Iran: Tehran and Side-Trips

Iran: Tehran and Side-Trips


HI, I’M RICK STEVES,
IN THE MOST FASCINATING AND SURPRISING LAND
I’VE EVER VISITED. WE’RE IN IRAN, HERE TO LEARN, TO UNDERSTAND, AND TO MAKE SOME NEW FRIENDS. THANKS FOR JOINING US. Women: HELLO! LIKE MOST AMERICANS, I KNOW ALMOST NOTHING
ABOUT IRAN. FOR ME, THIS IS
A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY. WHAT ARE MY HOPES? TO ENJOY A RICH
AND FASCINATING CULTURE, TO GET TO KNOW A NATION THAT’S A LEADER
IN ITS CORNER OF THE WORLD AND HAS BEEN FOR 2,500 YEARS, AND TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE 70 MILLION PEOPLE
WHO CALL THIS PLACE HOME. WE’LL EXPLORE
THE LEADING CITY OF TEHRAN, AND AFTER SURVIVING
ITS CRAZY TRAFFIC, WE’LL EXPERIENCE
IRANIAN LIFE TODAY IN THIS GIANT METROPOLIS. AFTER A SAMPLING OF IRAN’S
RICH AND GLORIOUS PAST, WE’LL DISCUSS
THE 20th-CENTURY STORY OF THIS PERPLEXING NATION. MOST IMPORTANT, WE’LL MEET
AND TALK WITH THE PEOPLE WHOSE GOVERNMENT
SO EXASPERATES AMERICA. THE RELIGIOUS
AND THE POLITICS IS MIXED. AND AFTER A VISIT
AT KHOMEINI’S TOMB, WE’LL SIDE-TRIP
TO THE COUNTRYSIDE AND GET A TASTE OF THE TRANQUILITY
OF RURAL LIFE. IRAN, TWICE THE SIZE
OF FRANCE, SITS EAST OF EUROPE IN AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT
CORNER OF ASIA, SURROUNDED BY TURKEY, IRAQ,
PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN. FROM THE CAPITAL OF TEHRAN, WE’LL FOLLOW
AN ANCIENT TRADE ROUTE SOUTH TO THE VILLAGE OF ABYANEH. EVERY COUNTRY,
INCLUDING OUR OWN, LIMITS ACCESS
TO FOREIGN FILM CREWS. WE’RE HERE IN IRAN WITH THE PERMISSION OF
THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT, AND WE’RE WORKING WITHIN
THE LIMITS IT SETS AS WE EXPLORE
THIS COMPLEX SOCIETY. KNOWING WE’RE HERE TO EXPLORE
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DIMENSIONS RATHER THAN CONTENTIOUS
POLITICAL ISSUES, THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT
IS ALLOWING OUR WORK. IT BELIEVES THE WESTERN MEDIA
HAS GIVEN IRAN AN UNFAIR IMAGE. THEY GAVE US OUR VISAS
PROVIDED WE RESPECT ITS LIMITS, AS ENFORCED BY OUR GUIDE. HIS JOB — KEEP US SAFE, MANAGE THE COMPLICATED
PERMISSIONS, AND KEEP AN EYE
ON WHAT WE’RE SHOOTING. TEHRAN, A YOUTHFUL,
NOISY CAPITAL CITY, IS THE MODERN HEART
OF THIS COUNTRY. IT’S A SMOGGY,
MILE-HIGH METROPOLIS. WITH A TEEMING POPULATION
OF ABOUT 10 MILLION, ITS APARTMENT BLOCKS STRETCH FAR
INTO THE SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS. TRAFFIC IS NOTORIOUS HERE. MY FIRST IMPRESSION —
WILD DRIVERS. BUT AFTER SURVIVING
MY FIRST DAY, I REALIZED THEY WERE EXPERTS
AT KEEPING THINGS MOVING. MANY MAJOR STREETS
ACTUALLY INTERSECT WITHOUT THE HELP OF
TRAFFIC LIGHTS. IT’S DIFFERENT,
BUT IT SEEMS TO WORK. TWO WHEELS ARE FASTER THAN FOUR. HELMET LAWS ARE
GENERALLY IGNORED. AS A MATTER OF FACT, SOMETIMES THE DIRECTION
OF TRAFFIC IS IGNORED AS WELL. TO CROSS TOWN QUICKLY,
MOTORCYCLE TAXIS ARE A BLESSING. BUT WEAR THAT HELMET —
I’D RATHER LEAVE A LITTLE PAINT
ON PASSING BUSES THAN A PIECE OF SCALP. PEDESTRIANS FEND FOR THEMSELVES. NEGOTIATING TRAFFIC
AS YOU CROSS THE STREET IS A LIFE SKILL HERE. LOCALS SAY IT’S LIKE
GOING TO CHECHNYA. IMMERSED IN THE COMMOTION
OF A BUSY WORK DAY — APART FROM
THE CHADOR-COVERED WOMEN AND LACK OF WESTERN
FAST FOOD CHAINS — TEHRAN SEEMED MUCH LIKE ANY CITY
IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD. IF YOU NEED TO GET SOMEWHERE
IN A HURRY — OR IF YOUR MOTORCYCLE TAXI
IS UNDER SOME BIG BUS — THANK GOODNESS FOR THE SUBWAY. TEHRAN’S THRIVING SUBWAY MOVES
OVER A MILLION PEOPLE A DAY. THIS SUBWAY SYSTEM
