Week 10

Days 68-72, 25.4-29.4

This week was as normal as the one before. Nothing happened during the school days. The only thing is, that I finally have internet, that is pretty fast. The second SIM card is from Irans most popular mobile company MTN-Irancell. My flatmates Frisco and Yang use it and have excellent speed when downloading – up to 1 Mbit/s (DSL 8000). 50 Gigabyte valid for 3 month cost around the same (~22EUR) as six months 9GB with 128kbit/s (DSL 1000) with my old company Rightel, so I bought this package.
On Wednesday (29.4) Frisco and me were invited for dinner at Joo Yang, our cool classmate from Korea. He’s in Iran for Samsung, but he only seem to have to learn Farsi and getting the normal salary plus bonus. So he has the most relaxed life. His apartment is twice as big as ours and situated in a very good good (but also boring) neighbourhood. In addition he rented a car as well, but it hasn’t been available yet.
However he made great food and later we drank together with one of his Korean friends and ate sweets. Since both of them wanted to go to Esfahan the next day, we went literally went back home at half past midnight. Since being a little drunk and not tired, I didn’t want to take a taxi. To our dorm the distance was about 11km and I wanted to see Tehran on a Friday – Iranian Friday, European Wednesday – night. Frisco was more drunk and not really into that idea, but didn’t want to take a taxi or bus alone.
But it was very sad. We walked along the longest street in the Middle East (Vali-e Asr) southbound, but apart from some families in a park at the beginning and people cleaning the pavement, we only met on other pedestrian: In conclusion Tehran went wild!
Welcome to Iran, where people needn’t party at their homes, but can happily enjoy life the night before weekend celebrating on the streets!
Otherwise the parks, even during the week, are well-filled until 1am with people, having a picnic or playing volleyball respectively badminton.

Day 73, 30.4, Thursday

On Thursday I was invited at an event at the German Residence which is home for the ambassador and some employees of the German embassy. It was an event of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), although this Service has nothing to do with my stay. Fortunately Tobias joined me, so I didn’t feel completely lost. I had been to other official events but they have been bigger; there the ambassador welcomed everyone in person by handshake.
After two short introduction speeches, snacks and drinks were served and then we talked in small groups (group photo). At 7pm the event was finished and we went home.
Since Saturday (2.5) was a national holiday, I thought about going to Esfahan. But I was tired and exhausted and I wanted to make my decision depending on Joo Yang. If he had a free place in the car when they went back on Friday, I would have taken the night bus. But they didn’t have a place, so I stayed in Tehran and enjoyed the evening on the roof top.

Day 74, 1.5, Friday

Because I didn’t go to Esfahan, I went to the western part of Tehran, to Ekbatan to Eram Park. There’s the zoo of Tehran and an amusement park. The entrance fee was 10.000 Rials and the park was full of families having barbecue. The amusement park on the other hand was kind of abandoned and empty. Every thing was out of service although the owners were around chatting with each other.
I didn’t spend much time in Eram Park. Basically I just walked around the fenced lake and then went back to the dorm again.


Week 9 – Part 1/1

Days 61-67, 18-24.4

This week wasn’t really exciting. While a normal shopping tour on the Tajrish bazaar I discovered a box with little chicks and ducks and other birdies. They didn’t even cost 2 EUR and are so cute – apart from the non-stop noise of them. Unfortunately my flatmates aren’t in favour of the idea of having a little farm in our living room although it would be spacious enough. They are afraid of the dirt caused by them and little bugs who would “welcome the chicks presence”. Even though we will never win the price of the cleanest apartment and at the moment there are so many disrespectful and agile mosquitoes, that a few more insects won’t bother anyone.
So the farm seems to have to wait some time. Zhihui liked the idea though, but since she’s not living here, she needn’t bother the side effects of the keeping. Instead she suggested having little rabbits which are only about 5 EUR. They would be more easy-care. But on the contrary they don’t produce eggs and we could have given the chickens just everything we didn’t want to eat any more. Time will show, if Zhihui really buys a rabbit. It would be funny in any case.

Background photo: Southern view from the roof-top

Since there’s nothing else to tell, I want to give some additional insights into everyday life of a ginger in Iran.

