I wake up with the sound of the telephone at 9 in the morning. It is Soheil, my good friend. Soheil and I have known each other for a few years but had not actually met. He is calling to welcome me to Tehran and to set up a time to meet. It's a crisp sunny day. I look from the window and am amazed of the satellite dishes sitting on top of most houses. In the background, the majestic white Mount Alborz embraces the city.
After a quick breakfast, and armed with my camera, I am out to Valiasr Street. I am in awe of the busy traffic. I have one day to sight-see and meet friends. The next day I am off to Ahvaz for an international conference on epidemiology.
As I am walking down the street I see a woman running towards a dentist's office and she seems to be sticking something in her mouth. Later I find that she is brushing her teeth, probably late for a dentist's appointment. I come down the street and reach Saie Park. The park actually looks much nicer than I had envisioned.
I have a problem. Crossing the streets seems like an impossible task as I see no realistic way of crossing. I find a gentleman who agrees to guide me across the street. Crossing the street will give a person a huge adrenaline rush as drivers are experts in stopping just at one's toes without actually running the person over.
Later in the day I have my second amazing experience. As I am waiting for a taxi I see a Paykan that looks a bit strange. After I look more closely, I realize the car's hood is practically lifted upwards making a vertical wall for the driver. Nevertheless, he is still driving. Amazing! Where in the world would I have so much excitement in one day.
I meet with Soheil later in the day. We have lots of catching up to do. He invites me for coffee at Hotel Homa. As we are driving in the streets I have flashbacks to my childhood. Although Tehran has become a large metropolitan city, many of the neighborhoods look exactly the same. The apartments, cars, etc., even the shops. The feeling is one of nostalgia mixed with unfamiliarity.
The day ends rather quickly. I am back at the hotel and pack for my trip to Ahvaz. The next day a taxi takes me to the airport. I rejoice finding out my plane is an Airbus and not a Russian Tupolov. I think this very fact may just have increased my life expectancy by 50%.
The trip to Ahvaz is smooth. After 50 minutes we land at the airport. I see palm trees and many brick houses from the air. After picking up my luggage, I see a man holding a “Conference” sign. “That's my ride,” I tell myself. To be continued… >>> Index