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The Mystery of America

What I Learned and Love About this Country

Jalil Mortazavi

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2018 by Jalil Mortazavi

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I would like to dedicate this book to my daughter, Diana, who has brought me joy and love, and to my wife, Sara, who brought me Diana. Together, they made my house a home.

I would also like to express my special gratitude to my best friend and confidante, Carol Dennis. Through her unconditional love and patience, she taught me almost everything about America: its culture, customs, and values. My knowledge of holidays and everything that goes with them started in a town called Abington, Massachusetts. Carol and her family taught me how to live, love, and exercise patience.

I must also acknowledge Mr. Mehdi Nikpour, an engineer from Northeastern University. He used to take me to my eye doctors, where he interpreted for me. He also interpreted between me and the Fritz family, with whom I lived. Mehdi always encouraged me regarding my future.

I would also like to recognize Professor Mohammad Dadashzadeh, an engineer from MIT, who used to visit me on a weekly basis and teach me English.

I want to thank Bob Branco (Robert T. Branco), publisher of The Consumer Vision Magazine, for his valuable contribution of organizing my notes.

I would especially like to thank the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts, which granted me a full scholarship for 18 weeks so I could learn alternative techniques in order to become an independent blind person.

As for Mr. and Mrs. Fritz, they were very gracious to bring me into their home and look after me before sending me to the Carroll Center.

This is what I call the mystery of America, which is so great. Almost everyone I met was very helpful and accommodating, particularly during a time when I couldn’t speak a word of English.


Why did I write this book, and why should you bother to read it? After all, millions of books are available—not only in bookstores, but in libraries and as e–books as well. I might add that many of these books were written by very famous people. These books could be interesting, mediocre, or even dull. The major publishing companies tell us that they have lost millions of dollars that they invested in certain authors and their books. Knowing all of this, how did I have the nerve to write a second book? And why should you bother to read it? This is a fair question.

First of all, I am not looking for financial gain as a result of this book. If it happens, that will be gravy. Primarily, I am hoping to convey a message, to express gratitude for those Americans who helped me gain independence, knowledge, experience, and education without expecting anything in return. That’s why I can define the mystery of America. In every American success story I have read, the person’s success was made up of about 15% technical knowledge and about 85% human engineering and personality.

Simply put, how can we lead people? People who are quite successful in America know how to make others comfortable and arouse enthusiasm in them. This is another example of the mystery of America and what American greatness is all about.

In 1975, while in my late teens in my home country of Iran, I developed a detached retina due to a car accident. I went for two operations in the capital city, Tehran. But I was not entirely happy with the results, especially at night, when I couldn’t see that well. After considerable research with the help of family and friends, I sought a second opinion. I discovered a retina specialist who had been educated in Germany and had several years of experience working in German hospitals and eye clinics. He had returned to Iran two years earlier and was working in one of the well−known hospitals in Tehran. I made an appointment to see him in hopes of having further treatment. What happened in that doctor’s office changed my entire life, resulting in my moving to America.

As I was sitting in the examination chair, the doctor was questioning me about my eyes and what had happened to me, particularly the kind of operation I had in the past. There were two other young doctors standing a couple of feet away, huddled in conversation.

At that moment, a nurse came into the office carrying a young boy, approximately five or six years old. The boy’s eyes had patches over them. It appeared he had had an eye operation from the same doctor. The nurse was bringing him to see the doctor, and the doctor immediately stopped the conversation with me and attended to the child. As he was opening the boy’s eye patch, he was trying to make sweet talk with him. As I recall, the doctor told him what a good boy he was, how good−looking he was, and that he would give his daughter in marriage to the boy when he grew up. (It’s a very traditional culture.)

I sat there and listened to them. When those two younger doctors heard the discussion between this famous doctor and the little boy, one of them told the other in a condescending tone that this doctor must hate girls. I assume he meant that the boy would probably end up blind, and thus would not be good husband material, so the senior doctor must hate his own daughter if he could think of marrying her off to a blind man. When I heard this comment, I was shocked and upset. Imagine living in such a country, in a society that would allow such behavior, especially among doctors whose job it was to care for people with eye trouble.

