In at the deep end

Iran, it’s not how you think.

November 4, 2008

‘How much?’
’16 Toman’
About sixteen US Dollars, hmm, I hadn’t stayed in a hotel in Iran that was more than 10 toman a night.
‘Hi, can I help?’
‘Oh yes, I’m just trying to explain that this is too expensive, do you know of a cheaper hotel?
*Some Farsi is exchange*
’12 Toman he says’
‘I’m sorry but I can’t afford more than 8′
*some more Farsi, the hotel owner looks slighted and glowers at me*
‘He says ok, 8 toman; I’m an English teacher at a school down the road, will you come and see my class?’
‘Of course! Anything’

A few moments later I’m sitting in front of a class of 15 or so 18-22 year old Iranian girls, somewhat apprehensively.
‘Tell us about England Mr Sam’
‘Ah, well I’m probably not the best person to talk about England as I’m not really a fan of it!’
Despite my personal viewpoint I launch into a diatribe attempting to compare the differences between the UK and Iran diplomatically.
‘Does anyone have any questions for Mr Sam?’
The girls break into hushed discussion and burst out laughing and start nudging one of the group who shakes her head and looks at the teacher.
‘She wants to know if she can have your email address’
‘Of course, no problem, you can write it up on the board if you like’

The questions start flying, ‘Where are you going?’, ‘What do you do when you need to calm down?’, ‘What countries have you been to?’, ‘What do you think about Iran?’.
Time’s up, one last question from the prettiest girl in the class.
‘Would you like for me and my friends to show you the city?’
I’m not about to turn down an invitation like that!

That’s how I found myself in a Peugeot 206 with 3 beautiful Iranian girls driving round seeing the sights.
I quizzed them about what they thought of the laws that the west perceived as ‘oppressive’.
‘We feel the same, I hate the Hedjab, I wish I didn’t have to wear it’
At that moment one of the girls phones rang.
‘It’s her boyfriend’ Nelly told me, giggling.
‘How does that work?’ I enquired, as as far as I knew Iran was a segregated society and I knew that at the very least sex before marriage is illegal.
‘Her parents don’t know, they’re always talking by SMS and mobile’
As it turned out we were going to the park to meet this boyfriend, so they could surreptitiously hold hands and exchange a few words in person.

I don’t seem to be very loquacious at the moment, but I figured I’d better post this otherwise it’ll end up on the ever-growing pile of drafts that never get posted!

  • delara

    Hi Sam!I hope you have spent a good time here in Iran but I think you staid a few days here bcz of having only this memory from here to publish!I have had such an experience with italians,i never had thought they will notice to our relatioships in details while they where in ancient places,but in this world i think knowing about other societies is more attractive for strangers,I wish this out of mind president could have know that!i read your blog sometimes to improve my English also knowing about your experiences and ideas,have fun.


    hey sam, long time no speaky, let us know how things are going.