I had the opportunity to visit Iran again. Unfortunately this trip was to pay respect for the passing of a loved one.
I thought to share with you the updates since my last visit in June and the election fraud and protests that followed. There are no more Allaho Akbar lullabies at night! No more death to dictator chants but I saw few written slogans here and there.
I got a sense that people have more or less given up for the time being and understand after all that they’re living in a dictatorship. I think Mousavi summed it up best when he said “they think by silencing people they can silence their just demands.” While the protests have subsided for now it will flare up once again. For sure! If you ask me it’ll be when the elimination of subsidies for those “above” poverty line goes into effect.
Just like anything else with Ahmadi’s overnight dreams they’re identifying a group of people “above” poverty line and if you make a penny above it you’re considered middle class! It is not clear what documentation is needed to show yourself above or below the poverty line. I think by far vast majority of people in Iran work very hard for their money in order to just keep up with the inflation which by the way becomes noticeable in Spring of each year after Norooz, like clockwork!
Government pays subsidies to cover part of the expenses for things such as electric, gas and other utility bills for a home. It also covers some other items such as healthcare costs and other things that I didn’t get a chance to read enough about. Suffice to say that people are anxious and worried about paying more out of pocket when their salaries are not only stagnant but inflation is cutting into their buying power. As an example the fee for leaving Iran jumped from 25000 to 50000 tomans an increase of 100%. There are many items that have 100% increase and above in one year.
Many foreign companies especially European companies have stopped doing business and have given Iran’s atta’s to its lagha! Some of my own family members who worked for these companies are either without jobs now or will be very soon.
I’ve also noticed that in the past year not many movies were made or albums produced and given the chaos of the last year it is understandable. But now that there are some new movies they are really a waste of time and talent. Good actors such as Niki Karimi played the love interest of Mohammad Reza Golzar, another good actor, in a really crappy movie called 2 sisters. I saw few other new and cheesy movies. I guess it is time for making bad movies just to make a living. Somehow Government wants the industry to make more comedy and cheesy movies to keep the masses occupied to give an impression that “life is good” and don’t worry your pretty little head over it!
Taxis don’t like to take you “straight” anymore they want you to “charter” (dar bast) them so they can make more money. Going straight distances is like 200 tomans while chartered is about 3000 – 4000 tomans. You can use designated taxis with defined routes that take more people and are far less expensive like 500 – 700 tomans. Overall I think as bad as Tehran’s traffic is there is plenty of public transportation of all kinds that you can use. During weekdays people can’t drive their cars to the center of Tehran and they have to use public transportation anyway.
This year I saw more motorcycle “taxis” and many of them now on cell phones. I don’t understand what they can hear in the middle of all that noise! I still haven’t gotten the courage to sit behind one of them. My main concern is “how to sit” behind the guy! I mean I can’t hold his waist because it is gay and I can’t not hold anything because I’m afraid to fall when he weaves his way through traffic! I have an idea to hold the seat behind me like other passengers but I’m afraid to fall down head first in a sharp turn!
I also saw more street lights at night. More colored lights and overall lighting. Also noticed more landscaping around Tehran.
This year I didn’t feel like talking politics to Taxi drivers or other people. I sensed some of them didn’t feel like it either but the 2 or 3 who tried to start something with me didn’t get me interested. I think we all know where we stand and how things are going. It’s pretty much a given and everyone has witnessed enough in the past few months.
It is always good to visit home and Iran. It gives me great pleasure to walk in the streets and mingle with people with the same skin and mother tongue as mine. Love Iran!