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.