Day 248 – 250 | Last days in Tehran and visiting Qom

Day 248 | Thursday November 17

We headed back to Tehran and in the afternoon I had another interview. This time with the guys from Radio Budio, a podcast about tech-related stuff. The Iranians really like that there is a Westerling here who gives some positive attention to Iran. What you see mostly on the news is bad stuff and not really true. The guys also arranged that I could stay at one of their friends and we went there with the crew for dinner and watch some movies.

Day 249 | Friday November 18

Good internet is a rarity in Iran and as I had a decent connection at my host and time (which is a rarity too the last weeks) I spend some hours working.

For lunch I went with Nima to a cafe were the guys from Radio Budio joined us. Some of their friends came by and said I was a celebrity etc. Cool stuff.

Today I was actually supposed to leave to Qom early in the morning but I still had my luggage at Ali’s place and he had some delay. He was supposed to return in the afternoon but it became evening and I stayed another night in Tehran.

Day 250 | Saturday November 19

Now it was really time to leave. I said goodbye to my new dear friend Ali. Even since before entering Iran he had been taken care of me and he made my stay in Iran so far very pleasant. He set up meetings with sustainable related companies and organized the presentation at the University. He has a girlfriend in Holland so I’m sure I will see him again.

Time to leave to Qom. Aidin, who interviewed me last week had a friend there were I could stay. The road to Qom was pretty amazing, I suppose you can call this already the desert and I had never been in the desert before. Sand blew over the highway. Some people had warned me not to go to Qom. It’s the most religious city in Iran and until just 3 years ago it was forbidden for non-moslim people and some areas are still not safe.

My host Leilli was a cool woman who welcomed me with some pizza and french fries. Iranians really love fastfood. She showed me the city and the highlight was the holy shrine, or more like holy shit! From the inside the building was decorated with mirrors and silver, it shined so bright it almost hurt my eyes. In the middle of the mosque was the cemetery of some special person. People were crying while touching the grave, a special moment to witness.

Leilli got tired and went to her parents place to rest. I walked around through the small alleys and old neighborhoods, very interesting to visit. Funny moment: a kid saw me taking pictures and they approached me to take one of them. Exactly at the moment that I shot the picture he sneezed and I captured him at his not most prettiest moment. Watch the picture below.

When it started to get dark I walked back home, the whole day I didn’t feel unsafe for one moment.

PICTURES

Day 246 & 247 | Sustainability & Cars in Tehran

Day 246 | Tuesday November 15

Today started with a second meeting at NRI. The researchers explained me their renewable energy programs. They are in the progress of creating a battery car with a micro turbine inside. An interesting and intelligent concept. I interviewed them about the projects and how sustainability is being applied in Iran. Stay tuned for the video.

Tehran

The afternoon I had no appointments and finally some time to explore the city. Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 9 million in the city and 16 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is the most populous city of Iran, the 2nd-most populous city in Western Asia and the 3rd-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area.

The majority of the people of Tehran are Persian-speaking people,and roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian; but there are also large populations of other Iranian ethnicities in the city such as Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Lurs, and Kurds who speak Persian as their second language.

There have been plans to relocate Iran’s capital from Tehran to another area; due mainly to air pollution and the city’s exposure to earthquakes. To date, no definitive plans have been approved. A 2016 survey of 230 cities by consultant Mercer ranked Tehran 203rd for quality of living.According to the Global Destinations Cities Index, Tehran is among the top ten fastest growing destinations.

Day 247 | Wednesday November 16

Another day, another interview. This time with Aidin from IranKhodro Magazine. IranKhodro is one of Iran’s 2 biggest car manufacturers (I have visited them both now) and they have their own magazine. Of course they write about cars. Aidin was a very nice guy and like most Iranians they tell me things like: it’s a big honor to meet you, I had the best day this month etc. It’s very heartwarming. Aidin took me for breakfast and wanted to shoot pictures after. He thought the car was dirty (which was true, the last time I cleaned the outside was in Norway) so we went through a carwash. The the car is 50 shades more blue now.

2 days ago at the office of Autoworld I was interviewed by a journalist, Pegah. Today we met again and she showed me her city. We went to Sa’Dabad Complex, this is a 300 hectare complex built by the Qajar and Pahlavi monarchs, located in Shemiran. Today, the official residence of the President of Iran is located adjacent to the complex.

The complex includes more than 180 hectares of natural forest, streets, qanats, galleries, and museums. The complex was first built and inhabited by Qajar monarchs in the 19th century. After an expansion of the compounds, Reza Shah of the Pahlavi Dynasty lived there in the 1920s, and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, moved there in the 1970s. After the 1979 Revolution, the complex became a museum.

We arrived a bit late and only had time to see the Green House. An impressive building which was the resort of one of the kings. One room was completely decorated with mirrors and silver. The king didn’t had a bed in his bedroom because he preferred to sleep on the floor. He used to be a soldier and sleeping on the ground was common. He always had his boot within reach so he could take action when needed, a strong guy.

In the evening Pegah took me to her friends, about 20km outside of the city. We had a lot of drinks and this was the first time in Iran and probably since Istanbul that I had some alcohol. Good times.

