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Interview with Mansour Edalatkhah

Edalatkhah, Mansour
Bahmanyar, Laura
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with People and Places; Cultural Identification
Mansour Edalatkhah discusses some of his life goals and how he plans to achieve them.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Laura Bahmanyar interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
LB (Laura Bahmanyar): OK Mansour, how long have you lived here in Charlotte?
ME (Mansour Edalatkah): On and off, I would say [pause]eight years.
LB: Eight years?
ME: Yes.
LB: And what have you done during that whole eight years on and off in Charlotte?
ME: I [pause] worked in the different places. I worked in restaurant. I worked in construction company. And, I move out from Charlotte a couple times to Florida, and then to Connecticut. And that's about it. Just, this time I'm going to stay for good.
LB: You like it here in Charlotte?
ME: Yes, I like it because it got four seasons and it kind of remind me of back home. It got four seasons where I come from, in my hometown. It's not too cold and it's not too hot. It's good. I like the weather.
LB: Do you have any family here in Charlotte?
ME: No, no. Only Ali Aghah and his wife and his family. They are like a family to me.
LB: What are your plans for your life here in Charlotte? Do you have any long-term plans? Short-term plans?
ME: Yeah, my short plan is if I don't make it by next year, I'm going to go back to Florida.
LB: What do you mean, "Make it?"
ME: If I--. [Pause] If I don't--
LB: You just said you were going to be here for good. [Laughing]
ME: Yeah, as long as I buy the house.
LB: What?
ME: I want to buy a house.
LB: You want to buy a house?
ME: If I be able to make it by next year, I'm going to buy a house and I stay here for a long time. If I cannot make it, I'm just going to move on.
LB: Oh, so you changed, huh? First, you were going to stay here for good?
ME: But, I, I probably going to get the house so--
LB: Why do you really want a house so much?
ME: Because, it's like a base. It's like a foundation, bricks. You can build up your life in the future if you establish in one place and in this case, it's a home so at least I don't have to waste my money for rent.
LB: Uh-huh. So your plan is to get a house?
ME: A small house.
LB: A small house? And it--
ME: ( ) Also.
LB: OK. Any plans beyond that? What do you see ten years from now?
ME: Right now, I'm taking it day by day. After my surgery--
LB: [Laughing]
ME: Day by day, huh? My first plan is to get the house, and, my second plan, this is like a dream, I'd like to be able to do something on my own. Something--
LB: You mean have your own company?
ME: Hmm, company is a big word for me right now. Some [pause] I'd like to be independent. I'd like to, I don't like to clock in and clock out.
LB: Be your own boss, you mean?
ME: Yeah, I, I don't like to boss people around but, I like, I like to be, I like to be alone.
LB: You like to be alone?
ME: Yeah. I like to work by myself, or only a few people which I like. I don't like to, to work with too many people which I don't know or some people with attitude. That's, that's ruin my day.
LB: Ruins your day?
ME: That ruin my day.
LB: You sound like Clint Eastwood [laughing] except he says, "Make my day." [Laughing]
ME: Well, I don't want to fight with anybody. I like to work for myself. [Pause]
LB: What kind of work? The work you're doing now or you see yourself doing a different kind of work.
ME: Well, I, put a few years in this, field, so, I think it makes sense if I stay in this business, do something in this kind of stuff but something smaller.
LB: Like what?
ME: Like, I don't know, maybe fixing a driveway or, some small landscaping, some small repairing for pipes. Something for those kind of storm drainage.
LB: Uh-huh. What you're doing, like what you're doing now?
ME: Yeah, yeah. But something sm, very smaller, in the area.
LB: Oh, a competing company, huh?
ME: No, something smaller. I don't even mind to make it less than what I'm making because I think if I work for somebody else. [Pause] With all due respect to my boss, who's like my father, But I feel no matter how, big I get or how much money I make, I always going to be like a branch on a tree. I like to be a small tree than a big branch on a big tree.
LB: Uh-huh.
ME: So, I like to do something on my own.
LB: You know, I think that's a, might be a cultural trait because most people from your country seem to do better when they work on them, their own.
ME: Yes. Yes, it's, you're just more ready to go the extra miles. If you go by, if you go work for somebody else, you just do the same thing over and over and it just becomes routine, but when you do on your own, it's like in the wilderness. You have, you have to go for your prey, you have to protect yourself, you have to secure your area, so it motivates you, so--
LB: [Laughter] I like your analogies. It's like the wilderness.
ME: It is. That's what I like. I like to get a small house, probably two bedroom, and then, middle-class neighborhood, and, and I like to do something that I could have my own business, small business, and just try to make it grow.
LB: Umm.
ME: That's my plan.
LB: Sounds like a good plan. Now, of all the jobs that you've worked in the time that you've been here and Florida, what, is this you're favorite work, or what? What work have you liked the best?
ME: I never liked this job I'm doing in the beginning, but now I like it because I feel somebody when I go to work, even though I don't know as much as the other people, but, comparing myself to two years ago, two years and a half, I, I'm able to jump on any equipment and work with them and operate them. I can pour some concrete and, and, some different things. It makes me feel good that I'm productive.
