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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)

Week 16-18

June 6th till 24th
The last three weeks not much happened. I went with Yang, my Taiwanese room-mate, and his Japanese friends to the residence of the Algerian ambassador since there was a little Algerian culture exhibition showing clothes, paintings and offering some food. The daughter of the ambassador is in Yang’s class, that’s how we heard of this exhibition.
One day Yang and I tried to go on a second hand car market, but we didn’t even find that place.

The weekend of week 17 (June 18th to 20th) I went by train to Sari for visiting my friends there. In addition Thursday was the first day of the month of Ramadan, where people should not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. But actually it is mostly done in public. I don’t know anyone who would fast in the own house or in the office.
Still on Thursday we went to a BBQ birthday party, that didn’t differ from others: delicious salads, delicious meat and the normal choice of drinks.
On Friday we stayed at home until late afternoon, because it was really hot and humid outside, so it was the perfect opportunity to finish my book. Before sunset we went to the Caspian Sea and watched it there. At the beach nobody cared that it wasn’t gone yet but already started to eat and drink.
Saturday I took a day off from school and went in the morning by bus back to Tehran again.

In general not much is happening right now. I meet every now and then with some friends and looking forward to July, when I’ll start travelling again. The necessary equipment arrived on Monday by post, so now I’m just waiting…

But actually something happened. I went to Laleh Park two night now, because from about 9.30pm there are different performances going on. There are always some singers. One day there were some artists and sportsmen showed their skills in the traditional Iranian sports called Zurkhaneh.
Another day the highlight was a voice imitator.

Now-a-days it’s about 40°C (105°F) during day but it doesn’t get much cooler at night. So if you are outside for five hours, walking around and talking without, since it’s Ramadan, return to someone’s home, the mouth is drying out and you just want to have a glass of fresh cold water.

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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 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.