"People who are alert to the vibrations of human life find living in Shiraz a great adventure," says Kathy Jones, who lived in Purcellville, Va., until she moved to this provincial capital in southern Iran.
"If you don't arrive with a lot of preconceived notions about what it's going to be like it's easier to adapt," says Peggy Huddleston, formerly of Fairfax. "If you really want Iran to be like America, you should stay home."
"Most people come primarily for the money, but Henry and I really wanted to rravel more, to have some exciting experiences before settling down in our rocking chairs," says Marjorie Duel, who lived in Alexandria before moving to Iran. "I sometimes feel blue about being so far from the children - the youngest is still in college - but most of the time I'm really delighted that we came."
Dick Jones, Frank Huddleston and Henry Duel are among the approximately 100 Westinghouse Corp. employees now under contract to Iran Electronic Industries (I.E.I.), a semi-governmental engineering concern producing electronic devices ranging from telephone and radio to military equipment.
Three years ago I.E.I. began hiring management and technical advisers from Westinghouse to train Iranian engineers and administrators with the aim of transforming I.E.I. into an independent operation. Jones and Huddleston are engineers; Duel is an industrial psychologist and former president of Southeastern University specializing in career development.
The Westinghouse community in Shiraz is a tight-knit family-oriented group. Children attend the American school set up for them by I.E.I. and social activities center around the crowded schedule of events at the Shiraz Club. Women meet in the day time for bridge, tennis and lessons in sewing, macrame and leathercraft. In the evenings there are ballroom dancing lessons, square dances, pot luck suppers and dart competitions. On the weekends (Thursday and Friday) there are adult's and children's softball games and picnics and fairs and free day excursions in winter sponsored by I.E.I. to the Articon ski area two hours away.
At Albert's - a market temptingly supplied with high-priced imports - Americans women and the wives of foreign technical advisers and of foreign Pahlavi University professors select English biscuits and chocolates, Dutch and French cheese, American breakfast foods, detergents, peanut butter, soft drinks and whiskey, Swiss and German fruit cakes and Polish hams. They inquire about the arrival of an expected shipment of brown sugar.
"Fardah (tomorrow)," replies the proprietor as he totes up the rials on the cash register and straightens the rack holding copies of Time and Newsweek.
Peg Huddleston, who does most of her shopping in the small vegetable stands and butcher shops near her apartment, says, "You don't plan a menu and then shop. First you see what's available and then you plan your dinner."
Like many of the Westinghouse people, she does not drive in Shiraz, where small cars, large buses, motorcycles, donkeys and pedestrians dart in and out of lanes, jocker for position, speed through intersections beeping loudly. Since buses may go in either direction on one-way streets and since most traffic lights simply blink rather than turn red or green, traffic jams are monumental, driving techniques unorthodox and accidents frequent. Americans are warned that when accidents occur arrests are common and lawsuits may ensue.
"I don't really miss driving and I don't miss having a telephone either," Peg says, "but it's hard on Paula." Paula, the Huddlestons' 12-year-old daughter, attends the I.E.I. school with her brother, Jeffrey, aged 15.
"Jeffrey is involved in camping outings, sports and all sorts of activities and he's having a ball," his mother says. "He goes to the American movies at the Iran-America Society and to the discotheque and to sports competitions in Teheran and Isfahan and since there are only 10-15 students in a class he really enjoys the close relationship with the teachers. But Paula is too young to go about town freely and she can't telephone her friends and there just isn't much for her to do outside of shool. She's the only member of the family who's suffering in Shiraz."
Although most of the Americans rent attractive well-equipment apartments, very few have telephones, a rare commodity in this city. Shiraz, located 650 miles south of Teheran in a province populated predominantly by rural peasants and nomads of the Turkish-speaking Quash-quai tribe, is a rapidly growing densely populated city located on an arid plateau surrounded by barren hills.
It is noted for its roses, its tribal carpets, and the tombs of Persia's two beloved 13th century poets, Hafiz and Saadi. The most celebrated archaeological site in Iran - the ancient capital of Persepolis - is situated in the desert 40 miles away. As the Shirazis tell you, this city is not for tourists: It is simply a fine place to live where winters are sunny and roses bloom from March through November, a city far from the mad pace, the terrible noise, the plays, concerts, museums and nightclubs of decadent Teheran.