IS REALLY AS GOOD AS ANYTHING I’VE SEEN IN EUROPE. OF IRAN’S 70 MILLION PEOPLE, WELL OVER HALF ARE UNDER
THE AGE OF 30. WHILE THERE ARE
PLENTY OF MINORITIES, THE PERSIAN POPULATION
DOMINATES. THE LOCAL ETHNICITY REFLECTS THE TURMOIL OF THIS COUNTRY’S
LONG HISTORY. YOU’LL FIND PEOPLE
WITH GREEK, ARAB, TURK, MONGOL, KURDISH, AND AZERBAIJANI HERITAGE. IRANIANS ARE NOT ARABS,
AND THEY DON’T SPEAK ARABIC. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE
WITH THE PEOPLE OF IRAN. THEY ARE PERSIANS
AND THEY SPEAK FARSI. FACES SEEM TO TELL A STORY, AND ARE QUICK TO SMILE… ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY SEE
A FILM CREW FROM THE USA. ACTUALLY, WE FOUND THAT
THE EASIEST WAY TO GET A SMILE WAS TO TELL PEOPLE
WHERE WE’RE FROM. I’M FROM
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. OH, YOU’RE FROM
THE UNITED STATES, OKAY. AMERICA! NO! YEAH, IT’S TRUE!
IT’S ACTUALLY TRUE. THANK YOU —
THAT’S NICE TO HEAR. [ CHILDREN CALLING ] I WAS IMPRESSED
BY HOW THE PEOPLE WE MET WERE CURIOUS
AND EAGER TO TALK. YOUNG, EDUCATED PEOPLE ARE INTERNET SAVVY AND
WELL INFORMED ABOUT THE WEST. THEY GENERALLY SPOKE
SOME ENGLISH. ANYWHERE FOREIGNERS WENT,
SIGNS WERE BILINGUAL — FARSI FOR LOCALS
AND ENGLISH FOR EVERYONE ELSE. THE SCRIPT LOOKS ARABIC TO ME, BUT I LEARNED,
LIKE THE LANGUAGE, IT’S FARSI. THE NUMBERS, HOWEVER,
ARE THE SAME AS THOSE USED IN THE ARAB WORLD. ANOTHER COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE, PEOPLE HERE HAVE TO DEAL
WITH DIFFERENT CALENDARS — PERSIAN AND MUSLIM
FOR LOCAL AFFAIRS, WESTERN FOR DEALING
WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD. WHAT YEAR IS IT?
WELL, IT DEPENDS… AFTER MUHAMMAD,
ABOUT 1390 YEARS AGO — AFTER CHRIST,
TWO THOUSAND AND SOME YEARS AGO. AND ALL THIS COMPLEXITY
IS THE RESULT OF A LONG AND TUMULTUOUS HISTORY. THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRAN HELPS TO GIVE AN APPRECIATION
OF THIS COUNTRY’S RICH HERITAGE. AT FIRST I WAS DISAPPOINTED BY WHAT SEEMED LIKE
A HUMBLE COLLECTION FOR SUCH A GREAT CULTURE. THEN I LEARNED
THAT MOST OF ITS TREASURES WERE DESTROYED
OR LOOTED BY INVADERS. MUCH OF WHAT SURVIVED WAS TAKEN AWAY TO THE GREAT
MUSEUMS IN THE WEST. THE COLLECTION STARTS
IN PREHISTORIC TIMES, BACK WHEN NOMADIC HUNTERS
WERE BECOMING FARMERS. THIS BRONZE PLAQUE
FEATURING GILGAMESH DATES FROM ABOUT 1000 BC, A TIME WHEN THIS REGION WAS
IN THE REALM OF MESOPOTAMIA. THEN, IN ABOUT 500 BC, WITH THE GREAT KINGS
DARIUS AND XERXES, THE MIGHTY PERSIAN EMPIRE
WAS ESTABLISHED. THEIR ART GLORIFIED THEIR KINGS AND THE NOTION OF
PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH. CULTURE FLOURISHED, AND IT WAS ABOUT THIS TIME THAT,
WITH CUNEIFORM, THE PERSIAN LANGUAGE WAS FIRST
PUT INTO WRITING. THAT FIRST PERSIAN EMPIRE
WAS CONQUERED BY ALEXANDER THE GREAT
FROM GREECE. LATER, A SECOND PERSIAN EMPIRE
WAS CONQUERED BY ARABS. THEN CAME INVASIONS
BY TURKS AND MONGOLS. FINALLY, WITH THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF A THIRD PERSIAN EMPIRE IN THE 16th CENTURY, THIS
CULTURE ENJOYED A RENAISSANCE. WHILE IT’S WEATHERED
WAVE AFTER WAVE OF CONQUERORS, THE ESSENCE OF TODAY’S
IRANIAN CULTURE IS STILL ROOTED IN
THAT FIRST PERSIAN EMPIRE FROM 2,500 YEARS AGO.Narrator: PERSIA,
AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY,
A POOR AGRICULTURAL COUNTRY,
RICH ONLY IN LEGEND
AND UNDEVELOPED
NATURAL RESOURCES…
Steves: IN THE 20th CENTURY, WITH THE DISCOVERY
OF ITS VAST OIL RESERVES, IRAN BECAME ENTWINED
WITH THE WEST.Narrator: OIL WAS STRUCK AT
LAST, AND DRILLING COMMENCED…
Steves: DURING WORLD WAR II, IRAN WAS A VITAL OIL RESOURCE
