Friday, October 24, 2008

Social Prestige & Numbers in Iran

You walk into a wireless phone store in Tehran and you want to sign up for a new line. The standard price is 280'000 Thomans, roughly 300 USD, however you can end up spending as much as 4'000'000 Thomans, 4000 USD, on a new line. My friend told me.

In Iran cellular network has different codes from the cities, for example Tehran area code is 021, while cellphone codes are 0912, 0913 and 0917. And they are not the same.

The first cellphone code in Iran was 0911 and then later it became 0912. If you have a 0912 line it means it is awhile that you have a cellphone. You are not some kid just getting rich, you have class. You have old money. 0913 still is OK, you live in Tehran, good city kid who bought his cellphone couple of years ago and have been making money. You are in the circle. 0917... well that is not good news at all! you make some fast cash recently and you do not have any social standing. More than one friend told me in Tehran if your number begins with 0917 no chance a girl accepts your number!

There is no surprise that demand for a cellphone number varies with the number you can get. 280'000 can get you a basic line, but it is a poor signal for your prestige. So you might want to spend a little bit more, actually a lot more, to stay in the circle.

Brands define you in Iran; your school, your neighborhood, your car and etc, even before you start talking. But this phone number thing is taking it into a new level. And why is it like this? Why people invent brands in a society already poisoned by branding and labeling.

1 comment:

Esfand` said...

:D True! This is just one example, but non the less it is symbolic of a general trend!

One of my friends kept getting this stupid prank call and so I asked her why doesn't you change the number. Her reply was a bit on the same lines... 'I like my number, this has a code every one recognizes, no one knows the new ones...' n now when you say it.