I decided to leave my country, hoping to get my eyesight back before I returned. I sought another opinion from a doctor who was educated in the United States, specifically in Boston, Massachusetts. He recommended that I go to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston for further treatment. I felt that if I could get any positive results at all, it would be there.

At this point, I had never heard of Boston, and I had little knowledge of America. The only things I knew about the United States had to do with the moon landing, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, and Watergate.

With the help of many friends, I raised enough funds in order to go to the American embassy in Tehran and obtain a visa for six months. After I received my visa, I couldn’t help but think that it was God’s plan for me to go to the United States, do what I could in order to regain my vision, and then return home.

It was a cold, wintry day in January of 1976. I arrived at Logan International Airport at 2:30 in the morning. Naturally, the clinic wasn’t open that early. I didn’t have anywhere to go after the 12–hour flight, and I was tired. I decided to lie down in the airport near the radiator and go to sleep. When I woke up at 7:30 in the morning, the airport’s security officer helped me find the dining room for breakfast. He actually bought me breakfast, which consisted of scrambled eggs, home fries, a glass of orange juice, and a cup of coffee. I don’t know who the security officer was, but the breakfast he bought me was delicious.

After that, the security officer helped me find a cab and told the driver to take me to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. When I arrived at Mass Eye and Ear, they looked at my papers, my name, and appointment time. They couldn’t speak to me because of the language barrier. The nurse was much more prepared. She sent for someone from Iran who spoke Farsi. After several hours and a few necessary tests, I was admitted and shown to my room on the tenth floor.

After three weeks and two operations, my vision did not improve. My doctor suggested that I go to a rehabilitation school. While I was learning alternative techniques, he could see me again in six months.

During my stay in the hospital, everyone was very kind, helpful, and encouraging. They didn’t feel sorry for me, and I never sensed a condescending attitude. Even though my vision hasn’t gotten better, I compared the attitudes of the staff at Mass Eye and Ear with those two young doctors at the clinic in Tehran. As I said earlier, you can probably find many places, including Iran, where people possess a good amount of technical knowledge, which professionals such as doctors use in order to help us. However, for them to be truly outstanding at their jobs, a large part of their more general knowledge needs to be about attitude and behavior, how to handle people.

Many years ago, at the University of Chicago, a study was conducted about what adults wanted to do with their lives. This was a major study for the university, and it took two years to do it. They asked each person 152 questions, such as, “What is your occupation?” “What is your educational background?” “How do you spend your spare time?” “What kinds of hobbies do you have?” “What is your ambition?” “What kinds of problems are you experiencing?” and “If given the chance, what would you like to study?”

One of the most common things that this research revealed was that people wanted to learn how to get along with one another. They wanted to find out more about others, to learn how to make people like them, and to learn how they could make others feel better. In short, it was determined that the most important topic for a vast majority of the people who took the survey was human relations.

I discovered this myself when dealing with Americans and their attitudes toward me. It was very comforting to me during this difficult time in my life. I saw a huge difference in attitude between Americans and those doctors in Iran who were dealing with the little boy with eye trouble. This is not just a theory or an assumption. It was my own personal experience, and it made me feel good every day.

While I was in the hospital, there was a sign above my bed that said, “Patient is blind, does not speak English, but speaks Persian and Turkish.” One of the nurses at the hospital, who was a member of the Park Street Church in Boston, told my story at the church, to the director of an international group. His name was Joe, and he could speak several languages, including Turkish. He came to visit me in the hospital.

The day before I was released from Mass Eye and Ear, a man by the name of Joseph Sabounji came to see me. He was the director of the International Student Group and the host family of Park Street Church in Boston.

Joe greeted me in Turkish, which I know very well. We exchanged information about ourselves, and he told me that he wanted to introduce me to an American family. This family, who had expressed an interest in and knowledge of Middle Eastern culture, wanted to meet me. I felt the same way about them, so the day I was released from the hospital, Joe took me to his home first. As I sat at his kitchen table while he was preparing dinner for me and a couple of other friends, Joe was talking to me about my possible plans for the future. He told me there would be a time when I would go to school and get some training, becoming independent and more educated.

I said to myself, Joe must be a man of God since he works for the church. He’s saying something nice so he can make me happy. However, I didn’t believe him. How could I become all of the things he said if I was blind? I would need help every day.