FOR THE ALLIES. AFTER THE WAR,
IRAN’S YOUNG SHAH, OR KING, MOHAMMAD REZA SHAH PAHLAVI, BECAME MORE CLOSELY INVOLVED
WITH THE WEST. OIL FLOWED EASY, AND HE WAS A FRIEND OF
WESTERN OIL COMPANIES. THEN THINGS CHANGED.Narrator: OIL AGAIN
POSES A THREAT TO PEACE,
AND THE MIDDLE EAST AGAIN
BECOMES A TROUBLE SPOT
AS IRAN’S VAST
PETROLEUM RESERVES
AROUSE NATIONALISTS…Steves: IN 1951, THE POPULAR
PRIME MINISTER MOSSADEGH NATIONALIZED IRAN’S
FOREIGN-OWNED OIL INDUSTRY. WITH THE RESULTING TURMOIL, THE SHAH WAS FORCED INTO EXILE. THIS IS WHEN
THE TROUBLED RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN IRAN
AND THE UNITED STATES BEGAN. EVERY IRANIAN SCHOOL KID
KNOWS THE DATE “1953.” THAT’S WHEN THE CIA
ENGINEERED A COUP THAT OVERTHREW
THE DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED PRIME MINISTER MOSSADEGH. HE HAD ANGERED THE WEST
BY NATIONALIZING IRANIAN OIL, SO THEY INSTALLED
THE PRO-WESTERN SHAH, INSTEAD.Narrator:
FORMER PREMIER MOSSADEGH’S
RUINED HOUSE
IS A MUTE TESTIMONY
TO THREE DAYS OF BLOODY RIOTINGCULMINATING IN A MILITARY COUPFROM WHICH
THE ONE-TIME DICTATOR OF IRAN
FLED FOR HIS LIFE.THE SHAH, WHO HAD FLED TO ROME,
COMES HOME.
BACKED BY GENERAL ZAHEDI,
MILITARY STRONGMAN,
WHO ENGINEERED
HIS RETURN TO POWER.
IRANIAN OIL MAY AGAIN
FLOW WESTWARD.
Steves: BACK ON THE THRONE, THE SHAH ALLOWED
WESTERN OIL COMPANIES TO RUN IRAN’S
OIL INDUSTRY AGAIN. WITH THE PROFITS,
HE MODERNIZED THE COUNTRY. THROUGH THE ’60s,
THERE WAS A RETURN TO STABILITY AND THE SHAH WAS A KEY AMERICAN
ALLY IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THE SHAH RULED IN ROYAL OPULENCE
FROM GRAND PALACES. HE ENJOYED SUMMERS IN THIS ONE
UNTIL THE LATE 1970s. STROLLING THROUGH
ITS FINE ROOMS, VISITORS ARE REMINDED HOW THE SHAH LIVED
IN EXTREME LUXURY. BUT HIS MATERIALISTIC DECADENCE
AND PRO-WESTERN POLICIES OFFENDED IRAN’S CONSERVATIVES AND ALIENATED RELIGIOUS
AND POLITICAL GROUPS. ANGRY PEOPLE HIT THE STREETS. THE UNREST LED TO CRACKDOWNS
BY THE SHAH’S FORCES THAT TORTURED
AND KILLED THOUSANDS. ALL OF THIS EMBOLDENED
A REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT, AND BURNED INTO
THE NATIONAL PSYCHE A FEAR OF AMERICAN MEDDLING IN INTERNAL IRANIAN AFFAIRS. AFTER 25 YEARS
OF THE SHAH’S RULE, THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION
THREW HIM OUT AND BROUGHT AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI
BACK FROM EXILE. THAT REVOLUTION,
AND THE AYATOLLAH, ESTABLISHED
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC, WHICH RULES TO THIS DAY. WALKING THE STREETS HERE, I FELT A DISTURBING PRESENCE
OF GOVERNMENT. THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. IN 1979, THE NEW GOVERNMENT
BROUGHT IRAN NOT FREEDOM, BUT WHAT THEY CALL
A “REVOLUTION OF VALUES” — IT LEGISLATED MORALITY, SUCH AS NO ALCOHOL
AND NO CASUAL SEX. AS FAR AS MANY PARENTS
ARE CONCERNED HERE, IT’S FAMILY VALUES. IRAN IS RULED BY A THEOCRACY. THEY MAY HAVE A PRESIDENT, BUT THE TOP RELIGIOUS OFFICIAL, A MAN CALLED
“THE SUPREME LEADER,” HAS THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY.HISPICTURE,
NOT THE PRESIDENT’S, IS EVERYWHERE. RELIGIOUS OFFERING BOXES
ARE ON EVERY STREET CORNER. THE DAYS WHEN
THE SHAH’S MEN BOASTED THAT MINI-SKIRTS IN TEHRAN WERE SHORTER THAN THOSE IN PARIS
ARE CLEARLY LONG GONE. WOMEN MUST DRESS MODESTLY, AND ARE SEGREGATED IN PLACES
LIKE CLASSROOMS AND BUSES. AND YET HERE IN
THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN, TO ME THE ATMOSPHERE
FELT SURPRISINGLY SECULAR, COMPARED TO OTHER
MUSLIM COUNTRIES. SKYLINES ARE NOT PUNCTUATED
