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Iran – Discovering the Traces of Old Persia in the Islamic Republic – Arriving in Tehran. Episode 1

Tehran: The statue of Liberty

What goes through your head when somebody tells you about Iran? Probably bearded men with gunshots (although this image is much more typical for the neighboring Afghanistan), women with veils, bearded Ayatollahs, crowds that whip themselves … Well, this is pretty much what’s to be seen on the TV. Oh well, thanks God, there’s also talk about the Iranian nuclear bomb, but this is usually without TV footage. Instead once you reach Tehran, you’ll discover a modern country (maybe one of the most modern countries in the Far East with the exception of the Petrol Golf), an extremely friendly and welcoming nation of people (maybe one of the most hospitable in this world that I have ever rarely met) with a passion that is unequaled in the world for classic culture (please tell me the country where 700 years old poets are worshiped like super stars and anyone on the streets can recite entire pages out of their verses), a country that is extremely clean (there is no comparison to their Arab neighbors from the west), finally you’ll have a big surprise. I did…

And talking about surprises, the first time I got shocked was when I firstly stepped on Iranian grounds after passing the passport control area in the Tehran’s Ayatollah Khomeini International Airport…Not because the airport is modern – yes, it is very modern, could be placed anywhere in Europe, but this was not the surprise…but the fact that when entering Iran I was greeted by a big beer commercial!! As it was around 4 o’clock in the morning, I thought I was probably dreaming and I am confusing the airport – otherwise how could I see a beer commercial on the Imam Khomeini International Airport? Well, yes…it was a Bavaria beer commercial (Dutch beer) …During the next days I will drink enough beer, but Muslim beer – alcohol free beer that tastes like fruit…lemon, apples, pomegranates and many other versions!

We were a pretty large gang – it was 7 of us…4 flew via Rome, the other 3 via Istanbul, but the planes arrived at about the same hour. After giggling with the idea of taking a bus, we negotiated the prices for a cab and headed to town. The first confusions – in Iranthe national currency is the Rial. Unfortunately, in the everyday life the prices are often verbally expressed in the Toman, an old Iranian currency, that was discontinued about 80 years ago…but the Iranian people still continue to calculate a lot of prices in tomans. As 1 toman = 10 rials, here you have the confusion. So if you end up in Iran, each time ask if the price is in rials or in tomans !

The way throughout the city was such a show… Tehran has plenty of highways and the road from the airport to the city also has five or six lanes on each direction. The problem is that the Iranian vehicle driving style is completely chaotic – next to Cairo and India, Tehran seemed to be the peak of the driving chaos. In fact, the traffic seems to be a permanent race, as if all, from bikers to truck drivers wanted to reach firstly an imaginary FINISH. I read that in Tehran, you can find a kind of stadium for cars races, some sort of Iranian Formula 1 circuit…Honestly, I wouldn’t go to these kind of races…You save money by standing in any major crossroad in Tehran and you get much more thrilling races in comparison to Silverstone or Maranello. On top, about three quarters of the male population of Tehran seems to be a close relative of Michael Schumacher, sharing a lot of genes.

Finally, our race comes to an end at hotel Shiraz, our host in Tehran. The entry is nice, with pictures of the old Persian soldiers of Darius and Xerxes. The check–in procedure happens extremely quickly, so we crash on the 4 beds that happen to be in our double room! I mumble a “Christ is risen” (we arrived on a Easter Sunday) and sleep after half of a night on a plane!

Around lunch time, I wake up and go down at the reception. It’s time to go and conquer the city! But firstly, let’s go down to the Iran Air office – we have to buy some plane tickets for the Esfahan – Shiraz flight. Due to the embargo, the credit cards from abroad cannot be used in Iran, therefore we were not able to buy internal plane tickets in Iran.

The road passes by the former USA Embassy, known now under the name “US Den of Espionage”. Here used to be the Embassy of the USA before the Ayatollah took the power. It is true, the United States heavily supported the despotic regime of the Shah and also here, Kermit Roosevelt, the nephew of the former president FDR organized and led the 1953 coup d’etat from when the democratic regime of Mossadegh was overthrown by the CIA. After the democracy was canceled by the US, it followed 25 years of Shah Dictatorship. After the Islamic Revolution, the Islamic students assaulted the embassy, arresting the American diplomatic staff for 444 days. I read rumors that among these student militias was also the actual president, the controversial Ahmadinejad). Jimmy Carter tried to rescue the hostages through a military action which badly planned and disastrously run led to a total humiliation – American helicopters crashed each other over the Iranian desert. Secretly, the counter candidate of Carter, Ronald Reagan negotiated with the Iranians the release of the hostages, but only after the election from the USA.  The Islamic militias kept their word, Reagan won (the humiliating failure from Iran was one of the main causes of Carter’s defeat), and the prisoners were released in the day Reagan officially took over his mandate (20 January 1981).

Today, the Den of US Spies is the den of the Shepah militias, the so –called “Guards of the Revolution”, a paramilitary militia that takes care of the “protection” of the Islamic Revolution. Inside, apparently there’s a museum that keeps the incriminating evidence against the CIA, but it can be visited only about ten days a year.  The artistic part of the former Embassy are anti-American murals – the Statue of Liberty as a skull instead of a head, there are quotes from the Khomeini Imam (like “Today, the government of the United States is seen as one of the most hated governments in the world” or “the United States are too weak in order to do something”), and the images show either American fighter jet planes plunging, or mocked USA symbols…You can also find the traces of the USA crest on the wall next to the entrance.

Moving further on… On the diagonal side of the Den, there is a Greek – Orthodox church … Unfortunately closed today, exactly, on the Easter Sunday !!!. Further on, I will enter also the Armenian neighborhood with its Armenian Cathedral, but the Armenian Easter is not in the same day as the Orthodox one.

Tomorrow I will continue my walk through Tehran… cafes, restaurants, cafeterias, I will not miss anything :) not even the anti-American murals on the walls :)

Pictures of  Tehran:

Tehran accomodation: Shiraz Hotel

Welcome to the Shiraz Hotel!

Tehran accomodation: Shiraz Hotel

The guards from the entrance.

Tehran accomodation: Shiraz Hotel

The double room with four beds :)

Churches of Tehran: The orthodox church from Tehran

The orthodox church from Tehran

Things to do in Tehran: take pics of The US Den of Spies

The sidewalk next to the Den of Spies

Anti US graffitti in Tehran

And the new crest

Tehran: anti US Mural paintings

Mural pictures

Tehran: Mural pictures at US Den of Espionage

Tehran: anti- American Mural pictures

Tehran pictures: anti-US Mural pictures

Israel– a state of the USA?

Quotes from the Supreme Leader of Iran

And now quotes …

Tehran: anti-US graffiti

Tehran: anti- American Mural pictures

Tehran US Den of Espionage

Tehran: American soldiers surrendering in Iran

Americans surrendering …what a joy for the Ayatollahs!


Până acum există "5 comentarii" la acest articol:

  1. Very interesting to actually see from someone NOT directly involved with the media, particularly how my country is viewed there. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Edi says:

    Very interesting, Imperator
    Keep em coming!

  3. Laurie says:

    Really interesting post. I also like the the selection of pictures you have included. The story was well written

  4. Fahima says:

    Hi all.i’m sorry for this graffity in our streets…

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