Prayer on University Shahid Beheshti University’s campus

I think my experience in Iran has been slightly different from that of a traveller, as I went there for a course of Persian at Dehkhoda Institute.

I spent forty days there, and I have stayed primarily in Tehran, where the Institute was. I only traveled to Shiraz for a weekend and to Sari (in the North, near the Caspian sea) for another weekend. I had been in Iran before and I had back then visited Esfahan too.

Well, let me start with Esfahan. They call the city “nesf-e jahan”, half of the world, which in itself is not very surprising, if you think that there are many cities around the world where proud inhabitants make up phrases and expressions to promote the beauty and the unicity of the city itself (think about Naples, “vedi Napoli e poi muori” or Granada, “has llegado a Granada, lo mejor del mundo entero”). Well, I have to admit that few things I saw had on me the effect of seeing Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahan. And not only the square makes you feel like you would like to spend some more time or even some years in that city, but also the streets full of young families having picnics everywhere you see grass, or the men sitting under si-o se pol, singing forbidden songs, promptly interrupted by the guards, when a too big crowd gathers to listen.

Admittedly, going back to Tehran, having spent some days in cities like Esfahan or Shiraz, is a pure nightmare: the city is pregnant with smog, pollution, heavy air that makes you feel tired only after walking a kilometer on your feet, if you have survived to cross the streets in the middle of the busiest traffic you can imagine. But Tehran is unfortunately the heart of Iran, the political thermometer, the city where everything is possible: seeing a woman moving around with her headscarf fallen off her head, high heels and very very tight clothes, that don’t leave much to imagination, and seeing another one all covered up in her black chador, the two walking together hand in hand. Hidden house parties where as soon as you arrive, everyone goes to take off the many layers of clothes they were wearing on the streets and hurries to get drunk, and religious processions where believers flog themselves to the point of bleeding.

I see Iran as a country of paradox, a mixture of ancestral Zoroastrian culture, Islamic culture, western culture, and autochthonous Iranian modern culture.

And books: books are everywhere, books are scattered down on the pavement, on the piece of cloth where they are exposed by the street seller; books are staying orderly inside a book machine dispenser; books in the small library in Enghelab street where they organize weekly discussions about literature; books are in the hands of the women who fill the metro during pick hours in Tehran; books are everywhere. Poetry is everywhere too: in the speech of the taxi driver, in the song coming from the radio, in the recommendation of the grandmother while you are leaving her house, after helping her wash the dishes; in the air at the mausoleum of Hafez in Shiraz, crowded at whichever time you visit it, with people from all over the country.

Iran is the Persian teacher who will tell you more about the history of your own country than yourself have ever known. Iran is the incredible corners that open up unexpectedly while you are walking on the most common-looking street of Shiraz or Tehran, it’s the small café where you sit in an exquisite patio with a fountain in the middle and flowers all around. It’s Harry Potter café in Tehran, with the very young waitress who jumps up and down out of joy because she could exchange some French words with you; it’s Parvaneh market in Tehran, where all wishes come true, and all you ever wanted to buy is there, if you look closely and spend your morning going around its five floors. Iran is seeing a man walking his dog around with pride, in spite of the ban on possessing dogs, as they are supposedly haram.

Iran is many things, many people, and a huge country of which I only lived a small part, but where you will realise that, to say it with Maya Angelou, “we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike”.

Tehran-City
Tehran City photo by Arman Taherian

Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA: IKA) is the only international airport in Tehran, Iran.  IKA is located 30 km southwest of Tehran city center, that’s why you should know how to reach Tehran before your arrival. 

do you need to see Tehran Metro Map ? Here it is.

Metro in Tehran is not 24 hours so this is the schedule of IKA metro station :

Reaching  to Tehran by metro is a great decision for time and money saving. As it is 35 mins to get to Tehran and costs only 7,000 Tomans which is equal to 0.75 cents  🙂 unbelievably less than a dollar.  It is not crowded at all  you may a have a wagon for yourself to seat wherever you want and Metro is much safer and you will escape heavy traffic of Tehran entrance. 

