tehran – final report

October 22, 2009 :: Tags: , , :: Comment

sweet trip. sweet people. bitter sweet memories. best thing happened to me in 2009.

iran death to dictatori needed it. no secret to my audiophile friends and close friends/associates that 2009 has been a shitty year for me, mainly thanks to the worst betrayal i have ever experienced in my life (from a couple of business associates). i needed to look back at 2009 by thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) and mention a couple of good things about 2009. my trip to iran is one.

this, combined with the fact that i just got my iranian passport and waiver not to be drafted, gave me the peace of mind i needed to embark on this trip.

most places in iran, even shopping malls have “no-photo” signs. a baker and a street vendor asked me not to take pictures of their set up. no idea why. perhaps a mis-trust thing. ¬†security guard at a shopping mall came to me inside a shop and very politely asked me not to take any pictures and delete what i have already taken. to his surprise, i asked him if i could take a picture of him. then i told him i joked but i wish i did take a picture of him. point: he was incredibly polite and professional. i think in most other places, my camera would have been confiscated.

back to the mis-trust thing. i think this, as pertained to the governments, is ingrained in the iranian culture. at the time of shah, people did not have the courage to talk politics (unless they sucked up to the shah) in the cabs or public places. at times, not even among closest friends or family for the fear of retaliation by shah’s secret police, savak. well, it ain’t any different now.

i am in particular grateful nami and sora got to meet the rest of my family and my birthplace. traditional japanese families, although highly caring, do not show their affection much. no hugging, no touching. with my iranian family this is just the opposite. sora and nami were the centers of attention with everyone wanting to hold, play with, hug and kiss sora. everyone made sure they felt part of the family and were comfortable. they are now considering going back to iran for a couple of months, and study farsi.

my stay in tehran is ending. a great place to visit. great people. what i had always heard and suspected myself proved to be correct again: iranian people are some of the nicest, most welcoming people you will ever come across. they care about westerners and there is a sense of envy when they meet people from other countries or an iranian living abroad. like all people, they are proud of their country and heritage. in many social events, they sing a “national anthem” that has nothing to do with religion or the government. only talks about their beautiful country and heritage.

as for me, i continue to be proud to call myself “iranian born american” and hope my american friends get to visit iran, and make their own interpretations of its culture and society.

tehran, iran — report 2

October 13, 2009 :: Tags: , :: 2 Comments

almost 10 days in tehran now. nami and sora flew back to chicago last night. i am so happy they had a chance to visit tehran, and the family. they were stars here.
i have taken over a thousand pictures and will post a few here as soon as i return. the trip so far has been very good. a few highlights:

  • went to my boarding school/high school. the boarding school is now a women’s school but the school is still there and remains one of the best in iran. the doorman remembered me from 32 years ago!
  • while at school, a few kids came to us, saying “hi” and “i love america”
  • many people on the streets tell us hi.
  • caught a cold. went to a doctor. she did not accept money from me saying i am a guest.
  • many beautiful women, covering part of their head as they have to in public; but actually you notice their beauty even more. when you see them at a party, the cover comes off and they (well, most) look brilliant.
  • low cut pants are rather common among young men. not the most beautiful scene imho.
  • i have been pigging out. so much delicious food. pictures to be posted soon.
  • facebook, twitter, linkedin, and other social networking sites are filtered here. many people buy programs to break this filter. i have not been able to do so as i use a mac.
  • everyone has been courteous and friendly to us. this includes places we have been going to like museums, palaces, and a mosque, giving us free catalogues and trying to make us feel like a guest of honor.
  • i find tehran cleaner than chicago, and certainly much cleaner than san francisco. i am also surprised how clean everyone, even the street cleaning people are. most i see are on the young side, clean shaven, and put gels on their hair, using their brooms to clean the city.
  • the gentleman you see in many pictures is my brother whom i met after about 31 years in antalya, turkey a couple of months ago. i love him more than ever and am proud of the good person he is.
  • one of my biggest fears was going through the customs and the immigration office. again, was pleasantly surprised how smooth and professional it was.
  • seeing most my family members after 32 years is a bit an emotional event. a few of the loved ones have passed away during this time. as i see them through the lens of my camera, can not help but wonder who may be next.