Day 245 | More cars in Tehran

Day 245 | Monday November 14

With professor Afshar I went to the R&D department of Saipa. Saipa is Iran’s biggest car manufacturer. A representative came to the presentation yesterday and invited me to come over. They gave a presentation about the brand and their plans to produce their own electric car. The car will be an existing model which they would convert to electric. Some specs: 20 kWh battery, 150km range, topspeed 140 km/h. I was given a tour e around their facility which they call ERIC. They have areas were they simulate different environments, acceleration tests, quality control and more.

It was an interesting visit and great to see that there are companies who want to bring electric cars to Iranian customers.

In the afternoon I had a special meeting, I was invited by the deputy of the Iranian Minister of Environment. He heard about my visit to Iran and contacted me via via, interesting how things are arranged here. The meeting was at NRI (Niroo Research Institute). NRI has played a leading role in developing new technologies for the Electric Power Industry and is the major research organization affiliated to the Ministry of Energy of Iran. There were a lot of very interested professors, researchers and delegates who came to have a look at the car. Because I found out they are doing a lot of interesting things regarding to renewable energy I asked them if I could come back tomorrow for some interviews.

Than we headed back to the office and from there we went to the office of Autoworld, who published an article about me in their newspaper today. The owner wanted to meet me and we had some talks about the project. Every Iranian who I speak to wants to know how I experience the people in the country. Apparently they find it very important that the people here are friendly and welcoming, which is definitely so.

After the meeting the guys from Asbebokhar picked me up and they took me to the Milad towner. The world’s 4th biggest broadcasting tower. It’s 400 something meters tall and it has stores, restaurants and a museum. Unfortunately it was not possible to go to the top today as the level of pollution was to high. Instead we went to a pizza restaurant for dinner and after they brought me home.

Today was a crazy hectic day. Especially here in Tehran as the traffic is so busy and crazy and it exhausts me a lot. Im staying at Ali’s place at the moment who still takes care of me like a hero.

PICTURES

Day 244 | A lot of cars in Tehran

Day 244 | Sunday November 13

One of the journalists who interviewed me yesterday was part of Asbebokhar, it’s a Youtube channel about cars in general and they wanted to meet me to make a movie about the car. I met them in a deserted part of the city were some buildings were destroyed. They had a big land rover and in this setting they wanted to show the differences between big polluting cars and electric cars. It were all young guys who published these videos on their youtube channel and are very active on social media. After the interview they invited me for lunch at a very fancy restaurant in the rich part of Tehran. I am really getting spoiled in Iran! The guys posted some photos about me on their Instagram account and within an hour I got 250+ new followers! So great. This is their account and also check out The Rick Kids of Tehran on Instagram. It’s a very interesting account about how young and rich people life in the city. It’s another world.

After lunch we drove to the office of BYD. It’s a Chinese electric car maker and they are planning to bring their EV to the Iranian market. They heard about my project and wanted to meet me. They explained that Taxi companies are interested in electric cars. Taxi’s drive about 200km a day and their car (the E6) can drive 400km. In the city are 5 million cars and of course this contributes a lot to the air pollution in the city, which is huge. I could testdrive the E6, it’s a big car and very heavy, 2.400kg but it’s silent and drives good. It also has a very flashy and futuristic display which looks like a Japanese pinball-machine.

Than I had to rush back to the city. The traffic here is very aggressive and dangerous sometimes. Drivers totally don’t care, they just go wherever they want without thinking about the cars around them and not even using their turning signals. Apparently there is just one rule here: fill in the gaps.

Professor Afshar invited me for dinner, I drove to the office of Ali and Mehmet and met the professor and 2 other ones of the university. The restaurant was very fancy. Between waterfalls we have a private cabin were we ate some delicious local food. Pure joy.

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Day 242 & 243 | Tehran

Day 242 | Friday November 11

Time to head to Tehran. It was over 200km and Ali arranged a recharge place at his family in Karaj. When I got there I had 37% left and it could be possible to reach Tehran. Because there were enough possibilities to charge the car in the chance I couldn’t make it I gave it a go. With 15% left I got to my address in the capital and did 211km on a single charge, that’s a record!

So finally I met Ali. Ali had been helping me to get from the border to Tehran by connecting his friends and family and he had made the first week very easy for me. We drove to his parents place were I was introduced to his family. Later Mehmet, a colleague of Ali came by with his kids. His 3-year old son called me ‘Bibi’ all the time.

Day 243 | Saturday November 12

Ali arranged a presentation at the K.N. Toosi University in Tehran, a technical university. I was welcomed students of the uni and professor Afshar who builded his own electric car already in 2010. The story behind this was a sad one: his mother died because of the air pollution in the city. He than decided to build an environmental friendly car while using only cheap and local parts.
All the students came to see the car and they even made a banner with my name and personal welcome message on it, how great!
In the big auditorium I gave a presentation about Plug Me In, how the first months have been, my experiences with the electric car and my findings on sustainability. It was the first time I had to speak for a big audience. I always hated to speak to audiences, for examples at school but now I kind of enjoyed it. I thought it was special that so many people came to hear my story.

After the presentation there were some interviews and I was introduced to the board of the university. Everyone was very polite and eager to hear my story. I found it’s also really great that even in Iran they find sustainable mobility important.

PICTURES