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  • Writer's pictureShaghayegh Cyrous

The Way We Communicate

Updated: Jun 14, 2020

Part 1:

My First Genius Communication Idea

Connection through the internet is not an unfamiliar way of communication for so many people, such as travelers, immigrants, and refugees, who are always enthusiastic about the new possibilities that technology is providing for various forms of connection. But the fascinating part is how do we use our senses for connection?

As a person in my early 30's, who experienced two major communication eras before technology and after its modern existence, I admit that there are many questions and feelings around how to even connect with one another in a usual way. What is the usual way of connection? Does it matter how we communicate? What is the relationship between connection and communication? How do humans connect? How does our method of communication relate to other species, animals, and plants?

Sometimes even thinking about how humans came up with creating a language in the first place, blows my mind. What happened in that moment? How Sumerians came up with the first language? How did cave-beings decide to place their hands on the cave walls?

There are so many aspects related to language, and so many questions that are answered by historians and linguistics and so many more still remain ambiguous.

Although I know how exciting all of these answers are, this is not something that I am interested in going more in-depth. Still, my artistic side is eager to explore the golden moment when a person decides to communicate.

My very first highlighted communication memory goes back to when I was three years old. The war of Iran- Iraq was not ended yet. My parents who were celebrating their three years of marriage anniversary saved money to travel to France and Sweden to decide if they are planning to raise me outside of Iran. There are so many memories and scenes that I am still amazed at how I remember them clearly as a three-years-old. Perhaps some of the visual aspects of the memory and places I remember because of the video camera that my dad purchased and started to document all of our family moments. But there are some other scenes that my parents don't really remember, and the fact that I still cherish the taste of chocolate or a specific sandwich we had on the road is remarkable.

I remember a scene in the cross street close to my aunt's apartment in Paris. My dad started to ask for her address from a person passing by in English and showed the address, and the person looked at my dad and replied in French and left. I remember my dad asked a few people and got the same response. In the next scene, I remember we were in my aunt's apartment, and my dad was laughing and asking why here, no one speaks English or won't help even by seeing the written address. My cousin replied that here you have to know French and also if they know English they won't respond to you. Why did a tourist have to know French if the French person knew English? Did all the people that my dad ask or even show the address can't communicate or understand my parents' question? Isn't asking for an address one of the first touristic interactions?

My aunt's apartment was white, ocher, and brownish. I still remember the apartment's smell, the old wooden with some bitter plant smell. I was like an investigator then, everything was so new to me. It was the first time that I saw the fruit Kiwi, and I asked my mom why my aunt included potato in the fruit bowl! I was looking at everything with curiosity. My uncle joined us from Stockholm later on where he and his family live. His wife is Sweden and couldn't speak Farsi but could understand some parts of a conversation, or at least she was pretending. My three cousins, though, never learned Farsi. Robert was way older than me, but Linda was one-year younger, and I was always trying to find ways and ideas to communicate with them. I am calling those golden moments A Genius Communication Idea.

My first genius communication idea and memory comes at this time. I remember I was bored, and I was too little to be included in cooking activities or shopping, and Linda, my two years old cousin, was sleeping most of the time. I think Robert was around 15 years old. It was around noon, and I was walking around trying to find something interesting to do. There was a little wooden table next to a bed where Robert was sitting and playing video games, and there was a window right above the desk. The beautiful sunlight from the window was lighting the room and the table, and like those cartoons that a character sees a biscuit or something and their eyes turn to hearts, I saw a Madar (Mother) biscuit, which is a known Persian biscuit brand on that table with highlighted with a beam of light from the window. We were in Paris, so I think I knew at that time how valuable that biscuit could be. I really wanted to get those biscuits, but I had no idea how to speak Robert's language. In fact, we had never spoken before, or I don't remember any other interaction with him as he was a quiet boy. So after a while thinking, my genius idea came to my mind. I went next to him and started talking to him in a language that I just made up! I had no idea what I was even saying and remember I was only 3. I can't even imagine how confused he could be, and I am sure if I was speaking to him in Farsi, he could guess better than a language that I just made up as three years old.

I kept talking, and after a while, he just looked at the biscuit, took the whole pack, and showed it to me. I smiled and said yes, thank you! in that made-up language. The funny thing is, I got so excited that I don't even remember eating the biscuit. I ran to my mom and said, "Mom, mom! I learned how to speak Swedish!!"

Of course, I still have no idea how to speak Swedish, but that golden moment of desire to communicate and that click and moment that Robert guessed what I wanted, stock to my mind as my first genius interaction and communication idea.

I started this blog to explore my experiences of connection and communication as I realize my enthusiasm for this subject throughout my life and my artistic and curatorial practice. From my childhood in Iran and when I moved to the United States with the second language to today, COVID-19 is forcing global physical distancing. So thank you for following my exploration and the journey of communication. I would also love to hear what your first genius communication idea was.

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