Life, Tehran

My Pride and the Rationed Gas

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Driving for me is like a moderate flirting. Something about being in control quite excites me! For this reason, as soon as I arrived, I decided to make everything ready for a drive in the city, to visit places where once I used to flirt! First thing I noticed was that my driving license was missing … kind of a problem. After thinking for half an hour, I remembered that last year I applied for a renewed license, I filled all the necessary forms and handed in my +10 year old license and was given a receipt. The post was supposed to deliver it within couple of weeks. I left the receipt with my dad and went to Paris. This year he had no recollection of where that piece of paper was. Fortunately, he has an excellent filing system. I found a folder tagged “X, Y and Z’s documents” (my siblings and I), there was the holy receipt.

The next morning I went to our version of Division of Motor Vehicles, where my license was waiting for me. The computer file said that the post had tried once and no one was home, so poof my license had been sent back to “DMV” without any further notice. But I was not upset. Had this been few years ago, my license would have been lost, there would have been no computer files to tell me what is the bar-code of the postal package, and I would have to start all over from the beginning. So, I thanked the lady and took my license.

That afternoon I jumped in my Pride (Kia motors), turned the switch to find that, holly molly I have no gas in the tank. This meant I had to use the infamous “intelligent gas card”. These are the cards that the government distributed after rationing the gas. Each car is allowed 30 100 Liters per month (I don’t know if there is a Rollover plan, and if so whether it is a simple add-up or a complicated formula like the Orange wireless plan). To ease the pressure right now the allowance of 6 months is given in advance.

I went to a gas station and took out my card. It read: “Let’s use it correctly to use it forever”. A nice slogan I thought. The card looked smart too, besides being “intelligent”! I filled up my tank and I payed equivalent of $3.00 !!! No, you are not hallucinating only $3.00 for 30 Liters! Maybe this is why we are running out of gas and we have to ration it! Gas is cheaper than bottled water.

One good side effect of this rationing is the manageable traffic of Tehran. Before, you would stay for example 1-1:30 hours in a nerve-racking traffic to get to some place that normally would take you 10 minutes. Now, you put about 20-30 minutes. The other side side-effect of this lighter traffic is a cleaner air. Tehran is one of the most polluted cities in the world. So, less cars is actually a blessing.

And the bad side-effects? The announcement of the rationed gas came before the cards were all distributed. The special vehicles still wait for their cards. For examples taxi’s that were promised to get 15 L per day, don’t have their allowance yet! As a result you may end up staying at someone’s house without finding a taxi to take you home. Or, I heard that one of the TV announcers has said he might not come for the 9 O’clock news if he runs out of gas!

So, things are a bit of a bordel right now (use your French dictionary). Nonetheless, Tehranians keep their never fading smile and tell jokes about this situation. Honestly, I hope the government smoothes some of the rough edges of this plan and keeps it put. I could not see any other way to solve the traffic, air pollution and overuse of this cheap gas problem.

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