Thanks for all the feedback on my 10 random factoids. Ten must be about the right number to keep everyone interested. I’m sure if I expanded the list to 20, I would have heard a lot of snoring.
And I promised I would answer your questions. So here’s why I traveled to Iran. Two reasons really. First, my wife is from Iran. Her family moved here in the early 70’s so her siblings could finish their educations here. She has family there. That’s how I got my visa.
Second, I’ve always had a bit of a rebel streak in me. Death to disco and all that kind of stuff. Maybe that’s why I was a Conservative Republican in High School growing up in a blue collar community. Which come to think of it makes for some real conflict. How can I be rebellious and still maintain my conservative image? Simple! Go against the flow. Why go to Europe when I can go visit a *real* exotic country?
So that was it. In October 1992, we packed up the three kids (a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 3 month old) and boarded a plane for a 26 hour journey to Tehran. I expected a third world country with rampant shortages of good and services. People living in fear and under government repression. After all – that’s what was being portrayed by the media at the time.
What I found was anything but. The first question that I was asked by the cabbie at the airport? “Is ‘SC going to beat UCLA this year?” Tehran was a bustling metropolis surrounded by mountains – very much like home here in L.A. The economy was booming. Streets were full of cars. Everywhere I went people were vibrant and bustling. They were smiling and enjoying themselves. Families playing in the park. Goods and services in abundant supply. No shortages were evident – at all. At a time where big screen TVs were just making an appearance in the US, Sony and Samsung TVs were in abundance in the shops. How could people who were living in such a repressive and backwards economy afford these things? The simple truth was that the reality was much different that what we were being told.
And any fears of being part of the Great Satan? Well, once people found out I was from the US, the red carpets rolled out. Every restaurant we visited, every store we shopped, I was greeted with respect and a friendliness that was unbelievable. In fact, my brother in law and I visited Isfahan, about an hour’s flight away. When the cabbie taking us to our hotel found out I was from America, he offered (in his best broken English) to be my personal tour guide for the weekend. Sure enough – who was waiting for us the next morning outside our hotel?
So there you go. Me and my rebellious ways….