First I want to start with the experiences on the bus ride from Kashan to Tehran, that will be the same on mostly every bus ride during the day in Iran.

  • After the bus left the terminal, it didn’t went directly – as it would have done in Germany – to Tehran. Since Iranians are mostly coming a bit late, the bus went quite slowly the first kilometres after having left the terminal and an attendant talked to mostly every pedestrian, if they want to catch this bus to Tehran. Suprisingly (or not) many people got into the bus like this. And even on the highway the bus stopped several times to pick up some villagers. How much they had to pay is beyond my knowledge, but I assume it’s not more than everyone else paid.
    Having arrived in Tehran, it may be that the terminal has no metro station nearby. No problem, the bus then just stops at one on the way for people to get out and continue.
  • While the driving skills of Tehranis seem non-existent, they don’t exist on the highway for real. On Fridays the Tehranis drive back into the capital hence the highway is crowded. The buses are only allowed the use the right and middle lane. But as in the city likewise on the highway there is no logical or anticipatory driving manner. Driving on the right lane seems to put a curse on people since only few cars are using it. That’s why the middle and left lane are overloaded. The issue is, that these are used by people who – according to European standards – should drive on the right lane because of their low speed. Thus I sat in the front of the bus seeing all this chaos, I couldn’t sleep, it draws my total attention. The Iranians are not stupid, but during such overland rides they seem to remove their brain beforehand. The bus driver was always like honking for slower cars out of the way and giving flash-lights. At least two times we nearly had an accident.

Then some facts to my eye-catching look (hair).

  • In the beginning it might have been funny to be approached and looked at by many people – especially girls and to be asked for photos (usually by girls). But by and by it just gets annoying. There’s nearly one metro ride that I can spend with listening to music or learning vocabulary. Usually some man talks to me, even when I have earphones in. Of course they are curious what there’s going outside their country and why a foreigner visit their country/city. They understandably don’t know that I’m daily approached and asked these questions. Even pretending not to speak English doesn’t hold them from talking. And if someone starts a “conversation” usually others will join, so even when I change the metro, I’m not let alone till I go out.
    The questions are always the same: Where I’m from, what I’m doing and why, if I like Iran (of course) and then about sanctions, politics and relatives abroad, sometimes not serious invitations. A few times even these relatives in Austria or Germany were called and I should talk to them.
  • It gets a little better pretending to be Austrian. Many people don’t know it and can’t make a connection with football or – which is somehow funny – Hitler. But of course it’s more popular than Montenegro. But I don’t want to get into a situation where someone suddenly talks Serbian with me; but it surely only depends on my further endurance. While Francesco is considered as Iranian, I think I can’t do anything but maybe dye my hair, which won’t happen though.
  • But my endurance was nearly reached this week. I wanted to do homework and relax a bit in Laleh park. But of course it didn’t work out. After two minutes two soldiers sat down next to me. They, as many men in Iran, couldn’t speak English. So babbled, well only one, the stupidest of them. As far as I understood, it wasn’t even something interesting but mostly vulgar. For his self-reflection, that didn’t exist, I’ll summarize a little part of the conversation:
    He ask, if I felt annoyed by some people. Funny that this question occurred after 15 minutes and that I’ve obviously being into doing my homework and had books and my pc laying around. I even mentioned that I came here to do my homework. However I said yes, I sometimes feel annoyed. Then he told me I should remember these people, he’ll give a “special treatment” to their mothers…Of course I didn’t say, he therefore could start with his own mother
  • Last but not least the mobile phone numbers. Most of the people of the metro or bus conversations want to stay in contact with their new best friend. Hence it’s useful to have a piece of paper and a pencil near you, to write down their details. In any case I try to avoid giving them my number – very successful until now. By the time I have a second SIM card as well, which I can use for “emergencies”.

This may sound arrogant, but I’m living here, of course as a foreigner, but I’m not here as a tourist. If each one of the 14 million inhabitants talks to me for 30 seconds, I’ll have to stay for more that 13 years in Iran. I’ll speak Farsi perfectly, but my life would probably be ruined and my contact list been burst.
Obviously and naturally the Iranians aren’t aware of this issue and I cannot ignore them completely (yet), but I cannot react as polite as in the beginning any more in these situations.
By the way, I’m not alone most obviously foreign student feel the same.


