Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad in New York - lock up your daughters!

As you are reading these words, you will hear a part of a rather famous song about New York. Don't worry, it only lasts for 30 sec.
(And I'll remove this song on Tuesday. In case you want to cut it now, hit 'pause' on the right side of your screen).


I always like to travel to Iran, so I guess Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is equally exited about his trip to New York. I mean, a change of environment keeps life interesting, doesn't it?

And interesting it will be for Mr. Ahmadinejad. Not only because of his speech at the United Nations, but also because - holy moly - Tehran seriously differs from New York.

While New York never sleeps, Tehran seems to do mainly that: Sleep.

Bloody hell, it is just such a booooring city. This of course viewed from a Western perspective (I can't help it - I'm European).

If you want to escape the rat-race in the West, please visit Tehran.

First, the pro's. It has wonderful museums, beautiful mosques, extremely friendly people and you can ski during winter.

Iran is surprisingly modern. No, this isn't Afghanistan or the Arab world. Iran reminds me more of Turkey or, let's say, current Bulgaria. There are flat screen TVs in the metro, loads of people have computers. And while the girls carry headscarves, most guys carry cellphones with (illegal) porn movies on it. The countryside of course is more backward. That is not typically Iranian though. Try Kentucky.

The girls in Tehran are - believe it or not - very flirty. And beautiful too. Looking is ok, but touching is out of the question. According to Iranian law, sex between a muslim and a non-muslim is punishable by nothing less than death. This though might be another reason to visit Iran: If you are into risky sex, this could be your walhalla.

But let me continue with the positive points. Tehran's metro is ten times cleaner and more modern than the tube in NYC (There is a catch though - just like with buses, women and men travel in separate carriages. For some kind of reason the Iranian government seems to think that their own population will organise massive orgies the moment the sexes are mixed). But there is hardly any crime and ten dollars gives you around 250 glasses of orange juice, although I might be exaggerating a little now.

But this all comes with a price.

No bars (not allowed). No alcohol (banned - no problem for this total abstainer..). No concerts (western music forbidden, some sitar stuff allowed). No free press (it takes honestly less time to read an Iranian newspaper than to turn on my computer - only Ahmadinejad stories, quran quotes and soccer). Endless and utterly boring documentaries on TV (or soccer matches from Germany's third league...truly fascinating). No normal Internet (most things 'unmoral', like sex or democracy are blocked).

By the way, hardly anybody speaks English (English in Iran is kind of politically incorrect, the regime promotes Farsi - foreign influences are discouraged). But don't think Iranians aren't aware of what is happening around the world. Most people are, for instance, very, very critical of their own president. For instance, concerning Iran's nuclear programme, many young Iranians in Tehran told me: "You really think Ahmadinejad only wants nuclear energy? Yeah, right - are you stupid or so? Of course he wants The Bomb!"

On the streets of the capital, the only thing you see are veiled women (veil is compulsory, for non-muslim women as well). Highly moralistic religious slogans on every street corner (aren't they ever getting tired of all that preaching?). And, the only thing people seem to eat are pistachio nuts (actually, after oil and gas, pistachio nuts are Iran's second most important export product worth 700 million usd a year; oil/gas yearly around 55 billion usd).

So, yes, Iran - and I am not cynical now - is a beautiful and fascinating destination. And - again surprise, surprise - people from Europe and the US get a visa upon arrival at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA, not IKEA). Yes, you heard it correctly - even US citizens DON'T NEED a visa to visit Iran; you'll get it immediately the moment you get to immigration (cost of a visa is around 50 usd, max seven days stay, not possible to extend).

Those seven days are perfect. Enough to get a glimpse of Tehran and other parts of the country. And just not enough to get you killed by this disease called Iranian boredom. Because there ain't any nightlife in Tehran. Sunset means prayer time and then either to bed or watching TV (another three hour nature documentary on the Divine Beauty of Clouds).

That is why I would not be surprised when president Ahmadinejad, after arrival in his hotel room in New York, will stay up the whole night.

Endlessly ordering popcorn and hamburgers and checking out pay-TV. Having wild pyjama pillow fights with his bodyguards and checking this website (like all's blocked in Iran) to listen again and again to that fascinating song called New York, New York.


"If I can make it there,
I'll make it anywhere.
It's up to you,
New York..New York."

Harald Doornbos


Anonymous said...

I liked your post...
I tell why you were bored. Because you did not know anybody to hookup and get into night parties(which are of course illegal and normally wild). There you have cute girls , alcohol and, if are into, drugs (when I was leaving Tehran 4 years ago it was ecstasy). I totally agree it is awfully boring on it facade but once get into....Next time mate.

ella said...

But I think this wild parties are mainly in afluent part of Tehran, northern Tehran, am I correct?
And what would happened if you went to Quom or somewhere outside of Tehran......boredom and (hopefully) satelite TV, neh?

ella said...


