Berlin Party Jewish Museum Iranian Karaoke Berlin Bike Berlin Gallery Turkish House In Berlin Berlin Street Arabs and Turks Berlin Art Gallery Alexanderplatz Super700 Rideshare Germany Augsburg Alley Spatzle German Restaurant Munich Train Vienna Nacht Markt, Vienna Vienna Postcards Old and New Vienna Vienna Cafe Ceiling Asian Tourists Stephan Dom Today Maria Said Goodbye Foosball in Germany German Water Theater Augsburg Ibadet Super700 Fesenjun Castle Persian Carpet Colored Door Happy New Year Countryside Germany
Berlin may in fact have the best, the least pretentious and the most happening night life. But that is not necessarily a good thing. It feels like the parents have left town and the kids are throwing parties every night without their knowledge!
The Jewish Museum in Berlin has great architecture. But overall it failed to capture my imagination as I didn't see a clear narrative non-Jews could relate to. I am still not buying Holocaust as only a Jewish tragedy. I think of it as a human tragedy. A human tragedy you would think a country like Israel would try to prevent. But that clearly is not the case as though they have learned nothing from the Holocaust.
Somewhere in a tiny room in a random building in Berlin a group of Iranian students had set up a karaoke night -- singing old Persian tunes.
I got around Berlin on a broken bike found on the streets. Not stolen, just borrowed, fixed, and later returned to the streets! But I love being able to bike to places, a task much harder in Tehran and Los Angeles.
At a screening of an art film in a gallery an old man walked in with hopes of selling his goods.
A funky house allegedly built by a Turkish immigrant in no man's land when the city was still divided. After the wall came down no one could convince the owner that he didn't actually own anything. How could they, there's a tree growing out of his house!
A residential street in Berlin full with well-built apartments that rent for cheaper than Tehran.
The Turks and the Arabs add a lot of color to the fabric of the city. Literally. On another note, I am yet to see an Iranian woman wear the hijab outside of Iran. But that's not the case with the Turks and the Arabs.
In a random art gallery where a group of gypsies were cooking healthy food for their guests while this dude was looking at a book on Berlin graffiti.
Almost everyday recession and bad economy is in the news. Leads me to believe that most people who are shopping are only window shopping.
IR, one of the twins who sings back up in the super awesome German band SUPER700. They are scheduled to release their new super good album on January 8th.
Me and JR drove down to Augsburg to spend Christmas with his family. We rented a car and picked up three strangers who responded to a rideshare ad to reduce the cost. Just when I was getting jealous that we don't have rideshares in Iran I realized that we do. Every day people use their personal cars as taxis and everyone shares their rides to destinations all around the city and country. Rideshare is a source of income.
An alley in downtown Augsburg, an older city in Bavaria.
Turns out Germans do have their own cuisine. There is not much compared to the more ethnic options, but it sure can be tasty. This is Spätzle. A tastier version of macaroni and cheese (topped with crispy fried onions).
At a family owned restaurant and brewery in a village near Augsburg where the food feels homemade and the service is actually good. That means something in Germany, where for the most part I've experienced horrible customer service.
Turns out my dad was in Munich for work. I met up with him for a vacation within a workation to Vienna to visit an old family friend.
Traveling through the European Union always makes me wonder how long before there is borderless traveling to and from Iran to the surrounding countries and beyond. But I guess for as long as there is oil in the Middle East and US and other countries are out to get it such dreams are not to be realized.
The Naschmarkt in Vienna, home to fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, meat, and other farmers-market style goods.
There are a great number of beautiful buildings in Vienna. But I would not do them justice by photographing them with my little camera phone. They're better left for post cards.
Ruins of ancient walls belonging to the Roman empire buried beneath the new Vienna.
Vienna is famous for its cafes. I was impressed by this ceiling.
Asian tourists are everywhere. Something good must come as a result of them always traveling and seeing the world in all seasons. From Tehran to Vienna, Berlin to Los Angeles, they are always the most visible, most active tourists.
Inside the Stephan's Dom in Vienna where tourists watched over pre-Christmas prayer sessions.
On the train ride back to Munich I saw a girl who was crying her eyes out. Immediately upon boarding the train (after possibly having just said goodbye to someone) she started texting. I imagined an old chapter has closed in her life and a new one was about to begin. I imagined what a more complete picture of the world the media could present if they reported on such things. "Today Maria Said Goodbye."
Foosball is big in Germany. They have Foosball tables at most bars and the players have some crazy tricks up their sleeves. I got into it a bit after playing in my friend's office.
In Germany if you ask for water you'll get sparking water. It's not the most thirst-quenching beverage, but I guess it does the job. Like wash down the tasty Christmas dinner I had with JR's parents in Augsburg. Meanwhile, also on Christmas, somewhere in Austin, a real good friend of mine got engaged. I am very happy for her and wish her and her fiance the best.
NR is one of Germany's top up and coming composers and the world's third best Tetris player (!). In the waiting room of the Augsburg theater where we watched a bizarre German version of Alice In Wonderland the day after Christmas.
Back in Berlin where LIFE IS SUPER 700. Ibadet in front of a poster promoting her band's upcoming album "Lovebites."
I put my mad cooking skills to good use and cooked for 15 friends. I cooked Fesenjun (tasty Persian pomegranate walnut stew), Gheymeh (Persian stew with split peas, tomato sauce and dried lemons), chicken curry, eggplant lasagna and Mirza-Ghasemi (northern Iranian dish of eggplants, garlic and tomatoes). Spreading Persian love one dish at a time. It's what good Persians do outside of Iran!
Me and five other friends went to a century old castle somewhere in the middle of Germany to say farewell to 2008 and to welcome 2009. We spend a couple of nights with 200 thirty-something Germans in a castle ruled by no one, run by everyone. Closest I've been to absolute anarchy!
JR in a hallway somewhere in the castle, where a beat up Persian carpet (or rip off of a Persian carpet) ties the room together. The Persian carpets have been to places where Persians themselves have never seen. Including this old castle supposedly built by a German farmer in the late 1800s.
A portion of a gate somewhere in the village where we walked for a couple of hours. I think there is more of a culture shock to go from a village to a large city, than to go from a major city of one country to another. But it is usually the large cities that serve as magnets for immigrants who may come from small villages of their own countries. They are the ones that have the hardest time adjusting.
2009. I have a feeling that much like 1979 this year will be a transformative year that will bring about change to many parts of the world. For better or for worse. But in either case, i wish you all a happy new year. Thank you for continuing to support this site.

The peaceful German countryside. Augsburg, Christmas 2008. My European trip has ended up being much longer than I had originally anticipated. Unfortunately I will in fact be here until the end of January. This may aggravate the hardcore fans who expect to see only pictures of Tehran. But as I have now explained in my FAQ section, good things could come out of this. Plus what better reminder that life goes on in Tehran than the reminder to those visiting the site from Iran that life also goes on in Berlin, Munich, Augsburg, Vienna and some remote village in Germany whose name we never got.

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