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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.

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Week 2 – Part 1/2


Day 9, 29.1, Thursday

It was the first weekend during the official classes. Roman, Nilufar and me went to Darakeh by bus and taxi. The quarter is barely 1km as the crow flies (what a great expression by the way), but separated by a valley and private properties.
We went along a simple hiking trail, which was lined with shops. I didn’t like that fact at all. Hiking in my opinion is walking through rough, wild nature. I could stand a paved trail, but the line of shops went on for kilometres, though of course there were not all one after another.
Anyway in the beginning was a man with an instrument being a mixture of a guitar and a violin playing. He had a little speaker and his position was wisely chosen since the surrounding mountains created a full sound supported by echo. Since Germany has a very good reputation he was effusively happy that a German listened to his music and naturally wanted a photo.
After three hours the shops almost vanished and we went into a tea house and then returned. In total we were hiking for six hours and came home in time before it began raining cats and dogs.

Day 10, 30.1, Friday

At four in the morning a heavy thunderstorm passed over Tehran.
Initially I wanted to improve my vocabulary but in the end I mostly ended watching movies and doing homework.

Day 11, 31.1, Saturday

Since my visa is only valid for 30 days, the language course is 42 days and I’m going to stay for about 50 days in Iran, my visa had to be extended.
I had to hand in my passport in the dormitory. Although it was already in their possession I was asked a couple of times to hand it in since I arrived. It mostly ended in a discussion after which they checked the safe and had to admit that I didn’t steal it in the meantime…It was strange.
When I wanted to get it for the visa extension they refused to give it back: It should be copied – again. I don’t know how many copies they already had, but apparently they were not enough.
I also used to new week to charge my mobile data plan, because the 1.5GB were finished quite fast. It costed 5 Euro.
After having done homework in the evening I ran my traditional running lap to Tochal cabin station.

Day 12, 1.2, Sunday

I could finally apply for my visa extension. It will take about three weeks. Apart from cooking, nothing else happened.

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Week One – Part 2/2


Day 5, 25.1

Together with Anahit and Roman, I went to the bazaar at Tajrish square to buy vegetables and other food for cooking. On the way we passed a shop selling the delicious Iranian sweets though, where we stopped and filled two boxes with different kinds of them. Afterwards Anahit and I visited two bookshops, having many old books and certainly some valuable among them, and drove back to the dorm by a shared taxi.
Initially I planned to build a snow (wo)man with hijab, but unfortunately this idea wasn’t covered by enough snow. Instead Roman and I invited Anahit over, taking a break from learning to drink some tea and eat the sweets. Since they make full quickly we postponed the cooking to next day.

Day 6, 26.1

This day was like the ones before: Classes, bazaar, but this time Roman and I took the bus back to the dorm. However this took nearly the same amount of time as walking back – around one hour. The time seems to run really fast here in general. Going from A to B takes so long due to the chaotic traffic. Apart from it everything else takes more time. In exchange offices but as well as in other shops always multiple people seem to work very slowly although it seems only a few customers come visiting every day.
Anyway at 5pm we arrived at the dorm, what has one big advantage: I could surf the internet with high-speed (5 MB/s). That’s why I could download the most popular German TV show (Tatort – crime scene) very fast.
After the mandatory postprocessing of the class we cooked the pasta, which we bought the day before, with many herbs that are really cheap in Iran.
Then Tatort was watched by Roman and me and for 90 minutes I forgot being 4000km away in a completely culture area. But we called it a day at 2am because we after having watched, we continued learning.

Day 7, 27.1

Finally a normal day.
After school I wanted to go home quickly. While Roman was meeting with a friend and Anahit went with another Russian to a Zoroastrian Temple, I was accompanied by Nilufar, an Afghan girl living in Dubai on the Palm and whose father is an Afghan politician. At one round-about we passed a cool bus that I had seen some days before on the way to school and I had to take pictures. The driver especially washed his face.
Before going up to my room I stopped by at the bakery and had to discover that I had been given a bread of which the baker took a piece that he was eating when I entered…Anyway the prices change a lot. The price range is from 5000 Rials to 10 000 Rials (13 Cents to 25 Cents).
In the evening at 10pm, after homework, I went running to Tochal station. There were still many people around, mostly couples and smaller groups. But I didn’t cope with the altitude yet. At least the air in this area isn’t really polluted so I’ll certainly go there more often.

Day 8, 28.1

Today was by far the worst day of school. I had the feeling that I had missed one week of classes. I couldn’t follow and fortunately Roman either. Anyway now it’s week-end so I hope I can catch up again. While some people are going to Esfahan, I’ll go hiking with Roman and Nilufar. I mean, the mountains literally start in front of the dormitory’s door. Journeys to Esfahan and Caspian Sea will be made the following week-ends. But today I’ll relax.

Background picture: Cool bus, 2015 all rights reserved

#By the way: I’m not really restricted in any kind. I mean I’m not somewhere in a village of a – well- third world country. The tap water has some chlorine in it and I guess many people would suggest not to drink it, but I’ve been fine. My monthly data plan of the dorm is finished due to Tatort, so now I can only use mobile internet of Rightel (3G). With the help of a VPN communication with the outside world is only restricted by my own lazyness. But apart from that Youtube, Facebook, in general all blocked websites, can be accessed. I think I’m being ripped off many times. On Wednesday I paid for 8 apples, 4 bananas, 2 kiwis, one orange and one avocado nearly 8 EUR. Next time I will give them all back with a grin. The dormitory is mixed, but not the rooms, which is still fair enough. Of course many things are different but became pretty fast normal, since I’m not on holidays. Though I’ll try to mention them as good as possible. E.g. I often feel like being a zoo’s animal. What reason could that probably have?#

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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