Friday, August 11, 2017



I’m always surprised by the number of Tehranis who have either never heard of Jom’e Bazaar Parvaneh or have heard of it but never been. It’s quite possibly my favorite place in this megacity. And on top of that, it’s located in District 12. What more could a girl ask for?


Friday Bazaar, Parvaneh, Tehran, Iran, flea market
The parking garage of Parvaneh mall turns into a flea market on Fridays.


If you’re in Tehran on a Friday, go to the Jom’e (Friday) Bazaar. (Yes, it’s only open on Fridays. I love it when people ask on their Instagram if they are open on other days.) The parking garage of Parvaneh mall transforms into a flea market of sorts. The first couple of levels are a treasure trove of Persian copper antiques. It’s actually a dream! There are also tons of vintage cameras, phones, record players, records, photos… oh it’s wonderful. As you move on up, you’ll find manteaus and scarves (the best place in the city to buy them if you ask me), home furnishings, rugs, and lovely handmade stuff by local artists. There was a gallery painting I once had my eye on and found it at the Jom’e Bazaar for a fraction of the price! 


antique cameras, jome bazaar parvaneh, tehran, iran, flea market
An antique camera dealer's sign says, "You can't put a price on love."


Shopping here can easily turn into a half-day event (at least), so there’s always some good food to replenish your energy. For something heavier, the buffet area offers different Persian khoresh (stews) with rice. In the winter, you can try the traditional âsh or grab a falafel sandwich. In the summer, there are plenty of refreshing drinks like melon coolers or khâkshir and tokhme sharbati to combat heat exhaustion. There’s also ab-doogh-khiâr (a delicious cold cucumber soup). It’s essentially watered-down yogurt, cucumbers, raisins, walnuts, and plenty of fresh and dried herbs. The last time I was there, it was in giant clay pots and was so beautifully decorated with dried herbs and rose petals that I didn’t want to ruin it! 


ab doogh khiar at Parvaneh bazaar, Tehran, Iran, street food
Ab doogh khiar


My recommendation for visiting the bazaar is to go early to avoid the crowd (and heat in the summer) and take a backpack for your purchases. You can try bargaining a little, but truth be told, haggling is slowly becoming a thing of the past and most vendors won't budge much on the price. I've heard that they offer discounts in the afternoon (don't know for a fact though), but no matter. It's worth going early to get the best stuff and avoid the crowd. 


Where is it exactly?


Take the metro to Sa'adi station and turn right on Jomhouri Avenue




Pin it!

Jome Bazaar Parvaneh | Tehran | Iran | Flea Market

Tuesday, August 8, 2017



Has it really been three years since I’ve been in Iran? Sometimes I find it hard to believe myself, but it’s true. In this time, I've learned some pretty valuable lessons, and here are just a few that I’d like to share with you.


Sometimes explaining yourself is useless, so let it be


The single question I've had to answer the most since being here is, "Why are you here?" (crooked eyebrow, skeptical look). If you've read Tina Fey's Bossypants, she mentions that you can tell a lot about a person by the questions they ask. I couldn't agree more. This question always gets me. Iranians LOVE telling foreigners about their safe country, breathtaking sites, magnificent history, hospitable people, and the fact that you MUST NOT listen to the rhetoric and #MustSeeIran. But staying here longer than a few weeks for vacation is not only unfathomable, it’s unacceptable. Reactions I've gotten have ranged from "Did you fall off the stairs and suffer brain damage?" to an angry "Go back to the US! It's no good here!” I’ll never forget the one man who muttered in Persian (because he thought I didn’t speak it) that I was “0 kilometers” and “wouldn’t last 2 months.” And a woman once told me that it wouldn’t take more than 3 months before I ran away like a bat out of hell. 

But there are actually a whole slew of us here from the other side of the water (as Iranians like to put it) who love it. But most Iranians speak of immigration. Is it a “grass is greener” phenomenon (or in the Persian version- “the neighbor’s chicken is a goose”)? Possibly. But the fact remains that those of us from the other side know that Iranians don’t have it as bad as they like to think they do and that things in the US aren’t as rosy as they imagine…now more than ever. 