Week 8 – Hitchhiking in Iran – Part 1/1

Days 54-58, 11.4-15.4, Saturday till Wednesday

It was a normal week with school, appointments and being talked to on the metro. On day I went running in Laleh Park and I finally picked up all my things that were still in Velenjak.
For the weekend I initially wanted to go to Ardebil, because the weekend was supposed to be one day longer because of an organized trip by the school. But this trip was cancelled so I arranged a meeting with I. in Kashan. She recommended me to visit Abyaneh, a village in the mountains, as well. So I decided to make this trip my first hitchhiking experience in Iran. On Thursday I’d hitchhike to Abyaneh, spend the night in my tent and hitchhike to Kashan to visit the town with I.
To the photos

Day 59, 16.4, Thursday

Of course I started my little journey early in the morning and took only 800g of dates as food with me and 2l of water. At a quarter past 9am my hitchhiking experiment in Iran finally started. I presented the drivers my کاشان (Kashan) sign. Only minutes passed until I got a ride to Qom. Though before at least one car stopped but asked for money, because in Iran hitchhiking is not know. Only few people are aware of this kind of travelling. That’s why I always asked if it was ok, that I enter without money – three times, because otherwise they could just have been polite.
The first driver was from Tehran on the way to Arak. He left me near Qom not without taking photos on which he posed ridiculously and asked for my number. Fortunately just the day before I found a second SIM card, so I didn’t bother giving him my “new” number.
In Qom I had to wait a bit longer. First I stood next of a construction site, where people were working. The workers didn’t know what I was doing.
*”I’m hitchhiking, doing auto-stop.”
#”You want to go to Kashan by (auto)bus?”
*”No, by car.”
#”Ah, you will take a taxi.”
*”No, without money, but with cars. It’s not a problem. It’s called auto-stop.”
#”So by bus?”
It was very annoying. My mouth became dry from hundreds of times saying “It’s not a problem.” (moshkele nist) and at certain time I instead said “Khoshgele nist”, which means “He/She is not beautiful”. It made the workers even more confused. After half an hour, only people asking money had stopped, I went 200m further where I wasn’t disturbed any more. Not only five minutes later an old guy with a younger one the other front seat stopped; they were going to Kashan.
During the ride they drank tea, offered me some as well and the old man even knew Austria where I said to be from.
In Kashan (on my sign was written Abyaneh/Natanz) a car with three old ladies stopped, but they just told me they were going to Kashan. Although it was obviously not on my way one wanted to convince me to come with them. After 10 minutes a factory owner from Esfahan stopped. He made a detour to Abyaneh and even invited me for lunch there. After not even five hours, I arrived in Abyaneh. Of course I asked him at least three times if he really wanted me to invite and make the detour. So I didn’t care when he kind of regretted his decision having made this offer. The lunch was expensive for Iranian standards (7EUR) and he had to pay an entrance fee of 1,40EUR prior of driving into Abyaneh.
At least I could walk with new energy through Abyaneh, which was unluckyly full of teenage girls chatting very loud. I pittied the inhabitants, since the village was full of tourists who had the chance of posing in traditional dresses. Away from the tiny main road, it was still quite rural. Old women were chatting, a shepherd took care of his sheep between some houses and I was greeted friendly. Contrary to the girls nearly killed each other for a photo with me.
At 5pm I walked away to search for a place for pitching my tent. Some hundred metres off the road was a little stream that supplied green gardens with apple trees with water. Abreast the next village I found an appropriate place for my tent and laying in my sleeping bag could listen to the raindrops. The air was so clear and it was very awesome – like during my travels in summer.
To the photos of Abyaneh

Day 60, 17.4, Friday

At 6.30am I got up, the tent was dry again and the sun shone of sleepy village of Tareh. At 8am I started walking towards Kashan, the same time when I. took the bus from Esfahan. After one hour of walking, the second car passing gave me a lift to Kashan, where I. and I met half past 10am. On the way we passed the reprocessing plant of Natanz that was guarded by many anti-aircraft guns in the area.
When I. arrived when went into the city. I had forgotten my student’s ID so always should have paid the tourist price which is 10 times more. But the opposite happened. I told every cashier that I forgot my ID. In the end I could enter the Fin Garden without paying anything and in the next two museums I. could enter for free while I paid the reduced price.
Since it was Friday Kashan wasn’t busy at all. The bazaar was empty and the whole atmosphere was relaxed. We spent a great day and having spent the weekend like this, was a perfect idea.
At 6pm we drove back to Esfahan respectively Tehran.
To the photos of Kashan

During the week

Photos of Abyaneh

Photos of Kashan

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


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.