After dinner, he took me to meet an American family in Brookline, Massachusetts, Mr. and Mrs. Fritz. They lived in a big house and had three little kids. They were both college professors, and they greeted me warmly, as if they had been expecting me. Mrs. Fritz asked me through Joe, the Turkish interpreter, what activities I liked and what kind of food I liked to eat.

Here I was, worrying about my future and what I would do for myself despite my blindness and other related problems. Nonetheless, they wanted to know what I liked to eat. It was another comforting part of my introduction to the American way.

An Iranian friend named Mehti Nikpour, who used to come to visit me at the Fritzes’ home and interpret for us, discussed my future plans for school. He also used to drive me to my other doctors’ appointments. Mehti always assured me that everything was going to be all right. He said, “Don’t worry that you can’t speak English now. There will be a time that you’re going to learn English so well that you will do better than all of us who interpret for you.”

Mehti was always so pleasant. He always tried to make me feel good, but I didn’t believe him, either. Joe told me I was going to become independent, while Mehti told me my English was going to be better than anybody else’s. Forty years later, I see that they were both right. This is another mystery of America.

Chapter One
What is the Mystery of America?

At this point, I would like to tell you a little more about myself and how I came to America. To summarize the above: After a car accident in my native Iran, I lost my eyesight. At the advice of my doctor, I came to America seeking further eye treatment. In January of 1976, I arrived at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear hospital in Boston, where I underwent two unsuccessful eye surgeries. At my doctor’s recommendation, I went for rehabilitation services. He wanted to see me every six months in order to determine whether additional surgery was necessary. In the meantime, I would be relearning many techniques of daily life in order to become independent as a blind person. As I say quite often, “I lost my eyesight in Iran, but after I came to America, I gained insight.”

Though I couldn’t speak a word of English, Americans were always very helpful. At times they made decisions for me in order to make my life better.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, I often heard Donald Trump say that he wanted to make America great again. This statement seemed odd, because I always thought America was great. Having come from Iran, and having been to numerous other countries as well as America, I have many countries and cultures to compare America to. Most Americans don’t have anything to compare their country with, since they are so used to what they see here and have never traveled outside the United States.

I related above that a nurse at the Mass Eye and Ear hospital was a member of the Park Street Church in Boston. Another member of the church visited me at the hospital, and after I was released, I was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Fritz. They were members of this same church.

The Fritzes had three children, lived in Brookline, and were both college professors. They welcomed me into their home and were so wonderful to me. Mrs. Fritz, a graduate school professor at Boston University, taught rehabilitation nursing. She tried hands–on training with me, since this was my only possible method of learning. I learned how to operate a cooking stove, a dishwasher, and other appliances in the house. I also learned orientation. Her ultimate goal was to make me as independent in the house as possible.

This was my first experience with an American family—which, in my opinion, was great! The Fritzes’ three children were twin girls, who were two and half years old, and a boy of three and a half years. As I became more familiar with the English language, I was able to become their babysitter. Mrs. Fritz seemed to have more confidence in me to take care of her children than I did in myself, being blind. In addition, she always asked one of my friends to interpret for me, so that I could start learning the language and become more self–sufficient. Mrs. Fritz was trying very hard to be nice to me. I could hardly believe the extent of her kindness and thoughtfulness. So if Mrs. Fritz’s efforts aren’t classified as great, then what is?

One day, before Mrs. Fritz left for work, she told me that she would be detained in the afternoon. Therefore, she wanted me to pick the kids up from school, bring them home, and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for them before she came home to make dinner.

I said, “Who, me? I can’t see where I’m going. I don’t know my way around, and I can’t speak English well enough to explain something to someone so they’ll understand me.”

Insisting that I not worry about it, Mrs. Fritz handed me a piece of paper. She had already called the taxi, and it would arrive at the house at 12 noon. I was to hand the cabdriver the paper, which would inform him where to take me. The teacher would bring the kids to the cab, and the driver would bring me back to the house. Even though I was nervous, I didn’t tell Mrs. Fritz that. I knew that she was a college professor and a mother of three. If she thought I could do it, it must be so. I followed her instructions, and I successfully managed to bring the kids back home. After I made sandwiches for them, I sat down and thought about what had just happened. If people have more confidence in you than you have in yourself, eventually you will build up more self–esteem. So tell me, isn’t this a great America? How can you make America great again if it already is great?

