Introducing more structure to the blog with corners:
As a prequel to this episode, I will introduce more structure. I have already left Iran when I write these lines, so I can now look back to a bigger variety of cultures, so I will compare them in corners about specific issues I found in all that countries. So maybe you will hear in newer episodes even more about the older places I have visited. I know that I travel through countries of all the three worlds (I don’t like this expression, but it comes in handy) and even so called “Tiger states” which are countries on the jump to another level in this picture of the three worlds. The phrase Tiger states was developed to describe the economical growth in the countries of South East Asia, but used today for all countries that have such a uprise of GDP. This all makes it hard to compare them, but still I think, this is useful for a foreigner to understand the countries. A lot of things – the wast majority is just normal and not worth mentioning if you stick to the terms of this society. But for every foreigner from a different culture and level this differences – comparable or not – stand out like mountains in a plain veldt. And it is important to mention this points, if you traveling to this countries to be prepared.
Let’s start the episode:
The morning started very nice. When I came out of the shower, I saw Saman getting a massage from Hojjat. What should I say, I laid myself next to Saman and asked for a Massage. And I got it. Yeah, it has its advantages to backpack to places with a very hospitality environment.
I also get used to eat on the ground. It is like pick nick – each day. So the breakfast was fine. Tea, persian bread, cheese, scrambled egg, honey and a spacial sweet for the bread. The Persian people like it sweet – for sure.
But enough for this morning prequel. The most important part is: I became a millionaire today! How come? We went down to the AIESEC office in the university. After a bit surfing in the net Ali Raiser took me to one of the view places were I could get money with my credit card.
Time for the money corner:
I write this after I already left the country and can give you now the full information about this issue. Iran has the money Rial, which you hardly can get abroad. Not in Germany for sure. They take US-Dollar, but they tend to give you a bad change rate. Euro are fine. In Teheran you are supposed to bring cash along. A lot of cash. I didn’t because I had not enough when I started my trip and I also don’t like to carry a lot of cash with me. Iran is different. If you not earn money there in an internship, you need to bring Euro for your hole stay to change it. It’s not a problem to change money somewhere, but it is hard to find a place, where you can transfer money to Iran. Or even use a credit card. This is something which not only me experienced, but also the AIESEC intern, that stays here since 7 month. She flies home to Canada every few month and bring cash along, because she doesn’t earn a lot here. The problem is that Iran is cut of from them international trade in a lot of ways. Especially in the case of money transfer. So if you have no cash like me, the charge you an awful lot on the very few place you can get money. I was charged 50%. So I asked for 100€ and had to pay 50€ for the transfer. Actually I asked for a 150€ and they subtracted the fee directly from the amount of money I asked for, due to an translation mistake. In the the end it was good to get only 100€. This is a story for another episode, but I will tell you what the other problem with the Iran currency is – You can’t get rid of it. Don’t carry it outside the country. Change it if necessary at the end of your trip, but don’t take it abroad. In my naivety I carried about 60€ in Rial with me to India and no bank will change it for you. Also not in other countries. F***. Now I have worthless paper with the beautiful face of Imam Khomeini. Take care.
By the way, because the Rial is not much worth, they think about introducing a new currency soon. So I have to find a way to spend it or change it.
Back to the episode. After I had my 100€ it was more than a million! I got a really big stack of notes, even if they have printings like 20,000 or 50,000 Rial on it. Baby, I am rich! First time millionaire in my life.
Away from the curse of money to daily problems of life in Teheran. The chicken situation came up. We was late for lunch in the university and had today was the only meal a chicken with rice and sauce. Because we was late, there
The proof: there was chicken!
By the way, this gesture means in Iran “F*** Y**!”
was no chicken left. The General totally freaked out. She can be very harsh. After she screamed a bit around, and about two or three people in the kitchen died, we got a tin can with tuna instead – the chicken of the sea. Anyway, chicken tastes a bit like everything. Even like snake or maybe tuna. 🙂 Finally I found my chicken in the in the sauce – a tiny little bone, with a tiny bit of flesh on it. Hmmmm. I guess I mentioned, that the girls bring along there own food.
