Oct 8, 2013 at 5:51 am #1308471
I've been traveling in Iran for two weeks now and really enjoying it. The people here are always ready with a smile and a welcome when they see foreigners. I shot this photo recently. Nothing special about the photography itself… it shows the usual glittering interior (Iranians truly love shiny objects), a man praying, and on the left, a young boy listening to his father's whispering's. I figured this was yet another innumerable instance where faith is transmitted to a new generation. Allah… the prophet Mohammed…
But I was wrong… because the young boy suddenly rose and walked to me and said – with the widest grin; "Welcome to Iran" – and then immediately turned around to his father – seeking reassurance that he said it correctly — in the way that all young children do — and the father smiled and nodded his approval.
We had a quick chat – which was all that the man's limited English (and my two words of Farsi) would allow… but language was no barrier at all to Iranian hospitality.Oct 8, 2013 at 6:00 am #2031774
That is beautiful. Is this inside a masjid?Oct 8, 2013 at 6:15 am #2031778
Thanks. It's a mausoleum – and a house of prayer. The name is "Imamzadeh-e Ali Ebn-e Hamze" – in the city of Shiraz.Oct 8, 2013 at 6:39 am #2031787
Awesome. I wish more people could travel like you. Once you scratch the surface, there is a lot of good people out thrteOct 8, 2013 at 7:51 am #2031812
Are you a U.S. citizen?
They don't resent us? Amazing.Oct 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm #2031939
Jerry, I'm not sure whether you're being sarcastic or not….I've heard that Iranians are very hospitable to us Westeners. I'll take the bait. Why would you ask?Oct 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm #2031952
Ken. Because they have reasons to resent us.Oct 8, 2013 at 1:17 pm #2031956
"Ken. Because they have reasons to resent us."
+1. The sanctions and embargo against Iran have made for hard times over there from what I've read but I'd like to hear Ben's view of things since he's in country.Oct 8, 2013 at 2:09 pm #2031979
I've heard many stories about how friendly the Iranians are to us.
A reason they should hate us is that in 1980 or so, they overthrew the Shah. The new guy said he was going to raise oil prices because the deal BP negotiated was unreasonable. Britain tried to overthrow the new guy and were thrown out of the country. Then Britain got the CIA to overthrow the new guy and get the Shah reinstated. He was brutal and killed lots of Iranians. Then, they finally overthrew him with the current regime. And when Jimmy Carter allowed the Shah into the U.S. for health care, the Iranians thought we were going to re-instate the Shah again, got all pissed off, captured the U.S. fugitives,…
All of this history is well known to Iranians, but in the U.S. we ignore it.
Anyway, the last 50 or 100 years or so, we have done horrible things to Iran and other middle East countries so it's surprising they choose to ignore it and be friendly.Oct 8, 2013 at 8:47 pm #2032144
I hold dual citizenship – HK and US. I got my visa and entered the country using my HK passport. Americans are welcomed as well – but only in tour groups – whereas I much prefer traveling independently – picking routes and looking for hotels as I go.
People here are always asking where I am from – and I answer HK / US roughly 50:50 – no particular reasons… Both will draw smiles and welcomes but US is much more a conversational opener – esp. since many Iranians live in my city – LA.
Iranians are very curious and polite. All the questions about America – no one but no one has ever asked about our currently dysfunctional government standoff simply because picking on a negative is considered rude and I am 'guest' in this country. And truth be told – while I am traveling, I've been purposely ignoring the sordid details about Obamacare, government shutdown and all that. Suffice to say the typical Iranian on the street holds genuinely positive views about us and our dynamic culture – although they do not necessarily wish to live just like us.
Iranians do disagree with some of our government policies – but they see government and people separately – which is different from the way many of us Americans view politics vs people or society.
Interestingly – while many, many Iranians dislike Israel – – their strongest disdain is actually directed at the Saudis! They see Saudi's brand of Islam (Sunni Wahabbism) as extremist and dangerous. While the Iranian government certainly has its own agenda as well — I believe there is some truth that most of the bombing's we keep reading about in the news are the works of Sunni and not Shiite extremists (Saudi is Sunni and Iran is mostly Shiite). But I am a tourist here and I won't even pretend to know.
Finally, every time I tell people here that yes, I have also traveled to Israel and how friendly and helpful both Israelis and Palestinians have been to me — I never once got any rude or snarky retort – but only polite listening and pretty much unanimous agreement that people are people – despite differences (sometimes great differences) in governments and policies. Israelis can't enter Iran (and vice versa) but if one should show up – I fully expect he / she would be personally welcomed by Iranians on the street – and peppered with questions about what Israel is really like…Oct 9, 2013 at 10:27 am #2032314
Great answer Ben. You said exactly what I was thinking.Oct 9, 2013 at 10:38 am #2032323
Why were you surprised at Jerry's question about Iranian's resenting us? Don't you think they have reason to, even if they are hospitable and kind people?Oct 9, 2013 at 10:46 am #2032327
"Why were you surprised at Jerry's question about Iranian's resenting us?"
I'm not Ken (I'm much prettier) but I'll add a cent or two. For most of my Army career – even while we were 'preparing for war with the Russian machine' – I never thought the Russian people hated the American people. I've always thought that people are just people, they just want to live their lives in a peaceful and fulfilling manner. Of course, there are hateful people everywhere who are always looking for someone or some group to hate and blame for all the ills of the world (and, unfortunately, have plenty of politicians and other dark-hearted money grubbers inciting their need to hate), and they, also unfortunately, get a lion's share of the press ('cause the media do like itself lots of shouting and screaming and hate-filled language – boosts viewership/readership).
