As my sister is in town I asked her write the latest entry:


On Si o Seh Pol, Isfahan.

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"25 years!" my brothers pointed out when I arrived at Tehran's main airport - Mehrabad. I was 4 years old then - I don't have many memories before this age, but I have seen the photographic evidence and heard many stories!

I was little nervous when landing and going through passport control, as I had been warned there would be a small family precession waiting in arrivals, but after collecting my baggage I was relieved to see only my two brothers, father and step-mother greeting me with a bunch of flowers.

My first morning was spent going to a local park, before which I noticed that my short denim-jacket was creating quite a stir due to my rear being not so literally on display! Unfortunately I had only brought short jackets as I was only aware of covering arms, legs and hair. Once a 'manteau' was purchased and discretely swapped behind a tree and we were on our way.

Following an afternoon nap (something my father likes to take regularly!) we went to my grandmother's house to meet some of the family. I was a little anxious about this moment as I had not seen these relatives for so many years. This was especially odd as they seemed to vividly remember me as a young girl whereas my memories were so vague.

First to see me was my grandmother ("Mudar Bozorg" as she is known) who greeted me in Farsi, followed by "how ahrr ya?" - one of her two English phrases, I later gathered. I mumbled back some Farsi and kissed her three times on the cheeks. I was then introduced to my aunt, uncle and cousins (who also live with my grandmother) and was similarly greeted with three kisses by my aunt and a hand shakes from the men - but only when their hand was offered as I later learned was correct. Soon after I met another of my father's brothers and respective family, whom unlike other family who have been to England, I have not seen since my last visit. My aunt was very pleased to see me, taking a liking to my hair (straight and in a short bob, quite unusual in Iran I've noticed) and making comments regarding my build relative to the other family members.

The evening was pretty much what I expected, due to what I'd heard from David's previous visits and the few Iranian ways I had experienced whilst growing up: sitting on the floor to eat; everyone helping dish up and tidy away and lots of talking over one another. Whilst sitting before the food I became confused by the appropriate etiquette, at first I wondered whether to wait to start eating before everyone was present (as would be expected in England), yet everyone tucked in with disregard.

As it was the new year just before I arrived, the streets were rather quiet, so I was yet to see the famed madness on the roads as we traveled around. The next few days were spent either at the family sports complex or round people's houses for "Aid Didani". This tradition is where friends and family visit one another while indulging in fruit, nuts and sweets with the odd occasion where one returns the favour. Two or three of these within a day became hard work, particularly when I have no idea what the conversations were about! While doing the rounds, one of the things I noticed was that sons and daughters remain with their parents until they are married, which is not as soon in their life as I initially thought.

For the past four days we have been in the old capital of Iran - Isfahan. Here we visited various galleries, exhibitions, mosques, bazaars and even a church. As the new year was still being celebrated it was extremely busy (I got to see the mad driving and the aftermath of a couple of crashes!), particularly on Sunday as it was the 13th day (the end of the holiday known as "Sisda be da") of the new year where one normally takes to the outdoors and dines among nature. The dress in Isfahan is a little more modest than that of Tehran, which could have explained why I got stared at quite a lot, or maybe this was because I seemed foreign, as I could understand no other reason why so many people gazed. On a couple of occasions the religious police - Basij - asked me to fix my headscarf yet when they were told by my father that I was a tourist from England they made swift apologies even gave us free entry to one of the mosques!

I have found the Iranian food to be a little monotonous as one can't get a quick sandwich or a light snack - and obviously there is no alcohol so this is a two-week detox for me! Another noticeable difference to England is the condition of the roads and paths - Claims Direct would have a field day with "no win no fee" cases! But along with many other things in Iran, the poor conditions will be attended one day, "inshallah".

I find Iranian folk very contradictory - within the home they can't do enough for each other and won't let you leave, plying one with gifts, but on the roads and around the streets it's everyman-for-himself, yet when it comes to helping with directions I noticed, they don't hesitate in responding!

Finally, I would like to add, should I ever live in Iran, I would find socialising very hard due to unrelated men and women not being able to mix freely. And I note, where women are restricted in their clothing, they seem to make up for it in other ways - namely by wearing a LOT of makeup, having very high hair-dos (which seem to correlate with wealth) and wearing varying degrees of bleached-blonde highlights. Similarly, men also like to groom themselves by either matching the height of the ladies hair or growing it long and slicking lots of gel through their mullets.

I heard news that I may go to a "gathering" this week so am looking forward to seeing the illicit culture for my generation! Other than this I am eager to see more sites in Tehran and fill the memory on the digital camera.


  • I like your blog.. its nice to hear about whats going on in Iran from the people who live there.

    I wanted to let you know, however, that Noam Chomsky is not the best role model. If you research his personal life, despite his socialist utopian writings and speeches, he actually lives a different life. He owns stock in huge oil companies, has several multi-million dollar houses in almost entirely white communities, and has a multi-million dollar trust fund set up to give to his children tax-free, despite his claims that the death tax helps redistribute wealth. I would read into the person his is, instead of the theory he claims.

    By Anonymous Ethan, at 9:03 PM  

  • When I first read this I thought to myself they were depriving you of the different sorts of Iranian food but as I think it through I suppose a "light snack" for an Iranian is nuts or fruit and tea.

    Anyway, it must be like overdosing on Iran, to see/do so much in such a short period of time especially considering how long it has been.
    In any case, I hope you are enjoying it...

    By Anonymous Tahereh, at 6:12 AM  

  • hmm, and in regards to the comment up there, the more valid argument against Chomsky is perhaps his work at MIT rather than his personal possessions, as his assets could be (easily) defended by anyone, even those who don't agree with Chomsky's views. His MIT work however is a bit trickier and I've questioned some of his motives as well, regardless this does not discount the words that come out of his mouth. Ralph Waldo Emerson preached transcendentalism but was a pompous ass constantly pushing himself into intellectual circles to declare his beliefs, but this does not make what he said any less valid (though whether it should or not is debatable).
    Also, the "death tax" has been given this name by hardcore, right-wing conservatives, it is actually termed the "estate tax" and should be referred to as such.. and regarding the estate tax, it does not significantly help anyone as it's only applied to amounts above $2,000,000.. beside the fact that this is a rather large amount that most don't possess upon passing, the majority of the time it is not even paid because people with such large amounts of money can easily afford intelligent lawyers and accountants who find loopholes so that upon one's death there would be no need to have their estate taxed upon transference.

    By Anonymous Tahereh, at 6:34 AM  

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