Haircut in Tehran

In every country I travel I try to get a haircut. I wanted one in a neighborhood, not in the center of Tehran, one for three Dollars. We drove what looked like aimlessly through the streets till Ali suddenly stopped. It was a small barbershop with two chairs. He went inside but couldn’t cut a deal, he said it was 7 Dollars. “No problem, let’s do it.“ The haircut was great and I got shaved  too. When I went to the owner to pay another guest waiting for a cut got up and said: “I took care of it, you are my friend.“ I was stunned. I accepted, thanked him and we drove away.

Some minutes later I realized how stupid I was and told Ali to turn around and go back. My benefactor was still there, already sitting in the barber chair. “I would like to make foto with you.“

Hairdresser – My Benefactor – myself

He smiled. I said: “Thank you“ and we left. Next morning, when Ali picked me up at the hotel, he mentioned, he had met my new friend around midnight at the airport while waiting for the arrival of new guests. No, he thought the man was not a driver. He had his fon number. That was my chance and I immediately called him. We arranged for the evening in the lobby of my hotel.

He came at 8:30pm. He had a brand new white Hyundai 4×4. We talked politics in the lobby but as more people sat down across from us, I realized he felt uncomfortable and we left for a late night dinner in the city.

Shah's carriage drawn by four horses, at his Palace in Tehran

Shah's carriage at his Palace in Tehran

“We have a saying in Iran: It’s better to have a pain in the eye than to be blind. When we got rid of Schah Reza Pahlavi we all believed that things would change quickly for the better. The Shah was a pain in our eyes. Many of us would prefer the pain in our eyes back but now we are blind. We have learned the hard way, that any change must come slowly. First the change must take hold in us. It takes time. We cannot rush change.“

I was told that the poor and illiterate voted for Ahmadinejad. I asked him, if he could confirm that? Yes, he said, the president promised them more money before the election but after the election they did get nothing. Now they realize that it was all an election gimmick. I think in all of Iran there are no more than 15% for the president.

The Boycott hurts us

The Boycott really hurts the wrong people in Iran. Why? It makes life and business very difficult. I’m responsible for the installation and service of equipment for two large European companies. We cannot get original spare parts from Europe. I must buy parts from China or somewhere else but they don’t fit, we spend weeks to adjust them. We also have  many problems with Banks. Payment goes now over many contacts. To do business gets much more expensive.

People just try to make ends meet, they are busy with their daily life, they have no more energy left – and the government can do with us what ever it wants. The Dubai hotspot hurts us much more than the government.

Our president is the best salesman for US business! The Gulf States, Kuwait, Saudiarabia ($60 billion defence deal) are scared to death and buy arms for billions of dollars from America because of his talk about 9/11, Genocide, Israel must be wiped off the map, the nuclear bomb. The media and the whole world listen to him. What do you think would happen if he would keep his mouth shut?

Discussions at a Teehouse

7 out of 10 want to leave Iran

"NO", he said, "It's 9 out of 10".

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supports a less strict Dress Code

I had talked to students. 7 out of 10 said they wanted to leave the country. They felt depressed. He said  it would be more like 9 out of 10. But the fire of the Green


At the Bazar

Movement is not extinguished, it is simmering under the ash.

Who was really beating and killing the demonstrators? Not only the “Basij“, it was also “The Unkown Soldiers of the 12th Imam“. They were found by Khomeini and Khamenei was put in charge of them, it is this secret force that is behind it all up to today.

Scare and intimidation was their tactic. And he told me the following story. It had happened in the small cities and villages. There, everybody knows each other. At the time of the mass protests following the June 2009 presidential elections they came to the neighborhoods at 02:00 am in the early morning hours. With loudspeakers in the streets they warned everybody not to go to the windows and watch. Then they entered the houses of these kids who had taken part in the demonstrations and beat them up very badly in front of their parents. The screams could be heard everywhere. Afterwards they dragged them out of the houses into waiting cars and drove them off to prison. Why do you think they told the neighbors to stay inside and keep the curtains shut? Because they precisely wanted them to watch! They wanted them to see with there own eyes that this could happen to them too. It was a warning. In small cities and villages that worked. The demonstrations died down. They only needed a few brutal men to get the job done.

View from the Cable Car

In Tehran that was different. They could not

View from the Hills

identify the individual. They arrested them randomly. One girl told me of her girlfriends who were handcuffed, taken to prison and raped several times. Some disappeared. Another one told me of a girlfriend’s boyfriend who got arrested and raped. After 30 days, he was released and committed suicide. The stories went on. The students were totally fed up, they wanted to leave and never come back.

My friend listened attentively. He said, do you understand now, why our president cuts himself a profile on the international stage? He has a poor reputation at home. But on the international stage he comes out on top, he looks like a winner. He is not as dumb as he seems to be. By going against the US, millions of people in the Arab world, in South-East Asia, South America and other parts of the world admire him who also bear grudges against the West but would never dare to say it openly. It’s the “David versus Goliath“ story. People love the underdog and he plays the game so well!

“Actually it’s a Melodrama he is playing at the international stage. But it’s not the Melodrama we know from the Bollywood films. It’s Melodrama Iranian style: aggressive, with threats, distortions, defamations and worse. And it works! The West believes every word our president says – and Israel loves it because it can play her own game.

In a Barbershop with Two Chairs

I agreed that the EU has a blind spot: She is not really in the business of punching at all. She never learned the art of bluffing and threatening. The EU is absorbed by itself. The West is busy with Human Rights, Afghanistan and economic crisis.

“And you know what? The Chinese keep quiet, they don’t say a word – and take over! The markets and shops in Tehran are full of Chinese goods, they also buy your oil.”

I had met this man, let’s call him Ahmed, in a barbershop. We could have gone on till the early hours. But the restaurant closed, I called for the bill. Ahmed said “NO“ once more. “I have been born poor and I will die poor, but in between I want to enjoy my life!“ He paid the bill and drove me to my hotel. It was raining in Tehran.