Week 7 – Homeless in Tehran – Part 2/2

Day 49, 6.4, Monday

It was the third day of school of the new term and I got up at 6am to avoid using the crowded metro.
Having arrived a school I was very friendly welcomed by the “secretary”, who didn’t gave me a room. But it was very nice to see the old classmates again.
After class I went to the secretary again to finally arrange a room. In the meantime Francesco and Tobias offered me to stay at their place until I a real place.
After I got an address somewhere in Enghelab from the secretary, I went there by metro with Tobias and Francesco, who also live in that area. But it soon turned out the place where I should stay was supposed to be the shabby place where Francesco had to live for one months: one room for 12 people in the basement without windows. I didn’t want to go to the secretary the next day and complain, without having seen that place so I decided to go there, but left all valuable stuff at Francesco’s apartment.
At the dormitory no-one in charge knew I was coming. A young student accompanied me the administration, but the lord of the keys wasn’t around any more and nobody knew if he come back the next day as well. So the student took me to a common room and a few hours later to a two bed room. But all to beds were already reserved, so I had to sleep on the ground again. Also I noticed that he belongs to these kind of people being in favour of the religious government, which was another reason for me to quickly find a different place. Instead of going out for dinner with him and his friends, I arranged a meeting with Zhihui to eat, who doesn’t live far and to make the evening at least a bit nice.
Before going to sleep I enjoyed the first shower since Berlin and tried to sleep well on the ground.

Day 50, 7.4, Tuesday

I left the room, saying to myself to not return. I could change my jogging trousers and the T-Shirt into a jeans and a shirt.
At school I went to the secretary again. She told me I should call the caretaker of the apartments of Tobias and Francesco at 9pm. I replied that I wouldn’t wait with all my stuff somewhere outside to maybe get a room at 9pm and told her that I’d stay at a friend’s (Tobias). There I could at least sleep in a proper bed after four nights on the more or less bare ground.
At 9pm I called the caretaker and as I assumed he didn’t know if there was a free room/bed and said he’d call the secretary the next day…

Day 51, 8.4, Wednesday

It was the last day of school of the first week and I was still home- or roomless. At 3pm the secretary gave me the adress of a pension where I should go, because the caretaker hadn’t called back.
But before I could even go there, she called me telling me there was a free bed in Francesco’s apartment, although he said, the all wanted single rooms.
His roommates were astonished as well, but I finally had a place.

Day 52, 10.4, Thursday

I slept long this day.
My new home is near Enghelab square (Meydan-e Enghelab), few minutes from the metro and even nearer to the big Laleh Park. We can even access the rooftop, where you have a great view and can see Damavand and an anti-aircraft gun. My apartment mates are Jack (an Englishman), Francesco and my roommate Yang from Taiwan. Each morning we take the taxi to school, paying 30’000 (0,80 EUR).
In the after-noon we met at a café with other people for talking and afterwards for a kebab.

Day 53, 10.4, Friday

At noon we met with two Iranians from Thursday to learn some swear words and then I met with Zhihui to make some homework and relax in the sun.

Back to Tehran – Week 7 – Homeless in Tehran – Part 1/2


Arrival

Because of norooz (Iranian New Year) flights from Europe to Iran in the beginning of April were incredibly expensive. That’s why I had booked a connection with which I was in Tehran about 48 hours later and arrived to days after classes had started.
I started on Friday at 1am from Berlin-Schönefeld to Istanbul Sabiha-Gökcen. I wanted to take a new bought cooker for my trip during summer. But I was taken from me at the security control, although I highly doubt that outside of Germany anyone would have cared.
In Istanbul I had a 10 hour lay-over (from 5am to 3pm) and I slept most of the time. Then I took Qatar Airways to Doha, where the lay-over was 23 hours. Unfortunately I didn’t get any accommodation nor food vouchers nor a free entry visa. In addition my luggage containing apples and bananas couldn’t be picked up by me during that time.
But with a smart sense, I baked enough cottage cheese dough bag for not starving.
After my arrival in Doha I went straight to the relaxation room to sleep on the floor as good as possible.
The next morning (Sunday) I went to one of the numerous tables with power to work a bit and WiFi was for free as well. In general the airport was more a luxury shopping mall with many expensive cars in front of a couple of high-class shops and computers for passengers to use the internet for had all been by Apple. It was not the right location for a guy in sloppy jogging trousers.
At 6pm I finally boarded the airplane to Tehran and although being in Iranian air space got a double vodka.

