Small surprises in Iran

small saffron

Our guide book claims that you could travel the globe, but nowhere will you find as many surprises as Iran. They’ve got a point. There are lots of things that have raised our eyebrows. As we move into our last days in Iran and start to wrap up our thinking we’ll write here about some of the big surprises.

There are little ones that deserve some recognition too, so here’s a collection:

  1. It’s pronounced ee-rahn, not i-ran.
  2. This is the only country we’ve visited where a different set of numerals is in wide usage. Most prices are written with Persian numerals, and all number plates display them.
  3. Persian language is written right to left, but the numerals are written left to right.
  4. I knew Iranians were keen on football so was surprised to have seen to playing fields. Turns out there are many, but they are all hidden behind walls so women can’t see men playing wearing shorts.
  5. Salt and vinegar potato chips are available everywhere which is awesome.
  6. Iranians also like to preserve fresh cherries in vinegar which is not awesome. Such a waste.
  7. In one month here we have seen exactly one supermarket. I’m sure there are others, but they are certainly not as common as Iran’s development might imply.
  8. Despite hejab requiring that women cover their head, shoulders and arms at all times, Western-style wedding dresses are popular: white, strapless, showing bare heads and shoulders, and even cleavage. Apparently weddings are exclusively family affairs and so relatively immodest clothing is acceptable.
  9. Girls whizz around parks on roller-blades. Those nine and above have to wear headscarves, and they fly out behind them as they skate. It’s a sight to see.
  10. Some Mosques feature free mobile phone charging stations, like you might find in a Koru club.
  11. I’ve got no proof (and in fact it seems it is African states that stand out) but there seem to be an uncommonly large number of twins in Iran.
  12. I’ve said it before but it bares saying again because it seems so incongruous of Western understandings of Iran: this country has more nosejobs per capita than anywhere else in the world. And because you can read more about it here.
  13. Sure it’s got lots of oil and gas but Iran is also the world’s largest producer of saffron, pistachios, honey and a range of different berries.

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