It's all so ugly that it's beautiful. If that makes any sense. An older neighborhood near Abbas Abad.
Something wicked this way comes. The only benefit of having the chadoris (chador is the black sheet that covers one from head to toe) is knowing that the person wearing it is religious. Then you don't bother with them. Kind of like having the neo-cons wear a cross on their forehead back in the US.
At Masoud laboratory, waiting for blood test results. It suggested that I have high cholesterol. What do they know?!
A tall building on the side of Chamran Freeway. Its residents must be inhaling a lot of smog considering the heavy traffic that passes by everyday.
FLASHBACK: Speaking of high cholesterol, I have a constant craving for In-N-Out burgers and fries. This was my last In-N-Out meal before leaving Los Angeles.
A view of Milad Tower and Shahrak-e-Gharb from the 16th floor of Khayam building at night.
Yep, Iranian kids like ice-cream too! I was dubious about posting two photos featuring a car mirror, but I couldn't resist the look and the body language on those kids buying ice-cream -- and the smile it put on SJ's face. The little one got one twice the size of his head.
At a church run by the German embassy in Tehran, where the Persian Ensemble performed. They didn't let me take a picture from the musical ensemble, but I sneaked this one in from the cross on the wall -- and a boy looking at his dad.
An awesome Iranian actress I will not identify, doing her own stunts on the set of a film I cannot name (for marketing reasons, nothing political). She took that bike high up on that wall -- without a helmet. Take THAT Angelina Jolie!
I am not sure how its optically possible, but my little tiny camera phone somehow reshaped the straight steel pipes on the side of Hemmat Freeway. Atisaz Buildings in the back. Atisaz is like Park La Brea of Los Angeles; a city within the city. I'm hoping to find an apartment there.
A street vendor selling corn on the cob (balal) on Shariati Street. It's very tasty when grilled straight on the sizzling charcoal, then dipped in salted water -- sells for about $0.40.
Three trees framed well by their surrounding environment on Farmanieh Street in northern Tehran.
You come across great characters and little scenes when riding the Line Taxis (taxis shared by 4 people with set destinations). This girl, wearing her "Islamic" scarf, was listening to a 50 Cents song on her phone while the cab driver was listening to the Islamic radio. Bitches and hoes and boring Islamic programming don't mix well!
Pets are [also] illegal to own in Iran; you could get fined for walking one in the street. Because Islam deems them unclean. But that doesn't stop people from owning them -- illegal just means more fun. Plus pets have existed in Persian history since the dawn of the Persian civilization. See Persian cats for example.
If Jesus was alive today, he would look more like the man on the left -- not the blue-eyed blonde you're accustomed to back West. A carpenter building stuff for the office where I will be procrastinating working.
Contrary to the American rules of the game, in Iran guys give their phone numbers to girls. If she so desires, she makes the first call. It's a much better system for guys; because they don't have to worry about when to call, and then wait for her to call back, so on so forth. You just sit back and chill!
Hella buildings in northern Tehran. This is the view from the 9th floor of a building on Jordan street.
When shopping, you often hear the salesperson claim that their product is "an original." Most often its a lie, and they're simply giving you counterfeit Chinese rip-offs. This complicates the haggling which is required for such purchases. Shoes, started at $65, paid $45. "Levi's" pants; started at $45, paid $30. I am told I was jipped!
Hundreds of actors, directors, producers and cinematographers gathered at Film Museum of Iran to protest illegal distribution of their films. It's so bad that their movies come out on DVD before they even hit the theaters. Rumor has it the government is behind this and doesn't fight it so that the Iranian cinema stays bankrupt and dependant.
I had plans to meet my friend Tony in Moscow. So I got my Russian visa and airline tickets and headed to the airport. But, much to my disappointment, they didn't let me leave the country because I didn't have an "exit stamp" in my Iranian passport. Rollover for the the culprit that ruined my plans. Sorry Tony! Happy Birthday!
I feel like I need at least one shot of the maddening traffic in each issue just to represent the great amount of time I spend in cars en-route to my destinations across town. This is Tohid Square, near Sattar Khan where the Passport Office was.
Unofficial unemployment rate stands just above 30%. But that doesn't mean they report such figures on state-run TV or Radio. Instead they make a point of reporting on US unemployment rate if for example it goes from 3.1% to 3.2%. Fox News would be proud of their achievements in "fair and balanced" news.
Ahmadinejad's government started rationing the gas; limiting passenger cars to only 25 gallons of fuel per month (some say in anticipation of upcoming UN/US sanctions.) When this new law took effect, people set a few gas stations on fire. There are now soldiers protecting the remaining stations.
But rationed gas turned out to be a good thing; there is a lot less traffic and smog in the streets. This forces people to use their cars wisely and only when needed. A similar law would never pass in the SUV-loving US. But if it did the world would be a cleaner place for it.
On the road just west of Tehran. Leaving grays behind in the crack of dawn.
I took a break from the ugly city scenery along with my dad and some friends, and drove for an hour and a half north west of Tehran to Lar. We camped overnight on the footsteps of Damavand mountain, somewhere in the middle of this vast wild poppy flower field.
Unfortunately we weren't able to see mount Damavand -- the tallest mountain in all of Middle East -- because of a thick fog. But the fog didn't stop us from witnessing the beautiful scenery in our immediate surrounding. Including this lone tree located just beyond a row of ancient volcanic rocks.
BBQing Iranian-style; chicken, beef and tomatoes on skewers over hot coal. It's a much more efficient and cleaner system for cooking meat. You don't bother with the mess of having a grill; the kabobs come right off and you can continue on with the next batch.
Our outing would have been a lot more fun if I was into narcotics. Because if you make a cut in the poppy seeds and let the white liquid come out of it, you produce wild opium. As simple as that. They also produce heroin and morphine from these -- not sure about the process though.

Sheep run free. A kilogram of honey from the bee hive cost $3. Delicious pure honey.

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