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Week 4 – Part 1/1


Days 25-31, 14.2.-20.2.

Not much happened in this week. On Monday (16.2) I went to the train station to search for train departures to Esfahan and Sari and for a possibility to buy tickets directly at the station, which is possible for rides of the same day. As I went off the metro I saw an Iranian ginger and could not let the opportunity of a photo pass. To get home I spent about two hours on the bus although it would have been only a 17km walk. But the traffic of Tehran is just insane.

On Tuesday (17.2) I accompanied Alexander, Anton (another Russian) and Anahit, who met in the Armenian Quarter with a friend of Anahit. The friend made a little tour around, but I didn’t understand nearly anything, since only Russian or Armenian was spoken.

On Thursday (19.2) I decided to go to an advertised music festival with Roman and Zhihui. Its name was Fajr (Northern Lights) Music Festival and took place in the centre. Since Roman didn’t feel well, I met with Zhihui alone. The concert, we didn’t know what it would be like, was at 8.30pm so we went for a kebab before. It was funny and because we laughed a lot everyone looked as us, mostly eating somehow sad themselves.
Then we walked to Vahdat Hall and tried unsuccessful how and where we could get tickets. The only thing we acknowledged was that there would be two concerts: One American Jazz band and an Iranian orchestra playing classical music. We decided to go, when possible, to the classical one.
Some minutes after eight we met some other students from our school and they told us we needn’t pay anything. But we went to the American Jazz band called Animation. Since 1977 it was the first being allowed to play in Iran, of course under the surveillance of Khomeini and Khamenei. However their style of Jazz wasn’t my taste and Zhihui went home after half an hour. We were not the only ones who thought that way, because many others pulled out their smartphone or started chatting, which was in my opinion very disrespectful towards the musicians.
Under applause they made the quite controversial statement, Iran would be the best country in the world. When the frontman said, they surely usually paid way more than local people, we foreigners were the only ones who laughed. But that the possibility of playing in Iran touched the band members deeply, was easy to recognize.
When the concert was over and we discussed it outside, we were quite strictly asked after 10 minutes to leave the ground. Our search for a taxi ended up in a little brawl. One offensive driver considered himself disadvantaged when we chose another one and slapped ours.
On Friday (20.2) I learnt for a little test the next day and only walked to Tochal cabin station to get some fresh air.

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Week 3 – Revolution Day – Part 3/4


Day 22, 11.2, Wednesday

February 11th is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in 1979. At 7am I got up and went with Anahit and another German student to Enghelab, to be part of the celebration/parade. The streets in Velenjak and Tajrish have never been this empty. Even the metro was quite empty. This changed when we reached the connecting station between the red (1) and yellow (4) line. The metros were fuller than during rush-hour in Moscow so I had to let the first metro go. It was impossible to get out at the two stations on the way to Enghelab. In Enghelab we waited for quite a time for Zhenya and a Dutch friend of the other German. While waiting at the entrance the first pictures of us were taken. When Anahit and Zhenya arrived and we joined the parade, the Dutch guy got cold feet and went home.
Last year three students were captured by police and everyone told us to be cautious, so I didn’t wear my yellow jacket. But how was the celebration like?
I would describe it a demonstration with the flair of a fair. Apparently the main fairground was the square around Azadi tower. I was there when everything was over after three hours. The students of last year were said to be there. From Azadi Avenue the people marched westbound towards the tower.
At the kerbside were many stands. They offered information, free food and drinks, choir sang, music was played or mullahs held speeches. You could get many different posters. Apart from the usual ones about USA and Israel, the slogans were “We resist forever”, “We stand to the end”, “Independence, Freedom – Islamic Republic”, “Dead or Khomeini – written with my own blood”, “I am the revolution”, “I love Mohammed. I hate terrorism, I condemn insulting the holy prophets” as well as pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei and of course the Iranian flag. Since it was a rainy day, the main function of the posters soon started being rain coverages. From time to time you could hear “Marg bar Amerika/Israel”, but more often “Allah u akbar” or something related with Khomeini; though surprisingly seldom. The people didn’t dress more conservative than usual, even some women’s hair could be seen. There were many families. In general it was a bizarre sight. Often in front of same stands offering food or drinks for fee tumults started. As if the great duo Khomeini/Khamenei couldn’t feed their people – like Kim Jong Un, but concerning this topic maybe later…
A few times photographers but especially youths took pictures of us.
And what should one think about all this? In my opinion this event has several aspects. First it should secure the power of the leader with the help of the public proclamation and reminder of their enemies USA, Israel and the West in general. They appeal for resistance, resisting, they call upon the power endurance of the people to overcome the temptations of the West. They, and only they, are able to lead safe and to their satisfaction through these hard times.
But the bait has already been taken: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Nestle, Danone, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche have won the hearts of many Iranians. For them, if they participate, the celebration is a possibility to “party”. They don’t care about slogans and posters, don’t give them any importance. Now the second aspects becomes visible: It’s like a football fanfest (I have always been on the ones in Berlin). The opponent is insulted badly as well, even without any reason:

