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Wandering Across Tehran

The article below was written by IWP Research Professor Thomas Flichy de La Neuville, and was originally published in the Weichert Report.

I was seized on the descent of my plane by an acrid smell that reminded me that I was in Teheran, that miserable city with its oily breath. After having waited for an hour in the company of an Italian carpet buyer and a German on a commercial mission, I headed to the street, entertained by the strange concert made up of a cacophony of blows from horns that accompanies the anarchic flow of cars. It is easy to circulate by night beneath the banners to the glory of the regime, yet I had to wait for the next day to examine how the city had changed since my last visit. Tehran is undoubtedly the capital of eclectic do-it-yourselfers. Merchants are everywhere, surprisingly young, and sell almost everything-down to the rusty remains of a cellar that has been emptied. In a shop, a caged bird sings among motorcycle parts.

Young Iranians are pushing antique carts on which they pile anything from Chinese goods to soda bottles. Fresh walnuts, pistachios or small peaches are sold at every corner, but it is necessary to buy quickly in order to avoid being crushed by the motorcycle that suddenly careens past at a high rate of speed. As for the melon sellers, they pile their food in a small van and circulate in the streets announcing the price with a loudspeaker. From the eighth floor of a building, a woman opens her window and questions the quality of the goods. Despite the plethora of merchants, business does not seem to be flourishing: too many merchants and too few buyers.

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