Finally I’m back in Iran and it’s already the time of the Persian New Year. Already in 2018 I had the pleasure of being invited by Iranians to their family circle at the traditional festival and had a fantastic trip through the country. It seems to be becoming a tradition to only visit Iran in spring and I will probably never see the trees full of leaves.
This time it’s family. To Sara’s family and to Leon’s family living in and around Tehran. When we arrive at the airport in the night, we are picked up by Sara’s father and drive directly past the city into the mountains. In the small town of Lavasan there, in the “Beverly Hills” of Tehran, the family owns a beautiful apartment. It’s the end of March and it’s not uncommon for it to still be a bit chilly – the place is at 1700 meters altitude.
I have already experienced the mood before the festival and got to know the tension of the people before the festival. It’s the anticipation before the most important festival of the year, everything has been prepared for a long time and two weeks of state vacation are imminent.
The haft sin – the seven gifts – were also prepared for Sara’s family.
Similar to the Christmas tree or the Easter eggs, these seven gifts are simply part of it. Except for the goldfish. I’m glad the family is refraining from exhibiting live goldfish, which will then have an uncertain but short future. At the end there is a banknote from Hafez’s poetry book for each family member.
The city of Lavasan is not small in itself and is located in the mountains away from the dense smog of Tehran. It is significantly cooler than in the 14-million-strong metropolis. There is still snow on the surrounding mountains and the trees are far from leafy.
The family’s apartment is in a side valley of the city, through which a brook ripples and in the valley reaches a reservoir that supplies the capital of the Islamic Republic with water.
The mountains invite you to go for walks, off-road driving and mountain biking. On a slope there is a high fence. I wonder at the high fence whether extinct predatory dinosaurs are kept behind it. In fact, there are wild animals there, even if the aggressiveness of the rare mountain goats should be kept within limits. I assume that the fence, conversely, is designed to protect the goats from the world’s worst predator.
Sara’s brother Siavash not only enjoys mountain biking in the mountains, but also maintains some musical instruments. These include the traditional tar. He plays it to Leon and lets the little one try out a few notes himself.
Sara’s mother Ehteram cooks incredibly delicious Persian food. I will gain a few kilos in the following days.
As I have experienced in the past, the Persians are incredibly hospitable. And so it’s no wonder that neighbors, friends and relatives invite us and give us lavish presents on the holidays.
Leon receives so much money from the Book of Hafez that he is now a rich man and retired at the age of two.
I ask Siavash about his perspective on Russia’s current attack on Ukraine. How do people in Iran see the war? His answer surprises but makes sense. The Iranians are not particularly moved. This is not due to a lack of empathy, but to the fact that the Iranians themselves are used to so much war on their borders. Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan… all these countries have only recently been theaters of war. Therefore, for the people of Iran, Ukraine is very far away.
Trotzdem sehe ich über die nächsten Tage und Wochen viele meiner iranischen Freunde Kritik über die Verbrechen Russlands in Instagram verbreiten. Es scheint den Iranern doch ein wenig näher zu gehen, als man denken könnte.
The days after the New Year celebrations with my family, I go to the capital Tehran on my own to meet new people in couchsurfing and a few new perspectives.