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On August 22nd 2016 I was arrested, handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to an unknown detention center, then charged with "propaganda against the Islamic Republic" among other charges and interrogated blindfold, in solitary confinement, for security reasons related to CS and for what I had written on my profile and for my personal believes and activities, until September 7th 2016 when I was released on bail. I am going to be put on trial and, according to the authorities, I am going to spend a few years in jail. Because of this my family does not allow me to host anybody for now and Khayyam House is closed. But don't worry. If you make a "public trip" on CS website, many Iranians will invite you home and If your host informs the police, your staying is completely legal. In Tehran your host can contact the following numbers:
پلیس اتباع خارجه
Or if you are arriving by plane, your host can answer a call from the airport and confirm that s/he is going to host you. This is routine and completely legal and a visa-on-arrival can be issued based on that.
Otherwise you can consider staying in the following hostels:
Also consider that unfortunately the CS website is filtered in Iran, so plan your couch requests accordingly or use other hospitality websites like http://www.bewelcome.org/
More tips on traveling to Iran:
Me on other social media:
Khayyam House and me in the public media:
Bridging the World, One Gulf at a Time!
humanist, social democrat, feminist, pacifist, cosmopolitan, queer-friendly (but straight), shamefaced omnivore (I wish I could be a vegetarian, or even better, a vegan), environmentalist, immortalist, childfree, down to earth, eccentric, easygoing, curious, adventurous, rebellious, freedom-loving and brutally honest to myself and to the world.
Although I have degrees in engineering and philosophy (IUST, Sharif, UBC), I prefer to make a living through teaching English, Persian and Arabic or working as a freelance tour guide. This gives me more freedom and free time.
I am also a traveler, not a tourist. I usually read and learn as much as possible about the places I want to visit first, then travel for several weeks (or months) at a time focusing on a country or a few small countries only. I don't take a lot of pictures but I try to see as much as possible, sometimes spending a whole day or two at a worthy museum.
People ask me about my profile name (Peace Gulf). This is the name I prefer to use for the body of water between Iran and the Arab states. Most Iranians call it "the Persian Gulf" and most Arabs "the Arabian Gulf". This disagreement is important for me and I want to find a constructive way out of it. That's why I changed my profile name from "Reza Memar" (which only shows my name) to "Peace Gulf" which shows my ideas and (I think) helps my purpose. But if you ask why I use this name for that body of water I can explain it as follows:
1- Names we choose for things reflect how we think about them and the world. There is no "right" or "wrong" in names. Names are tools. There is no "right" and "wrong" in tools. There are only "good" tools and "bad" tools.
2- Everybody should be free to call anything which doesn't belong to anybody, with ANY name they choose, provided this is not generally considered offensive.
3- The name of the body of water between Iran and the Arab states on the southern shores has many different names in different languages. Turks call it "Basra Gulf" for example. You can't and shouldn't do anything about it. There is no international law that prevents Turks from using this name or the Arabs from using their chosen name.
4- The name "Persian Gulf" reflects Persian Imperial Past. It is a good tool for strengthening Persian nationalism. I am not a fan of nationalism. I am a cosmopolitan. I am not a fan of any imperialism either, including the dead ones, in particular the Persian Empire. Actually I am ashamed of the death and destruction that our fathers, including Cyrus, have caused in this region of the world.
5- I prefer peace and humanity over nationalism.
6- Therefore I prefer to use "the Peace Gulf" for that body of water. It is a good tool for my purpose
If you agree with this, you may also want to join this group:
And this group which is for the Caspian Sea:
You may be curious about one of my main photos with Arabic headgear as well. You should know that unfortunately there is racism in Iran against Arabs (and Afghans among others) and so wearing an Arab costume is an anti-racist gesture.
1- Don't have more than you need. Give more than is expected.
2- Be hospitable in a way that you can always be so!
3- Na Eslaam, Na Iran, Jaanam Fadaaye Ensaan! (not for Iran, not for Islam, I'll die for humans!).
Why I’m on Couchsurfing
I used to host up to 15 people with a short notice and find hosts for people. You could always count on me!
You can get your visa through www.touranzamin.com, or on arrival in international airports. For that you need a confirmed accommodation which can be a hotel or your CS host. They will call to check. I have even created a group to help with the visa problems:
I established a place called "Khayyam House" for holding CS events and hosting people:
I am the main host of "Tehran International Weekly Gathering".