But overall, I think, as someone said earlier, most people divorce the idiocy of national leaders from the people they purportedly lead, and realize that we are much more alike than we are different, the 99 percent of us just trying to live our lives.
I've never resented an entire group of people, and I guess I figure most other people don't either.Oct 9, 2013 at 10:50 am #2032329
I found Ken's question to be more surprising than Jerry's. It sounded as if mentioning any possible resentment was a bait, where to me it made perfect sense.Oct 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm #2032427
Kat they certainly do have reason to resent our country. I give the Iranian's more credit than their government. Same thing applies with our country. We're not always a reflection of what our government projects. Same thing can be applied to many countries throughout the world. I am not naive to the fact that our country bullies other countries or craps on them. But a lot us that are from this country travel and show who we really are as a countrym We have good and bad, but I like to think we are maimly good people showing others just that.
And yes I did take the comment as baiting. No worries. Is that civil enough for you?Oct 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm #2032452
Yes, civil enough. Thanks.
Here is a link you might want to look into, not just as far as Iran, but media fairness and accuracy in general. Not that they are the end all either, but worth adding to your reading list….
http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/10/04/whats-missing-from-times-iran-timeline/Oct 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm #2032478
But fair.org and Time didn't mention that we overthrew a popular leader and put the Shah into power before 1979
If Iran secretly overthrew Obama and put an Islamic person in power we'de remember that for decades if not centuriesOct 10, 2013 at 10:53 pm #2033019
just Justin WhitsonMember
Nice thread Ben. You are a true Christian, and that perhaps is one of the highest and rarest compliments that i would or could give to a person. I would like to visit Iran someday, i have some connections to there in a way.
Becky and i went to Turkey (and Greece) a little while back. It was nice, the Turkish people were nice and helpful. It's amazing how surprised and appreciative people are when you try to learn at least a few words of their language and speak it to them.
Sure there were and are some cultural differences, but as others have noted, people are people and i think most of us are decent hearted people, or at the very least a curious admixture of light and dark (metaphorically speaking).
We couch surfed in Istanbul with an interesting, and overall nice/considerate guy. Good to get a local perspective–granted though, he is an atheist and wasn't/isn't a fan of Islam or any religion. I realize Istanbul is considered more liberal than many other Islamic cities, but in ways it was still fairly foreign on the surface for us.
I will say in our travels though, i have seen some Americans in other countries and have been kind of, well not quite embarrassed, but very cognizant of the American stereotypes because i saw them first hand. But then again, i've seen some pretty darn rude, inconsiderate, and LOUD folks from other countries in other countries different than their own. Especially staying in hostels… So yeah, people are people with small, minor differences on the surface.Oct 11, 2013 at 7:04 am #2033068
"It's amazing how surprised and appreciative people are when you try to learn at least a few words of their language and speak it to them."
I travel overseas about once a year. I will usually borrow the one week Pimsleur CD from the library before I travel. Mastering Hungarian isn't realistic for me but having the ability to say please, thank you, where's the crapper, etc does much to open doors for me when I'm traveling.
My coworker was in Seoul for a few days. When asked where he went for dinner, he told us that he had a steak at The Outback. I believe an epic beat down would have been justified but we opted to follow him around the office offering him constructive advice on how not to be such an ugly-American-loser the next time he traveled.Oct 11, 2013 at 7:17 am #2033075
""It's amazing how surprised and appreciative people are when you try to learn at least a few words of their language and speak it to them.""
It's true. I've learned a few words of republican, and it's helped me get along at work much better….Oct 11, 2013 at 11:32 am #2033163
"It's true. I've learned a few words of republican, and it's helped me get along at work much better…."
Well in all fairness, GOP is pretty easy to learn. Basically it's just a series of noises. Scientists have discovered all that is required to create these noises is the reptilian portion of the brain.
Demmer is much more difficult to learn. It's an unbelievably complex series of excited jazz hands, uncontrollable sobbing, and random/reassuring hugs.
I've tried it here at work with poor results. I've learned two things: 1) not all spontaneous hugs are welcome by my coworkers, and 2) Ivory Soap still reigns supreme for washing OC spray out of the eyes.Oct 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm #2033180
@squarkLocale: SF Bay area
College friends from Iran taught me a couple of phrases. If someone invites you to their home for a meal, you can say "dost do shonah, dard do nakoneh". It translates to something like "I hope you did not hurt your hands" [preparing this meal]. It's very polite. The other phrases, uh, a little less so.Oct 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm #2033212
Doug Doug Doug….you kill me. I spit out my water when I read your response!Oct 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm #2033237
^ see… excited jazz hands.Oct 11, 2013 at 7:09 pm #2033311
just Justin WhitsonMember
I thought your reply was pretty funny too Ian. High Five!
(relative newbies like us, get a lot less positive recognition around here, methinks there is a long term hazing process at work here, i have figured out, and actually hiking with others from here seems to help too. Course, it doesn't help at all if you're bat shit crazy like me ;) Leaving perceived traces of guano behind is apparently unappealing to the masses)
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