Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Persian Letters

Lines And An Uncertain Future

People stand in front of a currency exchange office in Tehran.
People stand in front of a currency exchange office in Tehran.
We reported about last week's decline in the Iranian currency against the dollar and lines of people gathering to buy them (pictures here).

Blogger Somayeh Tohidlou has written in her blog ("Bar Sahel-e Salamat," On the Shore of Health) about the spread of long lines in Tehran, which she says is a sign of concern over an uncertain future:

Lines are a social phenomenon. When a group of people are forced to stand in lines in order to access what they need, it means that either there is a problem in the distribution of the needed goods or the quantity or quality does not meet the demand.

Standing in line is not very unusual for us. You shouldn't be too old to remember the time of the war [with Iraq] and even some time after it. Of course, standing in lines goes to times before that, including when there was a shortage of petroleum in the early days of the 1979 revolution and there were long lines. Even until a few years ago, there were long lines in our neighborhood for subsidized milk in the early morning hours.

Yet after several years of not having witnessed many lines, we're hearing news these days of long lines, lines for changing money to dollars, long lines for buying gold coins from the bank, long lines for gasoline. All of these events are the result of hastily made decisions, the reasons for which are unknown.

On the other hand, the minister of economy is not willing to announce the exact time of the of subsidy cuts. [Officials] don't like to speak about the rise of prices. The [lack of transparency] is the factor that is leading people to try hoarding what they can. And this is how the lines for gasoline get longer and longer.

In fact what is going on these days in society should have happened only after people had been informed or after the changes would have taken place. The issue is even more complicated.

All the news is about rising prices. For example, the 30 percent rise in the price of plane tickets, which means a rise in the price of other things and also a rise in the price of rice and oil, which has led many to go to shops to buy rice and oil at the old price.

There is worry these days over an uncertain future. A future that will bring a shock to the economy and to people's lives like the 10 percent increase in the dollar rate did. These days in different lines that are spreading, you can hear the concern of the people about their way of life now and in the future.
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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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