You hear it from almost any traveller visiting Iran, “the warmest, kindest, helpful, accommodating….people we’ve ever met.” I was a visitor to Iran but I was also on the other side of the curtain, I was living with my family, I wasn’t travelling as a backpacker but the same thoughts came to mind. I never had to lift a finger while I was there. Not out of laziness but out of the inability to stop family from taking care of me. If you I needed a ride someone was there. If I was hungry food would be prepared. If I wanted something someone would jump out and buy it from the corner store. Okay, so that’s how they are but how are they living?
Nightlife is very much the same as I’m used to in Canada with the exception of public drinking or nudity. People enjoy private parties at their home where the law of hijab (covering your hair and body for women) is not abided by. People drink, dance, smoke and in some circumstances consume drugs. Nothing different than a party scene here in Canada or anywhere else in the world. It’s just all done privately. Even branded alcohol is available.
Economically, there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor but at the same time I feel like people could live better lives if they wanted to. Most people work short hours and at work their effort and productivity lacks in comparison to the western world. Employees don’t actively seek customers, store owners don’t market their products and they still make enough money. It could be due to the great population, about 80 million in the country to be exact. The plethora of packed restaurants, coffee houses and streets tell a story: there’s no shortage of customers. I feel like if someone were to work just a few more hours or market their company or just lightly emulate North American standards they could move far ahead of the rest. The sad thing to see is the extremely poor. They are mainly from small villages form outside of Tehran who travel there looking for opportunity but succumb to begging. Unfortunate circumstances put them in that position but there is a lack of government programs to help them out and most help they get comes from the good samaritans. On the opposite side of the coin we have the super wealthy. People who buy overtaxed Ferrari’s for $1 million or more…BY CASH! Iran is currently the highest purchaser of Porsches and they don’t even have a dealership there. The average price for one is $300,000.
Religion is very important in Iran and even the young population is under its influence. From a young age they are taught the Qur’an where they draw their life values and lessons from. Believing or following in Islam is not a problem in my eyes but the fact that they are not encouraged to decide freely is my problem. To be in opposition to Islam is taboo. You can’t speak out about it or even discuss it with your family because either you’ll get in trouble or they don’t want to hear it.
That’s a perspective of an Iranian-Canadian. Born in Iran, raised in Canada.