One of the strongest memories I have of Iran is standing outside a regular neighourhood mosque covered in the black mourning flags that are so typical there. Decades of negative imagery on T.V made my wife and I unsure about entering the courtyard. Finally we ventured in and ended up parting ways. Suddenly I heard a commotion only to turn around and see my wife engulfed by around 40 women, all curious as to where she was from...friendliness and hospitality that we were to encounter wherever we went.
At every turn we found things that ran against the facile stereotype propagated outside its borders.
Another shock were the fashionistas in northern Tehran, words would be hard to describe it but perhaps paintings can.
I've just come across this wonderful young artist from that huge city at the foot of the mountains whose paintings show that world. Many may have heard of Saghar Daeeri, but if you haven't, definitely click over for more.