WITH MINARETS. I BARELY HEARD A CALL TO PRAYER. EXCEPT FOR WOMEN’S DRESS CODES AND THE LACK OF AMERICAN
PRODUCTS AND ADVERTISING, LIFE ON THE STREETS HERE SEEMED MUCH THE SAME
AS IN SECULAR CITIES ELSEWHERE
IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD. WHILE RELATIVELY UNCLUTTERED
WITH COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING, THERE ARE PLENTY OF BILLBOARDS
AND MURALS, AND THEY PACK A POWERFUL
PROPAGANDA MESSAGE. SOME RELIGIOUS MURALS
ARE UPLIFTING — THIS ONE IS A SHIITE
SCRIPTURE CLAIMING, “THE MOST CARING HELP
IS TO GIVE GOOD ADVICE.” YET OTHERS ARE TROUBLING
AND HATEFUL — THIS ONE CONDEMNS WHAT’S
CONSIDERED AMERICAN IMPERIALISM WITH SKULLS AND DROPPING BOMBS,
RATHER THAN STARS AND STRIPES. AND THIS ONE GLORIFIES
HEZBOLLAH FIGHTERS AND THEIR STRUGGLE WITH ISRAEL, WHICH MANY HERE CONSIDER
AMERICA’S 51st STATE. THIS MURAL HONORS A MARTYR, ONE OF HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS WHO DIED FIGHTING SADDAM HUSSEIN
BACK IN THE 1980s. THESE MURALS MIX
RELIGION, PATRIOTISM, AND A HERITAGE OF DEALING
WITH FOREIGN INTERVENTION. WHILE I FIND
SOME OF THEM OFFENSIVE, I SEE IN THESE MURALS
THE FEAR AND THE SPINE OF A PEOPLE WHOSE VALUES
ARE THREATENED. THE GREATEST CONCENTRATION
OF ANTI-AMERICAN MURALS SURROUNDS THE FORMER
U.S. EMBASSY. IN 1979,
IRANIAN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS SUCCESSFULLY STORMED
THE EMBASSY. THEY TOOK 52 HOSTAGES,
AND HELD THEM WITH THE WORLD LOOKING ON
FOR 444 DAYS. SOME IRANIANS CLAIM
THE HOSTAGE CRISIS WAS A WAY TO RADICALIZE
THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION AND PUT THE HARD-LINERS
IN POWER. OTHERS SAY IT WAS
A PREEMPTIVE STRIKE TO STOP THE UNITED STATES FROM
ORCHESTRATING A MILITARY COUP DESIGNED TO OVERTHROW
THEIR THEOCRACY AND PUT THE SHAH BACK IN POWER. THEY ALSO WANTED TO FORCE
THE EXTRADITION OF THE SHAH, WHO WAS IN EXILE
IN THE UNITED STATES. TODAY, IT FEELS LIKE
THE HOSTAGE CRISIS IS OLD NEWS, AND YOUNGER IRANIANS
HAVE MOVED ON. THE MURALS SEEM TO DRONE ON LIKE
AN UNWANTED CALL TO BATTLE — A CALL WHICH PEOPLE
I ENCOUNTERED, IT SEEMS, HAD SIMPLY STOPPED HEARING. TEHRAN IS
A VIBRANT METROPOLIS — IRAN’S SOCIAL, ARTISTIC,
AND EDUCATIONAL CENTER. ITS UNIVERSITY IS
THE OLDEST, BIGGEST, AND MOST PRESTIGIOUS
IN THE LAND. IT’S QUITE SELECTIVE — ONLY ABOUT ONE IN TEN APPLICANTS
GET IN. HERE, AS IN OTHER
IRANIAN UNIVERSITIES, STUDENTS ENJOY
A HIGHER EDUCATION PAID FOR BY THE GOVERNMENT. BUT WANDERING THROUGH CAMPUS,
WE LEARNED THAT FREE TUITION COMES WITH STRICT GUIDELINES,
AS DICTATED BY THE THEOCRACY. WHILE I HOPED TO FIND
SOME NON-CONFORMITY, THE VIBE HERE MADE B.Y.U.
SEEM LIKE BERKELEY. COMPLIANCE RAGED. WOMEN ARE PERFECTLY WELCOME. IN FACT, WOMEN OUTNUMBER
IRANIAN MEN IN BOTH UNIVERSITIES AND IN MANY
RESPECTED PROFESSIONS. BUT SEGREGATION IS THE RULE. IN CLASSROOMS,
IT’S MEN ON ONE SIDE AND WOMEN ON THE OTHER. THERE WAS NO REAL
STUDENT UNION CENTER, JUST A SMALL COMMONS
IN EACH DEPARTMENT, WITH A SNACK BAR FOR MEN, AND AN ADJACENT ONE FOR WOMEN. DESPITE THE CONSERVATIVE
ATMOSPHERE, WE FOUND STUDENTS FRIENDLY, CURIOUS, AND WILLING TO CHAT. WHAT DO YOU STUDY? CHEMISTRY. CHEMISTRY? VERY DIFFICULT. FOR ME, VERY DIFFICULT. WHAT DO YOU STUDY? CHEMISTRY. ALL OF YOU ARE CHEMISTRY? SO WE ARE LEARNING VERY MUCH
WHEN WE COME TO IRAN. FOR EXAMPLE? FOR EXAMPLE… THE PEOPLE ARE NOT ANGRY
WITH AMERICA. YES — THAT’S A VERY
INTERESTING POINT. SO THE GOVERNMENTS HAVE
A DIFFICULT TIME, BUT THE PEOPLE,
IF WE MEET THE PEOPLE, IT’S LIKE THIS… SO FOR AMERICANS, WE ARE A VERY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE, BUT WE MAKE THE GOVERNMENT
