The sun set behind the mountains, Tehran is shining in its night dress of lights. It's Thursday evening, the traffic is crazy and Milad Tower Center is crowded. A group from Busher playing tradtional music and dancing in the middle of the shopping hall, many have stopped to watch and to take a picture by their smartphone. Families, couples, gangs of friends.
In a ball of darkness and silence I look at the city just from the top. Policentric, densely built, but dotted of large green areas now opened like big holes of nothing in its silky white skin, innervated by streets, roads, highways, made alive by a lavic blood of cars.
Where is the heart of Tehran? There are many and each one beats with a different rhythm: the ancient center with Golestan Palace and the Grand Bazar, close to the Southern part of the city, more traditional and relatively poor; the cultural center near Laleh Park, full of galleries, bookshops, creative youths and revolutionary movements; the exclusive Northern area with its beautiful new brand building, the last Sha park and residence, Tajrish Bazar, commercial roads and malls... just to name a few!
Milad Tower is one of the highest towers in the world and one of the most beautiful, especially at night. You can see it from everywhere, essential, slender, reminding a minaret or an ufo. It's the ideal place to begin the exploration of Tehran with a a basic understanding of it. The second best place is the subway. Because being on foot in a street of Tehran, even with a map, is totally confusing, at least for Europeans used to deal with monocentric ancient cities. Forget about it. Find your aim or your subway stop and accept the fact that it's goint to take a while to reach it, by any means. Enjoy the trip, observe the people, listen to your thoughts.
"All Tehran is here!" Exasperated, my friend starts her fourth lap in the huge parking place. This place is mindblowing. A young female architect designed a multilevel pedestrain bridge linking two hills across the largest urban forest of Tehran and a big busy hightway. Tabiat Bridge, shining in electric blue light, is a masterpiece of engineering and art. In the Thursday night crowd. "Where would you like to have dinner?" There are many and many restaurants, every kinds of it: Iranians of course, but also an American bourger, Indian and Turkish, Chinese... You can sit at the table and buy food from where you prefer.
In Iran a large part of the population is young, as a consequence the Iranian society is very dynamic. Iranian youths are mostly high educated, in the University there are more women than men and both are very active in discussing and proposing. A deep cultural change is already happening in the daily life: quietly, peacefully, steadily. It's not about the foulard, it's abour selfdetermination. Iranian women walk hand in hand with their guys in the electric blue light of Tabiat Bridge, some wearing a loose scarf that's just a clothing item, some wearing a full hijab or a chador, no doubt because they chose to, some are bare head, the long hair in the warm wind of the night. The men are in jeans, t-shirts and leather jakets. They are not protesting, they are just living their lives and nobody have nothing to say. The political debate in Iran is moving on, from symbolic to factual. I can already apreciate the results.
TO BE CONTINUED
Sorry for bad quality of pictures but in this first days I just used my phone. Hopefully you'll appreciate the difference when I'll start publishing the pictures taken by my new camera.