Todays duty was a trip to the city. The general directly gave us something to I had to look for a ticket with the bus to Esfahan, the pearl of Persia. After we bought the tickets for me an Mohammed who suggested that trip and wanted to come with me, I had the pleasure of a subway ride in Teheran. The subway entrance near the bus station is at the most ridiculous you could imagine. We went around the very big bus port and walked along a six lane street with no sidewalk outside of the city. After about 500 meter over the bridge to the motor-way along the city there was a zebra crossing on the street which leads from one motor-way to the other and cars with high speed came around the curve to the lower motor-way. We stand now in the middle of a motor-way crossing. “Are we still on the right way?” Ali Raiser was not sure, but he pushed me forward. The other side of the zebra crossing had not even sidewalk but little fence at the side of the motor-way. After climbing over it and walking for a nother 500 meters, there was suddenly in the middle of nowhere outside of the Teheran the entrance of the subway! Who planned this? It really looked like the just digged upwards, an then decided to build a staircase instead of digging another entrance closer to the city. The subway itself is very modern and also not very old. Just about 7 or 8 years now. They have three Subway-lines and they build two more at the moment. Because of the rocky area in the north of Teheran, this side of the City has no Subway yet. It is harder to build it there. Also there is the problem with the water from the mountains. Anyway, the subway was cheap and brought us easily to downtown, where all the markets where.
In the city center there are streets which specializes in specific goods you could buy there. So there are modern shopping malls in other parts of the city, but in this area it is still old fashioned. There are rows after rows of small shops and narrow side streets with lively, busy, hectic, loud bargaining and trading people. For sure I done videos about this to catch the atmosphere. Look out for this most likely after my trip – to busy yet to produce it. Motorbikes all over the place – the Persians love to ride crazy on their motorbikes. Fuel is just too cheap here and the bike squeeze through the traffic jams. After the street with the tools, the street with electric goods, we came to a famous side street, which is called the arabic street. This street is special. The buildings are old, but in a really good condition. The most houses and sidewalks in the city are in a not so good condition, and historical buildings are often in a very bad condition like ruins. At the moment there is a new renovation program in Teheran – close to local elections and the elections for the president are just in four month time. Back to arab street: Here you got most likely perfumes from the arab immigrants. The hole street smells sweet and nice. This was the moment, when I recognized, that the rest of Teheran smells like a dirty pit of oil and gas. I remembered Samans quote “Teheran is one of the ten best polluted cities in the world.” Yeah it is! Back on the main street I start to feel a itch in my throat. Suddenly I noticed that a few people, like policemen or other people working on the streets wear often a filter mask for the air. I started coffin from time to time and remembered the advise to drink a lot. Wonder oh wonder, drinks are in the streets of the inner city more expensive than food. Anyway the street food here was not recommended to me.
Downtown I reached my first mosque in Teheran and the Bazar around. It seems, that it is always that way. Where there is a mosque, there are trading places around. The mosque was not so big and under renovation and we was in need to find shops with pots for the general. So we moved on. The Bazar war a great experience. It was ten times more lively than the streets and anyway it was a system of streets with a roof over it and staircases like a labyrinth of a thousand small shops. Wonderful. I am not into shopping, but this is definitely the place for it. Anyway not for really important stuff, because you most likely get cheap things here, which are of not so good quality, but for a tourist it is good, because you can get nice things for a low price. The traders of Teheran don’t face a lot of tourists here. Outside the Bazar we found a street where they sold most likely pots and we found what the general needed. It got dark and so it was time for us to go back.
Back in the university I met Mohammed. We had to wait a bit for him, so I shared a meal with a girl in the office.
