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Persia, my home

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I dedicate this narration to my Homeland Iran and its incredible people, to whom I owe many unforgettable moments.

We are all citizens of one world, but in our souls we reserve a special place for our own ancestral land in which we were born and took roots, where we learned how to love and to be loved, how to forget and forgive, where we share the same destiny, where we learned the sacred meaning of being one with others; the meaning of family.

Persia, with her ancient and magestic history, culture, globally renowed and exquisite poetry and philosophy, stood proud and bravely since the dawn of history for justice, equality and tolerance, she endured brutal foreign invasions and occupations, but through all that, remained true to the core of Persian values good words, good deeds, and good thoughts. She enriched, enchanted and shaped me forever.

Contents

Arriving

City of Tehran

Travelling in Iran

Lifestyle

My siblings

Chewing gum as currency

The movies

Necessity is the mother of invention

About arguing

Words and poems

Taxi, Taxi

Busses

Pedestrians

Intersection

Tehran driver’s license

Taarof

Persian cuisine

Invitation for dinner

Compliments

Beauty, health and well-being

Neighbors

Stroke of fate

Dogs

Tehran’s Mother Teresa

Golf

Wrestlers

Woman sports

Beauty salons for the soul

Lingerie

Luxury

Women and gifts

My father and his nurse

Grocery store at night

Shoemaker

Blind beggar

Foreigners

Doctors

Bank holidays

Persian wedding

Funerals

Banks

Wishes come true

Children

Scheherazade

Language school

Solitude

Flight from Tehran

Return to Germany

The author

Arriving

I hold my breath for a moment and reflect; I am on a flight on my way home to Tehran. Shortly, I close my eyes and let my mind take me down memory lane of the remote days. The days which are still alive and ingrained in the innermost layer of my soul; I can even scent the aroma of my childhood’s home from here. Tehran, where I grew up in…

Today, Iranians are scattered all over the world, they are home everywhere and nowhere. Maybe that’s why they often feel lonely where they live in, where the lack of family dramatically and profoundly is felt. The younger generation takes care of the career and lives overseas in solitude and their parents live and die in lonlyness in their native land. Mostly, children cannot even visit their parents; they can’t even bid farewell to their dead loved ones in their funerals; political conflicts or financial restraints make it impossible for them. They feel forgotten anywhere they live in now, and those who stayed in Iran feel lonely because their children are no longer there.

We are forgotten by our family, by our friends and classmates as they have been forgotten by us. For those who went away it’s important to suppress everything, because all that matters now is survival. To continue and survive, we cannot allow ourselves to cling to the long gone memories. We have to keep going forwards, we have to look ahead. There is no other way.

On the plane, a fervent and friendly atmosphere has permeated the air. The passengers are smiling, greeting each other, exchanging their seats and even taking care of other passengers’kids in case their parents have to leave the seats for a moment. I feel relieved. After four and a half hours, I arrive in Teheran, capital of Iran.

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Do and Don’t –

Tips for Iran travelers

In the course of developments in recent years, Iran increasingly draws interest from tourists and business people. But everyone looking to travel to Iran must be aware that there are certain rules in place that must be abided to.

Clothes: According to the rules of Islam, women are required to wear a scarf and their clothes can’t fit too tightly. Also, clothes must cover everything up to the ankles and wrists. Men should abstain from wearing shorts.
Customs Regulations: It is forbidden to bring alcohol, pork and magazines or books containing explicit images into the country.
Money: Paying with credit cards is rarely possible and it’s usually not possible to withdraw cash with foreign bank cards. The national currency Rial can be obtained in exchange offices or by exchanging at banks.
Religion: The rules of Islam generally must be obeyed by non-Muslims as well. For example, it is not allowed to smoke, drink or eat in public during Ramadan.
Safety: Those wishing to explore Iran outside of Tehran should contact their home country’s embassy to learn about risks and travel advice. At this time, travel to the areas near the borders to Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan is discouraged.

City of Tehran

Tehran is a frentic city. It’s crazy, limitless, sprawling, loud, stinky and dirty, but also it’s vivid, exuberant and inimitable beautiful. It radiates positive energy. This city’s got charisma. The town has recovered from sad moments, from violent experiences of the past. The sun shines and it keeps shining brightly with deep vitality every day as did in the past. In spite of all the calamities and the economic hardship, the people continued being amicable and friendly. They have successfully revived the positive aura to the city.

The people who live here have the same character of their own city. They know how to patch the short comings. They believe in power of fate and forgiveness. They have learned to endure the unendureable with a smile.