“[country] is shitty, [country] is scum; it only needs one little bomb and they are gone.” and for sure there are more

Most of the people sing it, but no-one would honestly consider to wipe them out. Most important is team spirit, some teasing when the enemy is in the defence and having a huge party that of course involves the opponent fans. Apart from some idiots the party is peaceful (naturally as long as the German team is winning. Otherwise the number of idiots increases).
Just for a few times we were looked at oddly, the other times either ignored or smiled at. One situation was funny, when a man welcomes me in Iran, because the celebration doesn’t show the “real” Iran at all but critics are able to find enough arguments to demonize the country and its apparently fanatic people.
Although I want to mention, that I’m not agreeing with “Death to America/Israel” slogans even if it’s not meant to happen to the people. I mostly disagree with their foreign policy, too. Though as memory I couldn’t resist to take one poster home.

In the end I took the taxi home, since it still rained and I met Anahit by chance. It was only 13000 Rial (32 Euro cents) and may have change my picture of going by taxi can only be expensive.


This is what critics want to hear (I don’t know, what he’s saying, but it sounds menacing and hardline religious):

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Week 2 – Part 2/2


Day 13, 2.2, Monday

Together with Anahit, Zhihui and two other Russians (Zhenya and Alexander) I went to the former American embassy by metro to take some photos and visit the museum. It is open only one time a year: During a ten day period before revolution day (11th February). We were able to take photos, but the entrance fee of 7USD or 1 mio Rial (which is apparently 29USD) couldn’t be paid, since we didn’t have any dollars with us.
So we went eating and strolled around. First to a Zoroastrian temple, which was closed and then to an Armenian church. It was also closed due to renovation. So we continued, passed the Russian embassy which can be found on a gigantic park area.
Then we went to the Armenian Club, where alcohol can be consumed. Passing an art gallery, where a famous actress was present, too, we went to a shop where Zhihui bought a traditional Baluch (Baluchistan is the border region between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, so a very safe area).

Day 14, 3.2, Tuesday

Tuesday was a boring day. I don’t know any more what I did. Everyday life stuff, I guess. Roman and I tried a new route to the dorm which led through a long park.

Day 15, 4.2, Wednesday

In the morning the smog dome that covers Tehran nearly daily was clearly visible.
After class I took the metro to the south east to an airport which I thought was unused. But I had to notice that on the contrary it is the base of the Iranian Airforce, so strolling around was not really possible.
In the evening I accepted being interviewed. I hadn’t had any information about it; it was supposed to be a project of Iranian students. The first question about us were masquerade and the main topic was Islam and violence. One of the questions was how our view of Islam changed, now being in Iran and how it has been beforehand. Me and a German female student were the only ones who participated.
In the end we should read A Letter 4 U of the religious Leader of the Islamic Republic Iran . I’m sure the film is used as propaganda material, but I cannot deny that I don’t totally disagree with the complete letter.
In addition we got a rose as thank you which is such a nice gift I would have said every propaganda sentence for. I’m really curious about the final documentary. Depending on the result, I’ll upload it.