Looks matter


For better or worse, looks matter, and Iranians have a high standard of beauty. In the late 80s and early 90s, my clothes and shoes were the tell-tale signs that I wasn’t from Iran. My cousins used to love showing off their American cousin to their friends. It was cool then. And their friends would look at me like a side-show and gasp “wow”. Nowadays, though, my clothes and shoes no longer give me away. (If anything, I actually take fashion tips from girls here.) I stand out now more because of my minimal make-up, uncool clothes, and mannerisms. My cousins' friends' reactions have changed into an unimpressed, “You’re from the U.S.?" (And that hint of disappointment and skepticism in their voices doesn’t escape me.) In fact, the word most commonly used to describe me here is sâdeh (plain/simple/modest). My colleagues even once told me that I wasn’t “luxury” enough, otherwise I could charge a fortune for my classes as a native English speaker. Ouch.

Then there’s the opposite side of the spectrum, the US, where some might say that the idea of comfort is taken to the extreme. (Just think of your stereotypical American tourist on summer vacation in Europe.) When I told my American friend that I do a little touch up before going to the corner market, she laughed in my face. “You mean you actually put on make-up just to go to the supermarket!?” As much as I do miss not being so self-conscious about my looks, they matter here. And I must admit that every time I go back home, I breathe a sigh of relief upon landing in Europe for transit knowing that I’m still lovable even if I'm not “luxury.”

Take every opportunity (and bebinim chi mishe, let’s see what happens)


I am a total introvert. Reading that book Quiet by Susan Cain was like therapy for me. Before, I always had a vault full of excuses that I could whip out at any time to get out of doing something or going somewhere. In Iran, however, I've become a total "yes (wo)man”. My vault of excuses still exists (old habits die hard), but I now approach things with a sense of curiosity to see what happens, which has led me to countless wonderful experiences. So now, I just dive in every time... and I haven't been disappointed yet.

Enjoy the now (because donyâ do ruze)


There are a lot of holidays in Iran, and there are few things Iranians look forward to more than beynol-ta'til, what the Spaniards call puente, and what I have no idea what the Americans call. It's when, for example, Tuesday is a holiday, Wednesday is a work day, and Thursday starts the weekend, so people also take that Wednesday off to turn it into a long weekend. Tehranis head to the north, and the city and its remaining inhabitants can breathe easy for a few days. 

But Iranians don’t necessarily need beynol-ta’til to have a good time. They’ll trek out to some place in nature for just a few hours to enjoy a picnic or stay out late despite having to work the next day. I really admire that. They really practice and take to heart the idiom donyâ do ruze. I once tried to go home at 5pm because it was Friday (the Iranian Sunday), and I felt like I needed to prepare for my coming work week. My cousin wasn’t having it. “Are you kidding me? Ku tâ fardâ!” (It’s a long time until tomorrow.) And I’m pretty sure it was this exact moment that I went through a metamorphosis. Since that time, I feel like I live in the moment a lot more instead of holding on to that American mentality of “work, work, work” and only having fun on the weekend (but getting back home in time to prepare to work again). It’s no wonder Iranians jokingly refer to the US (or America, pronounced Âmrikâ) as Omri-Kâr (a lifetime of work).

All your problems can be solved with a Persian poem or proverb


One of my very first students became a good friend of mine. After hanging out a bit, I one day realized that he answered most things I said with a beyt (couplet) or proverb. To this day, no matter what we talk about, there’s always some relevant proverb that he teaches me. And if ever I am venting about something, he never agrees or disagrees, tells me I’m right, or offers his own opinion. Instead he listens, nodding his head, and then says, “You know, there’s a poem by Sa’adi/Hafez/Mowlana/etc. that says…”. And like throwing water on the fire, my fumes die out. Problem solved. 

A little bragging never hurt anyone


I grew up in a family that valued and taught modesty and humility. Well, that has no meaning here, which is ironic considering the entire concept of târof is based on being modest and humble. But if there is one place to toot your own horn, it's Iran. Though this type of self-promotion could really be said about anywhere these days, it rings more true for me here where people tend to size you up by your appearance (see lesson #2: Looks matter). It's still really hard for me to do this, though, something my cousin can’t seem to understand. "If I were you, kune âsemuno pâre mikardam,” (I would rip up the ass of the sky). Beautiful. She expects me to tell brag about my whole life story within the first 2 minutes of meeting anyone. In fact, she does it on my behalf when we go out together. Why does she do that? Nobody cares. “Because you have to,” she says. “You have to be in people’s faces here. That’s how they respect you.” Let’s just say that I’m finally starting to believe her.