After learning more English and getting to where I could carry on conversations, even though my grammar was still a bit weak, Mrs. Fritz decided that it was time for me to get some rehabilitation training in order to learn more alternative techniques. She decided to take me to the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts in order to explain my situation and my background. They accepted me for 18 months of training. Since I didn’t have a penny to my name, the Carroll Center granted me a scholarship of $300 a week. This was a lot of money at the time, and teachers there were not making that much money per week. I met lots of students from different parts of the country who went for the same training. Some were better off than I was in terms of their eyesight, while others were not. Some were diabetic and were taking insulin. The teachers had to work extra hard for me because of my language barrier. They had to explain things by using more examples.

Today I apply everything that I learned at the training center and elsewhere in America. I realized when I was at the Carroll Center that I would likely be blind for the rest of my life. Of course I didn’t like that eventuality. I was somewhat depressed, especially when my mobility instructor introduced me to the cane. I knew from my years as a sighted individual that the white cane represents blindness. However, I met someone named Dick Reel, who taught extrasensory perception. Dick was a very nice guy and a psychologist by training, very likable and knowledgeable. Everyone I know enjoyed his class. I told him that I hated to carry a cane outside, and he said with a smile, “There will be a time when you will not be without your cane.” I didn’t believe that, and told him such.

One day, Dick brought me to a large wall, three feet wide and 15 feet high. He proceeded to bring me to the top, then asked me to walk along it. I checked it out. It was certainly wide enough to walk on, so Dick took the cane away from me and told me that the wall was 40 feet long. Well, I didn’t think I could walk without a cane.

I was appalled by Dick’s action. “Are you nuts?” I asked. “I might fall.”

“I thought you didn’t like the cane,” Dick replied. Thus he proved by example that there would be a time when I wouldn’t want to be without a cane. Gradually, the cane became a necessity in my life. So there was another example of wisdom and its practical application.

When I was at the Carroll Center, we used to have a volunteer who provided recreation and social activity for the students, including trips to malls and restaurants. During one of our activities, I met a woman by the name of Carol Dennis, who became one of my best friends. Being that I spoke with an accent, everyone thought it was cute. As a result, I was getting more attention than any other student. Carol taught me everything about American culture. I visited her parents’ home, where I learned all about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other American traditions. Whatever I learned from them has affected my life.

One day when Carol came to pick me up from the Carroll Center, she brought me to her home, so I could meet her family. While she was driving, she handed me a bottle of Coke. I still remember that it was actually made out of glass. I opened the cap and started drinking, and I threw the cap out the window. She immediately stopped the car, and I said, “What are you doing?”

She said, “You’re not supposed to throw things out.” She found the cap and put it in a bag that she had in her car.

I tried to use the excuse that we were on a highway, but that didn’t matter. If everybody throws things out, the towns, cities, and roadsides will become dirty. Since then, her statement has stuck with me. I never threw anything on the ground again; I always looked for a trash can. This is another example of why America is so great and leads by example.

With Carol’s help, I applied to Bridgewater State University, majoring in communications. The school provided me with readers and tutors. The professors always took extra time to give me tests individually in their offices. Eventually, I received my bachelor’s degree, as well as my master’s, for which I am very grateful.

The university gave me the opportunity to be quite active with the student body. I became a spokesman for an international student association. Throughout my college years, international students used to have big parties and invite all the students and faculty members for dinner and dancing. The students used to prepare international food. I was master of ceremonies. I used to make fun of some of the professors, who joked about their own performance, and everyone loved it. Some of the professors encouraged me to continue with this. This is where I learned that Americans have a sense of humor. This is another example of how great America is.

My experience as a public speaker encouraged me to the point where I appeared on many radio stations as Jalil the Mystic. We received hundreds of phone calls from listeners, asking me to evaluate their futures. This program was so successful that I ended up hosting a weekend talk show on WTTP 1060 AM (now WQOM 1060 AM) for several months. Later on, I worked for a theatre group called Theatre of the Senses. This is where I learned how to be an actor. People always encouraged me and gave positive feedback. I remember that after one of the performances, a member of the audience approached the director, praising my acting ability. She was talking about the man who was playing the part of Apel (me). She added that I did very well with the accent and stayed in character throughout the performance. Little did she know that this was my own accent. The director started laughing, along with everyone else. This is another example of America being great. Through the encouragement given to me by many people, I gained more confidence in myself and my talents.