AND THE CHURCH APART, YOU KNOW? YOU THINK THAT’S… YES, IT’S THE MAIN PROBLEM. SO YOU’RE
A MODERN YOUNG WOMAN? YEAH, OF COURSE. WELL EDUCATED. I LIKE TO BE. AND YOU MUST WEAR A —
COVER YOUR HAIR? IT’S A LAW. NOW, I CANNOT
SHAKE YOUR HAND? NO, BECAUSE HERE
IT’S A RELIGIOUS SOCIETY. SO I CAN GO LIKE…
SALAAM?
ME TOO. I CAN GO“SALAAM”?NO,“XODA HAFEZ.”“XODA HAFEZ.”“XODA HAFEZ.”“GOD”… OKAY, AND I CAN SHAKE HIS HAND? YES, YES. I’LL SHAKE YOUR HAND FOR HER… OKAY? [ LAUGHTER ] THANK YOU. Man: DO YOU LIKE
TO TAKE A PICTURE? I WOULD LIKE
TO TAKE A PICTURE, THAT’S
A GOOD-LOOKING HAT. I HAVE A GAME I LIKE TO PLAY
WITH ALL MY NEW FRIENDS. I WILL GO LIKE THIS… CAN I TAKE A PICTURE
WITH YOU AND ME? AND ALL OF YOU GUYS TOGETHER,
SO YOU CAN GO HERE. OKAY —
ARE WE READY? SO WE’LL LOOK INTO THE CAMERA
AND WE’LL SAY“SALAAM.”WE’LL SAY
“PEOPLE TO PEOPLE.” PEOPLE TO PEOPLE. IRANIAN WOMEN LIVE UNDER STRICT
MUSLIM LAWS IN PUBLIC. TO A WESTERN VIEWPOINT, THE DRESS CODE IMPOSED ON WOMEN
SEEMS DISRESPECTFUL. BUT ACCORDING TO
AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE, MODESTY IS
CONSIDERED RESPECTFUL. IN IRAN, WOMEN’S BODIES ARE NOT
VEHICLES FOR ADVERTISING. YOU DON’T SEE SEXY MAGAZINES. THERE IS ALMOST NO
PUBLIC DISPLAY OF AFFECTION. WHILE WOMEN CAN DRESS
AS THEY LIKE AT HOME, IN PUBLIC THEY WEAR THE CHADOR AND ARE EXPECTED
NOT TO SHOW THEIR HAIR OR SHOW OFF THE SHAPE
OF THEIR BODY. I FOUND THEIR AWARENESS OF OUR
CAMERA FASCINATING — WOMEN SEEMED TO SENSE
WHEN IT WAS NEAR AND WOULD ADJUST THEIR SCARVES TO MAKE SURE THEIR HAIR
WAS PROPERLY COVERED. LOCAL SURVEYS INDICATE THAT
ABOUT 70% OF THESE WOMEN WOULD DRESS MORE FREELY
IN PUBLIC IF ALLOWED. WHILE MODESTY IS ENFORCED,
VANITY IS NOT OUT OF BOUNDS. IN FACT, COSMETIC SURGERY —
ESPECIALLY NOSE JOBS– IS BIG BUSINESS HERE
AMONG THE MIDDLE CLASS. EVEN THOUGH COVERED UP, WOMEN EXPERTLY UTILIZE
THEIR FEMININE CHARMS. FACES ARE BEAUTIFULLY MADE UP, AND WHEN SO MUCH ELSE
IS COVERED, PARTICULARLY EXPRESSIVE
AND MYSTERIOUS. AND, AS FAR AS
HIGH STYLE IS CONCERNED, THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE
TO SEE IT THAN THE HILLY DISTRICT
OF NORTH TEHRAN. BROWSING IN ITS MALLS
AND CLASSY SHOPS, YOU COULD BE IN LONDON OR PARIS. SHOPPERS WHO HAVE THE MONEY CAN
FIND NEARLY ANYTHING THEY LIKE. THIS HIGH-END CONFECTIONERY SHOP GIVES A GLIMPSE OF THE TASTE
AND LIFESTYLES OF NORTH TEHRAN CITIZENS. CAFES IN LUSH GARDENS LIKE THIS ARE THE PLAYGROUND
OF IRAN’S WEALTHY… WHERE THEY LET THEIR HAIR DOWN,
JUST A LITTLE. THE YOUNG, PRIVILEGED,
AND COSMOPOLITAN MANAGE TO BE QUITE FASHIONABLE. THIS SCENE MAY BE CHIC, BUT I HEARD THAT THE REAL
PARTYING GOES ON IN THE PRIVACY
OF PEOPLE’S HOMES. MANY OF THESE PEOPLE
COULD AFFORD TO LIVE ABROAD, BUT PREFER TO LIVE
AS ECONOMIC ELITES HERE IN THE RITZIEST CORNER
OF TEHRAN. ON OUR WAY OUT OF TOWN, WE VISIT A SYMBOL
OF THIS VIBRANT CITY — ITS FREEDOM MONUMENT. DATING FROM THE 1970s, IT’S ONE OF THE FORMER
SHAH OF IRAN’S MANY EXTRAVAGANZAS. HE BUILT IT TO CELEBRATE
THE 2,500th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE, AND ALL THE MIGHTY PERSIAN KINGS
WHO CAME BEFORE HIM. UNDERLINING THE ANCIENT ROOTS
OF THIS SOCIETY, ITS DESIGN SYMBOLIZES
A ZOROASTRIAN FIRE ALTAR, AND IT’S DECORATED WITH
CLASSIC PERSIAN MOTIFS. LEAVING TEHRAN
WAS QUICK AND EASY WITH ITS IMPRESSIVE SYSTEM
OF HIGHWAYS. JUST OUTSIDE OF TOWN,
WE DROPPED BY THE GREAT MOSQUE CONTAINING THE TOMB
OF AYATOLLAH KHOMEINI. HE WAS THE SPIRITUAL LEADER
OF THE REBELLION THAT OVERTHREW THE SHAH IN 1979, AND KHOMEINI RULED THE COUNTRY
FOR THE NEXT DECADE. EVEN THOUGH THE MOSQUE
