Isfahan has produced some of the Muslim world’s finest intellectuals – poets, philosophers, religious scholars, academics, architects, polymaths, artists and craftsmen. The city, with its rich cultural legacy, is home to a variety of ethnicities, the intermingling of which creates opportunities for its citizens to indulge in a range of productive activities.
Punctuality of time is expected in Isfahan. Businessmen around the city are usually multilingual, and speak English quite well. They are excellent conversationalists, but prefer to remain reserved under office environments or formal dealings. Meet them outside the office, and you can expect a fun-loving, laidback person who will most probably extend a dinner invitation to his house after the first five minutes of informal chit chat.
Whereas middle aged and older men prefer meaningful chat sessions over tea and hookahs, the youngsters around Isfahan, like youngsters in any other city, love to idle away their time roaming public squares, crowded marketplaces, and especially the arches between one of the many bridges across the Zayandeh River. Here you can see them puffing away delightedly at their shishas, having mouthwatering chulu kebabs, and sometimes even enjoying an intimate session with a girlfriend. All kinds of mildly illicit activities take place under the arches of these majestic bridges, where citizens sometimes bend the fundamentalist rules a little just to derive pleasure not present anywhere else in the city.
When it comes to dressing up, Isfahanis are usually modest. You will rarely find glamorous attire in men or women. Women, especially, are fully covered in public places, with only the hands, feet and face visible. This is a changing trend, however – young women have started partially exposing their hair, wearing eye-catching make-up, and adorning themselves with body-hugging garments. This is seen as a disgrace by most elderly folk around the city, but receives grins from boys hanging around the neighborhood lying in wait for just such girls to walk by. When in Isfahan, dress modestly – men should avoid briefs, and women should be covered like the locals, with a headscarf. Do this, and you will avoid unwanted stares and attention.