Cover image for Couchsurfing in Iran : revealing a hidden world / Stephan Orth ; translation by Jamie McIntosh.
Title:
Couchsurfing in Iran : revealing a hidden world / Stephan Orth ; translation by Jamie McIntosh.
ISBN:
9781771642804
Publication Information:
Vancouver ; Berkeley : Greystone Books, [2018]
Physical Description:
269 pages, 24 pages of unnumbered plates : illustrations (chiefly color), map ; 22 cm
Abstract:
The author recounts the sixty-two days he spent traveling around Iran, providing a behind-the-scenes look at life in one of the world's most closed societies, including what he calls the "two Irans" that coexist side by side.

"In Couchsurfing in Iran, award-winning author Stephan Orth spends sixty-two days on the road in this mysterious Islamic republic to provide a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at life in one of the world's most closed societies. Through the unsurpassed hospitality of twenty-two hosts, he skips the guidebooks and tourist attractions and travels from Persian carpet to bed to cot, covering more than 8,400 kilometers to recount "this world's hidden doings." Experiencing daily what he calls the "two Irans" that coexist side by side-the "theocracy, where people mourn their martyrs" in mausoleums, and the "hide-and-seek-ocracy, where people hold secret parties and seek worldly thrills instead of spiritual bliss"-he learns that Iranians have become experts in navigating around their country's strict laws."
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Summary

Summary

Included in the 2018 summer reading list by New York Times Books

A modern-day glimpse into the surprising reality of life in Iran.

Iran: A destination that is seldom seen by westerners yet often misunderstood. A country that simultaneously "enchants and enrages" those who visit it. A place where leading a double life has become the norm.

In Couchsurfing in Iran, award-winning author Stephan Orth spends sixty-two days on the road in this mysterious Islamic republic to provide a revealing, behind-the-scenes look at life in one of the world's most closed societies. Through the unsurpassed hospitality of twenty-two hosts, he skips the guidebooks and tourist attractions and travels from Persian carpet to bed to cot, covering more than 8,400 kilometers to recount "this world's hidden doings." Experiencing daily what he calls the "two Irans" that coexist side by side--the "theocracy, where people mourn their martyrs" in mausoleums, and the "hide-and-seek-ocracy, where people hold secret parties and seek worldly thrills instead of spiritual bliss"--he learns that Iranians have become experts in navigating around their country's strict laws.

Though couchsurfing is officially prohibited in Iran--the state fears spies would be able to travel undetected through the country--more than a hundred thousand Iranians are registered with online couchsurfing portals. And thanks to these hospitable, English-speaking strangers, Orth gets up close and personal with locals, peering behind closed doors and blank windows to uncover the inner workings of a country where public show and private reality are strikingly opposed.


Author Notes

Stephan Orth is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author. For nine years, he was online travel editor for Der Spiegel, one of Germany's top news magazines, and he has contributed to National Geographic, the Courier-Mail, and Time Off magazine, among other publications. His next book, Couchsurfing in Russia, will publish in fall 2018. He lives in Hamburg, Germany.


Table of Contents

At the borderp. 1
Welcome to Iran!p. 6
Down with the U.S.p. 15
Long live the shahp. 23
Couchsurfing for beginnersp. 29
Torturep. 33
Freedomp. 41
The Persian Gulfp. 52
Lost in transportation Ip. 60
Aryansp. 64
The geniep. 69
Lost in transportation IIp. 74
Earthquakesp. 82
Artp. 87
The desertp. 93
Bureaucracyp. 100
Fake marriagep. 105
Lost in transportation IIIp. 114
Hide-and-seekp. 117
Poetryp. 123
Hikingp. 129
The red Persian carpetp. 133
Nuclear powerp. 136
Lost in transportation IVp. 144
Warp. 150
Backgammonp. 161
Musicp. 168
Smugglersp. 171
The policep. 176
The princep. 183
Lovep. 187
Newsp. 197
A river without waterp. 200
Dictatorshipp. 207
Drunk to the imamp. 215
Religion and moneyp. 219
Partyp. 223
Lost in visa applicationp. 227
Green, white, redp. 234
Funp. 238
Orwellp. 243
Life's caravanp. 250
Country of surprisesp. 256
Happy endingp. 261
Acknowledgmentsp. 266
Notesp. 268

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