CAN ACCOMMODATE UP TO A MILLION WORSHIPPERS
ON SPECIAL DAYS, IT’S UNDERGOING
A MAJOR EXPANSION. THE WORK IS FUNDED BY SMALL
DONATIONS MOSTLY FROM THE POOR, AS THEY WERE THE PEOPLE
KHOMEINI INSPIRED THE MOST. THIS FELT LIKE A PARTICULARLY
EASY-GOING MOSQUE, IN KEEPING WITH KHOMEINI’S IMAGE
AMONG HIS PEOPLE. RATHER THAN THE IMPRESSION
I’VE LONG HELD OF A MENACING IDEOLOGUE, HERE HE’S CONSIDERED A SAGE AND A CHAMPION
OF TRADITIONAL VALUES. AFTER THE SHAH’S EXCESSES
AND CORRUPTION, KHOMEINI’S SIMPLICITY AND HOLINESS HAD A STRONG APPEAL
TO THE IRANIAN MASSES. HE DID USE OPPRESSIVE TACTICS,
BUT TO THE POOR AND THE LESS EDUCATED, THE CHARISMATIC KHOMEINI
WAS LIKE A MESSIAH. AS THE PERSONIFICATION
OF THE ISLAMIC REVOLUTION, HE SYMBOLIZED DELIVERANCE FROM THE ECONOMIC OPPRESSION AND WESTERN DECADENCE
OF THE SHAH. KHOMEINI GAVE MILLIONS
OF IRANIANS HOPE. CONTINUING SOUTH
ON THE MAIN HIGHWAY, THE ARID VASTNESS
OF THIS ALASKA-SIZED COUNTRY IS CLEAR. VENTURING UP A RIVER VALLEY, WHERE WATER BRINGS LIFE
TO THE LANDSCAPE, WE FIND A TIMELESS MOMENT — A SHEPHERD WATCHING OVER
HIS FLOCK. THE SCENE COULD BE
FROM 5,000 YEARS AGO, WHEN THIS CORNER OF IRAN WAS
PART OF THE FERTILE CRESCENT — A PLACE AND TIME WHEN FARMING
AND THE DOMESTICATION OF ANIMALS HELPED GIVE RISE TO THE FIRST
GREAT CIVILIZATIONS. YOU GET THE FEELING THIS COULD BE BACK
IN ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA. THEN WE CAME ACROSS
THE VILLAGE OF ABYANEH, NESTLED IN ITS VALLEY. THE REMAINS OF A RUINED CASTLE ARE A REMINDER OF
ITS FORMER IMPORTANCE. NOW A SLEEPY BACKWATER, ABYANEH IS A PICTURESQUE EXAMPLE
OF IRANIAN VILLAGE LIFE. THE REFLECTIVE ROOFS
HELP RESIDENTS WEATHER BLISTERING SUMMERS —
I’M GLAD WE’RE HERE IN MAY. AS IN SMALL TOWNS
ALMOST EVERYWHERE, THE YOUNGER GENERATION IS PULLED TO THE BIG CITY
IN SEARCH OF EMPLOYMENT AND A MORE EXCITING LIFE. THOSE WHO REMAIN ARE OLD AND SEEM TO HAVE AN ABUNDANCE
OF TIME ON THEIR HANDS. THE FEW TOURISTS —
MOSTLY IRANIAN — WANDER THROUGH, ADMIRING
THE SIMPLE ARCHITECTURE AND FINE OLD WOODEN BALCONIES. FOR ME, THE VILLAGE HIGHLIGHT
WAS MEETING ITS PEOPLE. WITH A LITTLE TRANSLATION HELP,
I GET A DEMONSTRATION IN THE LOCAL FASHIONS FOR MEN. [ SPEAKING FARSI ] ALONG WITH BAGGY PANTS, THE TOWN IS PROUD OF ITS UNIQUE
GENDER-SPECIFIC DOOR KNOCKERS. I NEVER CONSIDERED THE VALUE
OF KNOWING IF IT’S A BOY OR A GIRL
AT THE DOOR. BUT THAT’S HANDY FOR
A CONSERVATIVE MUSLIM WOMAN. Woman:ZAN…GIRL. Woman:MARD.MARD —MAN. MAN.XODA HAFEZ.XODA HAFEZ.XODA HAFEZ —BYE-BYE. BYE-BYE! OKAY. AND THE MAIN INDUSTRY SEEMS TO
BE SELLING DRIED FRUITS.SALAAM.OOH, IT’S GOOD? WHAT IS THIS,
IS THIS GOOD? HOW MANY? KHOMEINI. “KHOMEINI”? KHOMEINI. KHOMEINI. I DON’T THINK SO, NO. I’LL GIVE YOU SOME —
LET’S SEE, LET ME GET — HOW MUCH — OH, KHOMEINI?
HIM? OKAY — THAT ONE? OKAY.MERCI.SO, IT SURPRISED ME —
THEY SAID ONE KHOMEINI, AND I BOUGHT THESE DRIED APPLES
WITH THIS BILL, AND IT’S GOT A KHOMEINI ON IT.
THAT’S WHAT THEY CALL THE BILL FOR THE TOURIST,
“A KHOMEINI.” OKAY, SO — [ SPEAKING FARSI ] NICE. I CAME HERE KNOWING NO ONE
AND UNCERTAIN OF WHAT TO EXPECT. AFTER VISITING
ITS LARGEST CITY AND A SMALL VILLAGE,
THE THING THAT HAS IMPRESSED ME
THE MOST IS THE WARMTH AND OPENNESS
OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE. [ CHILDREN CALLING ] GRANTED, THERE ARE
NO EASY SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS
CONFRONTING OUR TWO NATIONS. BUT, SURELY,
GETTING TO KNOW THIS CULTURE IS A STEP
IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. I’M RICK STEVES —
HAPPY TRAVELS. AND AS THEY SAY HERE,
“PEACE BE UPON US.”

