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Tehran - I'm on another planet with you

Tehran, Iran (1989) vs. puberty

35 ° 42’37.2 "N 51 ° 25’16.5" E

1989 released The Offspring Tehran as the seventh song of your debut album The Offspring. When I was younger, I listened to the song a lot, on the bus on the way to school, in the common room before the first lesson, while I tried to catch up on some of my homework, after the gong and up to when entering the classroom the moment the teacher raised his voice and a little longer before I ripped the headphones off my ears at the very last possible moment: a continuous loop of rebellion and the longing for the stranger. The song conjured up a vague rejection of life, the province, the small town I lived in and a politics that I hardly understood but felt I didn't have to agree to. He conjured up a mystical, distant, auspicious and eerie place at the same time. It was the soundtrack of the adventure that I didn't experience. The punk was an outlet for the vague anger of late puberty, which didn't quite know what to turn against.

Perhaps that's where part of the excitement comes from when we 18 years later drive from the airport in an old Renault over the highway towards the Iranian capital. The colors are different than in Germany: No more green, but cascades of yellow, ocher and brown like I've never seen them before. In the distance the mountains rise and the stones glimmer in the light of the rising sun. We are tired, all flights from Europe land in the early hours of the morning and the taxi continues to accelerate. The air shimmers and buildings, gas stations and individual trees fly past us, it is almost quiet until we suddenly go under warp.

Out of nowhere, at the end of the motorway exit, everything is different. Welcome chaos. Yes! The air smells like gasoline. Mopeds with two or three people rattle past us. There are no lanes or it is unclear to me whether the road should have two, three or four of them. The taxi is approaching an intersection at undiminished speed, just like countless other cars, from all four directions. The screeching of tires, howling engines and horns around us, sudden braking, short maneuvers and the cars slide around and past each other. Give the madness a name. OK. Traffic in Tehran. Nothing for weak nerves.

Somewhere between the Shohada-ye Haftom-e Tir and Taleghani subway stations, our driver turns into a small side street and we stand in front of the - See You In Iran Hostel. The hostel is run by a collective of young Iranians and is the first port of call for many travelers in Tehran. Heavy carpets on the floor, breakfast is on one of the tables: sweet jam that we will get almost everywhere for the next three weeks, flatbreads, cucumbers, tomatoes, white cheese, soft music. We sleep in separate shared rooms for women and men. The beds are saggy, the air is heavy and dry. A gas stove burns in every room. The showers and toilets are cramped. In the evenings there are lectures, discussions, films or music on the ground floor.

I'm on another planet with you, Tehran (2017)

I close my eyes. I open my eyes. Tehran is a melting pot. Perhaps the first city I visit that really deserves this ascription. It's loud, there's that smell of dirty-burned gasoline everywhere. Endless columns of old wagons push their way through the streets, at any time of the day or night. It's December and cold and still there are at least as many people on the sidewalks. Everywhere there are shops, goldsmiths, electronics, kiosks, pharmacies, clothing. When it rains in the mountains, the water flows through the small channels that separate the asphalt from the sidewalks. When we step out into the street in the afternoon, it is already dawn and the lights of the street lamps are just going on. We exchange money at Ferdowsi-Platz and finally step onto another planet.