Published: October 22nd 2009October 22nd 2009
We drove over 440km from Shiraz to Esfahan, passing pastures and arid mountains resembling parts of Southern California. Although Iran has one of the highest accident rates in the world, it is well developed in certain aspects. When buses or trucks travel between major cities, they have to register with the police and get a GPS card, with which the speed can be tracked. At gas stations, refueling is done with smart cards, where each personal car is allowed three liters per day to curb over usage.
Esfahan nesf-e jahan; Esfahan is half the world. The ancient proverb given by western travelers still holds truth. Once known as the richest city in the world, Esfahan rivaled Rome, Paris, and Florence. Even with wars ravaging the city for over 1,000 years until the end of Iran-Iraq war, it is still considered as the most beautiful city in Iran. Unfortunately, most westerners know the city only as the site for Iran's first nuclear facility, the Natanz site.
The city has much to show indeed. It is the center of Iranian architecture, and present day's Islamic architecture is heavily influenced by Esfahan designs. The concept of dome was invented in 3rd century
AD in Iran, and perfected in Esfahan. Safavid dynasty (Zoroastrianism) courtyards had minarets (means fireplace in Farsi) for fire, pond for water worship, open space for gathering, and porticoes for decoration; all of these features are adopted in Islamic architecture worldwide.
THE ELECTION STORIES - Part II
Here are some more excerpts from conversations I had with Iranians. I tried to minimize editing as much as possible.
"In central Tehran there are demonstrations for the current government, each Friday, and north of Tehran (the wealthier neighborhoods) have demonstrations against. While anti-government rallies are forbidden, people organize and protest during government sanctioned demonstrations, like the one that commemorates the taking over of American embassy. About 30% of Iranians don't believe the election. Mostly young people and educated people. People in the villages mostly vote for the current government. No body knows if it's over or not. It's like fire under the wood."
An article from Iran News, 10.17.2009, titled "Presidential election, another victory for Iran." It said "the enemies tried to imply that the management of the Islamic revolution is under question but the Iranian nation successfully thwarted the conspiracy, Ahmadinejhad said."
"Ah elections. I better not
speak about politics. There are certain things I do not like to talk about. I am very interested in America though. I would like to visit America very much, but it is too expensive to do so." (retired English teacher)
"I can say for certain that people here want more rights. Mostly young people, especially those in universities. We want more rights for women, so they can choose what to wear freely. We want the government to pay attention to talented students, so they don't leave Iran and go to other countries. We also want more freedom with media. Government always say it's okay to criticize government to help it improve, but things are censored."
There are more photos below