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Cafe Naderi and Night time in Darband

By Syma Sayyah, Tehran - A few days ago we watched a DVD of one of Iran's most well known musicals Shahre Ghesseh (City of Tales) by the late talented Bijan Mofid and even although the quality of the film was not good - it had been made in the late sixties - the music spoke all the words and it was most nostalgic and moving. In my opinion to this day it is the most penetrating artistic effort which shows the underlying goings-on in the Iranian society at large, and it is still relevant today.  It made me remember the Tehran of old.  I first saw it when I was at school and it was the first of its kind, and the lyrics and the music are remembered by most people of my generation.



Recently when we were attending an official function in the centre of Tehran, to our total disbelief we got there so fast that we were wondering where all the rush hour Tehran traffic had gone.  Because we had some spare time and we had easily found a parking space near the Charahe-estamboul (Istanbul crossing - so-called because it is next to the Turkish embassy), we decided to go to one of Tehran's oldest and well known meeting places, the Café Naderi where we had meant to go for so long. 



The cafe is not far from the Iran Central bank and is where you will find many street money exchangers.  It is with a great sense of nostalgia and sadness that I write this, and those of you who know it would most probably share my grief.   Café Naderi is something of an institution in Tehran but it seems that the end is near.  We have heard a strong rumor that it is going to be knocked down in order to build a new hotel with the obvious cafes and restaurant. 





It does look totally tatty and maybe the best thing that can happen to it is to be rebuilt or at least refurbished.  The old cheap chairs and tables do not do much for its former glory. But as before the most interesting thing about it is the run down garden and its waiters.  None of the waiters were younger than sixty.  Although serving in Iran is not a job many naturally enjoy, these guys were very efficient and wanted to take an order, then get together to sit down and do their crosswords or read the paper.



Later that evening we went to Darband to dine with some friends.  It was ever so crowded yet it was so much fun to walk up to the restaurant and enjoy observing so many different types of street sellers offering their goods to people, from horror masks to cotton candy and shops selling all sorts of things like pomegranate juice and all kinds of plums, to kebab stands and cafes (one could not help but notice the smell of meat being barbecued) There were stands selling CDs and videos and balloons to the hearts desire of all the children that passed by.




The only thing we could complain about in this very Iranian was the many cars that whose drivers would selfishly choose to drive to the restaurants through the crowded and narrow road leading to the mountain, rather than take a short walk up the hill; but despite this we had a great time and great fun. Jaye shoma khlai (we missed you)!

... Payvand News - 10/07/08 ... --

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