I go for a walk people recognize me. They come up to me, congratulate on my victory, take pictures and say pleasant wishes. The Brests like HC Meshkov Brest and always are happy to meet with handball players. I don’t remember anyone come up to me with negativity or question: ‘Why did you lose?’ Perhaps, it’s why we rarely lose. I really like such communication with fans and for me it’s the best part of sports life.


‘There are tens of years after war but people still compare modern life with past’

Iman warmly speaks about the Belarusians, but he highlights one feature in our character which he doesn’t understand.

– Belarus suffered from the Great Patriotic war. After that it was in economic crisis for a long time. There are tens of years after war but people still compare modern life with past. They think that everything is ok when there is no war and everyone is satisfied with food. But why elder people compare 2017 with war poverty and destruction period but not with prosperous counties period? I like that the Swedish every time try to be successful. They want to earn more than EUR 2,000 and someone earns EUR 3,000. I have the same philosophy: you have to do your best.

Jamali doesn’t want to compare Belarus and Iran. Our countries are too different because of scale.

– Population in Belarus is 10 times less than in Iran. European media often misinforms the world about Iran. We have a great prosperous country. Iran is an oil-rich nation. We are not just richer than Belarus – Iran is one of the richest countries in the world. A lot of people buy cars at the cost of millions of dollars, and believe me, that it’s common situation for Teheran. My country is full of luxury apartments. In some houses one square meter costs from $20,000 with the total area of the house 2,000 sq.m. Can you imagine these prices? But in Iran as in other countries there people who live modestly. I think to feel comfortable in the Iran city the family of three people has to have about $500 per month.

Jamali says that a lot of Iranians are freelancers. People like working for themselves but not under someone’s direction.

– Freelance is not a stable income guarantee but give you a chance to be a boss for yourself. My father and brothers are freelancers – they work in construction sphere. The Iranians know how to make good money. I really don’t understand how people who have never worked, buy such expensive presents. I know that someone earns money on bank deposits. Two years ago we had an opportunity to make deposit under 22 % per annum. Today it reduced until 16 %. The client puts $100,000 into the bank and in one month he is getting about $1,500 without special efforts. 20-30 % of the Iranians live thanks to their deposits. And living costs in Iran are not higher than in Belarus. Surely, there are restaurants where steak costs $40, but you can find very good place where it costs $2.


‘Belarusians are not ashamed to talk about their problems or private life, but don’t allow themselves to be happy too often ’

Iranian handballer is an easy-going man! Despite language barriers he likes spending time with team.

– When the club goes outside the city we spend more time together. In Brest almost everyone has a family. The Belarusians and legionnaires speak English. And I like that we can communicate with guys in informal setting. It creates really great climate in the team. Some months ago the HC Meshkov Brest player Simon Razgor became a father. He gathered all team to celebrate it. It was really cool. I’m pleased that the Belarusians share their life news. When I had played for Sweden team local people were too reserved. But the Belarusians are not ashamed to talk about their problems or private life. I like that style of communication: it is not very pleasant when there is an understatement and insincerity. But the Belarusians don’t allow themselves to be happy too often. Even when we win the game, team doesn’t enjoy it much. Why? In Hungary and Sweden we were always happy even when we lost. Well, let’s say that we played not perfect but we won! And even if we lost we would win tomorrow. We have to be optimists.

Iman confirms that the Iranians are extrahospitable nation. Strangers begin talking to each other in five minutes as old friends. And the houses owners serve the table as soon as they see the guest on the verge.

– Recently I have drunk some coffee in the centre of Brest and met with the Iranian. In some minutes I invited him into my home. We are open-minded and generous. In Iran there is a rule according to which seller or taxi driver first has to refuse to take money from clients and take it only after the second or third request. At friend’s house there is the same rule.
The Iranians are concerned about friend’s comfort and good image but not about money. We always dispute in our company who will pay the bill. Even those who have not big salary want to please friends and battle to pay the bill. In two minutes we forgot about prices. In Belarus people pay their own. I accept these rules.

Jamali studies Russian with a teacher. In his opinion, to speak host country language is a good manner.

– I speak Farsi, Hungarian and English. In Brest I go to the restaurants with a menu in English. It seems that local waiters learned by heart what I like. I order pancakes and in two seconds I have it. I had a very funny story when ordered food from Russian-speaking waiter. I got my order but without cutlery. I asked her for ‘a fork’ even showed on my fingers. Eventually I had to use Google. She felt embarrassed, started laughing and hurried up to bring me cutlery.

Handballer visits his family no more than twice a week. He learns to feel comfortable in every place.

– The Iranians don’t understand exactly what Belarus is. But my friends say that it’s easier for them to get Belarusian visa then Schengen visa. There are diplomatic relations among our countries. Perhaps, someone from my relatives come to visit me. By the way, I’m waiting for my first guest – Russian coach Stepan Sidorchuk. He was my first coach and teached me a lot of things. On 21 March the Iranians celebrate Novruz – A New Year according to astronomic solar calendar. Here comes we will celebrate it in Belarus.



The text was originally published by TUT.by



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