Iran can be considered as a country of contradictions. We certainly experienced many of them, but certainly not without challenging our own values and assumptions about what it means to be a citizen of the world, of one’s country, and about human beings and their treatment towards each other.
Iran currently produces no wine. But like wine, the struggle to survive, the endurance, and the flavor come from the people. As mentioned in earlier posts, the most remarkable takeaway was the unique character of Iranians. They are proud. They are animated. And they are a kind and gentle people.
Everywhere we visited, people were not only good to us, but good to each other. There is a high value on the family. In the streets of Tehran and elsewhere, there’s no jostling, little noise, and a graceful poise.
Naturally, as travelers in a foreign country, we notice the aspects that are different from what we consider normal in our own countries. But being in Iran has had a profound effect on how we think about human interaction.
Maybe it’s because life is tougher in many ways, and there’s so much misunderstanding about the country. But there appears to be a genuine friendliness that is inherent in Iranians. Hospitality is in the DNA of every Iranian. There is an elegant flow in body language, facial expressions, and greetings to one another.
The newest gesture we learned is placing your hand over your heart to express many words: “I’m thankful”, “I’m sorry”, “I feel for you“, “I’m happy that you’re happy”. It was an unfamiliar gesture of hand to heart. We tried it out and found that it was a quite natural act to put your hand over your heart, especially meaningful between strangers. We hope we won’t lose this stress-reducing contribution to the world. Our guide taught us. After studying his natural behavior, we wanted to do it too. These habits could certainly be considered by others, where the “in your face mentality” is the new normal.
The Iranian’s sense of history is profound. Had it not been for the depth of it and my obvious ignorance, I probably would not have ventured here. Indeed, it’s all here, in its raw, all-inspiring splendor. From the earliest settlements around 2,000 BC that predated the Greek and Roman civilizations to the latest shopping mall outside Tehran (complete with fast food outlets sans American chains), Iran is country that is proud of its history. It is one that has had to become self-sufficient. It is stifled by political, cultural and economic events.
This is a country of very handsome people. We stare at their faces, and see the lines of character and beauty that appear from nowhere. My imaginary pen draws each face, each feature, with love and affection. Clothing shrouds the natural beauty of the women, so exceptionally high value is placed on their facial features and how they manage them.
Within a very short duration of time, we were hooked on Iran. It wasn’t expected. It’s definitely not what the media world tells us. After a short overnight layover in St. Goarhausen ( in second home Germany) and a few days in Manhattan, we have come back to recover our thoughts and perspective on Iran. Like our own, a country like Iran is full of contradictions. We wish the people well and a hopeful future.
Below are a couple of galleries of people and places that capture our fanstastic experience:
You can see additional photos in Instagram under vifongit.