IRI is blocking many sites on the internet, recently it blocked Google. However young Iranians play cat and mouse with IRI, they are writing programs which allow people to see the blocked sites and there are other ways around blocking. One of this ways was to use google (don't ask me how it worked). However recently it seems that overcoming blocking is getting more and more difficult.
As for the bomb, I think, it is usual that people inside the country to have more clear view than outsiders on what their government is doing and what it wants.
Ahmadinejad in NY..........pah. I really think that they should prohibit Ahmadinejad from leaving UN building, but that's USA for you. He was even invited by Columbia University for a "discussion" , probably to discuss the peacefull meaning of the farsi slogan "death to america".

Harald Doornbos said...

@ anonymous,
Am sure there are a lot of private parties going on in Tehran. But these are the exceptions, not the rule.

And, as suggested by ella, very much organized every week by the same 100 rich people (same thing among rich young people in Pakistan).

And Ahmadinejad as president hasn't improved the party scene either.

But for sure, next time I'll search harder!

PS: Just a tip: I recently went 'clubbing' in Yemen's capital Sana'a. Break dancing, dancing on Stevie Wonder next to babes in burqa's (actually dont know if they were babes, maybe they weren't even women?!) Totally hilarious!!!! Sana'a rocks!

Thanks for comment, cheers

Harald Doornbos said...

@ ella

i always wonder what would happen if the US government (not some private person but THE GOVERNMENT) would put slogans on Washington's walls that read: "Death to Iran!" or "The only good muslim is a dead muslim".

You know that the iranian authorities, many years ago, named the street paralel to the British embassy "Bobby Sands street" - after this IRA hungerstriker? They never changed it. That is comparable to putting 100 danish cartoons in front of the Iranian embassy in London...

Anonymous said...

I thought your post was very informative. Ironically i read two other posts this morning one having to do with selling your daughters for $20,000 and Iranian woman be able to attend soccer games.

The_oomph said...


I posted the first comment.I don't agree with you that parties are only for 100 rich people. I grew up in a middle class family and did most of my friends. That was Tehran, I heard Shiraz was even better.

Nevertheless, I agree, it totally sucks that fun is banned in Iran. If it was not, Tehran would have been more like a city Latin America than a city in middle east.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the music. pacwoman is fantastic!

Harald Doornbos said...

Looks like I have to follow you next time you are visiting Iran!

By the way; I really am a total abstainer (so no drip of alcohol - never). I do not drugs. And there are enough beautiful shi'i girls here in Lebanon!

So imagine the following scene at a wild house party somewhere in Iran:

Iranian 1: "Who the hell is this boring blond guy?"

Iranian 2: "This looser doesn't drink alcohol."

Iranian 1: "He might be the only one at this party who is sober."

Me: "Could you please pass me the Fanta and some Pistacho nuts???"

Anyhow, let me know when you're off to Iran. Tomorrow, I'll publish a couple of funny pictures I took in Iran. There is humour in Tehran, but you have to look for it.

Peace and respect to you,

Harald Doornbos said...

You're welcome. and could not agree more with you, my sister is a great singer/musician. ciao,

USpace said...

Good take on this evil swine’s invasion. I bet he will want to get his freak on in da Big Apple. He is a very mad, mad Terrorist Monkey…

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
ignore the NEW Hitler

let him visit Ground Zero
gloat over terrorism

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
give New Hitler NUKES

just wait till he bombs others
and then just NUKE him back

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
Sharia MUST rule Earth

other planets way ahead
in bringing back stone age

Ekko said...

Hararld: What a negativity. You should have contacted Thomas Erdbrink before you left for Tehran. Thomas is a Dutch journalist who lives in Tehran. I think he would have loved you to show both sides of Tehran. See for his weblog.

MikaFan said...

Je stuk over Iran is zo interessant dat ik misschien wel eens die 7 dagen zou willen proberen. Ken je een site met handige info daarvoor??

Anonymous said...

Leuk stukkie, alleen lijkt me "are you stupid or so?" een vernederlandsing. "Are you stupid or someting", moet het volgens mij zijn.

Verder, "there ain't any nightlife" zou eigenlijk "there ain't no nightlife" moeten zijn of "there isn't any nightlife".

Hoe dat grammaticaal in elkaar zit weet ik niet, maar het voelt gewoon juister.

Achmanhoespeljedat en de pijama party is een giller.

peraj82 said...

I would say the statestics about export has some mistakes...
About night life.. There are fantastic parties in the houses and also we saw Tehran a city which never sleep. You allways can find people on street ..
For filtered internet we have another solution "antifilter" then every thing is accesable.. actualy Iran has one of the biggest rates of internet sites in the world.
Thanks for your site