Week 6 – Part 1/1 – See you soon, Tehran

Day 40, 1.3, Sunday

I don’t know, what I did the days before.
On Sunday I met with Roman and a friend of his at the university of Tehran and later we went eating (you HAVE TO read the menu, they served specialties like non-alcoholic bears) and visited an interesting photography exhibition.

Day 41, 2.3, Monday

There is a bus from the international Airport of Tehran into the city, but only few people know of it and information are hard to get. I wanted to change it, but failed.
The bus should commute between the international airport and the bus terminal at Azadi square or the local airport. But at the terminal no-one knew of the bus.
Then I met with Zhihui at Azadi Tower and we went up. The view of Tehran from above is really nice. After falafel and hiding from stupid teenagers we went to the local airport. But there the existance of this mysterious bus was denied as well, although when I arrived in January I saw this bus leaving from IKIA.

Day 42, 3.3, Tuesday

I met again with Roman and his friend Maryam. After class we had a picknick near Tajrish and went to different book stores. Then we had a coffee and on the way we saw a perverse situation: A woman running for a bus having one shopping bag in each hand. While running her, scarf slipped and her hair was uncovered. Instead of just running into the bus and put it on again inside, she stopped and asked Maryam to put it on.
As we enjoyed the coffee on the kerb a security guard asked us to go somewhere else.

Day 43, 4.3, Wednesday

It was the last day of school and we had an exam, but it was quite easy.
In the evening I went to the bus station and went to Esfahan.

Days 44-45, 5.3-6.3, Thursday, Friday

When I arrived to Esfahan, I walked to the Hostel, where I stayed four years ago. Nothing seemed to have changed: I think I had the same bed, which was worn, in the same room. Only the attitude of the guests ws different. 4 years ago, no-one would sit in the evening on their beds and use their Macbooks.
I had to rest for two hours since the bus ride was only 6 hours and sleeping on the bus is often impossible for me to sleep.
With new energy I met with Shirin, a girl that I met 4 years ago, and two German tourists, Uli and Paul, and we walked a bit through Esfahan. It was wonderful having escaped from Tehran. In the evening I went to 33rd-bridge (si-o-sel pol) to take photos and to relax a bit.
For the next day we planned to have picknick in the mountains, but it was cancelled since a friend of Shirin, I. was caught by hijab police (dress police). She had worn a too short coat meaning, although wearing jeans, it only nearly covered hear knees.
Shirin had to give her ID and I. had to fill a form stating that she’ll never do such carelessness again. We took the cabin on top and ate breakfast, playing billard and table football.
While Paul and Shirin took the cabin back down, we – our group had been extended by two persons – walked down and took a taxi to Imam square again. Together with Shirin, Uli and Paul went to the remaining sights while I. and I waited on the square answering surveys of young students, who giggled when I ticked off being single – welcome to everydaylife in Iran; at least to the nice part of it. Then two men approached us, asking where we were from. We answered that we were a married couple from Montenegro. The men never heard of it and fortunately went away without further questions.
In the evening, I went back to Tehran again.

Day 46, 7.3, Saturday

I hadn’t had much time to get sleep again, since I had an appointment at 11. Zhihui and I met the girl (L.) at the local airport and some days later she asked Zhihui for my number.
It was a bit odd. We met at Enghelab in the center and about 1.5h from Velenjak. We went to some bookshops to buy some for her French classes, to a café and she invited me to spend Iranian New Year (norooz) with her and her family in her hometown since she would be bored. Then we went to a park, ate sweets and went through the whole town to Tajrish bazaar to buy some stuff for my parents. This appointment however lasted 8 hours. Before we said good-bye at the metro station, I told her it was strange for me, but in for myself only on cordial terms. Thereupon she reacted a bit upset.
Since in Iran officially unmarried relations are non-existent, going out together and flirting goes more far than in Europe.

