Parties in Iran

Welcome to Iran: a country where everything is forbidden, but anything is possible.

An insight into Iran’s illicit world of wild parties and extravagance can be found in the lyrics of Zed Bazi – Tehran’s unrivalled rap champions, recorded in London and Paris and played in every party in Tehran.

Zed Bazi were the pioneers of music in the Islamic Republic back in 2003 mixing gangster rap with electronic /dance music in the Persian language. 14 years on despite the group separating, its former members are still individually very successful in the Iranian downloads charts.

The group, consisting of four guys and one girl, left Iran in their teenage years to live in Europe, and started creating music in their mother tongues to export back to their homeland. They tapped into Iranian youth culture in an unprecedented way.

The songs of Zed Bazi broke the trend in Persian music which is traditionally melancholy, conservative and glorifies sadness. Instead their songs are positive, optimistic, with riskee lyrics, recounting erotic scenes with lovers, fights with love rivals, drug use, alcohol and wild parties in the villas surrounding Tehran.

The songs reference life in modern Tehran and for the first time there were songs in the Persian language that the Iranian youth could relate to so easily and so deeply. Indeed, these songs are fixtures in Persian parties, where their controversial lyrics, littered with profanities, are memorised and keenly repeated by the youth.

 

And for us, the foreigners, we are given a glimpse into the ‘real Iran’ that exists outside the government’s strict control on the media. We can see a forbidden youth culture which is shockingly similar to our own, but different in so many ways – when everything is forbidden, so much more is possible.

We can see the extravagance of the upper classes, as they sing about high class fashion and branded alcohol. Their song ‘Tehran Masarati’ offers a cultural critique about how their homeland has changed, perhaps not for the better. The hook goes:
‘The new Tehran, that’s full of Maserati’s and gangster fashion,
Tell me what remains (from the past)
Everything has become messed up, and you don’t even know
Who your own girlfriend was sleeping with last night.’

Zed Bazi’s most popular song, ‘Tabestoon Kohtahe’ (The Summer is Short) is about the bittersweet feeling of returning to Iran for the summer, which is shared by many of the more affluent young Iranians who study and live abroad. Each time they come back Tehran has changed, as they meet up with friends and lovers that they only see for three months of the year.

And finally, my personal favourite, ‘Zamin Safe’ (The world is flat). This song contains a haunting melody singing about separated lovers reminiscing, and knowing they will reunite as the world is flat. (It’s a play on words)

Zed Bazi have led the way for a new generation of Iranian hip hop artists to battle against the government’s strict control on the media and music. And while they may be recording outside of Iran, or illegally in their bedrooms or basements, they are being heard by millions, both inside and outside Iran. They are no longer seeking approval from the government, they are bypassing it altogether by recording music in private and uploading it directly onto the internet.

So thankyou Zed Bazi, your captivating songs have left me in awe of Persian music and inspired me to continue pursuit of mastering the Persian language. They have given us all a fresh insight into a new generation of Iranians, and their fascinating culture.

So stand up, raise your glass up and say, cheen cheen …

Tarof Explained (important knowledge for tourists!)

Taarof is a tradition specific to Perisan culture, literally meaning ‘to offer.’ All tourists should be aware of this cultural act of hospitality as they will certainly encounter it frequently in Iran. Taarof is a ritual in Iran where Iranian’s are overpolite, but don’t necessarily mean what they are saying. It indicates humility and respect, but can often be confusing to a foreigner.

I remember being confused at the beginning of my time in Iran when taxi drivers and shopkeepers determinedly refused to accept payment for the journey or things that I wanted to buy. I would keep trying to pay them, until after several attempts the vendor would ‘give up’ and accept payment. I would leave bewildered about what had just happened. Until it happened again. And again. And again.

It was then I realised that this was actually a typical occurrence in Iran; something locally known as taroof. And while confusing for a foreigner, this tradition permeates every social interaction in Iran – people don’t say what they mean. The shopkeepers fully intend to accept payment, though tradition dictates that they must go through the ritual of refusing payment several times. Seeming unnecessary, foreigners must understand taarof in order to navigate Iran proficiently.