LB: Umm.
ME: It might not be as much as the other people, but comparing to myself, I came a long way.
LB: You didn't know anything about this when you started?
ME: No, actually, they have this thing called roller tamp and I remember I was so scared to crank it because I thought it's going to roll back on me or go straightforward and hit somebody in the, you know, in the street. But, little by little I practiced and I kept praying and practicing. Now [pause] I'm, I'm doing all right for myself.
LB: Hum.
ME: So, that's my plan.
LB: Well, good.
ME: Home, and a company.
LB: Home and company? No--
ME: Small company.
LB: No wife, no children in the plan?
ME: No, no. You don't, you cannot plan a wife. It's not like that. [Laughter] It's not like going to a movie, or buying a jacket. It has [pause] it has--
LB: Well, I know some Iranian fellows who choose a wife, a, a wife. They go back to Iran and they just choose one and bring her back.
ME: And, then you should talk to them ten years from now, when their wife divorce them.
LB: [Laughter]
ME: And, [Laughter] and then, they probably going to have to go to Holiday Inn--
LB: Holiday Inn? [Laughter]
ME: By themselves.
LB: It doesn't always happen that way. Don't you think you should marry someone from your own culture, who shares your, heritage and culture?
ME: Yes, that's, that's the best, not, it's a good thing because you have less to, to, disagree about because your culture, your religion, your customs, but as long as there's not an age difference. I don't want to be a forty-five years old go married to a ten years old and by the time I'm sixty-five, she's going to be twenty something. It doesn't, it doesn't look natural.
LB: Well, you better get moving, huh?
ME: I better get moving, yes. I better get my ticket to Florida, so nobody knows me. [Laughing]
LB: Your ticket what?
ME: I better get my ticket to Florida.
LB: Florida? You keep talking about Florida. Is Florida the golden land, the place you go--
ME: No, that's my, goatscape. [Pause] If I'm saying it right.
LB: Your goatscape?
ME: Yes.
LB: No. I haven't heard of that in English.
ME: No? That's like my excuse, if I don't make it I can always go over there and be, be just some, one of a millions. [Laughing] Just hide in the crowd.
LB: 'Cause everyone in Florida is kind of just, there from somewhere else?
ME: Yeah. Somewhere, just get a small apartment, just hang out, see what's going on, look for opportunity.
LB: So that's your backup plan?
ME: Yes.
LB: To run off to Florida if things don't work out.
ME: If I get in bad, if I don't make that little house and that little small business, that's my plan.
LB: [Laughing] Mansour, tell us a little bit about your family. Is anyone else here in the United States?
ME: Yes, I have a brother. He lives in Connecticut. Up north, and he lives there. I used to live with him a long time ago, and I have my parents. They live back home, in Tehran, Iran, and I have two brother, Reza and Nasser. One of them is single, the other one is married. Two boy. And he's in the marble business.
LB: That's your father's business, isn't it?
ME: Yes that's my father's business. But he works for himself.
LB: He works for himself?
ME: Yeah. He, he, worked with my father. They, it didn't work out.
LB: They didn't get along?
ME: No.
LB: Oh dear. [Laughter]
ME: Can't we all just get along? That's an old American saying.
LB: Old American? Not that old. You know who said that?
ME: No. Who said that?
LB: Can't we all just get along?
ME: That Martin Luther King.
LB: No, not Martin Luther King.
ME: No?
LB: That, black guy who got beat up.
ME: Oh, Rodney King?
LB: Rodney King.
ME: Rodney King.
LB: You're getting your Kings mixed up!
ME: Oh, OK. [Laughter] Not Don King.
LB: Not Don King. Rodney King.
ME: Rodney King. Yes. Yes.
LB: OK. And your sisters?
ME: I have two sister. They live back home. One of them has a daughter and a son and the other one has three boy. She always want to have a girl, and they always went for a second baby. It was a boy. So they went for a third one. It was a boy.
LB: Ooh! [Laughing]
ME: So they're not going to try it again.
LB: Oh. Three boys!
ME: Three boys. And--
LB: When was the last time you saw your parents?
ME: It was three years ago, when I saw them, and I miss them very much, and, I think, if I, probably in the next few years I will go back and visit them.
LB: Umm. What do you think their hopes for you are here in the United States? What do they hope for you?
ME: Well, my mother wants to, me to get married, all the time. She says "I know this person, I know that person." And I tell her, "Good for you. I, I don't want to get married right now." And my father and my sister, they want me to be successful, financially. And--
LB: Now, the brother who's not married in Iran. Has he never been married?
ME: Yes, he's been married, but he got divorced.
LB: Oh, no children?
ME: No. No children.
LB: And is he the one who works for your father? Or what does he do?
ME: No. No. Actually, he works with my father.
LB: Oh, he does. The other one--
ME: The other one, the oldest one, he works for himself now.
LB: Uh-huh.
ME: And he's in kind of import export. He takes marble and different kind of stone out of the country, to the old Soviet Union Republics, and he brings--
LB: Sells it there?
ME: Yeah. And then instead he brings some goods from them.
LB: What kind of goods?
ME: I don't know. Anytime, every time difference. That sort of thing.