IKA station to Shahre Aftab Station
            Saturday to Friday
                        6:50 ( First Train)
                         8:10
                         9:30
                        10:50
                        12:10
                        13:30
                        14:50
                        16:10
                        17:30
                        18:50
                        20:10 (Last Train)
Reach Tehran
Azadi Tower- Tehran -photo by alireza heydarifard


Do you know about Yalda?

The night of  Yalda is the last day of fall and it is the longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere. In Yalda night there is a special ceremony in Iran. In most parts of Iran, the extended family gather around and enjoy their time together with a lot of foods and snacks. If I could call this night with another name that would surely be the “delicious night”!

Yalda watermelon
Photo by Roman Davayposmotrim on Unsplash

There are many varieties of fruits, pastry, and nuts. Everyone is talking about this night weeks before and they are deciding where to gather and what to cook. Pomegranates and watermelons are the special fruits for this time. Although the watermelons are most of the time white because of the season. 🙂  parents usually give newlyweds presents on this night. children are happy that they can stay awake until late at night and enjoy their time with the family and sweets!

Wait a minute!

After writing this blog post, I started to share it on social media, and I suddenly remembered I didn’t mention anything
other than food. I obviously forget the cultural part of Yalda night, because I am so foody that I missed the most important part of this special night, reading poems!
At this night we read Hafez, Khayyam, and Ferdousi poems together, we also tell our fortune with reading Hafez poems by chance and dear Hafez speak to us and advice us what to do in the future.
After that, I got a really nice comment on my post which I will bring here.

Yalda is the longest night of the year. Yalda is also a girls name (maybe with thick long black hair).
The family gathers together, mostly at grandparents place, so they fight and survive the “darkness” together. The elderly entertain by telling stories (keep everyone busy so they forget the presence of the darkness) and feed the family with some summer fruits (saved for months in a cool place) reminding their flock of longer days ahead.
We Iranians celebrate by constantly using our profound symbols of life and creation.

Okay, now I feel much better, but I will definitely add more things on this blog as soon as I remember or if any of you remind me more traditions for this wonderful night!

Do you want to celebrate Yalda with us?

This year, Irandestina group as a tourism event organizer invites all travelers who are in Tehran to celebrate Yalda night together. This ceremony will be held in Baccara Cafe with one of the most creative team and local food and beverages. We celebrate Yalda in Baccara Cafe for happiness, poetry, live Persian traditional music, Yalda snacks, Siah Bazi performance, etc.

Let's celebrate Yalda
Let’s celebrate Yalda

Join us and experience Yalda like a local.

Reserving contact:

[email protected]

Whatsapp
+989194194872

Tajrish Bazaar is located at the north side of Tehran in Shemiranat County, near northern hills and Imamzadeh Saleh. In the past Shemiranat was apart from the urban part. Because of the mountains, the temperature in Tajrish square is lower than other parts of Tehran and in summer you can enjoy the weather. Tajrish bazaar is a small sample of Tehran bazaar and you can spend at least a day in this area.

Tajrish Bazaar
Tajrish Bazaar

I personally like Tajrish and the bazaar because of its atmosphere. The bazaar consists of a vegetable market that has a great vibe and it is colorful. Everyone is looking for something and sometimes you stuck in people traffic. Local people really like this place and people from all over Tehran go there to shop or just enjoy the colorful shops.

Tajrish Bazaar
Colorful vegtables

Whenever I go there I should buy something, I cannot resist the smell and image. You hear sellers trying to advertise their products and they smile at you. There is almost everything in the Bazaar and you will not come back home without finding what you need.

Tajrish Bazaar
Homemade olive pickles

For tourists and photographers, it is a nice place to shoot photos, especially in the early morning, both because of the light and because it is less crowded.

You can spend at least one day in this area, there is also lots of attractions nearby.

Like:

  • Imamzadeh Saleh
  • Darband mountains and village
  • Saad abad palace
    Niavaran palace

    Tajrish bazaar is close to Tajrish metro station and you can reach there easily.

Tajrish Bazaar
Colorful peppers

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Fresh vegetables

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Fresh vegetables shop

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Homemade figs

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Bazaar to Immamzadeh Saleh

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Colorful dried fruits

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Tajrish Bazaar

 

Tajrish Bazaar
colorful pickles

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Copper shop

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Iranian Saffron

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Saffron art

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Handmade art

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Street food

 

Tajrish Bazaar
Street food