"Of course the street scene is always fascinating," says Marge Duel. "All you have to do if you're bored is to take a walk and there's always plenty to see."
The Westinghouse wives fear boredom as they face 2-3 years in Shiraz. Since foreigners are hired only for jobs Iranians cannot fill or for jobs so poorly paid that they are considered undesirable, few American women work with the exception of some teachers of English and a few volunteer Sunday School instructors.
Kathy Jones, who was born in Czechoslovakia, teaches ballroom dancing at the Shiraz club. She is one of the few members of the group who has learned to speak Farsi well. Like her husband, who was employed in the Leesburg office of Westinghouse "before coming to Iran a year and a half ago, she is an employee of I.E.I., where she holds a position described as "office methods specialist." Each morning she braves the undisciplined traffic as she rides to work on a motorbike.
She is modest about her linguistic accomplishment - "a neighbor worked me through the first grade primer and then I took off on my own" - but she is praised by friends who are struggling with twice weekly Farsi lessons.
"This year they don't have a Farsi teacher at the school," says Peg Huddleston, whose children's friendships are limited to other Americans. "The children aren't learning ot speak at all and this really seems a pity."
"It's very difficult to meet Iranians," says Marge Duel. "I see the people who live in my kuche (a narrow street or alley) every day but we never get beyond the 'salaams.' The only Iranians I know are those my husband meets at work who have been to school or been employed in the United States and who speak English well."
"You just have to face the fact that there are plenty of problems and frustrations here but the women who are happy are the busy ones," says Peg Huddleston, who in Virginia did her own housework while rising six children, working full time at AID in Rosslyn, and attending data processing classes at night.
"Most of the husbands enjoy their work but it's difficult for the wives to find satisfying activity," says Peg Huddleston, "Househould help is cheap - 300 rials or about $4.25 a day - and many women who never had maids before hire help here. Even though shopping and food preparation takes forever, women who used to keep house and hold down jobs find too much time on their hands if they don't get involveed in Shiraz Club activities and day trips and lessons."
Among the activities is the square dance group called the "Shiraz Shufflers." They recently went to Dubai, an Arab principality on the Persian Gulf, to dance and plan a jamboree with groups from Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In the fall the group took casette recorder, tapes and caller and danced among the ruins at Persepolis.
"We called it the 'Persepolis Promenade," Kathy Jones says.
At one Saturday night square dance, which ends early since Sunday is a regular work day, about 50 men, women and teen-agers gathered despite the fact that on Saturday night the program Star Trek - a great favorite here where choice is scant - can be seen on television. Although the program is dubbed in Farsi, Americans listen by turning the TV sound down and tuning in the English dialogue which is broadcast simultaneously on FM radio.
Dick Jones, who had never been abroad before, lists the desire for travel to Shiraz, although most speak first of the opportunity to earn and save money. But the situation, they tell you, isn't what is used to be. Although salaries are high and there are a variety of bonuses and special allotments, recent changes in the tax laws reduced tax free income of Americans working abroad from $20,000 to $15,000. New regulations also altered methods of computation and raised taxes by several thousand dollars this year for most Westinghouse families.
Furthermore, rents are high. To lease a comfortable but small apartment here costs as much as $600-800. Furniture must be purchased - often from departing American families - and cars, if desired, may cost twice as much as they do in the United States. Some families send teen-aged children home to private schools, fearing that college preparation in the 55-student I.E.I. high school may not be adequate.
Another problem is dysentery. All vegetables are soaked is Rocall - a disinfectant - after soap and water scrubbing and before cooking. At the Shiraz Club a newcomer speaks of her fear of the pack of dogs that gathers in a lot near her house at night. She is timid about standing on a corner and shouting her destination to passing taxis in the Shiraz style. She was horrified to be joined by a woman carrying two live chickens on her first group taxi ride. She is upset by the fact that men jostled her in a bazaar and touched her blonde hair.
"Keep busy. Keep your sense of humor," is Marge Duel's advice.