Iranians Hopeful As Talks Resume

Mar 18, 2014
Originally published on March 18, 2014 9:25 am

Negotiations resume tomorrow in Vienna on Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Meantime in Iran, the people are preparing for the start of one of the most popular holidays on their calendar, Nowruz, which marks the beginning of spring.

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet got rare access to Iran recently and has this report on how people in Tehran are feeling.

Note: Please subscribe to the Here & Now podcast or use the WBUR mobile app to hear this BBC interview.

Reporter

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MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:

From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. It's HERE AND NOW.

Talks over Iran's controversial nuclear program resume tomorrow in Vienna. Iran claims its program is for peaceful purposes. The West doesn't necessarily believe that. And these new negotiations take place just as the Iranian people are busily preparing for one of the most popular holidays on their calendar. It's called Nowruz, and it marks the beginning of spring. The BBC's Lyse Doucet was granted rare access inside Iran, and she spoke with people in Tehran.

LYSE DOUCET: We stopped right at the entrance to this big bazaar. It's really a shop that's ready for Nowruz, the traditional Persian new year, time of great celebration. These lovely rituals - red, shiny apples, seeb in Persian, sabze, which is greens, it's all chopped up in huge sacks. Wow. You look behind, there's onions and spinach and coriander and mint. There's big white buckets of orange goldfish, symbols of good luck for the Persian new year. Well, let's just find out if there's something to celebrate. (Foreign language spoken) Are you shopping for Nowruz?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes. I'm trying to see what I can get. I got some nuts.

DOUCET: What else do you buy for the Persian new year?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We make haft-seen and also the fish.

DOUCET: The fish. The fish is good luck.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Fish. And decorated eggs.

DOUCET: Do you feel there's something to celebrate this year?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Oh, yeah.

DOUCET: What are you celebrating?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We're hopeful...

DOUCET: You're hopeful.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: ...for the future of the country.

DOUCET: Why are you hopeful?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The talks are positive. It's going in the right direction.

DOUCET: How hard has it been under sanction?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's been really, really hard, very expensive.

DOUCET: Expensive.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes.

DOUCET: Like how much more expensive? Some people tell me the price...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Right. Yeah.

DOUCET: ...is three times as much.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yes. And also medicines and things like that. For some people it's really, really hard on them.

DOUCET: We're walking down one of the main streets of North Tehran. You could be forgiven for thinking there are no sanctions imposed on this country. Just looking at all these glass shop fronts, these shiny windows with mannequins, it could be any Western street. There's Diesel, United Colors of Benetton, Lacoste, Adidas, all of the Western clothing brands you find in cities around the world, and they're in Iran as well.

They're making the tea in a traditional samovar, which heats the water, and the teapot is warm. It's a welcome you always get when you go into an Iranian carpet shop. And wow, the carpets are stacked to the ceiling, all the lovely patterns and colors, the carpets that Iranians have been knotting and weaving for centuries. It's one of this country's main exports. And of course it would be a great draw for tourists if the tourists were coming in greater numbers and if the tourists could afford to buy them. (Foreign language spoken)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You're welcome. You're welcome.

DOUCET: There's nobody else in the shop. How's business?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So-so.

DOUCET: Are you exporting a lot of carpets?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Not so much this time. More - really few in this time, yes.

DOUCET: Someone like you, you must be hoping that Iran will have better relations, more trading with the rest of the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, I hope we have a better relation with every country and we can make better business with every - - every country, European, American (unintelligible)...

DOUCET: You have a big smile on your face.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, yes. We hope. We hope.

CHAKRABARTI: That report from the BBC's Lyse Doucet in Iran. You're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.