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  1. Before every trip to Iran, I get the same concerned looks from many of my friends. "Be safe," they'll say. Each time, I smile and assure them that, politics aside, Iran is one of the most welcoming countries I visit, in the region and around the world.


    The truth is, I look forward to my trips here. Tehran is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with an electric, sometimes precarious mix of ancient traditions and modern fashions and outlook. 

  2. Visit the bazaar, and surrounded by vendors selling spices and traditional snacks like laboo (steamed sugar beet), you see scenes little changed from centuries ago. But in the cafes and restaurants of north Tehran -- or in the raucous house parties the middle and upper-classes hold behind closed doors -- you could be in New York or L.A.

  3. A Tehran shopkeeper breaks into a traditional Persian love song called "This is the last time"
  4. Our dinner tonight: lamb kebabs and (non-alcoholic) Iranian beers
    Our dinner tonight: lamb kebabs and (non-alcoholic) Iranian beers
  5. Trying a Persian sugar beet snack for the first time in Tehran's 'aim bazaar
  6. Now that's a kebab x2. Indulging for a big Saturday night dinner in Tehran.
    Now that's a kebab x2. Indulging for a big Saturday night dinner in Tehran.
  7. #Tehran's Gilaneh Restaurant, perfect spot for fesenjan, chicken in pomegranate sauce. #Iran.
    #Tehran's Gilaneh Restaurant, perfect spot for fesenjan, chicken in pomegranate sauce. #Iran.
  8. This is Dizi, my favorite Iranian dish by far. Named for its cooking pot, Dizi is a stew of lamb, chickpeas, beans and a tomato broth, mashed together with a mortar and pestle and flavored with turmeric and yogurt. Delicious and so filling, you tend to pass out right after. Perfect.
    This is Dizi, my favorite Iranian dish by far. Named for its cooking pot, Dizi is a stew of lamb, chickpeas, beans and a tomato broth, mashed together with a mortar and pestle and flavored with turmeric and yogurt. Delicious and so filling, you tend to pass out right after. Perfect.
  9. In #Iran, #food can be a work of art. Here's dinner at a friend's home last night.
    In #Iran, #food can be a work of art. Here's dinner at a friend's home last night.
  10. Today's Tehran has real and severe problems. Many Iranians, especially young people, have given up on the political process, even following the election of a more moderate leadership under President Hassan Rouhani.

     

    Sanctions and international isolation have broken the economy. Inflation and unemployment is high and the economy is contracting at a rate not seen since the Iran-Iraq war. However, somewhat like the Lebanese in Beirut, Iranians find a way to survive and -- where they can -- enjoy themselves.

     

    Among some Iranians I met this trip, I have heard a renewed if skeptical hope that -- with the new rapprochement  with the United States and the West -- Iran may be ready to escape this national paralysis.

  11. Inside the Foreign Ministry compound in #Tehran today, I met a group of middle school kids on a visit to the history museum. They didn't speak much English - and me virtually no Farsi - but I managed to get across I'm an American and a New Yorker, which sparked some big smiles and lots of thumbs-up. I'm sure they'd have no problem making friends with my sons. And while moments like this are common and don't surprise me, I think there's great value in seeing that kids here in #Iran aren't much different from our own.
    Inside the Foreign Ministry compound in #Tehran today, I met a group of middle school kids on a visit to the history museum. They didn't speak much English - and me virtually no Farsi - but I managed to get across I'm an American and a New Yorker, which sparked some big smiles and lots of thumbs-up. I'm sure they'd have no problem making friends with my sons. And while moments like this are common and don't surprise me, I think there's great value in seeing that kids here in #Iran aren't much different from our own.
  12. Politics aside, you'll rarely hear Iranians say bad things about Americans. Many separate the disagreements between our governments - and they are deep - from relationships among our citizens. See how this group of school kids reacted when I told them I'm an American.
  13. Anti-American murals outside the US Embassy in Tehran toning down
  14. I spent some time with the founders of a new Internet start-up, Welcome to Iran, with ambitions to be the TripAdvisor, TimeOut, Foursquare of Iran all rolled into one. How ventures like this one fare will be one of the best measures of whether Iran is truly entering a new chapter. I look forward to coming back to find out.

  15. Inside #Tehran's internet culture: a new web start-up aiming to be the TripAdvisor for #Iran
    Inside #Tehran's internet culture: a new web start-up aiming to be the TripAdvisor for #Iran
  16. Inside #Tehran's internet culture: it wouldn't be a start-up without....a foosball table. #Iran
    Inside #Tehran's internet culture: it wouldn't be a start-up without....a foosball table. #Iran
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