Day #18 Slow start, Office trouble, Sauna night

Teheran at night from the mountains
Early in the morning we drove through Esfahan to the bus station. My host was a crazy driver and we came right in time to catch the seven hour bus back to Teheran. Another long trip with a lot of Movies in Farsi about love. I slept the most time, but I woke up early enough to see the mountains growing around the highway, while we came closer to Teheran.

One of the most funny thing was a very impressive writing on a mountainside. There was letters as big as a department building in Farsi. I wondered what the people would write in such big letters on a mountain. Maybe a sentence from the Koran? Mohammed explained me after a short bored look, that it is an advertisement – Welcome to the Capitalism.

In the middle of our trip again we came to the rest place. I got some free hot water there to mix my Cappuccino from my bus tour lunch box. The Iran people was standing in jackets around an oven in the middle of the little mall with restaurants and shops. I felt warm from the bus an just was wearing a pullover. After a few sips from my Cappuccino I even put this off and sat in a T-shirt there. Mohammed came from the bathroom and was astound about my sense of temperature. I am used to cold environment. The Persians obviously not in general. Even if the north half of their country is more like North Europe than an Arabic desert.

Back in Teheran we had have snow. I loved that, because the plan was to go to a Snowboard trip not far north of Teheran tomorrow. Everything was like it should be on this trip. The only problem was, to get back home. Nearly no cars was on the iced streets. I had to go north to my hosts flat and this is uphill to the mountainside of Teheran. It cost us a while to persuade a taxi driver to take me there. I had to promise him that I push the car if he will go off the road. A direct ride with such a taxi is possible at night, but it cost ten times the usual taxi ride. I paid 4,000 Toman this time. If you remember – this is 40,000 Rial. I miss heard him and was pretty astound, when his wanted to have 40,000 Rial from me, but I was to tired to argue. This is much here and for my small budget, but it is not much in Euro or in comparison to a German Taxi ride. It’s about 4 Euro and this is just a quarter of the prize of a German taxi ride of that length.

A new day with persian breakfast on the carpet. My host brought me back to the university and went to a business meeting, while I met my friends in the Member Committee office of AIESEC. While I updated my website and browsed in the web, I waited for my friends to solve their work, and then we wanted to go together to the Mountains and have a snowboard-afternoon. The hours passed by. Most of the conversation was in Farsi and I just got that something is wrong. Skype and telephone conferences later and a lot of eMails in Farsi, I got that the AIESEC office have to struggle with a kind of attack. On a walk to the city later my friend Ali-Raiser explained me, that they have trouble with the Government. AIESEC in Iran is brand new. Just two years ago the started to build it up and just now it become official status. My Iran support shirt I wore today was from a year ago and still was reading “AIESEC extension project Iran” instead of “AIESEC Iran”. Last year Ali-Raiser became the first President of AIESEC Iran and spend a lot of work to establish the student organization in Teheran. He had to convince the official from the government and had to beg the university for support and allowance to build up this student organization here. This was the time when I found out, that just half of the office was AIESEC office and the other side with the black cloaked women was part of the PR section of the university. Now that they got support and was established Ali-Raiser wanted to end his one year term and hand over to Saman. In between a former member, who lost elections against Ali-Raiser tried to split the AIESEC group. After he even lost in reelections he now tried to crush AIESEC. A total weird guy. He informed even the ministry of inner defense that AIESEC would be a kind of spy group that did illegal things. Sound silly to you? In Germany it would, but in Iran is the political structure a bit different. The problems with nearly all other nations on the world make the administrations there a bit paranoid, especially if a international student group in Teheran has good connections to Europe, and the USA for example. Ali-Raiser was not the first time in a police station to explain the targets and ideals of AIESEC. Up to now AIESEC was not forbidden, because it is a non-politic organization. But for sure it was struggling and the university was unhappy about police asking about the student group and want to stop the support.

To tell you what happen later: Ali-Raiser solved the problem and handed successfully over to Saman. While I was at the end of my travel they even participated at an international conference in Italy. They planed also to go to Germany, but Saman got no VISA for Germany. He has relatives there and our Government fears maybe he would get support from them to stay in Germany illegally. Freedom of travel would maybe fix a lot of problems on this world and some governments had to change their politics a lot if the people just could move away from the pressure. But this is still a problem and even with a country like Germany. Maybe Europe has even really hard travel polices to foreigners, while the Europeans really have the freedom of travel in Europe. I not even need a travel passport to go from place to place in the EU. If I don’t travel with plane, I not even get checked and have to show no kind of passport at all. It is no problem to have this freedom of travel. It’s just a matter of trust and understanding between the governments. I still hope that the EU is a concept for the hole world. Maybe we overcome someday the nationalism at all. Up to know I would say that nationalism is pretty normal in most countries, even in the EU. Germany – because of it’s history had until the last world championships in football nearly no nationalism at all in the general society. Now it is an extreme low level in comparison to the countries of my travel and the even liberal people I know from other countries.