Day 48, 5.4, Sunday

I arrived in Tehran and had no place to stay. I gave up my room in Velenjak for the month I was in Germany (why should I pay, when I was not there) and asked for a new room – whether in Velenjak again or Enghelab, I didn’t care. I haven’t received a mail. Zhihui gave up her room for one month,too but she got a reply and a room in a dormitory again.
There I was. Fortunately I still had enough data on my mobile, the calling credit was somehow zero, so I. arranged me a place at the aunt of a friend of hers. The taxi driver didn’t know the way so finally at 1am I arrived at the aunt’s place. She already had arranged a small mattress on the floor, which was a thousands time better than the seats or bare floor at the airport.

front-week_1_1

Week One – Part 1/2


Day 0-1, 20.1.-21.1.2015, Berlin-Kyiv-Tehran

At 14.50 I flew with an Embraer 190 from Berlin-Tegel to Kyiv. There I had a stop-over of two hours, until I continued with the exact same air plane as before to Tehran. I have never experienced such an empty plane: Not even 2/5 of the seats were reserved and I was the only one from “the West”. Apart from three Ukrainians all other passengers were Iranian.
Having arrived in Tehran at Imam Khomeini Airport (IKA) at 1.30am, I had no problems with the entry at all. Then I sat down reading for three hours until Anahit, with whom I was appointed, arrived from Moscow respectively Istanbul. We chatted till 6.30 and then took a taxi into town (650 000 Rial – 13€). The view was amazing, since the sun just rose and let the snowy mountains shimmer in a soft pink.
After having finished the bureaucracy, we exchanged money. The course was 1€:40 000IRR, I exchanged 450€, so for a short time I became a multi millionaire. Then we drove to the dormitory, brought our luggage on the rooms and took a nap for two hours. Still tired we walked to Tajrish to buy SIM cards and food on the basar. Before going exhausted to bed, we drank a tea opposite the dorm where one of three young girls surprisingly didn’t give anything on the hijab obligation.

Day 2, 22.1, Tehran

After a long sleep until 11 am (7.30 UTC), I met one of my two room-mates Roman. He’s a 42-yo Austrian and doesn’t know any Farsi. This fact was going to qualify him to be in the same class as I would be in. He’s a super cool guy.
We went to the bakery which is fortunately just across the street and offers fresh bread any time of the day. After breakfast we met with Zari, whom I met for the first time four years ago. We walked all the way – it was a long walk and made a detour via our language school. At Zari’s we ate dinner and chatted. After having walked back to the dorm again we went to bed quite exhausted.

Day 3, 23.1

At noon Arne arrived, who is the last room-mate. I didn’t do much. I walked to Tovchal (or Tochal) cabin station with Roman. It is the starting point for skiers and snowboarders who can go up to 4000m. In the evening two friends of Arne, Maren and Renate, came over and prepared a simple German potato salad.

Day 4, 24.1

It was the first day of school. We had to be there at 8 o’clock. On the bus we took, Kazim talked to me. It appeared he had worked in the Iranian Consulate in Frankfurt 50 years ago. He could still speak very good German and insulted the “dirty mullahs”, what fortunately was understood by nobody else.
During the class it snowed non-stop. The classes are Saturday to Wednesday from 9 till 12; with a break from 10.15 to 10.45. At first the teacher taught us a part of the Persian Alphabet and made Roman going crazy because of her beauty. I got to know a funny Chinese girl, Zhihui, who’s always in a good mood, laughs a lot and likes Indian and Pakistani guys very much.
After class I met with Zari again. When I returned to the dorm, I made my homework: One line for each new learned word (there were 30) to practice writing. Although I could still write the letters quite well, it took a long time.
Though in the end I still went running. Since Velenjak – the quarter where the dorm is located – is at 1200m height, I was exhausted faster than usual and of course I ran a great detour. In addition even in the evening the air is still polluted, so running outside is rather bad for one’s health in Tehran. Unfortunately the pavements are in a bad shape from time to time as well, being interrupted by constructions. That’s why I usually ran on the street since there were not that many cars at 11pm. Still I was horned at a couple of times. But I don’t care: Only because of some little obstacles I won’t let a part of my free western lifestyle be taken away from me.

Background picture: Tehran at night, view from the dormitory in Velenjak, 2015 all rights reserved

featured_image-post1

The Beginning

The last year (2014) has been quite remarkable and maybe the best ever since. Let’s say it was due to I was able to concentrate the time I was occupied and hence could generate lots of free-time. Journeys to to Russia’s new region Crimea, a 700km bicycle tour through Germany, hitch-hiking in south-west Europe and spontaneous trips to Sweden and the USA have been the result.

But it couldn’t continue like that. Therefore at the end of October I applied for the first of six Persian/Farsi language course in Tehran (Iran) at Dehkhoda Lexicon Institute.

I didn’t receive an answer until the day I was hitch-hiking home for Christmas (22nd December). So one day before New Years Eve I gave them my passport. On Thursday 7th January my dad picked the passport up – it contained this visa. Immediately I booked the flight to Tehran via Kiev, with Ukraine International Airlines for the 20th, arriving in Tehran IKA January 21st at 1.30am.

On the other hand I had to organize getting my stuff out of the room I was renting. Fortunately I only had a bed, a desk, a small table and some sort of shelf. I sold the bed and arrange the rest to be thrown away.

On January 14th I left Karlsruhe for Berlin by train with heavy luggage, leaving two wonderful years with new friends and great memories behind.

Finally, it’s not considered to be a just-for-fun trip because I don’t have nothing else to do – at least not completely.

Feel free to comment, subscribe or ask questions about details or what-so-ever (blog@johannes-nickel.de).

Background picture: American Indian fountain with beer crate, Werderplatz, Südstadt, Karlsruhe – 2015, all rights reserved