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Culture vulture Dermott

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Just got home from a trip to fascinating Tehran ...

What a beautiful place! We had the loveliest guide while we were there — a really nice fellow, and I learned so much from him about our cultural differences, but also about how much we're much the same.

This guy was recently engaged, and he absolutely couldn't stop talking about his wonderful fiancé — how much he loved her, doted on her, showered her with gifts and affection. Clearly she meant the world to him. He was absolutely besotted!

And one day, as we were walking up a bunch of steps, I saw an elderly lady trip in front of me. I went to help her up and our guide shouted "Stop! Don't touch her!" Because, you see, in their culture, she could only be touched by a family member or by another female. My instinct to help was right, but I wasn't in a place to because of their traditions. Another woman eventually lent a hand, and I learned that sometimes culture has to weigh over practise. Our guide obviously had a huge heart, but his adherence to tradition in the face of this was definitely an eye opener.

Anyway, I'm off to a mystical kingdom on a cliff face at Petra soon, and a couple domestic adventures before then, but in the meantime I'm spending some quality hours at home doing that thing we all love to do between holidays and road trips ... paying the bills!

See you soon — Dermott

User comments
Guys, I have watched the show since day 1 & love it. As a disabled person who used to enjoy travel & now can hardly even get to the local shps I would appreciate you doing some disabled-friendly stories.
Hi, I was surprised at your visit to the very big full mosque in Tehran. You seemed to comment that all Iranians are really religious. Last night a guy from there told me that 90% of them aren't religious. Also I noticed that the mosque had lots of uniformed men in it - a Persian told me later that they were National Guards - so I think they had to be there (or at the very least they were not representative of all Iranians). Anyway, it just made me (and some Iranians) think that whoever took you to the mosque for the show wanted to portray them as more devoutly religious than they are. What do you think?
Many people I know commented how interesting it was to see a tourist programme on Iran .I personally thought it looked very like Jordan or Egypt having just returned from there .Lets hope Obama has success with Iran so this country can benefit from a tourist industry(and we can benefit from seeing their country and culture )and lets hope the ensuing interaction changes our view of them as well as their view of us so reality -instead of hysteria reigns.I believe isolating countries only adds to these problems .The Guardian recently had a very interesting article on Iran as well as one on prominent Arab woman (where most Arab countries were represented except the most conservative) drawing attention to issues relating to women"s rights and being supported by bearded robed Arab businessmen in the form of a standing ovation. I personally learnt a lot about muslims from my tourist experience and found Middle Eastern people I met to be charming people we could learn a lot from.
Hey Dermie, The same applies to Saudi Arabi and is just as bad. We get a brief at our company that you should never help a Saudi women unless it is a life and death situation. Don't open doors, smile or even make eye contact. If one of these women wants to they can get a male person in a lot of trouble. I have been to Petra and it was great. Try walking the steps to the monastry!! The donkey rides look a little dangerous to me. When will you try and get to Saudi Arabia??
I would have liked to see how it would be for a women to holiday in Iran - would you have to wear the whole-body cover? How would women feel about this and the segregation and mistreatment against other women? I think it would be too sad and indignifying to see women treated like this. The Middle Eas is my favourite place in the world to visit but I would choose another more socially developed country.

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