The Internet is a wonderful place for sharing through social media sites, emails, blogs and personal web sites, making the proliferation and dissemination of information so easy. Although I receive quite a lot of photographic information from these sources most often they are images of cute furry animals or landscapes of New England during the fall or staggering images of Antarctica. As such it is rare to come across images that are thought provoking, but a set came through on email entitled 'Great Historical Photographs' from my mother and most of them are absolutely fascinating.
My favourite and one that still provokes thought comes from the website http://beforethechador.com/ This is a website dedicated to images of the pre Iranian Islamic Revolution. It it it mentions that the if it were not for the dramatic changes of 1979 the Caspian Sea could have been a holiday hotspot akin to the French Riviera, and that Tehran as a financial capital aligned with London, something I had never considered as an adult.
Growing up around this time my neighbour was Iranian, they were wealthy affluent and free so I can at some point relate to these images. Now Iranians are told how to dress by their government with serious consequences if not adhered to, this is especially true of women who are treated as second rate citizens with little or no voice or identity. To a westerner it is as if the country has been thrown back 50 years, denied the progress that it deserved and deprived so many of freedom.
The following image from 1963 conjures up a variety of thoughts - the location of a beautiful beach on the Caspian Sea, probable not used for leisure much today. A western car and the focal point of a beautiful young woman draped over it in a relaxed and contented fashion. Her bathing suit, at the height of fashion in the early 60's, off the shoulder would certainly have caused a storm in Tehran today. But this image also describes the wealth, freedom, openness and beauty of this era all of which have been denied for the past 34 years. It makes me wonder if scenes like these will return? I certainly hope so in my life time
Although I may have painted a sad picture of Iran today, I do not believe it is all bad. The people are what makes a nation and the Iranians will not have changed in one or two generations. The following web site 'A View inside Iran" [http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2012/01/a-view-inside-iran/100219/] balances this article showing modern day images of Tehran, though screened by the government, they do depict a more open society than we are perhaps led to believe.... this still shows a beautiful country and fascinating people of diverse cultures from Islamic to Christians to Jews.....