LB: Oh, interesting.
ME: Yeah. He brings it, but now his wife's giving him a hard time, not to go.
LB: Wait, th, this is the one who's married?
ME: This is the one who married, yes. So his wife's giving him a hard time and his kid is because they miss him. He keep going over there for like half of the year he spend out of the country.
LB: Oh.
ME: So he's kind of--
LB: Hmm.
ME: Grounded.
LB: Grounded? [Laughing]
ME: Grounded.
LB: So how is he going to make his living now?
ME: He's doing some business inside Iran.
LB: Uh-huh.
ME: ( ) Stone. And, I like, that's why I like to have an off, you know, mostly I want to be successful for my family.
LB: Because they want that for you?
ME: Yes, they want that for me. So, since I'm in America and this is the heaven of earth, I'm going to try my best, see if I can make it.
LB: Well, good. Umm, what about your sisters? I mean, do they have a good life in Iran?
ME: Yes.
LB: Do they work or do they stay home?
ME: One of my sisters, the older one, the oldest one, she doesn't work and she's just raising--
LB: The one with the three boys?
ME: No, no. The one with the daughter and that boy.
LB: Oh.
ME: Her son got married couple years ago. So she's going to basically, put her life trying to raise the daughter and you know, having, she has a lot of dreams for her so she's--
LB: How old is the daughter?
ME: She's like, I would say 14, 15 years old--
LB: Oh.
ME: So they're kind of like ( ).
LB: What kind of dreams does she have for a 14, 15 year old daughter in Iran?
ME: Well, she likes her to be a very successful, as far as the education. That's why she put her in the school, different special classes, trying to learn English, trying to--
LB: You think she wants her to come here and go to the University?
ME: They came here. They came to America last year. They stayed for a few months and then they went back home.
LB: That was just a visit?
ME: That was just a visit, yeah.
LB: But you think that she, your sister would like her to move her?
ME: Yes.
LB: You know, Amir's son just came here?
ME: Yes.
LB: To go to university.
ME: Yes. I heard. But I don't believe that kind of mentality works, to come to America to be a doctor, because if you really have it inside you, if you are very, person who has it, enough determination and talent, you can be a doctor, anywhere.
LB: Well, who said doctor?
ME: Or anybody. Anybody. If anybody have them enough, in them in themselves, they can be successful no matter where they are.
LB: But isn't there only one major university in Iran?
ME: That's unfortunate, yes. There's one major, and because there's a limited, for, for facility and for teacher, so they have this thing, they call concours, which is a, like a major, major exam. Its like hundreds of questions, different, field in education, you have to pass this--
LB: Different what?
ME: Different, different, branch of education, like history, mathematics--
LB: OK, I got you.
ME: Science, uh, a lot of things and you have to pass, which is very hard, like out of hundred thousands people, maybe couple hundred could pass that exam, because it's very hard.
LB: Everyone takes that at the end of high school?
ME: No, not everyone.
LB: Uh-huh.
ME: Not everyone. You have to, you have to pass a pre-exam to be qualified some sort, and then you go to that final exam, which they call concours, and it's very difficult, because there's a lot of question, a lot of hard question in a variety of subject and they give you a limited time. It's not like you can sit over there and take your time.
LB: It sounds like our SAT but--
ME: So it's like, it's very hard, it's very hard, so that's--
LB: And that determines whether you get into the one university or not?
ME: Yes. That exam. We have couple other university, but they're not as, recognizable as the one in the capital, University of Tehran, so, yes--
LB: So there's more opportunities if people come here? There's a lot!
ME: As far as opportunity, yes, but I don't believe that, I don't believe a person who doesn't study in Iran can come to America and all of a sudden go to school and become a doctor, because the school is available.
LB: Yeah.
ME: That's what's my point.
LB: What you're saying is it takes a lot of motivation and you think if they could do it here, maybe they could do it there, too.
ME: Yes, I mean as far as opportunity, yes, but country doesn't change people. It's not like you could change your personality and say, "I'm going to be..."
LB: But, there maybe are 10,000 people who want to be doctors and who really are qualified to be doctors, but the one university only has place--
ME: For a hundred maybe.
LB: Right. So those other ones, if they don't go somewhere else--
ME: Yes, they cannot make it.
LB: Right.
ME: But if you are over there, if all your grades are bad and you don't even like to study and you're--
LB: What about if they're good, but they're not good enough?
ME: No, you have to be really good.
LB: You have to be really good.
ME: My point is, you cannot, some parents over there, they send the kids over here because they have money, they can afford and they know their son or their daughter doesn't like to study although she or he like to play all the time. But they think, "OK, if he goes to America, they're going to make him a doctor, because it's America."
LB: Umm.
ME: That's what's my point.
LB: Oh, I see. OK.
ME: But I think my nei, my niece is going to make it over there, as a doctor.
LB: Over there? She's, she's quite--
ME: She's very good with studying. She, she study all the time, all the time.
LB: Good for her!
ME: She's, she's, she loves it. She's like Sara, book, book, book.
LB: Book, book, book. [Laughing] Well, thank you, Mansour. I appreciate you talking to me.
ME: Thank you very much.