Leila Saleh – As the capital of Iran, Tehran is an all too familiar name to avid news watchers like myself. You often hear about summits, conferences, and political commemorations being held in what seemed to me to be a robotic, business city- but hidden underneath the stereotypical view of Tehran is actually an explosion of beauty. Compared to other cities in Iran such as the historical city of Isfahan and the spiritual capital for Shia Muslims, Mashad, Tehran exudes this cement jungle appearance and it kind of feels like walking down Downtown Los Angeles. And for a city girl like I, Tehran made me nostalgic of my childhood in California.
Tehran is the kind of place where you don’t need money to have fun. Breathtaking infrastructure, street murals, and massively wide streets are almost a priceless view, so you forget about needing to buy souvenirs for family back home. People are very much reserved, in the way that most working people are, and scurry to get to work on time. However, it doesn’t stop these strangers from smiling at you and offering their salams. One thing I learned in Iran is that courtesy and kindness exists everywhere, even on an overcrowded bus where a woman will get off her seat to offer it to you.
Embarking on my Tehran journey, we were first taken to the local bazaar. My heart melted! I felt like I was in Tyre’s local Souq shopping for veggies and spices, to prepare dinner for my family, and I imagined many there were doing the same.
A local spice market with abundant smells!
After I had a chance to window shop and taste the local produce, it was time for lunch. I was taken to this little restaurant, buried in the corner of a building in the bazaar to have Iran’s national dish, the Chelow Kabab. The quaintness of the restaurant made an intimate
atmosphere so that even the fastest of food felt like a gourmet meal.
Yummy Chelow Kabab, usually served with saffron rice, grilled tomatoes and lots of butter.
After lunch, I left the bazaar and took an inexpensive taxi to Jamshidiyeh Park where canoodling couples are the masses due to the strategic scattering of trees and quiet setting it offered…it was a botanical heaven. But for us single folk, it was the perfect place to grab a seat in the grass while listening to rhythmic bird chirping and get lost in a book.
Standing on the edge of the park, you can see all of Tehran and really gives you a sense of how it is such an unappreciated city. In a country that is so misconstrued, Tehran portrays Iran in the way it deserves to be perceived- a well managed, modernized country that is capable of almost anything.
You almost cannot grasp the vastness of this city, simply, because it is so vast. One day, not even three, is not enough to understand Tehran as a whole but it is most definitely enough to easily fall in love with!