100 thoughts on “Iran: Tehran and Side-Trips

  1. Thanks again Steve
    the job that you are doing is awesome and respectable . so I'm thankful
    I Hope one Day visit you and talk to each other about many things.

  2. NO! he wasnt idiolized by the poor and less educated, the less educated are the ones who want realigeon to be seperated from politics, they are less educated because they only have these westren thoughts, and lack knowledge and reason ro have real values, that if only they remain, iran wouldn't be one of the most developed nations around the world!

  3. Iran is a great and beautiful nation. Iranians are the best people, be it their beauty, cuisine,language, culture, poems , music, art works,buildings etc. It is worrisome to see that Iranians are conquered by the Arabs and now they live as Semitic people following Arabic belief. A time will come when Iran is free and Iranians regain their ancient glory

  4. جمهوري اسلامي در ايران زنده باد—ولي رفتن شاد روان اقاي رفسنجاني دلم درد دارد

  5. Wow this is like the greatest documentary ever. I'm 1/4 Persian and the rest Hungarian and Montenegrin. After watching this documentary, I felt reconnected with the persian people. Too bad it's an Islamic theocracy. I think that's what scares most Americans about Iran. Anyway, thank you for your videos.

  6. Nope, Shah Reza was a CIA agent who replaced Mosadeq, when Mosagdegh nationalised the oil industry. And Shah Reza was replaced by the CIA agent Khomeini when, Shah Reza nationalised the oil Industry. But Khomeini went his own way the moment he arrived in Iran and that is why Saddam Hoessein was ordered by the CIA/USA launch a war against iran. And resulted in a war that lastes about 10 yaers! IT IS ALL ABOUT THE OIL, PEOPLE!

