Thursday, February 26, 2004

Post Election
The day after the election, I was running around Tehran with K's sister. We got into a cab. She looked at the driver and said, "So, what's up with the election? They have not said one word about it." He laughed; she laughed, and they talked together for the full 25 minutes of our drive. They discovered mutual friends and all sorts of other coincidences.

On the way, we saw groups of people milling about in front of anonymous doors. I thought it had something to do with the election. At our destination, we saw a soldier come out of one of the doors and talk to the people grouped around the door. "Do you think someone was arrested?" I asked. "Let's find out," K's sister said. We walked over to the group and K's sister discovered that they were waiting to sign up for mobile phones.

A mobile phone costs about $1000 in Iran. Seems steep to me. It's amazing that so many people manage to have one. I have a theory that people can afford these kinds of things because they live at home for almost ever.

Once I went to Bellview in NYC. I had to use the bathroom, and when I got there it was covered, I mean covered, with shit. I have never gotten over the shock of this experience and expect something similar every time I go to a hospital. This experience has yet to be repeated.

You really see differences in our cultures when you go to the hospital here. If I go to the hospital in America or Europe, there are tons of nurses and orderlies attending to patients. There is an aroma of disinfectant. Wheelchairs roam the halls and patients are hooked up to tons of machines. This is not the case in Iran, even in very good hospitals.

A very good hospital in Iran is clean and has good doctors. There may be a couple of wheelchairs, but they are not required. There are one or two amazingly efficient nurses, but they don't have time to really care for the patients. Each patient must bring someone with them who can attend to their needs. That person stays with them in the hospital.

When an Iranian goes to the hospital, tons (I mean tons) of people visit. They come with sweets and flowers. People spill out from the rooms into the hallways. They wait in the waiting area. I think that each person who goes to the hospital must have an average of 4 people visit them every day. Most of the people I saw had many more people visiting, so I am making a conservative estimate. Iranians are not afraid of the sick the way we are in the West.

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