Archive for January, 2010

Welcome–Mi Casa es Su Casa

January 8, 2010

Was walking down a street in Tehran when this display at a sandwich shop struck me.  Immediately I was surprised that the “Welcome to Your Own Shop” was in English and not Farsi.  For a country that gets little tourists, we still convey the warmest of welcomes to you.  And regardless of whether the translation is off or not, the sign perfectly conveys the sense of generosity and hospitality Iranians take pride in.

For more information on some Iranian customs, such as greetings, gift-giving, etc. etc, check out this link below…Of course, each family is different.  My favorite description is on “tahroof” where it’s rude to take things you’re offered even when you want them:

Phone Booth

January 7, 2010

In Iran the military draft is mandatory for young men.   These men usually look bored on duty.  This particular soldier I “found” right outside the Modern Art Museum in Tehran.  He is stationed in the hills surrounding Tehran.  He was off duty for three days when I found him.  With little money in his pockets, he hitch-hiked to Tehran to “feel normal again”.  I snapped this picture of him as he was calling his mother in Tabriz.

Herbs anyone?

January 7, 2010

Iranians consume herbs by the kilo.  To call them a “garnish” is just plain offensive.

Not your mother’s Merlot

January 7, 2010

The Islamic Republic outlaws alcohol, the possession of which is a crime.  Obviously there is a black market for all kinds of booze, from Hennessy to Corona.   The majority of people consume home-made  concoctions–some tasting really smooth, others tasting like gasoline, most accompanied by Absinthe-like side effects.  These various Moon-Shines were made either for the family’s personal consumption or in a large batch for the whole village and sold locally.   A gracious family invited me to intimately participate in the wine-making process in Shiraz, Iran (with my bare hands. And feet).  Below is an insider’s look at the process:
1.  Dry the hundreds of kilos of grapes on the floor of a dark, dingy basement where no one will report you to the authorities.

2.  Press the grapes in the most efficient manner possible.

3.  Put the resulting grape juice and pulp into casks for forty days.  Everyday, stir the product by sticking your arm into the cask in order to prevent it from turning into vinegar.  Upon Day 40, the pulp is all to have settled.  Some families put raisins into the wine if you want it to “get” you harder when you drink it.  This batch didn’t have raisins in it.

4.  The final product is a full bodied bootleg red wine. Literally.

Bus Fair

January 7, 2010

Public buses are segregated:  Women in the back, men in the front.  There is a bar that separates the two sides.  You pay your bus fare (of about 125 tomans) once you reach your destination.  Men pay as they leave through the front, women get off the back of the bus run up to the driver and hand him their fare.

Phone Booth Beauty

January 7, 2010

She was waiting at this phone booth in the subway station for at least 5 minutes, which is about how much time I needed to get the courage to snap her picture.  Whoever she was waiting for never showed up.  She lost patience and left.

Reducing His Carbon Footprint

January 7, 2010

Spry old man in Yazd choosing environmentally conscious means of transportation. Note the adorable cargo carrying “basket” attached to the back of his bicycle.  It’s called a “Khorjin” and is made out of recycled strips of fabric and old rugs.


January 7, 2010

A couple, taking a post-rain stroll in Tehran.

No need to whistle–they know they’re hot

January 7, 2010

Iranian women are undoubtedly the cornerstone of Iran’s future culture and politics.  They have turned their mandatory hijab into a fashion statement.  You can tell an Iranian woman’s politics by the coverings she chooses.  Burkas are not prevalent as they have never really been a part of Iranian culture but more of an Arabic fashion trend.

Division of Labor

January 7, 2010

The laundry machine at the laundromat in Taft, Iran.  I didn’t see a dryer though.