Most foreign correspondences that come to Iran and stay awhile, have one thing in common. They end up living in the North East side of Tehran in Aaghdasih, Kameradienh, North Pasdaran, Niavaran and of course Farmanieh. These are generally known as Shemiran. This choice of location for a place to live or to work as well, brings them some advantages. First and foremost is that they live where the weather is supposed to be better, cleaner and breathing is easier. Also their neighbors are generally and almost for sure the well-off, very well-off and rich Tehranis. These neighbors consist of mainly two groups. One group have a very westernized outlook and life-style and because of their privileged position in life, no matter where they would be, often can not stop complaining about all that is not right or is not as it should be. The other group are from very well-off Bazaari families, old and new, with strong traditional bonds including religious ones; although many of young members of this group may have joined the first group, at least in spirit if not in appearance.
Furthermore, living in these parts means that every time they want to come and go anywhere they have to pass Saddar Expressway. I personally would avoid taking Saddar, unless I have no choice. Those who live in North East parts have very little other choices. It is one of the Tehran's busiest expressways and has the worst traffic at the best of times. Yet there are many who bear the burden for reasons that I fail to see.
But for those whose job is reporting and then end up living in a city as cosmopolitan and diverse as Tehran, I find living in such parts will deprive them from ordinary people. These people, like all their counterparts in any and every metropolitian city in the world, are as different as they come, some good and some bad. These correspondents hardly meet these people, not because they can not or they are not allowed to. But may be because they are not interested enough? Or are too afraid to learn and see the others side?
I am yet to meet or learn about one who took the trouble to get on a bus once in a while and go through the city. I am yet to hear about one who dared, like many used to, when they were all younger-in mind at least- to venture through streets and see what comes their way without the help of their guides and translator which must make their experiences foggy a little and second hand. Many never take the trouble and go to an ordinary Persian/Iranian cuisine place. But they know many of the well known expensive restaurants in town. I wonder how many can take you to the railway station, even if they knew where it was.
These good people come here, stay awhile and somehow deprive themselves from many experiences which may enrich their lives specially in their field of work. They end up somehow living in a ghetto that they build around themselves. They end up writing and reporting a simplistic good/bad version of news and mostly related politics/economics. There is so much life that goes on in this big city alone, let alone the whole country, that could make great interesting reads, for the end user, simply because there are over twelve million people living in Tehran. When was the last time that one of them wrote about art or cultural affairs that take place every week here? Which one of them wrote a piece about people and their normal ordinary life, their aspirations, how they do this or that; their hassles at work, pleasures they find in their lives, the old Persian herbal remedies and medicine, and so on. Somehow the beat that operates this busy, crowded, polluted, noisy great city, which has one of the worst traffic jams imaginable yet it is surrendered with absolutely wonderful Alborz Mountain, is missed. May be the fault lies completely with the editors. Somehow when I heard John Simpson on Radio saying that a good foreign correspondent must be passionate about the work I could not help writing this. I wish there were more Robert Fisk in this world involved in media.
... Payvand News - 2/27/03 ... --