Coming back to Tehran from Ahvaz was a relief. It was back to a more familiar place. At this time, Tehran was mourning the loss of thousands of Iranians from the Bam earthquake. The somber look of the people in the streets was indicative of the magnitude of the disaster. In every street corner one could see stacks of blankets, medical equipments all destined to the earthquake stricken city.
I tried to enjoy the reminder of my trip as much as I could. The mornings were spent in the streets mostly with my friends. I soon learnt the art of crossing the streets although it took a few days and a couple of close calls but I think I graduated with honors. The adrenaline rush of crossing Tehran’s busy streets is more riveting than riding the best roller coasters in the best amusement parks in North America. Approximately 1,200 cars are introduced into the streets of Tehran every day. It is estimated that in five years streets of Tehran will serve as parking lots as there will not be any room for actually driving the cars.
I soon decide to visit the Iran-Bastan Museum which is Tehran’s largest archeological museum and a place that I was eager to see. A couple of taxi rides from my hotel takes me to the museum. After greeting the seventeen-year-old guard who was blowing bubble gum, we enter the main hall. The museum is full of old Persian artifacts most of which were discovered by British and French archeologists.
The most precious artifact is the statute of “Cyrus” apparently given to him as a gift by the Egyptians. The hieroglyphics writing is carved on the statute and a Persian translation provided reads something like “To Cyrus. The King of the Kings”. The statute is missing Cyrus’s torso but it is believed to be the only statute of Cyrus to this day. The museum’s guide was enthusiastic in explaining some of the history behind the artifacts. “We will be bring some new artifacts soon” he tells me. The museum is a definite must see for anyone visiting Tehran.
A few days later I visit the Imam Khomeini Hospital. There I am about to meet an Iranian scientist who is interested in collaborating in a research project. As I approach the entrance of the hospital, I hear a loud sound that seems to be coming from above. I look up and see a quite a large helicopter that is probably carrying the injured from the Bam earthquake. The helicopter lands right in front of the Hospital, inches from a Laboo foroush. The skill of the pilot amazes me as in North America heliambulances usually land on the roof of hospitals and not in front of the entrance.
Amazingly, I do not have to wait too long and soon meet the scientist. He greets me and calls for tea and TipTop, which I think is equivalent to Persian Twinkies. We are interested to look at the risk of several cancers in Iranian soldiers exposed to chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war. It is estimated that between 50,00-100,000 Iranians were exposed to chemical warfare. Many died instantly. Those who survived were afflicted with severe respiratory conditions as the gases literally liquefied their lungs.
My meeting with the scientist seemed productive at first although soon I realized that nothing productive will come of this joint project. Iran is the land of promises with little follow through and this is the main reason that Iran has fallen behind in many aspects from other countries.
I am now close to the mid point of my trip and already start to feel a bit tired of all the parties and the busy schedules. Tonight I am invited to yet another Mehmouni, an experience that will be a memorable part of my trip. To be continued… >>> Index