An Easy Day in Tehran, Jumping in a Gypsy Cab

P1520464 724868

I woke up uncharacteristically late, it is a Sunday after all, and I finally have absolutely nothing I need to do. On trips like these, that’s a rare thing indeed, so I leisurely read the Tehran Times (lots of photos of Mr President grinning and accepting awards), and ate my feta cheese, kidney beans and fried eggs.

I returned to my room and knocked out a story about my day in the desert. It flowed so easily, faster than anything I’ve written in a long time. That’s usually the mark of inspired writing…don’t think, just write. It was like telling the story to a group of friends at a party, easy fun and quick.

I walked for miles down the busy main boulevard of North Tehran, and ended up going in a gigantic circle, trying to find the place where there are many cafes and shops but ending up in residential and office areas. So I doubled back and returned to a rotisserie chicken joint I had passed on my way down.

A little Afghan girl of about 6 came into the shop and tried to sell little booklets. Everyone turned her down, but I gave her some bread which she accepted heads down wordlessly. I was told that Afghans do the heavy lifting here in Iran, and I saw tent by a sidewalk reconstruction project. I was told that they sleep there, on the job, so they can send every rial back to their families.

I took my time devouring the chicken with lemon and basil, reading Tony Wheeler’s wonderful account of his trip to Iran in 2006, and writing. On the way back, I did what Tehranians do, I hailed a gypsy cab and jumped in. These are regular cars with no signs that pull over when you’re standing by the side of the road. I jumped into one, drove a few miles, then he ran out of gas so I left him to find another. All over the road policemen stood holding ticket pads, I think they were ticketing motorists who broke the new rules about odd/even license plate driving on alternate days.

I’ve been compiling how much things cost here. It’s remarkably cheap…the cab I took cost about 60 cents. I bought a Cuban cigar in a swanky Habana shop in the hotel for $4. Dinner for two (without wine of course) sets you back $15. A big wide loaf of pita bread is 70 cents. Chai, which is what people everywhere but the US call tea costs $1.50 for a pot. A good hotel is $150 a night, and you can fly from Esfahan to Tehran for about $40.

WOW! Plenty of good reasons to consider Iran for your next inexpensive family vacation!