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Emails from home
Visiting Iran: Part 1
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August 17,2004

After 25 years of living in the U.S., a friend of mine recently moved back to Iran. As promised, he has been emailing his weekly diaries for the past few months providing me and my friends with a cross-section of the Iranian society. The diaries are focused on recent events in Iran and yet they are general enough to be viewed by a larger audience. -- TB


Salam bar hamegi,

It's been interesting so far. Although I have spent most my time at home with my parents and my sister, relatives coming for visits, from my limited experience, it seems Iran has changed a lot.

Tehran once again has pool halls, go figure!

I'm doing fine. I surprised myself, at how quickly I adapted to the new environment; jet lag was gone after one day. My dad has a mild Alzheimers and it is hard to deal with, especially for my mom. He sometimes forgets where the bathroom is and asks us for directions. He remembers poems from 50 years ago when his co-workers recited them to him but he forgets where the bathroom is located, or that he has grand children. He is old, and every family in Iran at one point or another has to deal with situations like this.

I will be tending my father more than I had originally planned. I had to say no to two of my relatives who wanted to take me and my sister to their Villas in the north. They understand that I wanted to spend time with my dad.

The air quality has exceptionally been good in the past few days. I can clearly see the Alborz mountains from my window. Home prices have gone through the roof. One of my close relatives lives in a tower in Fereshteh (Golnar Tower). It is supposed to be the most luxurious tower in Iran; don't know if it's true. When visiting them in their home I quietly asked my sister how much their 4-bedroom, 350 meter home was worth and she said probably over 1.2 billion Tomans.

Their monthly association fee is 250 thousand Tomans. Unbelievable! A 4bdr apartment in Tehran for over a million dollars? My relative, the owner of the house, showed me the other towers viewable from their windows and said over 80 percent of the homes (in the newly built towers) were empty. The monopolist owners of the towers are holding on to their homes and not letting the prices to drop, he said. It is said that after Norooz prices will climb even higher.

A 46 meter studio above my parents home in Ekbatan was recently sold for 50 million Tomans.

Business is booming in Tehran. Hi-Tech gadgets seem to be more advanced than what we have in America. Mobile phone lines are one million Tomans and it seems everyone except me has a mobile phone. One can see kids on the street, sitting on benches sending text messages to each other over the mobile lines and giggling -- dokhtar baazi in the 21st century.

My uncle who has worked as an engineer for Sherkateh-Naft for over 35 years told me he was asked to go back to work (he was retired). He said Iran is heavily investing in increasing its potential for oil production. The Chinese are the main players in Iran's oil fields he said, but he also said all the Iranian petrol specialists, retired or otherwise, have been called and hired back to work in that industry.

I'll write more after I get out more. So far I've been playing guest (mehmoon baazi.) If you decided to visit Iran don't bring anything, bring

Dollars. Even those few items which were cheaper in America a few years ago are now cheaper in Iran. Recent American movies are available here on DVD and VCD. They come from China. You can buy them cheaper than for what you rent them in America.


I have picked a potential father-in-law but they don't know it yet. There are many many eligible girls in Iran, but the requirements are very high (a house in better part of Tehran, lots of money, etc.)

Report from Iran's society, you asked. How about a report from a “Mehmooni”?

Last Monday night I went to dinner, to my aunt's house. After tea, Zoolbia, Shirini-tar, tea, then a fabulous dinner which was ordered from a restaurant nearby, then more tea, we got down to talking about our pasts, where everyone had been and done for the past 30 years. there were three people (cousins whom had gone back to Iran from America at different times).

One was very happy and had made lots of money in real-estate, one was going back to America after staying in Iran for 20 years, claiming that he was happy in Iran but his children were college-age and America would be a better place for them. And the third was going back after two years, saying that business activities in Iran required much more money than he had anticipated.

Another cousin was also visiting from Connecticut (for only two weeks) After some B.S. conversation I asked some juicy questions: why live in Iran? why live in America? Why homeowner Iranians double or triple their assets in Iran once every 3 years, and why we work so hard in America and don't get rich even with high salaries? What are we looking for? Why are people searching for a better life on the other side, whether that other side is in Iran or in America?

I reached a conclusions from the conversations and debates that night that Capitalists will get richer much quicker in Iran. Iranians still don't have the right information as what America is and isn't, and that if you owned a second home in Iran it will appreciate in value in 3 years so much so that it will equal to 40 years salary of an

Iranian bank teller. In other words, as my cousin put it, one may open a business or may work for the government, or for private industry. But you only work to keep busy so people don't think you are a bum; nevertheless real money comes from selling your properties >>> Part 2
Part (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)

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