Shanbeh, the 7th of Khordad 1390/Saturday, May 28, 2011
In Iran, like many Muslim countries, Friday is considered to be the weekend. Saturday is the first day of the week and not the week end. So here is my cheesy joke for this post. In Iran people have a bad case of the Shanbehs and not the Mondays. That’s right, I am in fact a riot. No need to make fun of my cheesiness as Sadra is right next to me doing that job for you.
Since I brought up cheesy, I must mention cheetos here are not represented by a cheetah, but instead a very creepy monkey. To be fair, the cheetos cheetah is a bit creepy as well, with his dark shades. Where is he looking under those shades? See this is what happens when I don’t update my blog on a proper schedule. I forget details from the day and just write weird tangents. Continuing on!
Although I am fully aware Saturday is not the weekend, 23 years of looking forward to Saturdays is just hard to discourage. So in typical weekend fashion, we went to the mall.
Sadra and I didn’t do much during the day, but in the late afternoon we went to meet up with some friends from Boulder, who happen to be in Tehran, brother and sister tag team extraordinaire: Soroush and Setareh. We met up at a big square, which is weird because all the squares I’ve seen here are actually big round-a-bouts. So where did square come from? From the square we walked to a near by shopping mall. After our considerable walk we were thirsty and decided to get some fruit shake/juices. Sadra and Setareh opted for a melon drink which is quite popular. It tastes exactly like cantaloupe, which is kind of strange to me. I guess I’m just used to your standard juices, orange, apple, and if I’m feeling especially daring pineapple-orange juice. So a cantaloupe in liquid form, though perfectly sensible like any fruit juice, is just strange. I opted for a pineapple shake, which was way way way too sweet. Soroush had a banana shake, which in my opinion was by far the best. Then we set off for the mall.
This mall was like any other typical mall I suppose, with exception of two large portraits of Iran’s great leaders Khomeini and Khaemeni staring lovingly from above. We took a picture with them and proceeded on. My task during this mall outing was to find Soroush a cute girl, get her attention through my American charm, and then somehow incorporate Soroush into all of this so he could make a move of some kind. Our plan eventually became me sweetly saying to some unsuspecting, cute Iranian girl “bebasheed (excuse me), can you take a picture of us?” and then hold my camera out and make the gesture of making a photo. The first flaw in this plan was, the fact that people don’t take pictures inside the mall. The second flaw, Soroush didn’t find any of the girls attractive. The night would have been a bust for Soroush had we not discovered Iran’s very own Victoria’s Secret. Now this isn’t a certified retailer of V.S. lingerie, however it sold some of their stuff along with a few other lingerie brands. What was great about this Victoria’s Secret was the fact that there were no sexy models posing seductively outside the store. The only thing you could see from outside the store was a huge do not enter sign directed to any male, under any condition. Setareh and I went inside the store, which thankfully was run by women and checked it out. We wanted to take a picture inside, but alas they wouldn’t let us. So I’ll just say there was lots of underwear, one photo of Adriana Lima, some lounge furniture and a nice kitchen for the staff to make lunch in. Similar to a Victoria’s Secret, but oh so different.
After our mall excursion we went to a fast food chain called Boof. I like Boof only for it’s name, which is just fun to say, Boof! In Farsi, Boof mean’s owl, and so it has a cute little owl logo. Like any typical fast food place here, they don’t specialize in burgers in fries, or sandwiches, or pizza, but rather all three. It’s nice as you can satisfy everyone’s taste at one place, but alas I think the specialization helps make fast food places stand out. Perhaps I just haven’t discovered what is good at one place versus another. This tangent is irrelevant. All you need to know was the food was good, but not memorable. After dinner we went around the mall retracing our steps trying to find a shopping bag with a scarf I had bought. And after going everywhere, it was of course at the place we started, Boof.
That was pretty much it. Now onwards to Sunday!
