Starving for Ramadan

I ended up being in Iran during Ramadan.  Although I could eat and drink secretively, I felt as though I were fasting too.  Fruit and nuts could only sustain you so much.  Amazingly though, I noticed many people in the streets eating and drinking.  This apparently is new because years before it would never have happened.  In fact, so many people were drinking openly, that I started to get sloppy and started drinking openly.  Once this guy and I were drinking water as a mullah (religious leader) walked by and gave us the dirtiest look.  My hats off to the people who were fasting because it was so hot and I don’t know how they could survive without drinking water.  Not many people I met were fasting.  "Only 50% fast and the other 50% pretend  to fast," I was told.  For those that did fast, it was torture for them because it is so hot and they can’t drink, wet their face, chew gum etc. It was an interesting experience to be in Iran during Ramadan, but I won’t ever again travel to a muslim country during ramadan. 

Fully Covered in Iran

My adventure to Iran started the week before I went when I went to a market in London to get my scarves, long sleeved tops that went to mid thigh and I was introduced to the arm sleeves.  Kind of like leggings for the arms so that if your sleeves rise up, your arms still remain covered. 
Then I got to Iran and discovered a lot of liberal young women who were pushing the envelope for freedom from rules.  My friend had a good laugh when I showed her the arm sleeves- don’t wear them.  Her mom told me to push my scarf back and show some hair.  Some women still wear the chador esp in the small towns and villages.  But then there are women wearing tight fitting manteaus, tight jeans and stilletto pumps.  More and more hair is being revealed while wearing the scarf. There were even women offering orgies to male tourists!
With all of the liberalism, I could still detect the inequality.  I noticed when walking around with a male traveller, that everyone was saying hello to him and chatting to him and not to me.  I even told him that I was jealous.  Then I realized that they were probably talking to him because he was the man.  When hanging out with another guy, I noticed if we both pulled out money to pay for something, his money would always be taken and not mine.  The one time I got my money out before him, he was given the change!
As in most middle eastern countries, men have certain ideas of how western women behave.  I had a guy approach me on the street and ask me for a kiss. When I showed him my makeshift wedding band, this wasn’t sufficient enough for him to leave me alone "just one kiss."  The all time first for me, was having my ass squeezed and properly squeezed as 2 guys rode by on a bike.  I wanted to curse them, except it’s not much fun when they don’t speak English!

The Misunderstood People of Iran

I thought for Iran I would talk about the people that I met there.  For those that were able to speak English, they were quite concerned about the West’s impression of them.  Did we think that the Iranian govt represented who the people were?
All throughout my stay, I met people who showered me with kindness.  From my friend’s family in Tehran, to the lady who sat beside me on the plane from Tehran to Shiraz, who gave me a ride to my hotel all the while, trying to get me to upgrade to a better hotel that had a better reputation.  "Miss Marcia, I don’t think this place is a good place for good people"  While wondering the narrow streets of an old city in Yazd, a family who didn’t speak any English invited us in for tea and dates.  When trying to enter into a large mosque, a lady who didn’t speak any English guided me around to the different doors trying to get me in.  She was so cute, asking me my hotel and when I told her I didn’t have one, she invited me to stay at her home.
There were lots of people trying to practice their English with tourists.  I spent one day with two boys and a girl who wanted to practice their English.  They were the only people that I met who were happy with their president.  In response to my question about the demonstrations, they replied "well some people were just trying to stir things up."  They were so proud to be Persian and of everything Persian including hamburgers and pizzas 🙂  Then there were the sexually frustrated college students.  All they wanted to talk about was masturbation and homosexuality.  "Is it true that in Europe, guys don’t masturbate because they can have sex whenever they want to?  They just go up to a girl, talk to her for a couple of minutes and get lucky?" Mind you these guys favourite movie is American Pie.  No wonder they think like that!
Meeting different people was the highlight of the trip.  A trip to Iran would reveal to anyone very friendly, kind hearted people.