It’s winter so they keep the heat inside the cars and buildings REALLY high! And there never seems to be a thermostat available that can turn it down. So I’ve often resorted to opening a window so I don’t feel stifled.

Which means the air is so dry my lips have been chapped no matter how much water I drink.

Most of the areas that don’t have a lot of foreigners visiting only have floor toilets.

Fine if you’re young and your knees are capable, but not so good for the rest of us.

Iranian women tend to be beautiful and Iranian men are very chivalrous and smile a lot.

We don’t shake hands but they have a charming gesture of putting their right hand over their heart and bowing when greeting you.

They’re really into respect. The dignitaries at the festival would sit in the front row, a whole row of men, one of them in a turban, and whenever any one of them would get up to go to the stage, all his colleagues would stand up too as a show of respect.

When I first met the executive director of Kanoon, a very nice gentleman named Mr. Rezaie, I was up in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Tabriz hotel. I was squished into a booth and it was awkward to stand so I greeted him sitting down and handed out the little gift I had brought for him. Some Lindt chocolates and a letter of acknowledgement thanking him for inviting me. But I committed a faux pas in not standing.

They were surprised that I had brought little gifts of chocolate for them. Apparently it’s not usual, but they liked the gesture anyway.

Iranians have soup and salad before the start of any meal, they even have salad stuff at breakfast, cucumbers and tomatoes and lentils and beans.

Very healthy, but strange to me.

They serve dessert along with the salad and soup at the beginning of the meal. And most of their desserts consisted of a type of custard jelly or jello in all kinds of neon shades.

To say ‘Thank you’ you can simply say the French, “Merci”. They say it all the time.

It is remarkably hard to get a really good cup of coffee here!

Tea is ubiquitous! But even in the fine Tabriz hotel they served instant coffee!

They had a coffee shop where you could get a real cappuccino but it didn’t open till later.

The motorcycles sometimes have little roofs attached to their windshields and little furry mitts over the handlebars, for winter cold, I guess.

When they eat rice with their kebabs and meat, they often use a fork and a spoon to manoever. And it’s remarkably effective! As much or more so than using a knife and fork!

And those ladies with their long slim fingers, manage those spoons and forks with remarkable grace and agility!

Iranian girls can be as loud and boisterous and ditzy as any of their North American counterparts!

There was a loud group of them next door to me in the Tabriz hotel, cackling like hens way past 11 pm when I was trying to sleep. Thought briefly of calling down to the front desk to complain but said to myself, “Don’t be such a party pooper!” Plus I didn’t have the energy. Didn’t matter because I was so tired, I fell asleep a few minutes later anyway.

The cities are bustling and at least from where I’m standing it doesn’t look as though the sanctions are having any effect whatsoever. But then what do I know?

But there seems to be a lot of inflation! One U.S. dollar equals about 3,600 Iranian riyals. And it’s easy to fork over 50000 riyals for a sandwich or something.

Iranians are very martyr oriented! Many of the stories at the festival were martyrdom stories.

I think it might have something to do with the collective guilt they feel for the massacre at Karbala.

And maybe it’s also because of the Iran/Iraq war where they were so desperate.

But they do love martyr stories!

They have many graves of unknown martyrs and they put them in prominent places, like next to government buildings so that people will remember their sacrifices.

There are mountains everywhere!!!

It’s a very very beautiful country!