Day 47, 8.3, Sunday

It was mine last day in Iran for one month. I packed my stuff and said good-bye to Roman and Arne and went to the airport at 9pm. At 5am I left but before at 2.30am, L. called again…

Week 5 – Part 1/1

Day 32, 21.2, Saturday

In the evening I had an appointment with Zari and Saba in café in the ASP building. Roman wanted to meet a friend there as well, so we went together, but I was an hour late, so Iranian style…. Afterwards Saba and Zari cruised with me around Tehran a little but and listening to “The Show Must Go On” by Queen we acknowledged it should be the inofficial national anthem of Iran.

Day 33,22.2, Sunday

Roman, Tobias and I went to the carpet museum. In the metro it happened for the first time since my arrival that someone told me he liked Hitler. It was a guy from Baluchistan and he said he liked Hitler or he was his friend. I replied, Hitler was an idiot and I didn’t like him. It made him angry and when Tobias told him in German to shut up, the boy pretended starting a fight with us.
On the way to the museum, Tobias was nearly robbed by a moto-driver. He sat some time on his vehicle, not driving away, which I found weird. Then he accelerated and we thought he hit Tobias by accident, but he wanted to grab his bag.
On our room-mate Arne’s opinion the carpet museum was boring, but in our opinion wasn’t.
When we were on our way back to the metro we saw that two days later an inauguration of an exhibition of the German Otto Piene would be held. Tobias wanted to go and ask the next day for further details.

Day 35, 24.2, Tuesday

It was the day of the Otto Piene inauguration. We met at 5pm at the entrance of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts, but Roman was late. We hadn’t eaten something yet since we hope, there would be a buffet. Instead we had to listen to speeches of some art professor, a vice minister, the German ambassador and the manager of the New National Gallery Berlin. They all overpraised each other for two long hours.
At least at the end there were some music acts, which were nice.
The buffet consisted of free instant coffee, water bottles and biscuits – it was better than nothing.
A bit later while Tobias – suited up – had to talk to some woman about how super great the exhibition was and who for that reason thanked him a lot (he had nothing to do with it though), I was portrayed by an art student.


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.


Week 3 – Part 4/4 – Tochal II

Day 23, 12.2, Thursday

I did nothing and it rained nearly all day long. I only went outside once, to buy bread. It was a very productive day.

Day 24, 13.2, Friday

Since I didn’t have any idea what to do on the last day of the weekend, I decided to go on top of Tochal again. So I got up at 4.45am and chose the tour via Darband and not along the cabin.
This tour is steeper, so shorter on the map. That’s why it’s a bit more climbing than hiking and maybe more ambitious. Nevertheless the way is more beautiful than the first one. In addition it’s a really grand feeling to trudge all up through the snow and resisting strong winds (apparently 80km/h, 50mi/h), seeing the city below getting tinier and tinier and leaving other peaks below. I started to think that Norgay and Hillary may felt the same way when ascended Mount Everest. A little depressing could have been, that after each hilltop just another higher one is waiting.
The air pressure on the peak is at only 60% btw.
I didn’t stop anywhere for a long time. I arrived at the top at noon, after five hours. It’s one hour earlier than during the previous climb, whereas I started at 5.35am from the dorm, but began my initial hiking at 6.55am since I had to walk all the way to Darband via Tajrish, because there were no buses at this time.
I was shortly delayed by Mohammad, who absolutely wanted to talk to me, but was in a bad physical shape, so I was forced to stop all the time. But after some time I was alone again. Roman was away visiting a friend, that’s why he didn’t come.
I stopped at the peak to take some photos and then walked to the cabin station. It was not that easy because on the way the wind was really blowing strong and let me cool fast. The ride with the cabin was comfortable, although it was tiny. But I didn’t want to descend and the ride was only 6,50€. Having arrived at the bottom, I warmed my feet in the sun before going home to the dorm.
In the afternoon I didn’t relax but played football with my room-mate Arne and two other Germans (Thomas and Pascal). Of course soon after we started we were joined by Iranian students, so it became a fun match.


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):