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Tehran covered in snow

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran - We all have played with snow when we were kids and had a lot of fun. However as we grow up life takes away many of its simple pleasures and these days when it snows my immediate thoughts are - Will the pipes burst? Will the gas be cut off? Will we have a power cut or how long will it be before the side streets and alleys are so iced up that anyone walking on them has a more than average chance of breaking something?


For the past two weeks Tehran has been faced with the most severe weather. All my life I can not remember Tehran being so cold for so long. There is a critical shortage of gas for heating and cooking, which has been made worse by political problems with Turkmenistan. For better or worse, like so many others, I was down with a terrible flu which was followed by an unbearable cough so that the doctor had to come to the house as I was unable to go out. I am almost human now after ten days being on three different kinds of antibiotics, cough syrups and god knows how many glasses of tea, hot water with apple juice, bowls of soup or ush (a kind of soup made with a lot of greens and beans) and last but not least that wonderful thing that we seem to have only in Iran, limoo shirin, (sweet lemon) juice. At least the darukhanehs (pharmacies) were doing good business!

Last week the government called two days of public holidays except for emergency services and they closed the schools for much longer and even this week in some parts of the country the schools are still closed. Parents did not know what to do with their kids especially if they had to go out to work. The fact that the kids could not be sent outside to play or be taken out easily did not make matters easier. In many parts of the country where heating oil is rationed and they do not enjoy the luxury of gas central heating, many families gathered together in one house or one floor and shared their heating oil ration with all to stay warm even though they might have been a little uncomfortable, all the men sleeping in one room and all the women in other. We do not seem to have much of this in Tehran where the television was showing that some people were still having their swimming pools heated (because they paid for it). Under such circumstances, I would have had their gas
cut off!

Like most other normal Iranian households we turned off the central heating in half of the apartment and lived in one or two rooms in order to reduce our usage of gas and hopefully reduce the risk of the gas being cut off completely. The danger still lingers on as it seems to just get colder and colder.

Considering all, the authorities did clean the main roads in Tehran within a day or two but not the pavements, and in the side streets there is still lots of snow and slush around. I found that rather surprising because the municipality seemed to have been prepared for their snow clearing tasks with a lot of bases in different parts of the city but in practice, as a citizen I was not happy just hearing about the problems (while in my bed coughing, shivering and dreading the gas or electricity cuts). This is in the middle of the speedboats in the Persian Gulf saga and amid the never ending fear of just what will happen next! How the US (with a small armada gathered in the Persian Gulf) could possibly feel threatened by a bunch of speedboats is beyond me!

When I compare my vision of things with two years ago, I am rather sad as I was so much more optimistic and hopeful then. Still there may be a chance for change with the Iranian Majlis elections in March, for which I have decided not to stand, as I can not afford it as an independent candidate; besides, like last time, a lot of people who would be likely to vote for someone like me have said that they are boycotting the election anyway. I do understand their attitude; I thought and felt like them in some ways for many years too. But this is the only means we have to make our views known and we must still push for our point of view and for true liberal-independent candidates to stand and be given enough support to win as nothing else will come from anywhere and it is up to us and our responsibility to change things through open means. May God be on the side of all good people and nations in the New Year and may the forces of good prevail despite it all. Amen!

... Payvand News - 01/28/08 ... --

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