Joseph Benfield and Kourosh Ziabari
How do people greet each other – (shake hands, bow, embrace, other)?
Generally when people meet each other, they smile at first and say Hello to each other using the partner phrase of "Salaam" that is joint in Muslim countries (Not Arab countries). Also they shake hands, put their hands on the arms of other side. Also they kiss the face of each other when they reach together after a long period of absence.
As a visitor to the country, would you exchange gifts at the first meeting? What gifts are considered appropriate? If flowers, what kind? (Some have special meanings.)
When a newly arrived and newcomer traveler or foreigner comes, he/she would be prized and presented with the local handicraft of each part of country who is in, also the local foods and edibles. For example, in the northern parts that we live (Guilan province), it is traditional and common to welcome the guests by local cookies called "Koloocheye Fooman"
How are children educated? At what age do they begin school? Do boys and girls generally go to separate schools, or are they separated by sex in the same school? Do they usually wear uniforms?
Iranian children start their school at elementary grade when they are 6. In some poor and faraway cities, because of the lack of suitable educational potentialities and means in addition with the deficiency of separated schools, boys and girls would be educated in same school. But this rule is not followed for other grades. Also the separation by gender in a same school is not allowed. All buildings are different. But after passing the national conquer exam, they will be mixed again in the universities!
How is garbage collection dealt with?
unfortunately, there is not any unit solution for this complication. In most cities, the dangerous hospital and industrial trash and garbage are released in the main rivers of towns and countries. In the other cities, the garbage will be burned in the gardens and villages far from the city center. In the other word, the way of garbage collection and restore is not invented yet!
What is the normal dress for men and women?
after the victory of Sayyed Mohammad Khatami in the presidential election of 1998, the type of youth wearing changed gradually. Now the general dressing type for men is containing suites, jackets and trousers in addition with other mixes. The women are wearing the same in addition with various models of Mantua. They are also wearing their hairs with scarf.
what foods, if any, are generally not eaten or possibly considered taboo?
Iran has exactly 30 provinces made by dissimilar and various tribes with their own foods, dressing and formalities. More than 1000 types of Persian foods and cuisines are being cooked in all around the country but because of Islamic laws and commands, the eating of pig, snake and other unlawful and ceremonially unclean meat animals is prohibited.
Are there gestures or movements that would not be acceptable in polite society?
To be honest with you, the political movements and gestures are not forbidden in Iran, but any movement against the supreme leader, the official religion of country and predominant critics about the government are roughly controlled and answered by punishments, social banning, prison and execution in rare. Youth society of Iran containing students, university pupils and journalists are avant-garde in common and among the countries of Middle East, also they are intellectual and theory-maker in various fields but any out-of-limits movement or behavior is completely suppressed.
Is it acceptable to bargain for goods at department stores or at markets?
yes, there is a wide range of goods and merchandise bargained in the department stores, supermarkets, chain stores and we have not any limitation in this field.
How do people spend their leisure time? What kinds of leisure activities do they participate in?
it regards, due to each family in each state and town, the type of leisure activities is different completely. At the northern parts of Iran, including our province in addition with two other states, people often spend their free time at seaside (in summer vacations). Also the favorite leisure sport of Iranian youth society is football, they do playing football in sandy streets, yards and any other place they find suitable to play! Web surfing, studying, going to movies and going to the sport complexes for some interesting matches (specially to watch the national games) are in vogue.
What are normal work hours? Are most stores open on weekends? What days might they be closed?
Friday is the official holiday in Iran that is our weekend time. Some department stores and the sensitive governmental organizations such as police offices, hospitals, fire stations and the telecommunication centers are enforced to work in fulltime shifts. Also the formal hours of work are limited between 8 AM to 1 PM.
What are the important holidays? Are there special observances of these holidays?
the starting 2 weeks of each year is our national New Year holiday that returns to the ancient Iran. We celebrate the New Year due to the historical tradition of Achaemanian kingdom. These ceremonial formalities are not accepted completely by the government but they are trying to adjust themselves to the will of people, gradually. Also the anniversary of Imam Hussein's Martyrdom, the day of Eid-e-Adha and Eid-e-Qadir that is the particular ceremony of Shiites are to be counted as the official holidays.
Where and how do people get married? What is the average marriage age? Is it acceptable not to get married? What is the attitude toward divorce?
Due to the advices of Islamic Prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) who encourages young boys and girls to get married and calls the marriage as his eternal tradition, marriage has a high amount of importance among the families. Parents often encourage their boys and girls to get married in the ages of 22 to 30. Because they think that marriage is the best way of answering to natural and inherent needs of each person and also the way to prevention from moral aberration. Women have not the right to request divorcement expect in some emergency situation.
What is the national language of the country? Are other languages spoken?
the national, academic, formal and media language is Persian, the converted former Pahlavi mixed with Arabic up! But Azeri, Gilaki, Kurdish, Lori and some other ethnic and local languages are spoken
What is the principal religion(s) of the country? What are the basic beliefs or doctrines of these religions?
the official religion is Islam, and it is obvious from the formal name of country (Islamic Republic pf Iran). The allowed religions to act in some special rounds and conditions are Jew, Christianity and Zoroastrian. All these religions are based on the 4 main foundations. a) The only and unit God is acceptedb) Each religion has a special prophet who is sent by the God to the earth.c) The resurrection day exists and all dead people will become alive againd) Each religion has the own holy book that is sent by the God.
Who are (or were) the major artists and writers?
I cannot answer to this question due to the numerous artists, scientists, writers and other cultural and literary celebrities. Really I cannot count them!
What kind of music is popular at this time? Who is the major pop star or movie star at the present time?
the foreign and international Pop, Heavy Metal, Rock n roll and DJ bands are so popular here among the young people. Also the traditional and classical music of Iran has it own fans. Most of major music stars of Iran are working in Los Angeles and sending their productions to Iran that is not legal due to the governmental restrictions that calls these music productions as Non-Islamic art. For example DJ Arash and DJ Alligator are two of the most famous and well-known musicians who work in Sweden and sometimes in US but broadcasting their works from official media is not allowed.
How Patriotic are you about your country?
I can confess that I am so nationalist and patriotic to my country because of its delightful and honorable history… I cannot express exactly what do I feel about Ancient Persia.
If you did not live in your country, where would you want to live?
United States is my dreamland country. I always had the wish to work for a great technologic company such as Microsoft or Google cooperation.