Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The other travel story!

The second leg of the trip was Tehran, Iran. When the plane landed the commotion amongst women was noticeable. The head scarves were flying out of the bag, spun in the air and hung around the neck. Then they were pulled over the head and tied tightly. A group of foreign women had the hardest time completing this procedure. They were frustrated by the ordeal and unable to keep the scarf on. Why do we all have to conform? No idea! Who am I to contend? No idea, again!

The streets of Tehran are crowded. To get to their destination, people patiently wait hours for the bus, taxi, metro or in cars stuck in traffic. I don't know if these words are compelling enough to convey the really chaotic condition of the traffic in Tehran. The side effect: you've got a city that its air pollution level is unacceptably high. Elders and children should wear mask.
Like any other big city, Tehran has to accommodate its exponentially growing population. Unfortunately, this has translated into tearing down houses and building 5+ story apartments. The city used to boast beautiful fruit gardens in the northern part; now there is only a few of those left. Space is hot commodity and greed a trend.

But, I can't say enough good things about the taste of produce. The tomatoes, cucumbers, the sweet lemon (yes there is such thing as sweet lemon), the fresh pistachio and so on; it's all so very good! Going to a house of kebab is a must. There are many restaurants spread through out the city that serve traditional food.

They say action speaks louder than words. In Tehran the reverse is true. Visit a bank and you may see what I mean. From the time you stand at the counter, in front of the teller, in what seems to be a line, but in fact it is more like a congregation, to the time your business is completed and you leave the bank you observe the teller engages in greetings with more than a dozen of the customers, shaking head and/or hand while working. It's amazing how much personal relationship is mixed with professional. Be prepared, because you never know who will open up to you and tell you her life story/problems or offer advice! Here people are engaged and involved in each others lives. It's an insult moreover futile to say "butt out". Good or bad?

With its fantastic geographical location, abundant resources, growing educated population, unique business and personal culture; Iran remains an interesting enigma to me. Regardless, I will unconditionally love it because that's where I was born!

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