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The Accidental Warrior

Written By: Diana Arya on June 23, 2009 3 Comments

My father once told me about a mountain in Isfahan, Iran that took about four hours to summit.  As a boy, he would make several trips to this point within any given week.  Once at the top, he  would emote a victorious shout.  Poetry would flow from his lips and he would make several decrees within a sitting, as if he were king of this mountain.  He had no idea about my frequent pilgrimages to a mountain similar in size near Seattle, WA.  During my trek upward, I would playfully imagine myself an explorer ready greet friends and battle foes as I chop through foliage in my path.  Once at the top, I would build a makeshift shrine with sticks and rocks, then pull out my journal to begin composing poetry, like my dad.  I want to climb my father’s mountain one day and see what words would stream from my mouth.  But I don’t see it happening any time in the future. 

I am disheartened by the recent events in Iran, which I fear have further widened the rift between the U.S. and this other country I could call home. I am a granddaughter of Persian candy makers, but the family business is long since vanished along with our secret recipe for gaz.  I have uncles, aunts and countless cousins living in Tehran and Isfahan, but I have never met any of them.  I never got to meet my grandmother before she passed away.  It’s so strange to me to feel tied to a tradition and people that I hardly know, as if I hardly know who I am.  I can only imagine there are many others like me who are hoping and waiting for an opportunity to visit Iran in peaceful times, enchallah.   I am caught in a paradox—Iran is an unfriendly country full of warm, friendly people, including people I could call family.

I was reminded of this paradox more recently while I was playing my character, Jaleh, in the online game, World of Warcraft (WoW).  Just like our world, the world of WoW is separated into continents, regions and cities, some more or less friendly, depending on who you are and represent.  The great difference is that Jaleh gets to venture into a new realm with no pretense, no passport, just a quest to explore a new frontier. I often find myself asking what it would life be like if we could move from one place to the next with such ease in our own world, but . . .

As I mentioned earlier, there are unfriendly zones in WoW.  So it’s up to Jaleh to steer clear of cities that are governed by the sworn enemies of her kingdom.  But occasionally, Jaleh will get lost.  Okay, more than occasionally.  My sense of direction has never been great, so Jaleh is doomed to wander more than what’s necessary.  Recently, I happened upon a large city and did not realize that it belonged to the Horde, apparently my sworn enemy.  As soon as I stopped at the front gates, an owlbeast player recognized me as an Alliance warrior and challenged me to a duel.  With a quick and easy click, I declined the challenge.  The owlbeast was silent.  Since we are in oppposing camps, we are not able to speak to one another.  If we try, it will just look like a bunch of jumbled letters with no resemblance to anything meaningful.  So I waved at him or her, I couldn’t tell the gender from the character’s name.  Then the owlbeast began to type emote commands, which can be read by opposing parties.  He wrote, no, not under any circumstances.  Then he wrote owlbeast looks at Jaleh, owlbeast points to the East.  It was pretty clear that I was hopelessly lost.  I think it’s easy for experienced player to identify a newb, and I am especially green when it comes to WoW.  So, my sworn enemy helped redirect my journey towards a friendly city, which was very nice of him/her. 

 If I could travel to Iran with similar ease, I would do it.  If I crossed paths with an official who wanted to challenge my right to be there, I could just click the decline button and wave at him.  Then he would know that I’m on a peaceful pilgrimage, and he would point the way to my father’s mountain.


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3 Responses to “The Accidental Warrior”

  1. Youki on: 24 June 2009 at 7:06 pm

    how interesting, multilingualism in a fantasy world! Seems to say a lot about the multimodal nature of virtual worlds. It’s even multicultural, since you and that owlbeast represent two different meaning-making systems. Fascinating!

  2. daveski on: 1 July 2009 at 4:32 pm

    It would be fabulous if we could spend more time wandering like Jaleh. And even better if we had the ability to recognize when people are just wandering into our own neighborhoods with good intent, without getting irate at unintelligible sounds.

    btw, I notice Jaleh has new pants!

    btwX2, what does “enchallah” mean?

  3. diana Arya on: 1 July 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Enchallah means “god willing.” It’s a common saying among Persians, and perhaps many Arab-speaking communities.

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