I also host a gathering of CS members formerly called "Omar Khayyam Night" and now called "Al Ma'arri-Khayyam Night" every week when I am in Tehran and in large cities whenever I travel as a sign of peace and friendship between Persians and Arabs (check http://www.bewelcome.org/). More about them:
* History of Omar Khayyam (later Al Ma'arri-Khayyam) Nights: The first Omar Khayyam Night was held in Bagh-e Behesht restaurant on Vali-e-Asr Avenue in Tehran on Dec 22nd 2011. It was held as a weekly meeting in Tehran for the rest of that winter and then went around the country and abroad. So far (َJune 2017) it has been held in Tehran (more than 200 times), Neyshabur (16 times), Shiraz (13 times), Amraj Kola (10 times), Esfahan (9 times), Qom (6 times), Karaj and Qazvin (5 times), Arak and Kermanshah (4 times), Kashan, Sari, Gorgan, Mashhad, Ardabil, Tabriz, Ahvaz, and Bojnurd (3 times), Yasuj, Urmia, Kerman, Zahedan, Chabahar, Yazd, Zanjan, Ilam, Rasht, Bushehr, Khorramabad, Sanandaj, Aligudarz, Tuyserkan, Bandar-e Abbas and Yerevan (twice), Hamadan, Hashtgerd, Astara, Saveh, Birjand, Semnan, Shahr-e Kord, Dehdasht, Jahrom, Khorramshahr, Borujerd, Shahrud, Torbat-e Jaam, Khazar Shahr, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Ankara, Tbilisi, Istanbul, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul, Erbil, Baghdad and Karbala (once)
I am the current or former organizer or co-organizer of many other current or former event series including "Hiking/Exploring and Cleaning up the Environment", "Reading Shahnameh", "Reading Hafez & Goethe", "Reading Sa'di", "Reading Beyhaghi's History", "Persian Time","Let's Read Quran Together", "Arabic Time", "Turkish Time", "Russian Time", "Chinese Time", "Urdu Time", "Reading Al Mutanabbi", "International Language Exchange", "Afghanistanology", "Reading Rumi", "Poetry and Music Soiree", "Quiz Night", "Free English Lessons for Peace", "Cinematograph", "Movie Night", "Iran Explorers", "Reading Ar Rihla of Ibn Battuta", "Visiting Tehran's Cemetery", "Let's Play Ping Pong, Badminton or Scrabble", "Reading 1001 Nights", "Visiting and/or Helping out Afghan Students in Tehran", "Give a Talk to Afghan Students in Tehran", "Reading Ibn Fadhlan's Travel Story", "Reading Vis & Ramin", "Reading Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins", "Reading Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle", "Reading Rory Stewart's The Places in Between", "Arabic on Trips", "Arabic/International Poetry and Music Soiree For Peace". "Let's Have Lunch Together", "Having Dinner with an Iranian Family" "Middle East Studies for Peace", "Reading Kelila & Demna", "Reading Avesta", "Reading Nahj-ol-Balagha", "Calligraphy, Painting & Handicrafts", "Studies for Peace", and "Potluck Lunch".
I used to be a CS "Ambassador" but at one point they suspended all the ambassadors and asked us to apply again, which I did with a lot of delay, seemingly too late to be considered.
Also I am the founder and moderator of these groups:
Iranian Visa Support Group:
Omar Khayyam Society:
Omar Khayyam Library:
Omar Khayyam Book Exchange:
Poetry in Tehran:
Ferdowsi and Shahnameh:
Arabic Time in Tehran:
Tehran Tour Guides:
Tehran English Teachers:
Green College UBC:
Until November 2015 when I stopped counting I hosted at least:
A- One Iraqi child and one English child.
B- 143 Ladies: seventeen Persians (two of them for two weeks in a row and then one of these two for a lot of times after that), one Syrian, one Iraqi, one Lebanese, two Lithuanians, one Latvian, one Finnish, one from Iceland, one Romanian, nineteen Poles, six Swiss, seven Czech, six Turkish, one Welsh, three Spanish, one Vietnamese, three Portuguese, three English, one Korean, one Croatian, one Greek, one Danish, two Swedish, seven Russians, two Malaysians, one Thai, one American, one Canadian, nine Chinese, three from Hong Kong, two Australians, one New Zealander, one Ukrainian, one Austrian, ten French, four Dutch, two Belgians, four Italians, one Scottish, one Georgian and nine Germans.
