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.

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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):