Taarof extends to other social situations as well. People will generously offer their personal items, such as an item of clothing or a pen, if you show interest in them, even if they don’t want, or intend to give them to you. I found this once when I complemented a friend of mine on her necklace. She immediately took it off and gave it to me, insisting that I take it. Feeling very happy, I graciously accepted what I thought was a generous gift and carried on with my work. It was only afterwards that I realised that I had ‘taarofed’ the necklace from her.

It is a strange phenomenon for British people, a clash of cultures if you will. In the UK we are used to people being direct and relatively standoffish as a culture. The opposite is true in Iran, where you are instantly accepted as a family member and invited to dinners, weddings. While this hospitality is sincere, and Iranians are lovely and welcoming, it is important for foreigners to understand the concept of taroof, and not take advantage of this generous and humble culture.

Taarof represents the kind essence of Iran’s culture, and their respect for others. Guests are cherished in Iran, and locals will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. The trick is to always pay your way in situations that you would typically expect to pay, such as a taxi ride, or buying gifts – even if it may take three or four exchanges before they accept your payment. Though, you can graciously eat to your hearts content when offered extra portions at dinner!

We wish you a great time in Iran!

Iran’s answer to Uber

As we face the potential of a future London without Uber, let’s look at another place where Uber is also banned: Iran.

Due to the US sanctions on Iran, Uber has not been able to penetrate the Iranian market.

Though, let me introduce you to Snapp, the ‘Iranian Uber.’ Currently the main player in Iran, Snapp now has over 120,000 active drivers in Iran, and is growing from strength to strength as the demand for quick, personalized transport rises.

Just like Uber, it is available on iPhone and Android, and even has an Apple Watch version.

The sanctions have produced an entrepreneurial hub, where the educated, tech savvy youth strive to create start-ups to rival their international equivalents.

This has created a ‘reverse brain-drain’ where Iran’s youth, educated in Europe and the US, are returning to Iran to launch companies, equipped with ideas and training from the West.

And thus, Snapp emerged in 2014; a ride hailing app tailored for the Iranian market. It offers a range of services, including Snapp Rose, which provides female drivers for women, kids and families. And, unlike Uber, Snapp gives you the option to pay in cash or debit card.

True to Iran’s entrepreneurial spirit, Snapp shares its market share with other companies such as Tap30 and Carpino. Though Snapp currently dominates the market with a claimed 80% share.

So, Londoners must realise, that although life might temporarily be harder when we are no longer able to call Ubers to take us to our every destination, we must look to countries that never had Uber.

They are doing well, and their equivalent companies are thriving. Gaps in the market produce innovation and progression.

So, in a London where there is no Uber, perhaps a British version of Iran’s Snapp will come to fill the gap in the market.

Women’s fashion in Iran

This article will address some of the questions that many British women ask us before they travel to Iran. What should I wear?! Do I have to wear a hijab?

And yes, while it is true that all women are required to wear a hijab in Iran (it is the Islamic Republic after all!), Iranian women are incredibly fashionable; Iran’s glamorous fashionistas are more than capable of giving their British counterparts a run for their money!

And the great thing about it is that you don’t have to alter your dress too much from what you would wear in Britain. Where you would wear jeans and a t-shirt in England, in Iran you would wear jeans, a t-shirt and a thin, loose fitting robe, (called a monteau) over the top.

The important thing is just to cover your shape from chest to thighs with the robe, but you can still wear your regular clothes underneath.

As for the hijab, a scarf loosely wrapped over your head is perfectly acceptable these days. Women wear it in a variety of ways, many leave locks of hair styled around their face, others might keep their hair more hidden. It really is personal preference, and should your hijab fall down when you are out and about, you might be politely reminded by a considerate stranger or the religious police to put it back on again.

Some websites recommend loose fitting trousers, and baggy tops, but if you really want to do Iran like an Iranian, it’s imperative that you buy a few of these monteau’s, before you go, that you can throw on over your normal clothes, and you’re good to go.

