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Signs of prosperity
By TehranAvenue Team
September 2004
به فارسی بخوانيم
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Tehran Cinemas

There was a time when AZADI CINEMA offered Tehrani the best seat in town, but it caught fire one late evening and burned so badly that nothing was left standing in its wake. Many plans were put on table for the reconstruction of Tehran's most elaborate movie theater. None have been realized yet.

Today, FARHANG CINEMA holds the torch for cinema lovers. It is among the few movie theaters operating on the city's uptown. It recently remodeled to carve out two more halls out of the original one-hall design. It has an excellent sound system and has been holding late night showings of foreign movies for the past couple of years. It also boasts a video club open while the projectors roll.

Since it is the only uppity multiplex, it is always crowded and ticket reservation is not as easy (for which you need to go to the ticket office in person; no phones, indeed). Popular movies, like Mom's House Guests, will have backlogs of up to 2 days. But this movie theater has two other advantages that still make you want to wait: 1/ It has a small parking, which is still help to those who can't park on the main street, and 2/ seats are comfortable and their distance from the front seat ideal, if the movie on the screen is not.

Signs of prosperity

I wrote last week that the number of MUSIC ACADEMIES have increased many-fold in just over a year. I now realized that the number of many things have increased in this city over the past year. It used to be that for filling a late night prescription you had to commit yourself to a journey around town. Only a few 24-hour drugstores existed and it was impossible to get down the list by visiting only one of them. Last week, when my mom became ill, I was asked to go to an all-night drugstore. I habitually buckled up for a journey, but my sister told me there was one just around the corner. When I went there, to my surprise I even found an ALL-NIGHT DENTIST on the second floor.

From then on my antennas started picking up other service centers and I couldn't stop counting them: POOL HALLS, GYM and BODYBUILDING DENS, COMPUTER and ENGLISH CLASSES, private DANCE and YOGA SESSIONS, etc. In fact, there is no end to this torrent of new centers, be they educational, medical, sportive, occult, or musical. Now, if this isn't a sign of prosperity, what is?

Countdown at the traffic light

The RECTANGULAR DIGITAL COUNTERS appeared en masse a little over six months ago. They are now to be seen at every city intersection. The logic of their appearance seems straight forward: to encourage impatient drivers to reign the horses in and to possibly do something better with their time behind the traffic light. I was told that the CITY OF YAZD was the first to use these counters, namely because one of the Yazdi students of Sharif University of Technology came up with the idea.

{Descartes} first spoke of the existence of "ghost in the machine" and anyone who has lived in Tehran will go along with the French philosopher's formulation. Technology is not independent of cultural influences and the digital traffic counters of Tehran are no exception. Ordinarily, they are supposed to count down numbers with colors corresponding to the color of the traffic light. What happens often, however, is one of the following 1/ counter suddenly misses a few digits and lands on ZERO (which inevitably causes traffic to act erratically), 2/ counter freezes at a digit (the most troubling being ZERO) for more than a few seconds, 3/ counter reads and freezes on ER (whose "error" is that but that of the machine, in this case announcing it), 4/ counter reads and freezes on PO. With the last one, it seems that there is no paranormal intervention (unless we think of "police" as being one), but with the others there seems to be no human interventions. The paranormal will always be a part of our life.

Bridal Transport Rites

MARRIAGE CEREMONIES become more elaborate by the day. Conspicuous consumption seems to be the order, especially when it comes to exhibitionist functions like marriage. And if there was a poll, I am sure marriage gatherings would be the last on the list of popularity or memorability. No one enjoys herself in such galas (have you?).

The bridal car, which is supposed to take the couple from the beauty saloon to the engagement hall, is today so adorned that you won't miss it behind any traffic light. Just take a look at one of the bridal car decorations and you will see not only flowers but also baskets of fruit and nuts with flowing ribbons, gildings, and badges. On the same frame you can also see the street kids who keep pestering cars for a few bucks. Their daily earning may not be enough to purchase a single fruit in that basket.

Mehr Month Mayhem

To all Tehranis: the FIRST OF MEHR is upon us. Mehr it is called, meaning love, peace, and compassion, and it signifies the first day of autumn, the autumnal equinox, when Zoroastrians of this land celebrated the start of a new year. But modern-day Tehran celebrates Mehr with more traffic, more noise, and more pollution. Yes, SCHOOLS will open and everything else, including the streets, will be locked.