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Monthly Archives: October 2010

Getting used

After the initial period where everything seemed different from things I knew, Tehran is getting ‘normal’.

No Twitter & Facebook

I just noticed, but Twitter and Facebook are blocked in Iran (I can post via posterous).

Teheran, quite a ride

This afternoon I visited the contemporary art museum which has a shockingly beautiful collection (van gogh, picasso etc.) and shockingly few visitors. Immediately afterwards my observation about contact with female Iranians was proven wrong when both an old lady and a group of younger ones initiated contact.

People who have seen me recently must have noticed that I stopped shaving. I did this out of politeness for my iranian hosts. Now it appears that they take it as an insult that a foreigner adapts his appearance in such a strong way because of iranian tradition. Therefore I’ve shaved this afternoon, which has as disadvantage that it singles me out as a tourist.

Teheran feels more expensive than it is in reality due to the large amounts (1 euro is 14.800 rials), but still I find the place quite pricy.

Tehran reminds me of Buenos Aires: both have a glorious past and are currently full with locally produced cheap Peugeot cars.

I had ‘dinner’ (kebab) in the north of Tehran with a member of the Iranian inventor association who developed a new kind of bike (100% transformation of energy into power for the back wheel). I met the guy on the street as he saw me struggling with a map of tehran. He’s a nice guy and we’ll meet again tomorrow. My way to the north of Tehran was quite exciting: I was waiting for a taxi when a motorbike stopped and offered a ride, which I accepted. This resulted in a manic half hour ride through Tehran (without helmets). As my blood pressure increased I could observe the following driving strategies:
– if your side of the road is full, switch to the other side (even when the road is physically separated in two)
– if a moving object appears in front of you: accelerate (breaking always is the last option)
– if there’s a big hole in the road: continue as normal, evade at the last possible moment
– (this one is from yesterday) if you miss your exit on the highway: revert until you get a second opportunity to leave the highway
It literally took me 15 mins to stop shaking after I stepped off. Chances of repeating this method of transport are slim.

Other noteworthy events: car crash between two cars with guests of the same wedding. Shop selling DELL products (it is strictly forbidden for anybody working at DELL to sell products to Iran) in front of the former USA embassy. The building is currently called ‘den of thieves’ and is decorated with paintings that display a less than favorable opinion of the USA.

First impressions of Tehran

These are mu first impressions of Tehran after walking around the south part of the city for a couple of hours.

First of all the language barrier is bigger than I thought. Yes, one can always quickly find somebody who speaks English, but it does make life a lot more complicated than say in nepal or myamar.

Shopping is the most efficient I’ve ever seen as each street is dedicated to a single product: lamps, shoes etc.

Needless to say that I haven’t spoken with a single female iranian yet (whereas I’ve spoken with almost a dozen men). The modern girls seem to compete for the ‘largest sunglasses’ award.

Traffic is the worst I’ve seen: crossing a road means throwing yourself for a car a hope that he’ll stop or evade.

There’s a remarkable absence of bars and restaurants (maybe I’ve been in the wrong place, but I only saw one fruit juice bar until now).

Poverty is mostly absent and I’ve seen very few beggars (which surprises me as i’ve stayed mostly in the poor south).

What do you think when you enter Iran?

According to LG the answer must be ‘3D television’, as the airport and the road to Tehran are filled with advertisements for their latests High Definition 3D television sets.

And yes this means that I arrived safely in Tehran.

Technology’s usefulness

After completing a Skype call from my iPhone to my parents in France via an open wifi network @Ankara airport l’m convinced that we’re entering an era where technology will bring large numbers of people closer together.


I believe that every traveler looks forward to the encounters with locals. The friendly grandmother who invites you for a cup of tea, the proud father showing you his dirty children and his wife that insists that you will be the guest of honour at the local festival.

People sometimes ask me what i’m looking for on a trip around the world. One of the things is that i hope to return with to The Netherlands is a spirit that enables me to return the favour when i encounter a lonesome Irani, Indian, Chinese etc. traveler.


It's a mistery to me
we have a greed
with which we have agreed

You think you have to want
more than you need
until you have it all you won't be free

society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me

When you want more than you have
you think you need
and when you think more than you want
your thoughts begin to bleed

I think I need to find a bigger place
'cos when you have more than you think
you need more space

society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

there's those thinking more or less less is more
but if less is more how you're keeping score?
Means for every point you make
your level drops
kinda like its starting from the top
you can't do that…

society, you're a crazy breed
I hope you're not lonely without me
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

society, have mercy on me
I hope you're not angry if I disagree
society, crazy and deep
I hope you're not lonely without me

Books for trip around the world: suggestions?

During my trip I plan to listen mostly to locals, but I'll read from distant voices as well. Please share your suggestions for other books: