tv [untitled] CSPAN June 21, 2009 7:00am-7:30am EDT
of the whole poignant situation here. i just don't know how much people take that to heart. but this is the imam and he was so happy that we were there and he wanted to talk to us and he said why don't you got your president bush to come to your service and we'll get mahmoud ahmadinejad to come to yours. [laughter] >> here's a dad dressed up with their kids getting their photograph will a lot of times i'm working on the script, taking floats, doing ply writing, trying to get similar peace and quiet as my questions. we're confusing to these people
because they had a lot of propaganda and three heard a lot of different things. i love it when all the girls are out on a field trip and i get the whether or not he will class together will right now i canlary the school teacher saying, girls, there's a western man taking your picture, cover your hair and you get the shot. you take off their scarves they are the same feisty, adorable, deserving kids. it's a beautiful thing. anywhere you go you come home with that souvenir. look at the body language, the smicks. the one in the middle is a handful for their teacher and that kind of thing. how do you solve a problem like maria.
[laughter] >> everybody is out with their bunsen burners will kids are out getting similar ice cream will that modesty thing. even scare crows have to be cover. powerful thing in iran is to see the scarves left by their war with iraq. what have we lost, 4,000 people. they lost 250,000 deaths, not casualties. oh, man, every city has a heartbreaking martyr ceremony will every soldier there are dying for god and country and you see the loved ones there
document. a lot of pictures. we went to the ancient site. i had high expectations and it was one of those places that exceeded them. 500 years before christ these are are the guys who looted and burned athens and there is the first home of the shah of iran. it's going all the way back to this place and this is where you see a lot of tourists and what i was struck by is a lot of iranians because three come lear to connect with their roots will it's a cultural pilgrimage to remember and remember an important and proud culture that
there will that's in their 19 more than muslim. they are not arabs will we are arabs will we are persians will we speak farsi will it's not the gulf of arabia will it's the persian gulf will get it straight will i do not want to radicalize these are people will these are people are as good as they come. they happen to have a different religion and culture than quo but it was clear to plea all of them are teachers and crafts people and people and, you know, it
true colors with our guide/minder when the minder were there -- if you live in a totalitarian society you know there's guys watch and if you got aspirations for your kids, you're not going to invite the american film crew rolling and say how much you're going to hate the ayatollah. we could go into someone's home if they did not bring the country. there's a big government looking at you. you'll get in trouble if you do something subversive. on the other hand, i was impressed with how the people talked with us with the camera
rock -- rolling on the streets. it reminded me a lot of the soviet union. i traveled quite a bit in the soviet union in the cold war days. you have a whole class of people that are kiss-ups. they'll join the bureaucracies. they can do anything so their kids can get an inside track on education and get a steady job. when i had to get permission to go in that big mosque, they all looked like mahmoud ahmadinejad. they wore the same suit and had the same little beard. [laughter] >> i mean, this is kind of creepy. but these are the kiss-ups. in every society you've got those kind of people. even in ours. [laughter] >> not in ours. >> how would you rate the hotels you and your crews stayed during your trip? and also do they have western toilets? >> the hotels were great. we stayed in the fanciest hotels in town. they were no more expensive than
you'd stay in a basic business hotel here. i didn't want the back-door experience. i wanted a safe place to leave your camera gear and i wanted to get online and all that kind of stuff. every city has an international class of hotel and every city has funky little guest houses. if you were there on your own i think you would have a more rewarding time staying in the funky guest houses. it's a free enterprise. they are not so good at free enterprise because that's not their primary concern. it's interesting how -- the whole place felt like it was on business valium. nothing was that important. >> did you have a chance to go shopping? >> i didn't go shopping, no. >> you didn't buy any jewelry for your wife? >> i bought a mecca compass to find out which direction was mecca was.
i don't shop. >> how about the cleanliness in of the city itself, was there trash and graffiti and was there a mcdonald's. >> i was impressed there was no angry graffiti or american chains. here you got temptations all over the place in a big fast food society. there was less affluence. there's plenty of places to eat. you weren't constantly tempted with that. it felt clean, reasonably clean. i wasn't -- there's countries where you're impressed how dirty it was. i wasn't impressed for that. the bathrooms were horrible. and i gained sort of an appreciation for what women have to do all through their lives. [laughter] >> because, remember, there's no urinals there. all my life and all the guys in a room if you go in the stadium you go in the bathroom there's like 50 people going in the bathroom and there's 20 urinals you know -- oh, there's an open
one. there's an open one. if you go in a bathroom at the mosque which is accommodates a million people you go in the bathroom there's like 30 doors and you don't know which one's available. you have to check each door. and their filthy. people wash their hands for r h ritual but they smear things around when they go to the bathroom. i'm just telling you my experience. >> did you visit a church or a synagogue? >> did not visit churches or synagogues. i knew it wasn't be in the show and i didn't want to deal with the religious thing. i wanted to know the difference between sunnis and shiites, not how christians were mistreated. i really wanted to understand the dominant religion there. >> any advice for making traveling especially airports easier for someone walking with
a cane? >> well, if you have concerns about your physical ability to travel, remember, the most grueling things of travel is heat and thunder. go in the end of the season, march or october. much easier, much, much easier. >> did you have the opportunity to eat in the home of a persian family? if so, how was your meal? what did you eat and are persians as hospitable as i've heard, yes. >> yeah. i get a little trouble because i'm not crazy about persian food. >> you hadn't mentioned that earlier. >> i try not to but i wanted to know. it doesn't make you sick. [laughter] >> i find it better than norwegian cuisine. >> better than salted cod. then people you haven't eaten in a persian home.
in restaurants -- i should stop talking about this, probably. in restaurants i found it fairly predictable. and it was wonderful cabob and rice and all that kind of thing, okay, but you get into a persian's home which we did which i really wanted to do and they pull out the stops and it becomes this incredible banquette and people are very polite that way and we were invited in a home. it was a pretty wealthy home. i wanted to see the women kind of hang out and be lose and casual and unguarded and they would normally do that i would imagine but as soon as we brought our camera in, their house became outside. you see what i mean. it was no longer their private house because westerners were there with a big camera. they were dressed modestly and quite formal. but it was great to get in a house and ate wonderfully there.
>> as an american born iranian but a u.s. citizen is it safe to travel to iran with a u.s. passport? i've heard from many people that it would not be wise to travel without an iranian passport and that is difficult to obtain. >> technically -- this is a legal issue so i don't want to give you any binding advice. what i've heard is some people it's dangerous for them to go back to iran if they left the country under shady circumstances during those changeover from the shah to the khomeini and they have a tough time getting out. as far as the issue of christians and jews going to iran, that is no problem at all. i met lots of christians and jews running businesses there and, you know, people just said it's a dominant muslim society and we do our thing and we're fine. >> how do we reconcile that iran supports family values at the same time supporting suicide bombers which depletes.
i don't deal with that. what am i going to do, continue to refuse to learn about them? i would say that it's wrong for americans to think that we have heroes that only wish they had more than life to give for their country. they are a dime a dozen on this planet and today we are the empire. we are the red coats. we are 4% of the planet spending as much as everybody else and spending more. this is our sacred cow. we have military bases right now in 130 countries. only america can declare somebody else's natural roushz on the other side of the planet vital to our national security interest. that doesn't ring well to other people when it's their natural resources. we are outvoted routinely in the
united states 140-4 on issues that matter to the desperately poor half of humanity, the 3 billion people who are trying to live on $2 a day. check at the united states website. it's 140-4. who stands with america? israel, marshall islands and micronesia. those are the four countries who get it. they're the caring compassionate ones and everyone is a conspiracy against our freedom when it comes to child labor, global warming, land mines, militarizing space, third world debt relief, water issues so it's complicated. but we are -- whenever i write that america might be an empire, it gets a lot of upset, you know, that's very, very sensitive stuff. and i don't even say we're an
emper empere emperor. they think we're an empror. any other people who have other values than ours knows there's only two things you can do if you're going to fight the united states. you can die or you can be a terrorist. there's no other way if you want to fight america. so it's a difficult situation. so, yeah, iran supports terrorists. i think that's a terrible thing. i'm not going to get -- justifying that but i'm going to say that my hunch is if we were less easy to demonize, they would have a tougher time recruiting these terrorists and we could do constructive things on this planet rather than divisive and destructive things. >> amen. [applause]
>> someone wants to know how many languages you speak. >> how many languages do i speak? just english. nothing to brag about. i'm a generalist. every time i try to learn a few words and then i go to portugal and latvia and i can't even remember my own area code. i make kind of a big deal about the fact that i'm a monoglot that substantiates my teaching. it's try to encourage americans travel boldly even if you don't speak the language and i'm able to go to europe and have tv shows speaking the world's linguistic. if a greek meets a norwegian hiking in the alps how do they speak? english. my son speaks fluent italian
right now. i'm envy yes, sir. he has a better connection than i do. i wish i spoke the languages if you want to go to portugal, don't worry about it. have a good time. >> you travel with an open mind and an open heart. and that's perhaps more important than speaking the language. >> much more important. if you're going there to learn instead of judge. >> okay. how do you balance your relatively positive impressions of iran for them to develop nuclear weapons by seeming volatile leaders. >> i would try to arrange it they wouldn't have volatile leaders where they could elect a moderates. everyone else has nukes and why can't they have nukes. well, they are threatened by us. if i was president, i'd probably wouldn't let them have nukes but i don't want to let that get in the way with my endeavor to
understand these people and get to know them and let us travel as ambassadors of good will so we can let them understand us better and we can understand them better and, again, it's driven by fear. they're afraid of us. they want nukes. >> and this is the last question. thank you so much for all your peace efforts. did you try to go to the beautiful north of iran, the green caspian sea area. i lived there nine years and i'll be glad to lead you there. >> let me just -- before i do the last question, i want to just quickly remind you -- well, i'll do that last question -- i'll we'll talk about those books later. i didn't have enough time to go to the caspian sea. that was my first trip to iran. i went to iran in the last days of shah but i didn't have much interest of picking up all these issues. having gone to iran just for
this brief trip last may, i want to go back. i just scratched the surface, obviously, and i just -- everywhere we turned there was interesting stuff and so many people in iran told me you got to get up in the caspian sea and the more lush area. it was a arid, high plateau we were in. it was just speckled with fascinating ancient sites and hard-working little communities and the great city we saw. >> well, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> this was wonderful. [applause] >> thank you. thanks. >> and we hope you go back. >> i'm going to go back. thanks a lot. what a delight to be able to just share this with everybody and it's fun to think it will be broadcast on radio and tv and so on. i want to rhyme you that peop-- remind you that keplers books
worked and the three books they would have the core books is europe from the back door is how the travel book. that's the one book if you like traveling the way you see me on tv or whatever. the last are skills and the last chapters. postcards from europe is my autobiographical books. all my favorite stories laced in a fantasy trip. it's a fun read. as i mentioned earlier it's my worst-selling guidebook but i just think -- for some people it's their favorite because it lets them get to know behind the scenes of my work doing tv and tour guiding and guidebook writing and you meet a lot of people in a guidebook in disguise and the best of europe is the most important chapters all over europe. if you're going to do a once over lightly trip you have the big -- the big sites covered here not just big cities but the
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