Emails from home
Visiting Iran: Part 3
Part (1) (2) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8)
Mohammad called and said hello to everyone. He is expecting a
mini-Mammad in a few days. Mammad told me he has "rahned" a
nice house for about $20k and is happy in Iran, but he said money
is hard to earn in Iran and he prefers making money in America
and living in Iran. Rahn is an interesting concept. For those of
you who don't know, if you pay 10% of value of a house you get
to live in it for a definite time, say for about a year, then when
you decide to leave the house you get all of your original money
A religious story: I was visiting a relative of mine
and he said one of his cousins who has converted to
the Bahai religion 40 years
ago has passed away and he was going to go to his funeral that
day. I asked if Bahais are still prosecuted in Iran
and he said there
is a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
He then told me a story regarding
his cousin: last year. The Bahai cousin complained to the neighborhood
police that their neighbor's dog barked all the time. Police
came and together with the Bahai guy went to the dog owner's
house. The dog owner neighbor got mad and pointing
to his Bahai neighbor
said to the Pasdars/Police that these people were Bahai. Police
in return got angry at the man, and told him to not repeat
such things anymore and that he should not sink so
low to take revenge
on his neighbor by revealing his neighbor's religion! He added
that they have direct orders as to not bother Bahais
A Restaurant story: 3 days ago one of my girl cousins
and I decided to go to a restaurant. My cousin told
me that this certain restaurant
had such wonderful food, but it was very expensive for Iran, about
$30 per person for each dish.
We walked in to a very luxurious
small restaurant and were faced with a very chic host. "May
I help you" he said. We wanted a table for two.
"Do you have
a reservation?" No, we said. He showed us the door.
have to call first,' he said. Can we call from my cousin's
right now and ask for a reservation, I said? No, he said. We
left the restaurant with our tails between our legs.
Next door there
was a nice pizza parlor: Let's eat here, I said. The menus were
in English and Persian. Apparently rejecties
from the 5-star restaurant end up there. Pepperoni
pizza! hmmm that sounds good. Pepperoni and sausage sounds good.
I asked our waiter, "is your
Sausage real sausage, made from pig?"
"No," he said, "It is beef
but it is seasoned like sausage."
"Is your pepperoni real?"
"Yes it is. It is
real. It is Salami."
"Is it Salami or is it pepperoni?"
confidently replied, "Yes
our pepperoni is salami."
"What is your Salami then."
The waiter lost his composure and
went in and came back with
the restaurant owner to explain the difference between
pepperoni and salami.
your pepperoni red?"
"No, it is thick
and dry like salami but after we cook it it shrinks and turns
red and becomes
Now I was clear: sausage
was beef, pepperoni was salami but it turned
into pepperoni after they cooked it. My cousin
too much into
my conversation with
the waiter, she couldn't
stop laughing. I, however, take my pizza seriously.
Other items you should remember in Iran; "jambon"
is not ham, it means
processed meat. "jambon-e morgh", for example, means bologna made
chicken. "Sossees" does not mean hot dog. "Koktail" (cocktail) means hot dog.
"Sossees" is a type of hot dog that is made from unknown
materials. It tastes like processed cardboard dipped in red blood
rolled into the shape of hot dog.
"Super deluxe bus" means a regular
bus. If you want to travel in style you need
to know the right terms. Don't eat the hot dogs.
I have been home for the past three days, tending my father,
talking to him, reminding him to wear his pants, etc. This morning
I went to Ekbatan's Bazaar. I spent $13:
-- $10 for a haircut and neck
-- Dry-cleaning: five shirts and one pair of pants: $3.80
-- A beginners computer book, WinXP, $3.20
-- 2 pounds of fresh cream pastry: $2.50
-- Two packs of Kent Light: $1.80
Newspapers are 5 cents per copy. Bus fare is between 1 and 4
cents, depending on where you are going. Bread is about 2 to
10 cents, depending on the kind and weight. I had my dad's Dupont
repaired and gassed for 30 cents. He threw in two special Dupont
size gas caps.
2.6 Ghz Panasonic cordless phone with CallerID and answering
machine $105. Cars are more expensive here. Some items are same
as in America, most of the stuff is much cheaper here. Some items
such as bread and bus fares are almost free.
I had “Gheimeh Polo” for lunch. It's 2PM and the
Bazaar is closed. My parents are taking a nap, Siesta time is upon
us. The city will wake up again around 4:30PM.
Last Thursday night I went to a friend’s house. Shahram
explained that his house was not large enough to accommodate all
of our mutual friends, so he had only invited a few.
Actually all the guests except Shahram had lived or were visiting
America, including Shahram's wife. She has lived in America for
in the early eighties. She is a great host and a great cook.
Parties start late in Iran. We were supposed to be there at p.m.
there a little after 8:10 p.m. Others arrived at about 9, and
the rest arrived at 10. We ate around 11:30. The party was
over at 2 a.m. Shahram kept saying "kojaa haalaa, yeh khordeh
digeh beshinid." We
took lots of pictures and had a chance to talk one on one.
Shahram insisted on giving me a
ride home. I wanted to call "Taxi-Telephoni", but he really really
Another friend offered to take me home since he was going to the
general vicinity and it was late and there was little traffic.
Traffic never stops in Tehran. At 12 midnight there are always
cars all over the place but at 2 a.m. it was a smooth ride.
Yesterday I went to Bahram's factory and had a chance to witness
a mold building in process. He was designing a mold for Iran-khodro
to build "fingers" for robots that are used in painting
vehicles. These fingers are used in conducting sparks at exact
time in the process of painting vehicles. Bahram's shop's reputation
is that he builds parts that are very exact.
These kinds of exact
measured parts used to be ordered from Germany and Korea but
people like Bahram are now building them in Iran, with a fraction
costs. After Bahram builds these parts he sends them to an agency
in Germany for testing. If they pass then that agency puts its
seal on the part. Bahram then sells the part to his customers.
Other non-exact parts don't need to have the seal.
In Bahram's shop I met a guy from Iran-khodro.
He said much of the factory is automated. They build 1,400 cars
per day and they
rank 12th in the world. Iran-khodro (former Iran National) now
builds 7 different passenger cars: Samand, Persia, Peykan, Puegeot,
Maxima, and others. Merceds Benz will start its production separate
other car manufacturers in the city of Saveh in a few months.
The man from Iran-Khodro said that quality issues remain in Iran's
car manufacturing >>> Part 4
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