Back from that drift of thoughts to the day in Teheran. Snowboarding was skipped. It was to late. Ali-Raiser gave me therefore a tour around the city. We went to the longest road in the middle east: Valiasr – saviour street. It is a very long streets full of shops, restaurants, company headquarters and administration buildings. In about the middle of the street length is a big park. We walked there a few kilometers – about a third of the street length. On my way their I had my first Iran soft ice cream. It was amazingly high. About 35 cm of ice cream to balance. I not even dared to walk with it. While standing and eating the ice cream, I saw my first police check in Iran at the other side of the street. It was the “religious” police. A special group of police in Iran that checks mainly old religious traditions, do and order. Part of it is for example to check how the women dress themselves. I told you that the most women in Iran have a very liberal behavior in comparison with the most muslim countries. Like a trademark for Iran women, the scarf around their had is nearly that far away from the forehead, that it fall down back of their had. Usually in this check up the police men stand bored at the sidewalk telling young women to put the scarf more to their forehead to cover their hair completely. The check up was not very aggressive. Anyway, even on the other side of the street, where we was standing, all women was wearing a lot of make up and had a bit uncovered hair on their forehead. The policemen knew that they tried to force an order that nearly nobody cares about. Interesting country. It has on one hand very modern people with a very ambitious government on the other hand side, that is much more traditional then the average people – at least on the streets of the big city. This extremely ambitious government had not helped the country with making the international relations worse. One of the buildings we passed on this street was the European trade center in Teheran. Not much business is going on their, since the nuclear researches under the Achmadinedschad regime. A problem that will tangle me soon on my travel and everyone that will come to Iran for a visit – I just don’t know that now.

After a walk in the big park at the Valiasr we came to the very modern cineplex in the middle of it. We are in the middle of revolution week and like every year there is a film festival only for Iran films hold in the cineplex. The tickets are sold out weeks before. I just had a short look inside, walking over a red carpet. In a shopping mall, a bit later I met Mohammed again. He wanted to spend the night with me to give me a substitute for the snowboard event. First he went to bathhouse with me. Great and relaxing experience. At the entrance was to doors. One for the mens area and one for the women’s area – for sure. I got a bath trouser from Mohammed and we went after the shower to the cold water basin first. I just jumped in and dived completely in. Mohammed was a bit to peaky. Next was the relaxing part in the hot whirlpool. After a swimming in the main pool we had a trip to the sauna area. I felt really absolute clean and relaxed. It’s also a good help against the cold and wet weather here. I guess I was a bit of an attraction, because I was the only European in the bath. To be honest, I not really noticed foreigners at all – away from Rainbow in the AIESEC office.

Then Mohammed went out with me for a meal. I could decide and he was surprised when I asked for a baguette with goat tongue meat. It was really good. I guess Mohammed didn’t believed me until then and we bought too sandwiches to go. We went for our dinner to a special park at the north end of Teheran. It was a busy place at night. And very steep. When Mohammed parked his car I really thought the car just would slide down. It had snowed over the day and it was nearly as much salt as snow on the street. The watchmen on the park reminded us to park in with the back side first. I wondered about that and thought it was for security reasons until Mohammed explained me, with a strange smile and some scary look in my eyes, that it was to prevent that gays could kiss without the watchmen notice it. We made some jokes about that homophobic behavior in a traditional society and agreed to kiss later in a dark corner of the park 🙂

The climb to the viewing point in the park was an adventure in itself. It seemed that all the young people of Teheran was here and now slide down on the steep and iced walkways. After a very slow uphill walk we reached iced stairs to the view point. This is the place were the youth of Teheran go instead of bars and discos like in Germany. We sat on a bench an ate our goat tongue sandwiches. Bye the way, a bench in Iran is different from a park bench in Europe: The are more in the size and shape of a french bed. The reason? Usually the come with a carpet, lay it on the bench and sit down on the bench like on a carpet at home, when they have lunch. I tried to invite some nice girls to our bench. Mohammed asked me for – it seems that a lot of people like to push me in front because I have not much shame to make a fool out of myself – wimps. I was not sure, but it might be my broken Farsi, the strange style of sitting like I would prepare to shit on an Asian style toilet or the goat tongue sauce around my lips, but the refused to answer…

But we had fun anyway. We had a nice walk in the park and listen to some guys singing in the night. We climbed up to the end of the park, where wall stopped us. Some unused buildings was up here, and a great view down to the lights of the multi million hub. After a while a park watchmen found us here somehow and forced us to go. It was late anyway and tomorrow was my last day, where I had to leave. So I wanted to have a last trip to the city at daylight. So time to go to sleep.

Read you tomorrow!