Country of Contradictions


I came here in an effort to understand my people and culture on a deeper level. The only thing I've learned, in fact, is that I will never fully understand it the way I had hoped. It’s actually a very complex culture with many contradictions that leave me just as confused as the people who ask me why I moved here. I quote Pee-Wee Herman in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, one of my favorite childhood movies, "Some questions get answered. Others come up. It's like unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting...". 

What I can say for sure is that some days I love it here, and some days I don’t. Some days I feel at home, and some days I feel like a stranger. Some days I love the deep sense of culture and humanity that I feel, and other days I can’t stand the superficiality and endless nose jobs. But in the end, this is where I come from. These are my roots. And none of the other 5 countries I've lived in have ever given me similar experiences or affected me quite as profoundly as my time here has. And at least for the moment, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

PIN ME!


Lessons learned in Iran

Saturday, July 29, 2017



Everybody enjoys a little shopping when they travel, but for me, shopping was never so much about spending time in the mall looking for clothes and shoes as it was buying local handicrafts. I’ve always collected all kinds of goods from the countries I’ve visited with the idea of turning my house into a “museum” of memories one day. Growing up, my mom always kept Iranian handicrafts in the house, but I never paid much attention to them, just thinking of them as Iranian and, well, normal. But since I’ve been in Iran, I’ve been paying closer attention to the typical items of each city, how they are made, and have started my own collection. (Although I must admit that sometimes I feel like such a grownup when I buy these things because the kid in me feels like it’s something only my mom should do.) Now when I go to my parents’ home, those items make more sense, and I can easily identify where they came from. Of course, Persian rugs are by far the most well-known thing you can purchase, but not everyone is in the market for one. So in case you are like me and like to have something to remember your travels by, here’s what you should keep your eyes out for in cities across Iran.

Esfahan

A city so concerned with aesthetic beauty, it’s no wonder that so many handicrafts come from Esfahan. One of my favorites is minâkâri, or enamelwork. Copper surfaces are traditionally decorated with birds and floral patterns on a background which is most commonly azure, though green and red can also be found. On my last trip to Esfahan, I bought a pair of antique minâkâri earrings, and before I left, the shopkeeper drew me a miniature portrait with a single-hair brush on the back of his business card. For me, it was probably more valuable than the earrings!

Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Drawing a miniature


Esfahan also has khâtamkâri, or marquetry, which means ‘the best of all art work’. Fine pieces of wood, bone, and metal are inlaid to create all kinds of decorative objects. 


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Khatamkari is the Persian art of marquetry


Ghalamkâri, a traditional textile printing using wooden stamps, is also native to Esfahan. Usually made of pear wood, the stamps come in various patterns ranging from floral and geometric to arabesque and pre-Islamic. 


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Textile printing and stamps


One of the best things about Esfahan’s bazaar is that it feels more like a living museum. As you walk through it, you’ll notice skilled craftsmen busily banging away on metal to create elaborate designs known as ghalamzani. Bowls, vases, are other objects are available though I personally prefer the trays. 


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Metal worker in Esfahan


Ahvaz

The handicraft I love from the beautiful city of Ahvaz and the Khuzestan province is the handwoven baskets. Thin strands of palm tree leaves are woven together and are either left in their natural state or given a pop of color with some brightly colored threads sewn in. Quite durable, they add a nice touch of nature to the home. While I was in Ahvaz, one of the artists explained to me how it was done. I was quite surprised at how affordable the products were considering how time consuming the process seemed to be. 


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Baskets woven from palm tree leaves


Kerman

Kerman is known for its pateh, a decorative cloth made from wool. It’s impossible not to see them all across restaurants, hotels, and teahouses while you’re visiting the city. Colorful yarn is woven in the cloth, known as ariz, in designs like trees, birds, and paisley. The less visible the ariz, the more expensive the pateh due to the time it takes to sew the design. It’s from this Kermani handicraft that we get the famous Persian idiom related to calling someone's bluff, which you can read about here.


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Pateh is seen all over Kerman 


Yazd

The textile Yazd is best known for is termeh, a luxurious wool and silk cloth which dates back to the Safavid period. Traditionally used as a decorative cloth, these days you can also find it as shoes, bags, small pouches, and more. Because the main motif is paisley, it’s thought that this pattern originates from termeh.