Tehranis are humorous and always in a good mood, they are talkative and have a zest for life. Even when they spend only a short time in a place, no matter where, in stores, busses or restaurants; they like to tell jokes and they know how to have a good time. All questions about air pollution, contaminated water, junk food, traffic jams, noise pollution, overpriced commodities, and lack of pharmaceuticals or medical care are being answered humbly and with a beneign smile. In other words: we Iranians have got used to these all.

But they don’t have any inclination or willingness for listening at all. They don’t want to contemplate or to worry about things. The song “Don’t worry, be happy”is a perfect fit to their attitude towards life. They only want to live and breathe freely and be left alone.

They have the back of their newly elected president and his politics. It seems they have finally found a shoulder to lean on, even if that footing might not exist forever.

A few years ago, in a winter day, while the streets of Tehran were covered by snow, the slogan “Rouhani, thank you” was vividly seen on the windows of many vehicles. It was after Rouhani’s first election victory. People expressed their thanks to their president by writing his name by their fingertips on the snow-covered cars. They even thanked him for the snow.

Nowadays, Iranians like to distract themselves with Turkish or Indian movies. Iranians do like watching Persian movies, but since the castdom cannot act freely neither dance, sing, embrace each other nor do anything that young people expect to see as a romance, and since the actresses have to wear scarves and long coats they prefer movies and TV shows from Turkey or India to get distracted from daily routine. Iranians love beautiful clothes, fashion, color, style and also good-looking actors. Unfortunately, glamour has been taken away from the Persian movies. This admiration of beauty perhaps is traced back to the history of their kings’ era. They want to see just beauties.

After many years of enduring suffering and sorrows, war and sanctions, and political uproar, that made them exhausted and worn out, now they desire rest and tranquility, they yearn for peace and vitality in all aspects of life.

Tehran; a city with a distinct aroma, full of noise and countless colorful light bulbs and flags in all colors!

When I first saw a row of yellow flags, immediately I asked my brother: “What country’s flag could that be? That bright yellow! “

He pointed out to the other flags, all in bright colors; red, blue, green, orange and purple, then explained to me that those flags were raised by the shahrdari, that’s the municipal administration.

“The shahrdari likes to decorate the whole town with flags and colorful light bulbs”, he said.

I noticed the brightly colored lights everywhere, including places where they didn’t belong and were often in ill-matched combinations.

Meanwhile, each district of the city has several mosques. Many of these have very beautiful architectures, with golden, emerald or azure cupolas and minarets. I enjoy hearing the azan (the call to pray) at noon and at sunset. One is always welcome at the mosques, day and night.

Sometimes visitors will receive a cup of tea or a snack at the mosque. Also, they always have calls for donations. For some women, mosques can be a hangout place or in other words, a refuge.

Men and women have separate sections. People meeting each other there, sometimes spend the whole day at the mosque praying, crying, discussing different issues, reading Quran, exchanging info and finding friends or even purchasing subsidized commodities.

Iranians are friendly, extrovert, sociable, and communicative, but they are sensitive. Their emotion unfortunately can easily switch from love to hostility. They are often megalomonic, they like to play boss, and lionize themselves. A doorman thinks he’s the director, a nurse thinks she’s the head physician and demands corresponding respect. Women like conversations; they distinctly prefer a nice dialogue or window-shopping at a mall to sport. They love fashion; they are fashion- freak and follow the latest trends as much as they can, even if fashionable clothes would not suit them at all. It makes them feel they belong to the modern world.

Iranians aren’t Arabs, we are Persians and we are surrounded by a handful of Arabian countries. This distinction is important to Iranians and they don’t like to hear someone attributes them to Arabs.

Persia or Iran?

Today’s state of Iran was called „Persia”until December 27th, 1934. On this day, then-ruling Shah Reza Pahlavi decreed the renaming. „Iran” means „land of the Aryans”, with the Aryans being a native people that lived in the Persian-Indian region thousands of years ago – contrary to the false use of the term by the Nazis.

Persia? Iran? What is the correct term to use? What is the most common? If you ask a Persian what country he is coming from, the immediate answer usually is: from Persia. The term Persia is reminiscent of the period of the glorious Persian rule, but “Iran“is usually associated with unpleasant recent political upheave and hostility with the West. The term is also often being confused with “Iraq“which we had a long time bloody conflict. I am sure, if it comes to poll, most Iranians would vote for “Persia“as their country’s name.

