After being in Iran for a week one of the biggest dissapointments so far (right after the food, which is the most unimaginative i have come across so far) is the fact that they seem to have banned ghalyun smoking in most places outside of Teheran. If you belive the daily star (which of course would be a foolish thing to do) this is part of the ‘toughest moral crackdown in years’ which is otherwise fairly invisible (at least to my eyes).
When we were looking for a tea house to have a smoke in Isfahan a couple of days ago we actually got a slightly different explanation: It seems like the governemnt (or the ayatollahs, or whoever runs this country) decided that young girls where smoking too much, to the extend of becoming addicted to smoking ghalyun/argileh (I have heard this concern in other middle eastern countries before). Therefore the wise rulers decided to ban women from smoking in tea houses which seems to have resulted in the girls rightfully pointing out that it was unfair that men were continued to be allowed to smoke in the tea houses. This in turn seems to have resulted in the tea houses being closed altogether (apart from Tehran), and now eveybody smokes at home or in the park or whereever one decides to have a picknic (which seems to be one of the favorite passtimes of the locals here, as long the picnic place is less than ten meters away from a mayor highway and less than 1 meter away form their own car)
This whole situation severly limits your options to pass time in the evening, which now basically consist of eating (unimaginative) or drinking tea and reading (which is actually a fairly relaxing way to spend a vacation).