C- 479 Men: eighty two Iranians (some of them for more than ten times and some for months), fifty seven Germans, two Pakistanis, two Iraqis, one Tajik, one Thai, two Mexican, one Colombian, one Lebanese, one Belarusan, five Lithuanians, one Latvian, one Estonian, three Slovenians, one from Madagascar, one Romanian, two Argentinians, one Bulgarian, one Venezuelan, one Peruvian, one Serbian, four Indians, five Georgians, six Slovaks, three Armenians, one American, one from El Salvador, one Chilean, one Kazakh, three Austrian, eight Australians, three New Zealanders, one Swedish, three Taiwanese, three Japanese, one Korean, thirty six Poles, seventeen Czech, twenty three Turkish, fifteen Italians, nineteen Russians, five Ukrainians, thirteen Dutch, one Croatian, forty French, fifteen Belgians, two Malaysians, four English, two Singaporeans, eighteen Chinese (one of them for more than one month), five from Hong Kong, one from Macau, one South African (for more than one month), four Irish, fourteen Spanish, six Portuguese, twelve Swiss, eight Danish, one Norwegian, two Brazilians, one Kurdish and one Hungarian.
I have also shown some of these or other couchsurfers around or hosted them for breakfast, lunch or dinner and have helped many with invitation letters or visa-on-arrival contact details or problems.
A- Between July 29th and October 26th 2010 I managed to surf for 68 (out of 90) nights in many different Turkish towns and cities.
B- Between March 19th and July 29th 2011 (more than 4 months) I surfed many couches in Iran, northern Iraq, south and central Turkey and Cyprus (both north and south).
C- Between March 18th and September 15th 2012 (nearly 6 months) I surfed many couches in Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Abkhazia and Turkey.
D- Between Feb 20th and April 5th 2013 (45 days) I surfed many couches in Iran (From the Friendship Sea to the Peace Gulf #1).
E- Between August 13th and October 3rd 2013 (50 days) I surfed some couches in Iran, a few in Armenia and many in east and central Turkey (camping or hosteling the rest of the time).
F- Between March 12th, and April 3rd 2014 I surfed many couches in Iran (From the Friendship Sea to the Peace Gulf #2).
G- Between September 11th and October 10th 2014 I surfed many couches in Iran (From the Friendship Sea to the Peace Gulf #3).
H- Between Feb 26th and March 30th 2015 I surfed many couches in Iran and Iraq (From the Friendship Sea to the Peace Gulf #4)
I- Between April 29th and June 21st 2016 I surfed some couches in Iran and Afghanistan (From Friendship Sea to Peace Gulf #5)
J- Between August 22nd and September 7th 2016 I surfed couches of "2 BN 33" detention center and Evin House of Detention.
K- Between June 26th and July 19th 2017 I surfed many couches in Iran (Hitchhiking From the Friendship Sea to the Peace Gulf).
history, geography, archaeology, anthropology, languages, cultures, differences, solo backpacking, nature, helping people, science, art, poetry, encyclopedias, changing the world, evolution, a federal and secular state for Iran, teaching English and Farsi, improving my English, playing the host, walking, day-hikes, humanism and transhumanism, especially biological immortality, and ecovillages.
Music, Movies, and Books
No movie has ever moved me! But I like "Dead Poets' Society" because of the sense of rebellion that it inspires. I also like historical movies, world cinema, world folk music, Woody Allen, Omar Khayyam, documentaries and maps.
One Amazing Thing I’ve Done
I refused to finish my PhD in philosophy in Canada after getting disillusioned as to the value of academic philosophy. Otherwise a guaranteed and very prestigious university position (at Sharif U of T) was waiting for me and I wouldn't have needed to pay back all the scholarship money to the Iranian government.
Teach, Learn, Share
I take pleasure in sharing my limited knowledge of Iran and its main language with you. If your English is worse than mine, I will be glad to help you with that as well (I used to organize a weekly meeting in Tehran and give free English lessons). I am also the moderator of "Tehran English Teachers" group on this website:
I have also created a group for sharing our books:
And also one for sharing tour guiding experience in Tehran:
What I Can Share with Hosts
I can help you with English, Persian or some Turkish and Arabic. I can also tell you all about my life, traveling and CS experiences.
Countries I’ve Visited
Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Cyprus, Georgia, India, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Turkey, United Arab Emirates
Countries I’ve Lived In