What I have discovered about Tehran

By Wafa Awla

It was Eid Adha when I arrived at Tehran. Unfortunately, the streets and shops were closed because everyone was celebrating the festive occasion with their family members. Tehran, the capital city of Iran, became desolated and we took advantage to explore the city.

However, living in the city where the citizens do not use English gave me a hard time to start conversation, and dictionary became my best friend – to translate basic words from English to Persian.

That was the time that I realised how important nonverbal communication was and it could be applied to make sure our receivers understand the right message we delivered.

Being a traveller, many things are first time to you. So, here are new things that I learned when I was in Tehran.

Iranian Rial and Toman

Although the currency used by Iran is Iranian Rial, they use the term Toman during the selling process. 1 toman is equivalent to 10 rial. Most of the prices shown are in Toman. For example, you wanted to buy something that cost 40 000 toman, therefore you need to pay 400, 000 rial. For your knowledge, Iranian rial is not available in the country outside of Iran.

It is difficult to convert ringgit into rial while in Malaysia. However, you may change from ringgit to rial when you arrive in Iran. Most travellers convert their money into USD before converting them into rial when they arrive in Tehran.

Taxi driver and roller coaster

Unlike in Malaysia, the driver’s seat in Iran is on the left. Taking a taxi in Iran is like riding a roller coaster since they drive really fast. You may be surprised when they drive in the opposite direction.

Sometimes, they drive on the road divider and choose to reverse the car when he missed the junction rather that making a U-turn. However, I have never seen any accident happened when I was in Tehran. Taxi drivers in Iran are very helpful. I still remember when we went to the bus station to look for tickets to Kashan.

The taxi driver,  whose name is Muqaddam, followed us into the station and bought us the tickets. Not only that, he made sure that we took the right bus. After that he left with a smile on his face.

Ethics for clothing

It is compulsory for women to wear scarf in Iran. This rule is also applied for travellers. However for men, you can wear anything but avoid wearing shorts when you are outside.

For local community, especially Iranian women, it is common to see them wearing their traditional cloth called Chadur in public. It is like a loose robe commonly found in black, and that was the reason why we chose to wear black in order to blend ourselves with the local community.

If you are planning to travel overseas, Iran is one of the perfect destinations that you should consider visiting. The President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, recently described Iran as one of the safest countries in the Middle East. So, do not be afraid, let’s go traveling to see how wonderful the world is. ***

Wafa Awla

Head of features news, IIUM Today. And I love rainy days.

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