There is no limit to the colours you can wear; mix and match, wear stripes and patterns, experiment with fabrics – Iran is full of chique, hip women pushing the limits of fashion within an Islamic context.

Though it is important to remain respectful and observant, especially if you are entering a more religious area or a mosque, it would be considered polite to wear your hijab in a more conservative style, and close your monteau with a wrap.

Leave some room in your suitcase, especially if you are going to spend some time in Tehran. The fashionable women on the streets will inspire you, and the city is full of fashionable new retail shops selling a variety of brands.

If you pick up some nice pieces, you will be able to return to Britain showing off your newfound Iranian glamour in flowing robes and stylish outfit combinations.

Again, if you need any advice on this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01344 622832 for a free fashion consultation (or to book your next trip to Iran 😛 )

Five interesting things to do in Tehran

Tehran is the buzzing capital of Iran, a fascinating juxtaposition of modern and ancient cultures, an entrepreneurial spirt and a traditional mind-set; the West colliding with the East. With half the population under 30 years old, this vibrant city offersa true gateway into the modern Persian culture, which is still very firmly set in a historical land; only here it is possible to go from shopping in a giant modern mall, across the road to the Shah’s legendary palace, into the ancient, winding alleys full of shisha smokers and bazaar stalls, and finally ending up in one of the many art galleries arising on Tehran’s contemporary cultural scene.

 

Here at Magic Carpet Travel, let us show you the five attractions that you must see, should you ever get the chance to visit this fascinating modern city, in the ancient land of Persia.

1. Golestan Palace

A jewel of Tehran; the palace and gardens of the former Shah of Iran. Golestan Palace was used as a centre for power and art since the Safavid Dynasty, and now consists of a group of Royal buildings displayed as museums and acres of tranquil gardens. You could easily spend a day here wandering through the King’s courts, and visiting each of the nine museums to gain a glimpse of the extravagances and marvels of the palace under the formerKing’s rule. No trip to Tehran would be complete without a visit.

2. The Holy Defence Museum

If you are looking for an interesting way to spend half a day in Iran, The Holy Defence Museum will certainly provide you with that. This is an impressive museum, set on 21 hectares of land, that takes you through the entire history of the 1980 Iran-Iraq war. You are able to walk through the timeline of events, displayed in giant air hanger spaces, and gain a fascinating perspective on the events. This is a well put together museum, with a large variety of displays, surreal artwork and sensory effects, that take you back in time to one of the most important events in Iran’s modern history. English speaking guides available.

3. Contemporary Art Museum

A place for art lovers, located next to Park e-Laleh in downtown Tehran, this museum holds one of the greatest collections ofIranian modern and contemporary art. A truly fascinating place to visit, where traditional Persian art is displayed amongst its Western counterparts such as Vincent van Gogh. In a city teaming with pop up art galleries, come here for a concentration of rotating exhibitions, films and performance art.

The museum is currently showing the world renounced Parviz Tanavoli, The Lions of Iran Exhibition, a fantastic display of abstract, symbolic lions.

4. Skiing!

A little-known fact is Tehran’s amazing Ski resorts; Shemshak, Dizin, Darbandsar and Tochal, all just a short drive from Tehran. During the winter, you can find powdery mountains to rival any European ski slope. If you are a fan of skiing, why not ride out your next ski season in Tehran, with a multitude of boutique hotels located on sight, and over 4 resorts to choose from surrounding Tehran, you can spend the entire Winter discovering new runs. All ski equipment can be rented at the resorts and a day ski pass is around the equivalent of £10.

5. Azadi Tower

Literally meaning Freedom Tower, Azadi Tower is the modern symbol of Iran. You will likely drive past this landmark on your way into Tehran from the airport, though it is worth a visit in itself as, underneath the tower lies an art museum displaying artefacts of Iranian cultural and national heritage. If you are lucky, you may also be able to attend a Persian modern music or comedy performance, in its underground theatre!

The list definitely doesn’t end here; we hope it’s just enough to get you started!

Author: Loretta Rice