Last Tuesday, I headed for Meidun-e Mossehni with a friend who was visiting Tehran from Bombay. We walked for at least 90 minutes, passing more police and and military than I have ever seen in my 3.5 years in Iran. Every corner had at least a traffic cop and a soldier. Some had Revolutionary Guards and Basigi. When we arrived at the square there were about 50 motorbike cops (not motorcycle cops). The only people out were boys and boy-men with firecrackers. And that's what pissed me off: the worst aspects of Chahr Shanbeh Souri were evident everywhere: the irresponsible use of fireworks that included throwing them at people's feet and underneath cars and dirty fires made of anything that could be found. It seemed to me that the only purpose of the military/police presence was intimidation, not safety. The regime can say "safety" until they are blue in the face, and I won't believe it. Why control irresponsible fireworks when it's the fear of them that keeps people off the streets in the first place? The police/military presence was there to control fun. That's it.
The dried tumbleweed like branches that usually are for sale all over the city were nowhere to be found. In the residential streets, families lit fires, jumped over them and went home. It was quiet where we were. "What happened?" I asked when we arrived at our mini-celebration. "Last year people were dancing in the streets."
"We've become Islamic," our hostess joked.
"The military has been driving up and down the streets since 10 this morning," a man by the fire told us.
The nice aspects: the small fires, music, dancing, and celebration, were hidden.
We took pictures, but our camera disappeared. So, sorry, none here. But you can see some here.