Tehran is a multifaceted city, crazy and loud. The streets are packed with millions of vehicles and with never-ending streams of people. You can see even traffic jams at night. It’s an unusual colorful city. There are quite a lot of out-of-place, anachronistic architectural building styles next to one another, with broad boulevards and romantic alleys. In the North, one sees the most beautiful and state-of-the-art buildings, restaurants and cafés, ultramodern shopping centers, parks and gardens, magneficent museums and palaces. In the South there are impressive old buildings with handmade colorful mosaics and splendid architecture, bazars, museums, and old cafés. Every Friday a flea market called (jomehbazar) attracts hundreds of tourists and locals. There are a lot of stores where you can buy fresh nuts and colorful spices for cheaper prices compare to the Northern part of the town.

In the south of Tehran, there is a center for everything: glasses, spices, mobile phones, furniture, TV sets, and taxi drivers know this place well. But you can’t be stingy with them. If you give them a generous tip right from the start, they will advise you correctly and in the end, you’ll have saved a lot of time and money. You should not forget onething that taxi drivers are either married with a lot of children or they are students. In Iran there are numerous universities that require tuition, so please never forget to tip. On the other hand, taxi fees are a real bargain compared to the West.

Over the years, the city has undergone groundbreaking changes with the new highways and subways system, it is a true metamorphosis. It becomes grander, more beautiful and modern year after year. In Tehran people say “Iran is the capital of Tehran. “

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Azadi Monument in Tehran

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Great Bazar of the Zaid Mosque, in Tehran

Travelling in Iran

In Europe, when it is cloudy, and the gloomy sky seems everlasting, or the hazy shade of winter lingers for a long time, people will have to travel far away even to another continent to see the sunshine. In Iran it only takes you 40 minutes to fly to the south or eight hours by train and then you are in the sun by the sea, namely at the Persian Gulf, and vice versa. If you yearn for snow and skiing, you need to drive only for 30 minutes out of the city toward the mountains and you will enjoy a completely different climate. Persia will warmly and affectionately welcome you.

Persia is always worth visiting, no matter what season. Iran is eight times bigger than Germany, one can enjoy the winter at the Caspian Sea in the north with all of its facets, its sublime, exalted and breathtaking sceneries, whereas the summer at the Persian Gulf just one hour flight away. In between, there are plenty of small and big cities with own cultural and historical backgrounds. There is also a vast stretch of mysterious and exotic desert to explore.

Isfahan is half of the world. Majestic Isfahan, the previous capital city of Safavid dynesty stablished by Shah Abas the first (1501-1736) who left an astounding cultural legacy, is a wonderful city with magnificent architecture. On the vast “Imam Square”complex which is the second largest square in the world, the magnificent palace of the king, the majestic grand mosque and the intriguing long Bazar attract a large number of people, especially on Fridays. About the people of Isfehan it is said, they are particularly thrifty and business-minded. I always enjoy hearing Isfahanian accent. It’s a pity that foreigners can’t recognize this sweet, tuneful, and likable accent. Whenever I visit Isfahan, I use any excuse to talk to people to entertain myself. I ask for address although I don’t need it or I ask for change money or I go shopping, just to talk to them. Their accent’s amusant and unique.

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Isfahan is well known for its exceptional bridges

Qeshm Island The island of Qeshm (that means „long island”) is located in the Strait of Hormus in the Persian Gulf. There are many fishing villages here, historic buildings and the Hara mangrove forests, home to a lot of animal species, particularly birds.
Dasht-e Kavir Iran has several desert areas. Particularly notable is Dasht-e Kavir, the Great Salt Desert on the Iranian plateau. There are tourist programs to explore Kavir desert, but given the extreme temperatures, travelers should abstain from visiting the desert during the summer months.
Yazd One of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Iran. It is famous for its wind catchers that serve to provide the town’s houses with cool air. It is also well known for being a place where fine silk and beautiful carpets come from. The running water in the buildings comes from the mountains and is being transported to the city via an antique canal system. Yazd is completely built from adobe and thus features a unique color. One can walk for hours in the many narrow alleys of the Old Town.
Qazvin Qazvin is located in a distance of some 180 kilometers from Tehran. The city’s history goes back several thousand years and there are a lot of historic buildings here, for example the magnificent Jameh Mosque, which for the most part dates back to the 12th century, other parts are even older.
Hamadan A metropolis in western Iran, where the tomb of the great scholar Ibn Sina (Avicenna) is located. The tomb of biblical Esther is also here and many Jews went on a pilgrimage to see it. In Hamadan province, a short way out of town, there is the Ali Sadr cave. This is a cave system that’s millions of years old and it’s filled with water so there are boating tours available to explore the caves.
Susa Located in the South, near the Persian Gulf, the town of Susa is not only Iran’s oldest city but also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it was first mentioned in the Bible. Because of the summer heat, Susa should best be visited in the winter time. The town is really fascinating: if you descend one of the many stairs, you will literally find yourself in the past and you can visit the subterranean graves.
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Die Stadt Yazd