  7. I will visit Iran in September and october. I´m really looking forward to it. I think it´s a great Country for nature lovers and historically interested people. Nevertheless, the greteast asset of Iran is it´s hospitality and its warm people. Love from Germany to Iran 😉

  8. Boy……..Rick Stevens REALLY has no idea about the TRUE history and the recent politics of Iran!!! He gives a ton of FALSE information to the world about Iran. But I don't blame him at all for he is being educated by the Islamic Dracula regime representative! I don't know where to start to educate people about Iran here! So I suffice to say : 1) Population of Tehran is 20 million not 10. 2) Iran has NEVER BEEN part of the tiny IRRELEVANT fertile Cresent which has NO geographical connection, and NO value or meaning to us the Iranians. Persians, Medes, Parthians, Azaries…….we are all INDO EUROPEANS and we all speak Parsi a Genuinely INDO EUROPEAN language. 3) IRAN means the land of the ARYANS which in Zend Avesta of Zorasterian religion Iran means the land of the moral and ethical. 4) The SHAH of Iran was NOTHING like Rick portrays him. He was one the BEST kings Iran had in a long time beside his Great father Reza Shah who also brought Iran from the edge of destruction to Everything. The Shah was NOT decedent or puppet of any western power. Quiet contrary he was extremely patriotic, open minded, smart by being the best ally of USA during cold war, and he brought fame, fortune, prosperity, security, stability, national identity, 100% social freedom, and the last 2 years of his reign gradually started to bring political freedom to Iran. When the fascist mollas noticed he has lymphoma cancer and no longer wants to fight the muslim and communist fenatics they started the uprising against him and being so sick and thin hearted for his people the Shah just left the country and ordered his enormous army and police not to fight the backward Islamic uprising against him. That's all.

  9. All of İranian doesn't speak Farsi, the Farsi is just unfairly official language. More than 70 percent of İranian is non-fars etnics. More than 30 percent of İranian is Azeri Turks.

  10. Thanx rick.. for a glimpse of home i have nt seen for over 30 years. Whatchin your lil yet great documentary made me feel at home. .merci 💜

  11. U wrong the land of Iran itwas kurdish people no prsian people because Persian people came from Indian the beginning unfortunately they took the land of kurdish people hands

  12. Awesome travel videos. I would recommend it to telecast on TLC or TravelTV. I have subscribed right aways to stay tuned for new updates.

  13. So many beautiful and wonderfully happy people. Would love to go there. Amazing episode, can't wait for part 2!

  14. Iranians should protect their homeland. They're likely the next target for the globalists after Syria because you are one of the last three countries WITHOUT a Rothschild bank.

  15. Make men wear head-scarves. If they won't, let women take theirs off.
    Get with the times, Iran, stop segregating.

  16. Beautiful country, but it has changed so much since 1967! Back then, some of the young women wore mini skirts and knee boots! 🙂 Wonderful 2 year adventure with my Parents and brother

  17. 24:00 i think he got ripped paying 1000 khomeinis for a bag of dried fruit! however to him it's less than a dollar i think

  18. من از این مردک اصلان خوشم نمیاید مثل زردک میمونه حالا شما نمیخواد به اون اسکل بگی ما کی هستیم در ثانی من نمیدونم چرا ما ایرانیها همش سعی میکنیم بگیم عرب نیستیم بارها اینو در کامنتهام گفتم عربها اگر از ما بالا تر نباشند کمتر هم نیستند کلن خاورمیانه تاریخی ۱۰۰۰۰ساله داره عربها همگیشان خوب ما هستند با تمدنی بسیار گهن هی نگین ما عرب نیستیم این شما رو بالا نمیبره بلکه شما را ادمی بی اطلاع و نادانی جلوه میده من در امریکا زندگی میکنم اینو میگم که متوجه باشید فرهنگ انینها رو هم تجربه گردم چندانی نیست هموطن صدای دهل از دور خوشه نمیخوام به گسی خدای نکرده توحینی بشه اینا مقصر نیستند بلکه برخی از ما ایرانیها کمی در مورد دیگران قظاوت بی جا میکنیم سطح معلومات عربها اگر از اینها بالا تر نباشد که هست پاین تر نیست بخصوص سابقه تاریخی چندین هزار ساله عربها خواهش من از شما ایرانیان این هست که قدری در مورد ادمها و ممالک دیگر مطالعه بیشتر بکنید و اینقدر ما عرب نیستیم نگوید این با اعث کدرت بین ما و همگیشان و همسایگان خوب عرب زبان ما خواهد شد درود بر تمام ملت خاور میانه مردمانه خوبش چه عرب زبان و چه گرد و چه ایرانی و برادران خوب ترک زبان در ظمن حقیر هم یک ایرانی اصیل در خارج گشور هستم درود بر تمام ملیتهای دنیا در صورتی که عده ای از انها خصومتهای نژادی را کنار بکذارند

  19. Wow how polite and friendly they are. They are good looking peoples too. It just gives me a thought in my mind that Iran has so much potential if the people just have the resources and empowerment they need from their government.

  20. Its sad to think that my country seems to be preparing to illegally invade Iran. I hope the Iranian people know that most, like 99% most Americans don’t want to attack them. I hope that we don’t but the similarities to the lead up to the Iraq war are clear. 🇺🇸✌️🇮🇷

  21. The Persian people have a great an oldest culture in the world
    Proud be a Persian ❤💗💖💚

  22. Khuda haphis fantastic documentary what a lovely people Iranian are … it doesn’t mean the country or the people who live against Americans interest are bad or not good people. This documentary shows how people of Iran and America love each other only government of America and Iran doesn’t want to be together. They want natural resources of Iran like past king of Iran gave American companies to exploit and take profit but now it’s just opposite so these countries they can’t come together except blaming each other and bring chaos to both countries. What a shame if any countries go against the interests of Americans government they are treated like nothing, what a shame

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