different worlds

  The bus to Tehran departs nearly empty, so it’s no surprise that after an hour or so the few passengers are transferred to another bus. Still things seem rather calm and orderly, a last few hours of peace before arriving in the huge metropolis. I am staying at one of the most famous Couchsurfing places in the city. The host has several of hundred positive references of people who have stayed with him. Or rather in the basement of his family house which he has turned into some kind of free hostel. Perfect since I’ll be in the city for a while arranging visa which during this scorching hot month of Ramadan I suspect will take some time. I can stay as long as you want and he doesn’t want anything in return. Plus the host organizes couchsurfing meetings and get-togethers to read Darwin, the Avesta and Farsi poetry, he seems like a great guy.

I don’t actually get to meet up with him a whole lot, but do join in for a few of his meetings and one iftar meal with his family. The rest of my time I mostly hang out with other tourists and the handful of young men who regularly visit the basement. And since the city is huge there’s plenty to do during my three weeks stay in the city.

I visit several museums vilifying the regime’s enemies, praising its heroes and being fairly ambivalent about the country’s past. It becomes clear that museums should have a moral lesson when I conclude that the best designed museum in the city by far is the one dedicated to the Iran Iraq war. I spent other days visiting different neighborhoods and parks, including a surprisingly blatant gay cruising spot and one occasion even attending an overpriced but still fascinating slightly experimental music concert in an art gallery. Still it feels like a difficult city to understand, I know there must be many interesting things going on but I’m too much of an outsider to get caught up in them. So when I have received my Uzbekistan and Afghanistan visa I head out to the bus station and leave town.