We’re sooooo excited to be introducing another instalment of the ‘The Ausländer Project.’
We’re tired of bad news and the negative vibe sticking to the word, “Ausländer,” in the mainstream media. We’re also tired of the media’s negative portrayal of the people the word refers to. We’re hoping to take the word Ausländer and make it a positive word, empower it and make people proud to own the title.
We intend to do this by featuring the stories of all kinds of characters who have (somehow) ended up in Vienna from all parts of the world.
After all, we’re all Ausländer somehow, right?
Meet this week’s Ausländer, Peyman Qadiri. This inspiring 19-year-old guy originally from Afghanistan has more life experience than some 60-year-olds. While talking to him, we felt like the immature ones in the room, even though we’re older (just a little bit, of course). Peyman tells us about his story-packed past, his present which he’s now living in Vienna, and his future.
Vienna Würstelstand (VWS): Hey, you speak great German? Even better than me! How’d you learn it?
Peyman Qadiri (PQ): Thanks. I learnt it in school and on the street.
VWS: Aha, so most of your friends are from elsewhere, or from Vienna?
PQ: It’s mixed. Some are Turkish, Serbian, Austrian – from all over the place.
VWS: Did you find German hard to learn?
PQ: Yeah, really difficult. In Persian we don’t have so many articles – die, der, das – like there is in German. This makes it hard to learn.
VWS: Ah ok, but you already speak a few languages, right?
PQ: Aha, so I speak German, a bit of English, Afghan and Iranian dialects of Persian and Arabic.
VWS: Jeepers! I still struggle with English early in the morning sometimes. So, how the hell did you end up in Vienna?
PQ: Well, there’s war in Afghanistan where I’m from and so my parents moved to Iran to live. However, there we experienced extreme racism – I couldn’t even go to a school, or anything. So I left to find a better future.
I fled from Iran to Turkey when I was 10 years old with a neighbour of ours. And then from Turkey I went to Greece. We travelled by foot and by boat.
VWS: Shit! That’s a crazy experience to have when you’re 10 years old.
PQ: Yeah, we were traveling for 7 months. The boat was the worst part. There were so many people on the boat. The smuggler that brought us over lied to us by telling us it was easy to get to Europe. But it was far from easy.
VWS: So what are you doing in Vienna now?
PQ: Well, I’m finished with school for now and I’m training to become a gastronomy professional.
VWS: Where can you get good Afghan cuisine in Vienna?
PQ: Oh, there’s plenty of places. For example, I like this one place called Aria Shisha on Margartengürtel. It’s actually a Shisha bar, but they also have a small restaurant attached. It has very good Afghan food.
VWS: Shisha and good food – what more do you want! And, do you like smoking Shisha?
PQ: Now and again, sure.
VWS: What does a normal day look like for Peyman Qadiri?
PQ: Well, when I’m heading to work, most of my day is determined by this. But when I’m free, I get up at around 9am, eat breakfast, shower and then I usually head out to meet with friends. Sometimes we meet in Stadtpark or Burggarten.
VWS: And what do you get up to together?
PQ: Just chilling – chatting with each other and then we start planning what we’ll do that night.
VWS: Where do you like going out?
PQ: I’m a big fan of Hip Hop so any club playing Hip Hop, I’m there. Flex, Fluc…you know. Also, I love going to music festivals. I’ve been at the Frequency festival for the last 3 years in a row.
VWS: So, what’s your favourite spot in Vienna to ‘chill’ with friends?
PQ: When the weather’s good – Burggarten or at Karlsplatz – and when the weather’s no good, then my place. Also Stadtpark and the Prater Hauptallee.
VWS: So obviously Austria is very different to Iran, but can you tell us a little bit about how?
PQ: Well, first of all, in Austria I feel like I have a future. Plus, there’s of course racism in Vienna, but nothing compared to what I experienced in Iran. I find it cool here. In Iran I felt like I was inferior to many people, but here in Vienna, I don’t feel like that, generally.
VWS: What surprises, or has surprised you in Vienna?
PQ: The city, in general, surprised me. Also, how people use the city here, how they go out and spend time outside in the city. I remember back in Iran that, unless there was a festival happening, the streets were empty. When the sun’s out in Vienna there are always so many people on the street.
Also, I’m surprised about how people work here. In Iran I worked with my father from 6am until 10pm at night for very little cash. These are the common work hours in Iran. Here, it’s so different – you only work 8 hours AND you can have holidays from work.
VWS: so you were working before you were 10?!
PQ: Yeah, back in Iran I would work with my father who was a painter. I also sometimes worked in a fruit store, many days from 8am until 9:30pm at night.
VWS: What’s the biggest misunderstanding between Austrians and Ausländer?
PQ: I think most of the time it has something to do with religion. A small minority of people talk absolute rubbish on behalf of Muslims and then Austrians become scared of all Muslims.
When we explain the truth about what being a Muslim is really about, people don’t fear it.
Sometimes, there are also misunderstandings because of the language barrier. For example, when there’s a problem and the police turn up, the police will always take the side of the Austrian involved as the Ausländer can’t speak German as well as the Austrian.
Relations between police and Ausländer in Vienna is a real problem. I had a situation myself where I thought they were going to lock me up, but i ended up in hospital after I was hit by a policeman. After this, I was sent a 600 € fine for being a disturbance and swearing at the police. But i didn’t and so this pushed me over the edge and I took it to court. And I won the case – thankfully the judge believed me.
VWS: Wow! so how did you win?
PQ: I just told the truth. And said to the judge that if I did what they said I’d done, why don’t they just provide proof with the surveillance camera footage. It’s rare to win such court cases against police, but I did. Thankfully, the judge agreed with me. I’m sure others have had such experiences.
VWS: It’s incredible the stories you have at only 19.
PQ: Yeah, I guess. I’ve certainly had some experiences. I’ve slept and lived in so many different countries – Greece, Turkey, Germany and so on. And the good thing is now that I have friends from so many different countries.
VWS: What do you want to do in the future, Peyman?
PQ: I’d like to open a business, a proper Afghan restaurant in Vienna where you can eat real authentic Afghan food.
Good to know…this interview was conducted between two Ausländers in the German language and translated into English. What a crazy cool world we live in, right?!