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Iran

5,117 bytes added, 04:46, 18 February 2017
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===Hitchhiker [[User:MOAH|Iris Veldwijk - Mind of a Hitchhiker]]===
I hitchhiked for one month around Iran in 2014 and generally felt very safe. It's true that right across the border nobody knows what hitchhiking is anymore, so I wrote signs in Farsi for everywhere I went, but occasionally cars would stop for me on their own initiative to ask me why I'm in the middle of nowhere. I crossed the Meghri border from Armenia when coming in to Tabriz and left from Orumiyeh to the Esendere border with Turkey. Hospitality was really great and if you're invited to someone's home, there's a fair chance you'll be "temporarily adopted" by a nice Iranian family. It's not seen as a positive thing if a woman travels by herself, let alone by hitchhiking, so it might be tiring to try to explain why you're doing it. Stopping cars was generally really easy and often I could just choose rides that had at least one woman present. Lots of women also just stopped for me with no other drivers in the car and they were often the ones that spoke the best English. I'm writing a [http://http://mindofahitchhiker.com/newsletter/ book] about my experiences hitchhiking alone in Iran.
 
===Marcel and his female friend===
Hitchhiking/ Travelling in Iran is simply amazing! Be prepared for many taxis though, even if thumbing they'll stop, thinking this person's western and doesn't know how to stop a taxi. I'd thumb western-style and not eastern-style (holding the hand at waistheight level to the ground) - showing a thumb is meanwhile understood as a positive thing and local hitchers use the thumb too. After some days you'll get a feeling for who's taxi and who's not. Unfortunately my second lift turned out to be a 'shared taxi', but still today I'm not sure if he just wanted to rip us off or indeed was a cab driver.<br/>
Now I'll spare you hundreds of wonderful stories because you'll make your own and only share the one that went semishizzle, hoping it can safe you from repetition. Both me and my friends are still very very happy to have been to Iran! I'm sure the guy who picked us up and 24h later groped the female of us thinks badly about what he did, I saw his eyes when he left us.<br/>
I do see some things to improve on in our behaviour, given the cultural differences middle east and west:<br/>
First thing I found a little odd was when my friend followed his offering to have a cigarette, the driver lit the cig in his mouth and passed it to her on the back seat! I don't smoke so I'm not an expert on customs but I found it somewhat intimate. Later, being invited to eat, he would push most of his veggies to her plate, not once to me or the other male hitcher.
''Okay, he's got only one daughter, in my friend's age and she's abroad studying, maybe he's suffering some sort of daughter-syndrome...''<br/>
Later we followed his invitation home, he wants to show us the town. Which turns out to be a shopping tour across all floors of a mall and we enter many (female clothing) shops, he searches clothes for her, asking do you like this do you like that. She declines the questions, but wanting not to be too impolite she gives in after three or four times. Half an hour later she carries a number of plastic bags with various garments. ''(To me it seems she has also proven as many times that if he insists long enough, he'll have it his way.)'' Something in me was screaming that this is going in the wrong direction, but I understood that she didn't want me to interfere and the other hitcher seemed to not be bothered by all this. I tried to push our host aside and had a quiet word with him, he just said okay last one and carried on. At this point I left the party to wait outside, because I didn't want to take part in this drama play anymore. And since there was another male hitcher I could go without leaving the girl unaccompanied.<br/>
Back at host's house I went to sleep and male friend sat down infront of the PC, female friend and host engage in conversation and teach songs to each other. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but he's been interested in mostly the female among us and now she's showing interest in his culture (''my, who isn't, for why else are we hitching around in Iran!'') while all male company has retreated. Nothing extraordinary for us and I bet manageable for most persians, yet keep in mind that boys and girls in middle eastern places are or have been separated in school and social life, singing and smiling in public is illegal for irani women (hard to imagine that it'd go punished tho). I'm telling my observations and thoughts here, don't ask me for a solution to this situation. <br/>
Then we figured there are four matresses, but only three guests. Turns out our host prefers to sleep on the ground with us! At least here ''we'' made sure to have gender separation.<br/>
The next morning, when my friend was alone having a smoke infront of the house, our host groped her and lured her behind the house to "show something". This time he gave in to her no.
 
East of the bosphorus men are socially implicated to be protecters of and providers for women (especially their "own", which is defined by marriage and family relations), who have a societal status of being weak and dependent. I'm using severe language here because this to me is the key point. We have been fed the same sexist soup, but with western seasoning. That is that a guy gotta accept when his friend doesn't want him to behave like he was her big brother, without insisting several times. And that she says no and means no, whereas traditional iranian/persian/turkish/arabian she says no and means okay, maybe ''or'' no. Pretending you and your travel companion are married will probably help. However then you won't be making an example of what's possible in western society. ''In a different house a different host though that he needs to put us into separate rooms for sleeping when we said that we're not married! But his friend convinced him, since we have a tent we might aswell share a room.''<br/>
Not many people are "stuck in old conventions" anymore, after some time you'll be able to tell traditional folk from city people. For instance, being new in Iran I was very cautious of tarof, but then I figured it's very few iranians still doing this.
===Hitchhiker [[User:Nalddo|Olivier]]===

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