Yekshanbeh, the 8th of Khordad/Sunday, May 29, 2011
Another quick word about the week here in Iran. Did you notice they call Saturday Shanbeh? Sunday is Yekshanbeh or 1 Shanbeh. Monday is Dushanbeh, or 2 Shanbeh. Tuesday is Sehshanbeh or 3 Shanbeh and so on until you get to Friday, which is taken from Arabic, Joomeh. I like how they structured the naming of days of the week here. It makes sense, and also makes me wonder about the naming of the English days of the week…
Sunday was a big day for Sadra as he got to see one of his best friends from school, Hossein. Together we did lots of walking around, which made me sore the next day. Tehran is very hilly and there are steps everywhere. However there’s no uniform step, sometimes they’re really little, sometimes their unmanageably large. Whether the small or large steps, this change in steps made my calves very sore the next day. We had a great lunch, walked around Valiasr Street, which is one of Tehran’s most famous streets. It is also the longest street in the Middle East and one of the longest streets in the world. Initially built by Reza Shah Pahlavi, it’s most famous for the trees which line it on each side and its real estate value. We also went to Tehran’s Central Park, Park-e-Mellat. (As I was looking for the name of this park online, I came upon a startling fact. They’re over 800 parks in the city of Tehran. No wonder it’s also known as a city of parks.) Continuing on the trend of finding stray kitties, we only found one in the park and she wasn’t too friendly.
On the other side of the park is a huge cinema. They only play Iranian films there of course, but the building is huge and has restaurants and spaces for conferences. I’m not sure of all it’s uses actually, that’s how big it is. Also trying to find a public restroom at the cinema was in a word: difficult. It begs its own paragraph I’m afraid.
Public restrooms in Iran. *Sigh* I have yet to conquer them. You see 99% of public restrooms are quite old school. Their’s a little room or stall and a nice big hole in the floor. You get the idea. Also, no toilet paper, just a hose for water. This also takes strategic maneuvering that years of sitting on a toilet did not prepare me for. Now I’ve tried twice to use these public restrooms and in the midst of trying to figure it out I just give up, go outside and tell Sadra “It can wait till we get home.” Now in America there’s this book called “Everybody Poops,” which is a fun little children’s book used in potty training. I think they need an adult version called “Lots of People Squat to Poop.” Thankfully the Azimis have a Western-friendly toilet in their apartment. And to those who think I’m gross for telling you this, I say to you I am just giving you important details if you ever decide to go to Iran. I’m leaving nothing out for your own benefit and as a keepsake memento for moi. Also I come from one of the grossest families in America, and if you can’t find the humor in bodily fluids then you’ll never truly be family. To my older sister, brothers and father who will be reading this. I dedicate this paragraph to you. haha
I’m also grateful that after searching and asking security guards, we managed to find a western-friendly bathroom on the second floor of the movie theatre. The only problem was you kind of had to attach the toilet seat yourself, which was odd. However, no complaints here.
After this little mini-venture, Hossein took us to an ice cream shop/cafe, where we enjoyed our shakes and discussed politics. You see Hossein studies politics, not just any politics, but American politics. Imagine my enthusiasm! What’s great about Hossein is that he knows the names of politicians I casually forget, cause they’re not that big, or irrelevant to myself. He even knows American history down to the names of generals, which just awes me. Although his English was a bit timid, and Sadra had to do a lot of translating we had some great conversation. It’s always neat getting an opinion from an outsider on a lot of the issues facing the U.S. A fun time was had by all. Following our discussion of politics we saw a little mall that specialized in electronics which had at least six apple stores 😉 Then took taxis to go home.
An interesting note about taxis here. Now in Iran you can choose to take a taxi directly to your location or a taxi with other people to a nearby landmark/square and walk the rest of the distance. Although the first is fairly reasonable fare, the second is a lot more fun and way cheaper. So we embarked on two different taxis to reach home where we saw fun things like one taxi driver hitting another taxi driver square in the face. Then the other taxi driver grabbed a huge stone and started sprinting after the taxi threatening to throw the rock through the car window. All this while commando police in riot gear did nothing. But I guess these kinds of things are better left sorted out by the drivers and not the police.
Once we came home, we had dinner with Reza and I promptly began drooling on the couch in front of everyone, signaling it was time to sleep.