Zanjan

Move over Swiss Army because Zanjan is also known for its knives, switchblades, and pocket knives. Step into any store, and you’re sure to find the perfect knife for practically any purpose.

Malileh is another typical handicraft of this city. Thin silver wires are bent and molded to create some of the most intricately designed decorative items and jewelry. Some wires are so tiny, you’ll wonder how delicate the hands of the artist must have been to make it. I only bought a pair of earrings, but just to give you an idea of what it looks like...


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy
Earrings made of malileh


Lalejin

Lalejin in Hamedan province was declared ‘the city of pottery’ by the UNESCO-affiliated World Crafts Council. Pottery is definitely not unique to Iran, but you can find some of the best unique Persian-themed pottery in this town.


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy


Abyaneh

Burning espand, wild rue seeds, is a common practice in Iranian culture to ward off the evil eye. In the small, red adobe village of Abyaneh, you’ll find these decorative espand shells everywhere, and for some reason, they seem to me like an Iranian version of dreamcatchers. 


Iran, handicrafts, souvenirs, what to buy


PIN ME!

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Whenever I travel, one of my favorite things is to find cool street art. Tehran has no shortage of it with everything from murals and stencils to actual pieces of art commissioned by the municipality to be placed throughout the city as part of the beautification project. I've tried as much as possible to snap quick shots of the art I've seen during this time, but I know there have been countless that I've driven by and wasn't able to capture in time. Nonetheless, here are some of my favorites.

MAD





Edgar Allan Poe, actor Behruz Vosoughi, singer Mohammad Reza Shajarian, MJ


Shoatir

Shoatir

Kiarostami by Ebresk


A modern take on Persepolis or a comment on car manufacturers Peugeot and Samand



Art is not a crime

PIN ME


Thursday, July 20, 2017



The Czech proverb says ‘Learn a new language, and get a new soul.’ Similarly, a Persian proverb says, ‘A new language is a new life.’ I couldn’t agree more. I’ve always been crazy about languages and used to count the days to get to 9th grade because that was when foreign language learning was required. I chose Spanish and went on to later major in Spanish Language and Literature, study in Spain, and spend the last two years of college adding Italian and German classes. After spending time in Italy and Germany honing my skills, I realized the place where I’m happiest is in the language classroom, so I became a language teacher and will continue to be a lifelong language student myself. I’ve since added Portuguese, Greek, and Croatian to my list. 

But language is so much more than grammar and vocabulary. Or the IELTS or TOEFL exam, which many of my students consider to be the ‘end’ of language. (Cringe) Within language lies a world of culture, beliefs, behaviors, and understanding of a society. Which is also why I get a little annoyed when people try to bargain down my prices here- don’t they realize we’re talking about a new life! And while we’re on the subject, imagine how many cool people there are in this world who we won’t ever know for no other reason than a language barrier! A case in point is one of my best friends. I’m so thankful he speaks English because I don’t speak his language, and I don’t want to picture life without his friendship.

But I digress.

Everyone’s heard the idea that your personality changes depending on the language you speak, and I felt this most strongly when I spoke Spanish. I felt freer, more outgoing and light-hearted. German made me more assertive and logical, and Italian made me carefree and appreciative of life’s simple pleasures. There’s another thought to this theory, though, that it’s not so much the language as it is the culture you are in. This rings a little more true in my opinion. Speaking Spanish, German, or Italian in the US was nowhere near the same for me as speaking them in their respective countries. It was definitely being immersed in that culture that made the difference. 

But as much as I felt those languages gave me another persona (at least abroad), I never felt that with Persian. I always thought it was a part of me, just like English, and I considered myself completely bilingual. It was only once I started studying all this language theory in grad school and later teaching that my perspective changed. Some claimed you could only be completely and fully versed in one language, which made me reconsider my beliefs. When I count, I count in English. For me it was a telltale sign that English was my native language. And the simple fact that I was never educated in Iran and don’t feel confident writing anything other than a text message in Persian was another. To be fully bilingual means to be fully communicative in every skill.

Growing up my only exposure to Persian, really, was talking to my parents, a brief exchange with a family friend, or the occasional Iranian movie. During our two-month summer vacations in Iran, we’d have to leave just as my speaking was becoming more fluent and my accent was improving. Otherwise, I spoke (and speak) English with my siblings and any Iranian friends I have in the US. 