Later on, I landed a full time job at WBZ–TV in Boston, working for General Services at the front desk. When I had my interview with their manager, one of the issues that concerned him was how I would get to work every day as a blind employee. Prior to my interview, while with my mobility instructor, I learned all about the neighborhood. I was introduced to the public transportation system and other resources that I needed to know in order to get to my job. Given my new knowledge, I told the manager that there were three ways I could get to work. First, I could take the train, transfer to a bus, and walk to work in only three minutes after getting off the bus. Second, I could take the RIDE (accessible transportation). In an emergency situation, all I needed to do was take a cab, which was only a 10–minute ride. He was impressed with my self–confidence, and he hired me. So this is another example of how great America is.

After working at WBZ for several months, I got to know some of the radio and television personalities. One of the TV reporters told me about a job opportunity for me in the Federal Court, as an Iranian interpreter. Since my work at WBZ was 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and the Federal Court was open during the day, I could do both. The job at the court involved an Iranian man who had a business office in Turkey. He came to the United States and tried to purchase illegal weapons for Iran. He knew that these weapons shouldn’t be purchased for Iran; however, he was trying to bribe Raytheon officials. Little did he know that the FBI was involved, and that resulted in his arrest.

Given that he couldn’t speak English, the Court wanted a Persian interpreter. I immediately applied for this job in Boston and learned that it paid quite well. Until that point, I had never made that kind of money. For fewer than four hours of work, they would pay me $110. For more than four hours of work, they would pay $210. The Court hired me. However, the prosecuting attorney objected and told the judge that I had no license to interpret. The judge said otherwise, being that Persian, or Farsi, as they call it in Iran, is not a common language in the Boston area. Luckily, I was hired. Isn’t this a great America?

Meanwhile, I got to know the man that I was supposed to interpret for. He was 64 years old. Because of the confidentiality of the Court, I will not mention his name. He had come to Boston in an attempt to purchase very sensitive missile weapons illegally, hoping that he would bribe the seller and make a lot of money. He was quite surprised to find out that a blind man from Iran lived in Boston by himself and was so independent and self– sufficient that the United States Federal Court had hired him to interpret for him.

He took pity on me due to what had happened to my eyes, and he expressed how it must be difficult for me to go through life without sight, especially in a strange country. I assured him that it wasn’t so hard. I explained that I took training and learned alternative techniques. Consequently, I am just as happy as the guy next door. When he insisted how hard it must be for me, I told him that my situation couldn’t be any more difficult than his own, where he got caught and would most likely be spending time behind bars. His future was in the hands of a judge, while I was on the other side, translating his story to the lawyer. Of course he didn’t know that I knew a great deal about his secret deal, which the FBI had recorded through his telephone conversations among himself, his son, and others involved.

I didn’t want to tell him that based on what I heard and translated for the Court about his crooked deals, his son was trying to screw his dad on the price, and Dad tried to screw the Iranian government, demanding different prices. In short, he was trying to pull a fast one, but he felt sorry for me! He was trying to comfort me. Later on, after he was convicted and after he had been in jail for almost a year, the judge recognized that he was trying to make money, but from the wrong deal. Therefore, he ordered him to be deported. He was lucky that the judge didn’t want to punish him any further. This is a great example of American justice.

I have been using public transportation in Massachusetts a lot. I am very fond of the MBTA and its employees. Every time I’ve met them at the bus station, subway, or commuter train, they’ve been very cordial and supportive.

One day I got off the train at South Station and tried to slowly find my way inside. I was very careful, because there was a track to my left and one to my right which was six feet deep. Suddenly a man walked up to me, identifying himself as Michael Dukakis. He asked if he could help me, and I said, “Are you THE Michael Dukakis? The man who was not only the ex–Governor of Massachusetts, but also a presidential candidate for the Democratic Party?” At the time, he was also the head of Amtrak.

He said, “Yeah, that’s me.”