Yeah this is a important travelers notice! From my first flirting with the girls in the office I have to report that it is like in all countries: The more intelligent women tend to be more shy and therefore hard to get. From later experience I can tell this not so true for the women with a lot of make up in their face. In Iran the girls have to wear – Muslim or not – a scarf around their head to cover their hair, and a piece of cloth to cover their upper body to the hips. The women in Iran struggled always with this rules. So most likely you see the half of the hair under the loose scarf and instead of a traditional upper body cloth they wear fashionable jackets and coats or long pullovers. Anyway the most clothes are so tight, that they cover the body, but show more shape, then if they would wear just a t-shirt. The face is for the most of them then the perfect projection platform to show how beautiful they are. Therefore they use A LOT of make up. In Germany this would look strange. Only people in a theatre, show or professional women have so a lot of make up in their faces. It seems make up must be also cheap here like fuel. So if you meet such a women, with a lot of make up and tight cloth, this is worth a flirt. For sure it is a country where the women supposed to stay virgin until marriage and often they fix it with a divorce and another marriage. But like all traditional countries where you don’t talk a lot about sex, they have it more likely more often then in countries like Germany which are oversexed. So don’t think there is nothing going on! They can’t drink – in public 🙂 – but they have fun anyway. But to give the proper picture. There are also – rarely – very traditional women, which also cover their full body with cloth. Easy to tell, that you are not supposed to talk to them, but again, rarely seen in Teheran.
Mohammed was downstairs busy with a beautiful girl. After some jokes about him flirting with this girl I found out it was his sister. Bad for him, good for me. They took me in their car to their house. Again I had all my luggage with me. We stopped by a street dinner and picked up my first Iran fast food. It was a sandwich like a french baguette and Coke like all around the world. But mine one had a special meat, which I was not told in the first place.
We came to Mohammed’s house and was in a bit of a hurry. We had not much time to eat, because we was late for the bus. So I just was warmly welcomed by his parents and then showed around in the flat. My impression from the flats in Teheran so far is, that the love Persians love to have a spacey living room which starts from the entrance door. It doesn’t matter if it is a rich person with a lot of other rooms, or just a middle class one with a small flat. The living room is the center of life in the flat/house. Suddenly a beautiful women appeared and now I know, it makes a difference if girls wear a scarf. His sister really changed with her open hair. So in general, if you are considered as a friend, the women don’t wear something to cover her hair. If you are just a guest, they still have to wear the scarf also in the house, as long as you stay.
But it was really good. I had a second one on another day and I loved it.
We also took the time for a last joke before we left. Mohammed is the man with the biggest typical “arab” nose I have ever seen. He thinks of my the same. So we had a comparison of our noses with a proof photo I place here. So now I know for sure, there is someone out there with a bigger nose. Anyway in Germany we say “Die Nase eines Mannes, ist wie sein Johannes.” If you have trouble to translate this, ask a German or leave a comment 🙂
Finally the bus station to Esfahan. We bought our tickets today and could jump right into the bus. We was pretty late. I got a box of food – most likely sweets and ready mixed coffee powder. The bus was a regular travel bus and will bring us in about seven hours to Esfahan in the middle of Iran – again, we are up north in Teheran. It’s a big country with lots to see. The bus ticket was buy the way a bit difficult with no help from locals. The taxi drivers speak most likely a bit english and the subways have english names and its easy to buy a ticket, but at the bus station everything is in Farsi. That means arab letters from left to right. So I couldn’t read anything on my ticket. Not even the numbers. I always thought our numbers came from the Arab. This might be true that we was influenced by that, but just inspired, not copied the numbers. If you look carefully, you could see a lot of similarities between European numbers and Arab numbers, they use in Farsi as well. But at the moment I just had no clue at all.
Just to mention it. The Persian people are really nice. Even random people was happy to meet a tourist – it’s not so common. Anyway the was very welcoming. The only annoying thing is, as soon as I tell them, that I am from Germany, the ask me about a famous Iran football player in Germany. I HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT FOOTBALL! Not all Germans are into it! I don’t care about football – and by the way I drink wine! Not beer! O.k. It seems there is football player in a club in Frankfurt, which is famous here and from Teheran or Iran in general. Leave a note if you want to help me out with this topic.
I was especially annoyed because everybody in Africa asked me if I know that Kenyan football player in Hamburg in the HSV. I guess it was in this club, but again, I DON’T CARE ABOUT FOOTBALL! So if you know the names of this two players, just tell the world in the comment I nobody bother me any longer with football…
So I am on my way to Esfahan and close for now.