Amin Sabzevari dreams for a better life

Amin Sabzevari immigrated from Iran, Katherine Huitema a Calgary Journal writer met Sabzevari through her father. Here is his story.

When my dad, who works with Sabzevari, first introduces me, I am quite surprised. I was expecting a man in a business suit, with tired looking eyes, maybe from working long hours. Instead, I am introduced to a man with a big smile and a sparkle in his eye. Pictures of his daughter line his office walls and the sun pours in from a large window that covers the back wall of his office.

He tells me that his daughter is six and a half. In April, it will be eight years that Sabzevari and his wife Sepideh have lived in Calgary.

In this way, Sabzevari had to change his original plans, he was only planning on staying for a couple years before moving on to his next destination.

However, changing plans is part of life.

“I bought a house which is a little bit of a surprise to people who know me because it means commitment. But I did it just because I felt that for my daughter, it is the best thing to do,” says Sabzevari.

Sabzevari, now 45, was born in Shiraz, a city in Iran with a population of 1.4 million in 2011.

Sabzevari tells me that growing up his bedroom was full of various maps of countries his dad brought back from his travels.

“My dad is a world traveler. Last time I asked him how many countries he’s visited a couple of years ago, he said bring the map. He started counting and it turned out to be 72.”Amin and his wife enjoyed traveling to Koh Sumui Island, Thailand in 2005.

Photo courtesy of Amin Sabzevari

Sabzevari’s father was a professor at the University of Shiraz, the same place where Sabzevari got his mechanical engineering degree. Growing up, his father traveled to different cities presenting various papers.

“I was brought up in a different environment full of pieces from different countries, different languages, different people, books and books about different places in the world.”

Despite growing up in this different environment, his brother and sister did not fall in love with traveling as much as he did.

Sabzevari met his wife when he was 21 and then they married nine years later. It was at that time they decided to move to Tehran, the capital city of Iran, for more opportunity.

Unfortunately, he did not feel at home in Tehran.

“[It’s a] huge crowded city, bad pollution, bad traffic unlike my home town Shiraz that everything is in the slow and relaxed pace, Tehran is just rush, rush, rush all the time.” Sabzevari says.

In 2003, Sabzevari got a job offer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was there for four years, and describes it as the best four years of his life.

The way he talks about the city makes me want to just drop everything and jump on a plane. To be quite honest I didn’t know much about the city before I did a little bit of Internet searching.

The first images I saw were gorgeous and Sabzevari seemed to agree with my conclusion.

“It’s very colourful, very high tech, modern city. They have rain everyday and it makes the city super clean. Their nightlife is amazing, the food, the people … it’s a very friendly environment. “

Despite these being the best years of his life, Sabzevari and his wife decided to come to Canada.

After a long pause, he admits that he expected Calgary to be greener.

“Although the weather is not good, weather is one element of the package,” he continues.

Sabzevari’s daughter was born here in Calgary so it is a very important city for him and they will stay here as long as she needs.

“As long as she is enjoying and receiving good education, there’s not point to go anywhere.”

Sabzevari’s upbringing had a lot to do with the person he is today.

“My dad always taught me to think independently and not follow the crowd,” he says. “My mom really taught me how to love and how to be positive and not give up from what you want.”

That is the lesson that Sabzevari applies to his life today and positive was one of the words co-worker Kaveh Ainee used to describe his first impression of him.

Although it took seven years to get his Canadian Citizenship, Sabzevari still has a glass half-full outlook.

“Sometimes at that moment you are mad or angry or upset about something and sometimes you look back and think how stupid I was, everything will be fine. You just do your best and things just happen the way you want,” he says.

Amin Sabzevari enjoys the sun shining into his office on Feb.18

Photo by Katherine Huitema

Things do work out in the end; Sabzevari now enjoys having a Canadian passport because now the possibilities of travel are endless. Before, he would have to get a Visa for most countries that he wanted to go to.

Here in Calgary, he works at Keywest Projects as Manager of the Mechanical Engineering Team.

Mohsen Hemmati met Sabzevari at a business party almost three years ago.

“He doesn’t like idle living,” says Hemmati.

This reflects Sabzevari’s traveling philosophy.

“I don’t go anywhere to rest. I like to go somewhere, take my backpack, walk around, eat where the locals eat and go where there are beautiful things to see.”

Eating and traveling are other things Sabzevari is passionate about.

Sabzevari tried frog legs in Kaula Lumpur, which is one of the weirdest things he’s ever tried.

“My friend said we should go eat something different. So I tried it and I liked it, tasted like chicken.”

When I asked where he would go next after his daughter is old enough, he paused.

“I don’t know he said. I’m really obsessed by Asian culture and food and people. So China would be one option. Calgary is my fourth city and it most probably won’t be my last,” he says with a smile.

khuitema@cjournal.ca