Since I’ve been in Tehran, I speak with much greater ease, picking up everyday lingo and vocabulary and of course the ever-changing slang which has become rusty for my parents in their 44 years living in the US. In fact, I had to explain to my mom once what the taxi driver meant by the highway being ghofl (gridlocked). “Well that’s a new one,” she replied. 

But I probably still speak more English because of my job, and though I feel comfortable with Persian, this constant back and forth between languages has made me realize one thing: I am my true self, I am Pontia, when I speak English. And every time I think I’m making headway and conversing more like a local, it seems my American mannerisms creep in and give me away. There have been countless occasions when the person I’m talking to is giving me a ‘look’ like they sense something is up but can’t quite put their finger on it. When I let the cat out of the bag, I get a “You’re American! That’s what it is! I knew something was off.” And they proceed to tell me that I ‘act’ differently. Which indicates that while my language has improved enough to temporarily confuse them into mistaking me for a local, I just can’t seem to shake my American mannerisms. But that’s something I can live with.

PIN IT


Thursday, July 13, 2017


My heart nearly stopped the first time I stepped foot into an EFL classroom in Iran. Besides the room being small, there were only 4 students. I was sure the others were just late or stuck in traffic as the usual excuse goes in Tehran, but, alas, four students was it. In the US, I was accustomed to teaching classes of 25-30 students until they started being capped at 20, and I could handle them with no problem. But what on earth was I supposed to do with just four students? And on top of that, they were teenagers! I had specifically stated that I only taught adults. I thought I could regroup while they spent some time on my ice breaker activity, ‘2 truths and a lie’. After I explained what they were supposed to do, they looked at each other and then at me and said, “But we already know everything about each other.” Turns out that unlike the US where there was a mix of new and old students every semester, students here move up together semester after semester and therefore do really know everything about each other. But the same way that I was la gringa when I taught in Chile, I was the khâreji (foreign) teacher here, and so they humored me. 

I found out that in fact only two of them were teenagers and two were university students (they looked younger), and I was impressed not just by their advanced-level English skills but also by their interests and hobbies. One showed me photos of her paintings, another was in a band and both sang and rapped for me. They were equally as curious about me and what brought me here. By the end of the class, they were begging me to speak some Persian, and squealed, “She’s so goo-gooli (cute)” when I did. They insisted I write something in Persian on the board, and after warning them of my childlike handwriting, one of them oohed and ahed claiming that I wrote better than she did. I can state categorically that I did not. This first session was going so well that the secretary had to practically kick the students out so that I could get to my next class… a class of three university guys who were not curious but baffled by my mere presence in Iran. In a nutshell, it wasn’t nearly as fun or successful as the first class. 

There are a few things that are quite different about teaching here. For one, I can get thrown into a class with little notice and sometimes no time to prep. (I’ve gotten pretty good at winging it when I have to, I must say.) Another thing is that there is little materials development, a change which I gladly welcomed because God knows it’s the most time-consuming part of teaching. But perhaps the strangest thing for me was the student-teacher relationship.

You see, in the US, we kept it strictly business. The one time per semester we took classes on a field trip, we gave students our phone numbers in case they got lost or were running late, but made it very clear they were not to be used at any other time. And even then, I’d get the annoying ‘what was our homework?’ or ‘I don’t understand pg. 54’ text at 10:30pm, to which I would reply frustratedly ‘Send me an email!’ In Iran, though, it seems students and teachers often form friendships. I would see my co-workers posting pictures with students on Instagram. I’ve even had a couple of students tell me they married their university professors! Whaaaaat? It was all so strange to me. So when students asked for my number, I was extremely hesitant, but I gave it to them. When they asked me to hang out, I was even more reserved, but I went out and tried to keep the vibe professional. But eventually, I altogether gave up because I realized these friendships are the norm here. When in Iran, do as the Iranians. Besides, I didn’t have any friends yet, so who was I to reject an outing? And I actually did make friends this way. Good friends. Today, one of the students from that very first class of mine is one of my closest friends here.

I also found Iranian students to be beyond hospitable and helpful. They always offered to drive me home at night, take me grocery shopping if I didn’t have a car, or contact them if I needed anything in general. There are a few who still offer me rides when they can, telling me that spending just a few extra minutes speaking English is totally worth it. 