I said, “Governor, it’s about time that you helped me. I voted for you twice.” He laughed, and of course he helped me get inside the train station. Now you tell me, isn’t America great?

Another American institution that I love is the US Postal Service. If I need to do any paperwork or handle packages, the postal clerks always lend a helping hand. They are also very friendly folks. One day, as I was coming out of the post office in my neighborhood in Brookline, a young girl approached me and alerted me to the fact that my sneakers were untied. She offered to tie them. Although I expressed my appreciation to her for her offer, I told her that I could tie my sneakers myself. She insisted, so finally, I politely let her do it. She knelt down in front of me and tied my shoes. She said, “Now I feel better, because I was afraid you might tangle with your feet and fall.” We exchanged pleasantries, and then she left. Now you tell me, isn’t America great?

Finally, I want to leave you with this. In my neighborhood, there was a small fruit store about three blocks away from my house. Since I am a big fruit and vegetable eater, I used to go there twice a week in order to purchase my fresh fruits and vegetables. A man by the name of Sam was the manager of the store, and we soon became good friends. We used to tease each other all the time.

One morning I went to the store. As soon as I walked in, Sam jokingly said, “Jay, it’s you again. What is it that you’re looking for today?”

I jokingly said, “Sam, if I had a hundred dollars today, I would be set for life.”

There was a woman at the cash register checking out. She turned around and said, “That’s all you need, a hundred dollars?”

I said yes.

She took a hundred dollars out of her wallet and handed it to me. Sam started laughing. I told the lady that Sam and I were joking, and that I didn’t need money.

She said, “No, I’m serious. If you need it, I’ll be glad to give it to you.”

I thanked her politely and also told her that I surely appreciated her kindness, even though I didn’t need money. Now you tell me. If this is not Great America, what is?

Chapter Two
The Mystic and You

How I came up with the concept of naming my book The Mystery of America is a mystery in itself. Back in the late 1970s and early ’80s, while I was studying to get my BA degree in communications and journalism with a minor in government, I used to hang around in the library as well as in the cafeteria. I used to get involved in conversations with students about different topics. Often, these were subjects we were studying. Of course, we offered an opinion in a matter of minutes; we had an answer for everything. The discussion about the Soviet Union and American affairs took several minutes.

One of the presentations I had to do in class required the showing of a film. In those days, in order to show a film, you needed a projector, and you had to be able to know how to use reel–to–reel film. I wanted to learn how to do that myself, independently, as a blind person. I was told by someone on the college library staff that I had to take some lessons in order to use that machine. Therefore I had to see Dr. Glenn, the library’s department head, who lent such machines to the students. After I discussed with him why I needed to borrow a projector, Dr. Glenn looked at me and said, “I admire your confidence, Jalil, but I have tried to teach some sighted people how to run this machine, and some of them couldn’t do it. Since you insist, I’m willing to teach you.”

First, Dr. Glenn showed me the projector, so that I could familiarize myself with its features. He gave me hands–on training. He taught me how to feed the film into the machine and how to turn it on and off. More importantly, I learned how to track the film from one reel to another. It took an hour, and I had to demonstrate twice from beginning to end. He said, “I knew you could do it.” He let me borrow the machine. After I completed my assignment for the class, I returned the machine to Dr. Glenn and thanked him not only for teaching me, but for having confidence in me. Later on, we became friends. Dr. Glenn had quite a sense of humor.

I am trying throughout this book to emphasize the three most important things which characterize Americans: respect for human dignity, a spirit of volunteerism, and a sense of humor. Dr. Glenn demonstrated all three, especially his sense of humor. Not only did Dr. Glenn become very comfortable with blind people, but he even felt comfortable enough to tease me from time to time.

Many of the students used to come to discuss personal problems with me. Some had had a bad childhood. Some had family problems. Others were pondering taking certain courses and were wondering whether to take them with easier or more demanding professors. I did my best to help them. I first asked questions about their family backgrounds, their relationships with their brothers and sisters, and family dynamics. After finding out all of that, I gave them some advice to ease their minds. I always used humor, which they enjoyed. Many of them told me that I had hit the nail on the head. This went on and on, to the point where they all thought I had some special power. Obviously, what was actually happening was that I was simply listening to them and was not afraid to provide some advice and judgment calls.

