Tehran bazar: watching not buying!



A young girl in a black uniform with a green headscarf is standing next to a shop that sells Nescafé close to 15 Khordad metro station, shouting “see this and buy it; it is a sale; a bag of Nescafé for 15 thousand tomans.” Her voice is lost in the crowd. She climbs up the steps of the adjacent shop and moves a brown and red plastic bag of Nescafé above her head, saying “see this and buy it.”
When you move around the bazar, you see men and women shouting, standing in front of the shops. Some of them shout angrily and look at people who, with indifference and self-composure, pass right in front of them. The owner of a dried fruit shop looks at an old woman who is standing next to various kinds of pistachios and tasting them one by one. The price of pistachios and dried fruits is written on a piece of white paper and is put on a stick in the middle of each container. But the old woman asks the shopkeeper for the price each time. The shopkeeper, with bloody-red eyes, looks at her and eventually says “No one is buying; you go ahead and taste them.”
On the sidewalk of the bazar, the porters have tied their carts and wheelbarrows to trees with a piece of rope in front of the shops, and they talk to each other. Young and old shopkeepers have abandoned empty shops and sit on cement platforms next to the porters. Each one has a new analysis of the market’s conditions. Mr. Hojat, a middle-aged man who has a big cloth shop, ;. Each night when we go to sleep, we are waiting to see what will happen tomorrow. No miracle is going to happen. When we close the shop and go, thousands of thoughts start bugging us.” At the sidewalk, a young girl wearing a chador is standing; she is wearing big sunglasses; and it is obvious she is crying. Next to her is a man who has set up his plastic toy dolls and is shouting to sell them.
People come to the bazar just to watch
In front of the Kuwaiti bazar, a film crew with two hosts come to prepare a report about the condition of the market. One of their questions is about JCPOA [nuclear deal]. The host of the program says that he wants to broadcast the program on an Internet TV channel. Suddenly there is a dispute between a shopkeeper and the host. When the host realizes that the man is talking about unemployment and not having money, he gives the microphone to somebody else, and that makes the old man angry.
The old man goes a few steps away and tells another man “Now he goes and finds a few young people who are all happy with their lives. As if nothing has happened. I am an architect myself. No one has given me any job for three years; I am starving to death.” A man from among the crowd shouts “Come here and let me talk to you. Who should talk about the conditions of our lives? Who says we are illiterate? Talking about our lives doesn’t require a degree in sociology. Everybody knows what is happening.” Somebody shouts from among the crowd, where have they come from?
On both sides of Homayoon Bazar, there are a lot of booths for the handicraft and tourist industry. A man who has written “Kashan Rugs” on top of his booth has a bowl of pickles in his hand and is looking at passers-by who go by his booth. He says “I have rented this booth for 5 million tomans a month, but it is only for watching. No one is buying.” From a small portable tape recorder in the next booth, Hamid Hirad can be heard, singing “This isn’t a joke…” His voice mingles with the sound of a religious hymn coming from Imamzadeh Rohallah in the Bazar.
The crowd that was gathered for TV interview disperse. And now a few people are standing on the side of the bazar, talking about their analysis of the host. Besides the bazar, porter kids are sitting and talking enthusiastically. Just as they are talking, they look out for new customers to get the sale before the others. Mohsen is younger than the rest. He is 9 years old, and he has been coming to the bazar for work as a porter for a year with his friend Mohammad. Mohammad looks at Mohsen, smiles and says “He brought bad luck. There is no job.” Suddenly 12-year old Morad comes with food in disposable dishes and passes them around. Mohsen has never gone to school; he has come to Tehran from Ilam with his mother; he and his older brother both work in the bazar to pay for their family needs. Morad is eating and saying “For each load that we carry, we get 10 thousand tomans. For the same load, they pay 30 thousand tomans to adults; they don’t pay us, no matter what we do.” It makes no difference; whether there is a good market or not, they don’t pay more. These days there are not enough jobs anyway.
We keep thinking about what is going to happen
A young man – wearing a six-pocket trousers with long hair which is so oily as if oil is dripping from it – is standing in the corner of the bazar; he is holding CDs of Golshifteh and Shahrzad TV series in his hands, shouting “Golshifteh, Shahrzad….” Everybody can hear him, but nobody buys anything from him.
He says, “It is good at the end of the day. Shopkeepers buy from me then; otherwise, no one will come here to buy Shahrzad or Golshifteh CDs from me.” A man has set up jeans to sell in the market side by side; he is sitting with his hands under his chin and is just watching. Even when a customer enters his shop, he won’t turn around to look at him. As for the conditions of the bazar, he just stares ahead, then he silently stands up and goes away. His assistant, a young man, says impatiently “There is nothing left to say; you can all see our condition. We are waiting to see when our conditions get better. We are all sitting here from morning till night and we just keep looking at each other. We can’t transfer dollars. We pay 6700 tomans for each dollar. We don’t think it is going to get better. We just have to bear and live with it.”
Another shopkeeper who sells jeans says, “We have national production. We produce pants in the workshop and bring them to the market. But we have imported the fabric from China. People cannot afford to buy, and we cannot afford to buy dollars. We are not buying or selling. We don’t know what to do. I have been in the bazar for 20 years. Those who should know are aware of the situation. But nothing happens. This part of the bazar which sells clothes is the most crowded place in Iran; but now look at it. It is empty. You should sit and watch how many people pass here. Nobody is buying from us, and there is no dollar to buy new products. No one is buying from us, and we cannot buy from anybody.”
In the bazar, there are talks of a strike. But shops are not closed and there is no gathering. One of the shopkeepers says “Early in the morning, they took pictures of several old shops and published them on the Internet, saying that there is a strike.” He says a traditional Iranian party plays a role in this strike. From outside the shop, one can hear an accordion. A young man whose face is half burnt has an oxygen mask on his mouth and its tank is on his back. He has an accordion in his hands and is playing it.
Translated Piece: Ghanoon Daily

Editorial Team