Because learning languages is a ‘thing’ here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a high demand for language classes anywhere else. (Ok, maybe I wasn’t looking, but still…) I have countless students who’ve been learning English since they were 5, numerous others who are simultaneously learning French (probably the second language in demand), and it seems that everyone is always looking for a private tutor (that’s also a ‘thing’) or trying to find the best institute to learn at. So many want to take the IELTS or TOEFL exam either for study or work, and though some want to immigrate, I find it incredibly refreshing when others tell me, “I love my country. I don’t want to live anywhere else.” 

There’s never a dull moment in teaching, especially ESL/EFL. With the exception of a few northern European countries, I can say pretty confidently that I’ve had at least one student from almost every country in the world. But Iranians are by far my favorite. Biased? Perhaps, but why shouldn’t I be? 

I’ll leave you with my very first memory of the EFL classroom in Iran, which was during a class observation. The topic was stereotypes of different nationalities, and before doing a listening activity, the students had to discuss what they thought the stereotypes were. I was sitting close to two young college students who were talking about the British and Americans. 

“The British are cold, I think.”

“Yah, cold and unfriendly.”

“But I think Americans are like us. They are friendly, outgoing, and have heart of gold [sic].”

My heart broke a little when I heard them liken Americans to Iranians because of their “heart of gold.” I was sure that no American anywhere in the country would ever say an Iranian had a “heart of gold”, let alone have that be their common denominator.

But anything is possible. 


Pin me for later?


Monday, July 10, 2017



I’ll never forget my first encounter with District 12. I was sitting in a taxi, and unfamiliar with the layout of Tehran, I suddenly found myself in the midst of the steady buzzing of swarms of motorcycles coming from every which way, near stand-still traffic, heat a few degrees hotter than where I had started, and older, dingier buildings, some of which looked abandoned. It was sheer chaos. And I loved it.  

Tehran is divided into 22 municipal districts. District 1 starts in the north, and this number increases as you move roughly south and west. District 12 lands us in the Grand Bazaar area in the south of the city. If Valiasr Avenue is the spine of Tehran, then District 12 is its beating heart. In fact, if you start on the south side of Valiasr and work your way north (or vice versa), you’ll notice a drastic change in buildings, fashion, people, culture, and even slang and vocabulary. Sure northern Tehran is posh and ritzy, but District 12 is in color. It’s the real Tehran in my opinion. I used to feel intimidated by it at first because it's such a different culture. But now it's the part of town where I feel most comfortable, where I find the people to be most down-to-earth. It’s a place that exhausts most Tehranis but gives me energy. It’s the place I go to when I need a reminder of why I love this city. And I feel a little bit more alive when I do.

I’m always looking for an excuse to go to District 12, but I’m just as happy to go for no reason at all. On this particular Thursday morning in January, I was on a mission. I had heard about a unique feature of 30 Tir Street, so I booked a half day tour to explore it.



30 Tir Street


30 Tir, pronounced See-ye Teer, corresponds with July 21 and is named after the date of the massive pro-Mossadegh uprising against the Shah in 1952 in which dozens of people were killed. If you’ve been to Tehran, you’ve seen this cobblestone street just next to the National Museum. More recently it’s become a popular place for food and coffee trucks known as sayyâr

Aside from it just being a nice change from the usual asphalt, though, as you navigate 30 Tir from south to north, you’ll find a synagogue, church, and Zoroastrian fire temple sitting together harmoniously. These particular places of worship are still used today. They are not mere tourist attractions, and because of that, it’s ideal to go with a tour agency who will already have all the proper paperwork necessary to enter. 



Haim Synagogue


First is Haim Synagogue, which is best known for hosting Polish Jewish refugees during the Second World War. As the number increased, a second Ashkenazi synagogue was built adjacent to it. It’s also considered the first synagogue to have been built in an urban area away from others. Further up the street, you’ll find Holy Mary Church and directly across the street from it is Adrian Fire Temple whose flame was brought from the temple in Yazd.



Holy Mary Church

Adrian Fire Temple


I had visited churches and fire temples in Iran before. That was nothing new, but Haim was my first synagogue, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning a brief history of Judaism in Iran. It made me curious as to why these three were built on the same street. Was it on purpose, or was it pure coincidence? Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer, but I will tell you that we’ve only scratched the surface of District 12. This post was just an introduction to one small corner of it. There are so many gems and so much charm here that I feel each neighborhood deserves its own shoutout and dedicated letter on my Iran A-Z.


PIN ME


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...