One day I was visiting the family of one of my classmates. She told her family that I knew everybody’s problems and always came up with some very helpful advice. After her father talked to me extensively about the kinds of things I had done, he asked me how I came up with these answers. I told him that I really didn’t know. I thought it was common sense.

He told me I must be a mystic. I didn’t know what the word meant. He explained that I should call a radio station about being on a talk show, calling myself “Jalil the Mystic.” And that’s exactly what I did. I followed his advice because I loved being on the radio. I became a popular guest on many different radio talk shows, such as WHDH, WRKO, WBZ, WCVB TV Channel 5, WBET, WTTP, WROR, WEEI, and the American Radio Network, out of Baltimore, Maryland. Every time I was on these shows, the phone lines were jammed. People wanted to know about themselves and wanted answers to their questions.

Finally, I thought I could have my own show. The opportunity came, and I hosted a two–hour weekly show every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to noon on WTTP 1060 AM (as mentioned above, that’s now WQOM 1060 AM). So this is how I got on the air, and the people used to call me, not only on the radio, but off the air as well. They sought my advice and sent me donations. They also often included thank−you notes. Below are some of those edited notes. That’s how The Mystic and You became the title of my show. Furthermore, that’s how the idea for the title of my book came to me: The Mystery of America. This is the only country where this can happen.

Editor’s Note

The following are some of the many notes that the author received from people who appreciated his advice. All pieces of personal information—names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, mentions of any specific illnesses or other complaints, travel destinations, etc.—have been removed. The senders have been identified only by the initials of their first names. The author’s only purpose in including these notes is to show some of the typical words of appreciation that he received.

Besides removing the above–mentioned personal information, I have edited the notes just slightly in the interest of consistency, such as listing the dates in a consistent manner. The several notes at the end of the list did not have dates attached.

The author and I wish to thank Rosemary Brown, of Denver, Colorado, for her work transcribing the contents of the handwritten notes into a Word file, which I then edited.

—Leonore Dvorkin


February 15, 1985

Dear Sir:

Enclosed is the donation for answering my four questions last Saturday morning: about my health, if I’m going to do any traveling soon, if you see a change of residence for me, and will I win in the lottery.




March 15, 1985

Thank you, Jalil, for trying to help.

I will let you know how we make out.

If you ever get anything more for me, let me know. Always be proud of your gift. If God gives us a gift, He wants us to use it.

Good luck,



March 23, 1985

Dear Jalil,

Thank you for trying to help me; it was good talking to you anyway.

I am sending a little something to say thanks.



March 29, 1985

Thank you, Jalil, for speaking to me yesterday morning.

Also you were so gracious, refusing to tell me that I should have called another time.

Thanks again,



April 3, 1985

Dear Mr. Mortazavi,

I am very interested in what you do.

If there’s a book that describes your gift, would you please send the title in the enclosed self-addressed envelope?

Or perhaps there’s been a write-up about you in a magazine?

Also, if you’re scheduled to be on a future radio or TV show, can you give me the date?

Thank you.




April 13, 1985

Dear Jalil,

Sorry I’m late with your money. I have been quite short lately. If you could possibly tell me, should I keep playing the lottery? Will I hit? Or could you give me a good number?

Thank you,


P.S. I hope you will answer this small request.


April 15, 1985

Dear Mr. Mortazavi,

I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness and kind understanding in regard to my problem.

I want to wish you the best of luck.

Thanks so very much,



April 16, 1985

Dear Jalil,

Please answer my letter. I appreciate talking to you. I hope you are right about what you told me. You said you did not know about [names a medical condition]. You can ask someone who has it. Maybe you can understand it. I hope I don’t have heart trouble, either. I am very nervous also. I need all the help I can get.

Let me hear from you.

I will call you after I see my doctor.

Pray for me,



April 22, 1985

Mr. Mortazavi,

I am enclosing $5.00 in thanks for your taking the time to answer some of my questions. Sorry this was a little late in reaching you.

I am the woman from F., and my name is K. Thank you and please pray for me.


April 23, 1985

Dear Jalil,

I forgot to ask you when your birthday is, so I can send you a card. Month and day.



I will write you the first of May.


April 28, 1985

Dear Jalil,

Here is my kitty. Hope you like her. I have not found my ring yet.

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