In the end, under the current circumstances, Iran is a bit of a degenerative society. On the whole, things don’t get better, they get worse. At least in comparison to the global community. Because there’s practically no outward focus, indeed many things ‘western’ are being blocked as much as possible by the government, there is also very little social pressure to improve. Here’s a few things I think would help Iran.
+ Less government intrusion into people’s everyday lives (obviously).
+ A better managed road network. Gas is damn cheap, around 8 cents the litre, so everyone drives all the time. Roads, particularly in Tehran, are clogged almost 24/7. One typical property of the road system is that many crossings aren’t crossings at all, but two T-crossings with the two horizontal bars of the T alongside each other, with the main road the through road and the two side roads ‘hooked on’. As a result, when you’re coming from a side road, you can only go right. If you want to go left, you have to first go right, then wait for a loop in the road that lets you do a 180. Indeed, if you’re coming from a side road and you want to go straight, you have to first turn right, wait for the loop, and then, at the same crossing you started out at, turn right.
I’m sure this takes the pressure off from the intersection in question,but it also creates an annoying chaos around that same intersection. Why not turn them into regular crossings or create flyovers or diveunders?
+ Less and clearer internet restrictions. Obvious, but there’s more. I can understand, a bit, if a government would want to block pornography. But the opaqueness of Iranian guidelines are such that in some places in Iran, a particular website is blocked, whereas in other places it isn’t.
+ Dustbins. Iranians tend to throw garbage on the street or in the gutters that run alongside most streets. It’s tough to actually throw something in a dustbin as there are so very few around. It’s a pain to walk for miles, literally, with, say, a cigarette butt.
+ Supermarkets Every Iranian city has rows and rows of mom-and-pop stores, tiny ‘supermarkets’ where you can buy the bare necessities. This also means that you almost never have a choice or have to visit several to find the things you actually need. As a result, Iranians don’t go out for the weekly groceries, they go out every day, or several times a day, to get the things they need for the next meal. And this, of course, is very time consuming.
+ Cafes. Outside of the few malls, mostly in northern Tehran, there are no cafes as you know them from, say, central Europe. And the ones in the malls tend to be flashy and modern, although reasonably tastefully decorated. For the rest, you’d be lucky to have light bulbs instead of neon lighting and soft chairs instead of metal or plastic ones.
+ One or more OBCZ. That is, an official Bookcrossing zone. There’s an extreme shortage of foreign language books. Partially because some or banned, sure, but mostly because Iranians generally simply don’t care for them. Then, for expats, or the Iranians who are interested in them, the only alternative is to get them straight from abroad.
At an OBCZ, people can leave and pick up (typically second hand) books. Books are registered with the Bookcrossing website, which makes it easy to track down what books are currently available without having to go to the actual physical location.
True, Iranians won’t be too much helped by this as they strongly prefer talking over reading (and when they’ve finished talking about everything there is to be said, they just start over again… and again…).
+ A more extensive metro/tram network in Tehran. There are currently two metro lines and one connecting commuter line to the town of Karaj and they’re extremely popular and quite good. Traffic in Tehran is terrible but using public transport is a challenge. More trams and metros would at least partially solve the problem and would make commuting life much more practical and enjoyable.
+ Building rules, regulations and restrictions. Modern architecture in Iran is amongst the worst in the world. Besides everything being virtually identical, lots of it is also half finished and looks like it can fall apart at any time. It’s truly amazing that a country with such an impressive architectural history has accepted today’s building standards.
+ Mr. Delivery. Traffic, in Tehran at least, is so awful, going for a takeaway is not a practical option. Secondly, the really decent restaurants are few and far between. Ergo, a Mr. Delivery is just the thing to have.
If you’re wondering, a Mr. Delivery lets you call a centralized office where you can order your food from certain restaurants which is then delivered to your door.
I’ll put in a few more if I think of them.
On a slightly less related note, recently, the Iranian government started handing out bonuses to tourist agencies bringing in foreigners. Twenty dollar for every American, ten for every other western tourist. Now, Americans are required to have their fingerprints taken when entering the country (just like Iranians when entering the US). These two measures strike me as a bit counter productive.