5/7: Day Two in Tehran
Most people mistake us for Germans. When we say we are American we often get a raised eyebrow-look that translates into “Oh really?” Sometimes we get a little pandamonium. Like today when a group of 8-year-old school boys came across our path in a park. In moments they were practicing their English on us, hugging Jackson and Zach, and aggressively insisting we share their potato chips. Would you offer the “The Great Satan” a potato chip? Me neither. Clearly America means something positive to these young lads.
At the risk of sounding like the spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Public Relations I have to say we are having a great time so far. The people are very nice, the sights are amazing, prices seem cheap, and the weather has been good—with exception of a wicked hail storm on the first day but I enjoyed that. Lets go over some of the negatives:
– Limited access to television.Oops, this was supposed to a list of negatives.
– Lack of alcohol. Me and my slowly expanding 40-year-old belly are not missing this at all.
– Pollution: The air pollution does suck. It doesn’t really affeourct enjoyment of being here, but it’s not pleasant. For the sake of those that live in Tehran I hope that the powers that be are hard at work on a solution to this avoidable problem. It makes me think about the importance of environmental issues in the U.S. When America makes strong policy decisions in support of clean air it not only benerfits Americans but it can serve as a model for other nations. I don’t mean that in a paternalistic way, it’s just that if a place like L.A. can have cleaner air believe there’s hope for Tehran.
– Women wearing scarves, and “hajib” modest dress. I’ve watched Pam struggle with this and feel sorry for her predicament. Wearing a scarf and covering your arms in 80 degrees sucks. Plus, there’s a real trick to keeping the scarves on.They are constantly shifting and sliding if your are not used to wearing them. If they fall off it’s not just an inconvenience you are violating the law. The fact that men can’t wear shorts seems hard to complain about in comparison. Despite this I can come up with some positives. My wife, who likes to cover here arms, has seen pictures of Iranian women and told me she thought their clothes looked like something she would like to wear and she was very open to the idea of restrictions on dress having the fringe benefit of reducing the amount of fashion decisions a woman would have to make every day. Having done a couple years in Catholic school I’m hostile to the notion of dress restrictions, but I have to say there is something that can be very alluring about women wearing the hajib. It forces you to focus on faces and appreciate their beauty more. The smallest fashion details take on more power. Everything else is left to the imagination and that can be a good thing.
Honey, I know you are reading this so please don’t get the impression I am just over here scoping Iranian ladies! I am thinking about how smokin’ you would be in a Iranian outfit, how it would accent contures of your face. I imagine what it would be like to court in a group of young adults in the park, or the food court, as I see the kids here doing. Without being able to touch in public and without distracting clothes there would be such heightened awareness of mannerisms and inflection. Could we just reincarnate as North Tehran teenagers and and fall in love again? Hah! The ramblings of romantic westerner who doesn’t have to live under the restrictions of the Islamic Republic everyday!
In addition to my cultural musings the day had two tremendous highlights. At Artists Park a moments rest on the grass on the grass became a four hour UN summit on schoolyard tag. We happened into a Danish family, friends of Houman, who were also visiting Iran for the first time. They had three kids who were up for whatever. That atttracted two sisters from China who seemed not put off in the least by a bunch of kids–and a couple of wannabe kids in the case of the fun-loving Tom and Bobbi—running around tagging each other with flattened plastic balls.
We ended the night at wonderful restaurant with a Iranian food buffet. That meal was too delightful and complex to recount here, but suffice to say I still can’t get the pomegranite,walnut,chicken dish out of my head. All hail our guide, Shahrokh and Bobbi. They are showing us a terrific time.