I’m a born and bred West Londoner, although “Made In France" (my Iranian parents moved to the UK from Paris just before I was born). Before that, they lived in France and Italy (where my eldest sister was born and went to school).
This foundation definitely shaped my childhood; we travelled through Europe often, and mum made sure we were exposed to a wide range of cultures and activities growing up. Saturdays were filled with ballet, music school and Farsi classes, and visits to the museums and theatre…well, at least until I became a teenager and thought I was too cool for any of that (thankfully in later life, these things have all become cool to me once more).
I loved to read and I loved to chat (my nickname was chatterbox, and I defiantly read the dictionary from cover to cover when I was in primary school). I loved learning (though not in the classroom; school was tedious and I was naughty, saved only by my grades). I found people much more interesting, and like everyone else with a diverse London upbringing, was much more influenced by the many cultures I was surrounded by at school and among friends, than anything much a text book had to offer.
Reading Malcolm X’s autobiography and hearing my first hip hop songs were the defining moments of my High School life, and during that time my passion for English and Psychology also grew.
As I entered college (aged 16-17) the attacks of 9/11 happened and so did the war on Iraq. My friends at college were not political. But I was. To me it seemed natural and obvious, and just as it was for many young people my age, that time was my first real (in practice) experience; of mass protest and mobilisation.
I studied Journalism and Psychology at City University and graduated in 2007. And several months later, after a spontaneous decision (and a probably more subconsciously rooted desire to witness my country, my culture and my language), I got on a plane to Iran.
I spent several months travelling; to the North of Iran, living between the natural beauty of the Caspian Sea and its facing mountain. I met many Iranians from farmers to university students. I also spent time in Qom, the religious heart of the country, and Tehran the cosmopolitan capital.
What was planned as a six-month traveling trip turned in to a professional opportunity; which is when I started working for Press TV.
6 months turned in to a 3 and a half year journey. As a political news anchor, correspondent and show host I covered the news, as, in 2008 Barack Obama became President, and at the turn of that year the Gaza war devastated. In 2009, Iran’s contested presidential elections saw protest and violence and in 2010 the Arab Spring made history. By the time I was leaving Iran in 2011, the world had changed.
My time in Iran gave me unique behind-the-scenes access and an opportunity to see Iranian politics at work from within the country, and more importantly a chance to understand the Iranian people. I always tried to listen and hear, and learn as much as I could from all the different kinds of people I met. Their opinions were as vast as the deserts and the seas that Iran holds; both as beautiful as each other.
My time in Iran also reaffirmed what I had always believed; that in a world with many different cultures, religions and thinking, it is up to every individual to be open-minded, respectful and co-operative. Being judgmental clouds our vision, and closes the door to real progress; within ourselves, within our countries and the wider world.
Back in the UK in 2011, I went to my sisters wedding, and continued working as a Press TV UK correspondent, but also producing documentaries and shows. I started (an up until now, unfinished) masters in International Relations. I became head of news at LBP, a production company that provided news content to several TV and Radio stations including Press TV.
In 2012, I started wearing the hijab, which has been a wonderful experience of self-discovery, and an often-intriguing journey of what it’s like to be a British Muslim that actually looks Muslim!
In 2014, we unexpectedly lost our Dad, after a sudden sickness and 4 weeks in hospital. Losing my best friend redefined me. Not in to a different person, but a better version of what I used to be. I had to lose my Father to finally understand the lessons he had taught me.
In the last two years, I have learnt to cry, learnt to laugh again, have set up my own production company, moved back in with my mum, and become a fan of the Good Wife. I recently stopped my working relationship with Press TV, after almost 9 years.
At the start of this year, I gave myself a break. And decided to start a blog.
So, that is my story so far….