City Life


Tehran has no sewers; waste and waste-water pour into the gutters of the major streets and flow downhill into the poor section of town. An excellent plan to discover a corpse, fight a carrion-eating monster, or to chase enemies downstream, slipping and sliding in slimy sewer water.


Tehran has ten daily newspapers, each with its own audience and political agenda. The Ettala’at is a respectable evening newspaper approved by the Shah, the Journal de Tahran provides news in French aimed at the European expatriate community, Keyhan Setareh is a rabble-rousing religious rag, and Mardom (an intellectuals’ paper) and Rahbar (a workers paper) are both run by the pro-Communist Tudeh Party.


Persia is a Muslim country, and the majority of Persians are Shi’ites. (Sunni Muslims predominate in Persia’s neighbors such as Arabia and Iraq, and in border provinces of Persia like Baluchistan and Khuzestan.) Most of the Shi’ite ulema (the higher clergy) support the quietist Grand Ayatollah Borujerdi, but his anti-British fundamentalist rival Ayatollah Kashani draws immense crowds from Tehran’s poor and radical neighborhoods. Even the more mystically minded Sufi Muslims in Persia are split between the Heydari and Ne’mati sects.


As a Muslim city, Tehran does not have a lot of bars. Instead, the social center of Tehrani neighborhoods is the chaikhune, or teahouse. Here, regulars exchange gossip while sipping tea and smoking the nargile, or water pipe. Animal trainers, puppet shows, political arguments, and other amusements help pass the time.


Wide modern streets or no, Tehran’s traffic is terrible. Not just cars and trucks, but omnibuses, bicycles, WWII leftover jeeps, jitneys, and motorcycles crowd the roads – along with horses, burros, and even camels.

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