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Week 20 – Hi again, Tehran


“Week” 20, 24.8 – 4.9

After my trip in Caucasus (A Journey Through The Mountains) and two weeks in Germany, I’m in Tehran again and decided just to write down little everyday-life stories and anecdots; since honestly anything else is boring.
Monday evening (Aug, 24th) my direct flight to Tehran should depart. But there was a delay and even the departure airport was changed to Dresden. I got two vouchers to the amount of seven euros, meaning I was able to buy two 0.5 litre bottles of Cola and two pieces of chocolate, that I was given for free!
AT 9pm we were put in buses and driven to Dresden airport. The problem was the following: In Berlin-Schönefeld there’s a night fligh ban from 11pm on. The plane would have been able to land, but not to depart again. Since in Dresden the ban starts from midnight, we needed to go there – with a departure time of 3 minutes past midnight. The inflight service on this 4.5h flight was non-existent. The only thing that the airline (Germania) served as “meal” was one pathetic bread roll and juice. Fortunately I had some bread and grapes, but arriving 3.5h late in Tehran, I was quite hungry. So I went to my friend at whose place I had stored my other stuff. Since they don’t speak English, I got happy noticing that my Farsi wasn’t so bad after all.
On Friday (Aug 28th) I went to church at 6pm and afterwards socialised with the pastor’s couple and two other nice folks.
Since next weekend, nothing much was going on. I moved in the same apartment, which seemed last time having been cleaned by me in July. Now-a-days a nice Turkish and Pakistani guy are living there.
After three months I met Zhihui again and Tuesday evening (Sep 2nd) with Jooyang (Southkorea) and Mayuko (Japan). Before I went suited-up to the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce to get a list with companies I’ll apply for a job soon.
The evening with Jooyang and Mayuko was nice, again very delicious and long. At 3.15am Mayuko and me went home and one hour later I arrived at the dorm. I’m really thankful that, in opposite to huge cities like Istanbul, public transport (night buses) is running in Tehran even at night every 15 to 20 minutes on the main avenues.
I was glad the main door of the dorm was open, since I only have a key for the apartment right now, which will be a trouble later… I could grant myself 3.5h before going to school. After school I got some sleep again, but at 6.30pm I had to be at Tajrish to go with Jooyang, Mayuko and her friend Yasuki at party of her friend.
It was funny, the apartment was equipped with black light and the atmosphere shindig.
On Thursday at 8pm I was invited to a traditional classical Iranian concert of Shahram Nazeri and his son Hafez Nazeri. The concert was great. They were accompanied by classical and Iranian stringed instruments as well as drums.
At 1am my friends gave me a lift to the dorm and when they were gone I stood in front of the door…that was closed. Nobody in the whole building seemed to be awake, although it was theoretically Saturday. So what next? Well after 20 minutes I went to Laleh Park. Due to other night walks I knew that people were just sleeping on benches or the ground. So I got myself a sheltered and dark place on the ground. I wasn’t discovered, but without blanket, just with my concert outfit, I couldn’t sleep. It was too chilly and me not tired enough.
At six I got up, shook earth from my clothes and went to the dorm, that was, of course, closed. So I walked around for one hour but when I came back the connection between door and house was literally still close. Because I didn’t want to sit on the stairs in front, I went to Laleh Park again. And what a surprise, I saw Iranians working out to to music. It came from a radio broadcast van of the radio station Radio Javan (Youth radio), although most participants seemed over 50. Though around there were many young people playing especially badminton. On lawn nearby, families ate breakfast – I was really surprised and very happy, that the dorm’s door had been closed this night.
After I watched for about 5 minutes, a journalist approached and a spontaneous interview with me, the Austrian, was broadcast. I even got a little present: a world receiver.
Shortly before 9am I returned, because that Friday was an English worship were a Dutch guy would go. Hence finally I got in the apartment!

Live interview with Radio Javan (original link Radio Javan – Interview)

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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

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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