A lot has happened. I’m no more an unknown expat but an unknown ex expat. I moved back to Germany and my life changed a lot: almost no more parties or weekly catch-ups, a freezing climate and a new job.
Here’s a short recap and what happened since the last post:
– visited Libanon one more time and enjoyed amazing food, good parties and relaxing times at the pool and the beach
Because of my job I had the opportunity to go to Tehran. The first time from Saturday to Tuesday and the second time from Monday til Wednesday.
Of course I had the usual impression that you get when you grew up or lived in a western country for a longer time:
Iran is not called Islamic republic of Iran for no reason: there is a religious leader who influences politics and regulations for daily live and law
Due to the relation to the US and the aggressive foreign policy especially under Ahmadinejad you get a very dark and frightful picture of the country: they want to erase Israel from the map and all American citizens are evil enemies.
Similar like on my trip to Pakistan, I had the chance to get a first hand impression.
First of all: there is a huge – extraordinary huge – discrepancy between the government + the religious leaders and the daily life of the people. Two examples:
Alcohol is forbidden in Iran and recently students have been sentenced to 79 whips because they had some booze when celebrating their graduation. And of course there is a delivery service for alcohol. They come to your home, open the trunk and then you chose. Whaaaat?!
Facebook is blocked (funnily only on wired internet connections, – some? – mobile internet connections don’t block it.). Same applies for the heavily censored tv channels – ever watched or only listened to a football game on an Iranian tv channel? There is barely any sound from the crowd in the stadium. So everyone gets western tv from satellites. Smells a little like the former GDR, right?
Now what I experienced during my visits: all (!) people that I have met are extremely friendly, open and have a very liberal mindset. Strangers on the street approach you and ask where you are from what you are doing in Tehran etc (and no, they are not from the Stasi).
I even participated at a “party”. The conversation went like this:
Hey you wanna join a party tomorrow? Drinks and shisha.
Well it’s not a real party, only a gathering of friends.
Well and the location is a little strange. It’s at a nursery.
Yeah, a friend of us is the owner and she invited some friends, we totally understand if you don’t want to join.
Sounds strange but I’d still love to join 🙂
… And yes, the nursery was full of children 😀
Some more quick facts:
Tehran has around 20 million people
It spans from 900m above sea level up to around 1,700m – and the mountains next to it go even up to 3,500m – skiing hooray!
It is a very green city, i.e. there are many trees, some parks etc. Still the smog can be quite bad, I guess mainly due to the extremely old cars.
Motorbike taxis are cool, cheap, roller coaster-like adrenalin levels are complementary.
Food is very good, fresh, mostly local and cheap!
Last but not least: don’t go to Iran. Honestly. Watch this video to see what you are not missing.
So on a Thursday, you would get invited by Indian friends who prepare the best Indian food you can imagine and are just great hosts. If you’re smart, you go to bed early and don’t drink any coke. If you’re not, then it makes the hike – and getting up – a little tougher.