Rich or poor, for better or for worse, I cannot abide this many people trying to make a living in one place. I’ve done the touristy thing of course, but save from a few pocket highlights such as the mountain area of Darband, The Golestan Palace and photographing the bazaars, Tehran has little to offer me.With a population of around 9 million in the city and a further 16 million wider-spread, you can understand why.
Of course comparisons can be drawn with regard to any major metropolis.You need a marriage certificate to be in a hotel room together. I had to be quiet when anyone telephoned, sneak in past the neighbours (everyone is suspicious and a potential curtain twitcher) and under no circumstances was I to answer the door.After a while it begins to feel like you’re trapped – because you are. Sex education is non-existent and the illegal booze made at home in a bath-tub isn’t so hot on the liver.At any time of day or night, there is no respite from the sheer amount of people stomping to their destinations, shoe-horned into carriages, jostling for position on the escalators.Hanieh, my CS-host, has to get up at 5 am to make it into her work on time – such is the size of the window of clear roads, before all hell breaks loose and it’s taking an hour to travel what should take ten minutes.
Certain well-known websites are banned, the influences of the outside world regulated, and alcohol is prohibited, but available on the black market. Iranians in Tehran (and indeed the whole country) party hard in secret, and as I’ve already discovered, this can lead to dangerous excess.