When puppy love holds up Tehran traffic

Photo posted on flickr by kamshots.
 
In Iran, young men and women are not allowed to openly meet or flirt in the usual western contexts of bars or nightclubs. Instead, they turn to a rather unexpected matchmaking joint : their car.
 
One of the favourite pastimes of a segment of the upper and middle class Tehran youth is driving up and down street called Iranzamin, in the high-end Sa’adat Abad (Little Western Town) neighbourhood. To avoid censorship by the Islamic morality police, the cars are either all-girl or all-boy. Their passengers joke, flirt and exchange phone numbers through the car windows, ready to make a quick getaway if the police show up.
 
According to our Observer,  these outings also allow drivers to show off their car: the more luxurious and expensive, the better. Shabby, run-down cars are not welcome on Iranzamin, where flashy Mercedes or SUVs will speed away if a lesser vehicle tries to approach them.
 
Due to pro-natalist policies by the Islamic regime in the 1980s, an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s current population of 70 million is under the age of 30. This generation is widely considered to be the driving force behind the anti-government 'Green Movement'.
 
Video shot and posted on YouTube by Alessio Rastani.
Contributors

"Young people in Iran have no medium to express themselves other than appearance"

Alessio Rastani, 33, is a London stock market trader of Italo-Iranian origin. He regularly visits his relatives in Tehran.

Although my family is Persian, I have lived outside of Iran my whole life. From my western viewpoint, I couldn’t help but wonder: how do my cousins and friends my age in Tehran, who live in a strictly conservative society, manage to find love?
When I visited my relatives in Tehran last October, my cousin told me about a street called Iranzamin which is notorious for being a hot meeting spot for young Iranian men and women. I was curious, so I went to see and brought my camera. I witnessed three types of scenes: first I saw cars that were slowly driving in apparently aimless circles, up and down the street. These cars were driven by young men or women who, my cousin told me, were patrolling Iranzamin in the hope of crossing a car full of members of the opposite sex and getting to meet them.
 
Second, I saw two cars suddenly slow down to a crawl, side by side. In one car were several girls, in the other two boys. For a full five minutes, the cars rolled together at a snail’s pace while their passengers chatted with each other through the car windows. Behind them, a growing column of vehicles began building up, until it reached practically the end of the street! Strangely, though, the held-up drivers were fairly patient, and didn’t start honking or yelling straight away.
 
Finally, I saw a series of cars, at least eight or ten of them, parked on the side of the road with bunches of guys standing outside them. They, I were told, go out in the fanciest possible car and stand there ostensibly in the hope of attracting girls. In Iran, having an expensive car is an important status symbol.
 
I think that young people in Iran, especially middle class urban people, are very frustrated with the regime. They were not around in 1979 for the revolution and they are sick and tired of hearing the same state propaganda over and over again on state TV, at school, etc. There are extremely disillusioned, which, I believe, makes them extremely materialistic – in some respects even more so than people in the West. Because they are not free to do or say what they want, people in Iran have no medium to express themselves other than their outside appearance and signs of wealth. That’s why many of them are so focused on money, looks and fancy stuff.”

Post written with France 24 journalist Lorena Galliot.

Comments

Reply to comment | The Observers

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You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away
your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you
could be giving us something informative to read?

Reply to comment | The Observers

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Reply to comment | The Observers

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This, BBC, and observation skills

This is a really insightful report, esp. the video, crossing cultural borders unlike seldom seen in reports. Same was true of the BBC interview yesterday that has stunned so many people. Some major media outlet like the BBC ought to pick you up as an international social reporter.

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