Ok, this is turning more into a travel journal than a blog, hope you enjoy reading anyway! Here`s Albert`s part........ en español.

30 August 2013

Iran, Iran, here comes Iran! (Part1 )

Iran... what a country!  Where to begin?  There is just so, so much to write about. Maybe with the most important thing: the people.  Because it's the unique encounters with all the people we met on the way that made our experience in Iran so wonderful!   In fact, it is one big reason why I decided to pick up this blog one more time after sooo long because I feel that the Iranian people deserve to be mentioned here.  Besides, I feels wrong to keep all this luck and good experiences for ourselves only.  Also, I am intending to spread the travel bug disease.. :P

Fortunately, I meet more and more people on the road who have heard similar (good) opinions about Iran from other people as well.  But still, there is plenty of misconception about Iran in the world, due to the media being so bias...  Some travelers have avoided going to Iran.  I think anybody who has been there is grateful for all the experiences they had.  Certainly we are.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Generally speaking, I'd say Iranians are very out-going and open-minded people.  They approached us everywhere, young and old.  Men and women, whether they spoke English or not.  First came the "standard" questions: Where were we from, where were we going, were we married (or were we brothers and sisters?!  Haha..), what were our names, what did we do in Berlin and how high were our salaries and then: Chai?  They'd never forget to ask this one.  Also, they would always ask if we needed any help. 

Especially in the Kurdish region we were constantly invited to people's home; either for lunch, dinner, to stay for the night or, most often, for all those things.  Breakfast on the following day included.  Oh, and picnics, of course!!  Iranians L*O*V*E having picnics!  Especially at the weekends, there are herds of picnickers everywhere.  Amid beautiful scenery.. you would think, and yes, Iranians love nature, they love going to see waterfalls or to sit nearby a river to have picnics.  But you can also find them spreading out their picnic rug on a patch of grass between two busy roads or cars on a parking lot, with a "never mind the place, have more watermelon!" -attitude.  Wherever there's space, a picnic is possible in Iran.  And you will be the guest!

Depending on their English skills or creativity in non-verbal language (our pantomime skills have improved quite a bit, yey!), the conversation could get quite deep.. They'd ask all kind of questions: What was the purpose of our trip, why did we not have any children, what was life like in Germany and what did Germans think of Iranians?  What do Germans value in life and why, did our impression of Iran change now that we were there?  Many also asked us about relationships between men and women in Europe, about affairs, marriage (marriage between cousins..) and many of them talked very openly about the suppression of the people by their government - conversations could last for many hours until late at night, since we, too, of course, had so many things we wanted to know.

We were foreigners and "honorable" guests in their country -this is an extraordinary situation, and of course our point of view is limited.  But these are the things we observed..

"Please, be my guest" 
"Oh, no, no, it`s so nice of you, but we don`t want to bother you"
"Oh, nonono, you do not bother us, we would be delighted to have you as our guest, so please!!"
"Oh, nononono.." 
"Ohhhh, yesyesyes.." 

Only after the 3rd or 4th round - if the offer seemed genuine, which is not always obvious- we accepted.  How many times did we play this game?!  And still, we hardly improved.  The most difficult thing was to decline an invitation when we really were dead tired and had no energy to socialize anymore. The expression "No thank you" seems to be synonymous to "Yes please, under all circumstances."  Especially those who really wanted to do us good never let us go ;).
This custom called Taarof can seem a little dishonest from a "Western" point of view.  In Japan, there is a very similar custom.  Especially the older generation on the countryside can have multiple personalities, like a flipping coin, just to be polite.  But it did make sense to me when I read about the origin of Taroof: It allows economically poor people to show their genuine good intention, even if they cannot afford to invite a person.  They would then express the offer only once or maybe twice and not push so hard (in Japan, the person who gets invited would then decline by saying "thank you, I accept your good intention", I couldn`t find out where these similarities come from.. I might have to go to Mongolia to explore this one?).  All this made even more sense to me, when we got invited by some poor family in the Kurdish area, and it was obvious that they were expressing their sincere generosity, wanting to offer all they had.

Despite the culture of Taarof, one remarkable thing we found about Iranian people was that a huge amount of people really did seem to enjoy contributing to another person's happiness.  

...to be continued..

1 Kommentar:

  1. hallo?????? I think it works now. Bad english (me) but good exercise. juhu


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