It's miserable this time of year in Tehran. The short days are darkened further by the annual submersion of the city under a thick layer of exhaust and smoke. With the surrounding mountains and weak wind and winter sun, the pollution hovers for days, prompting the government to issue regular warnings to the elderly, pregnant and those with heart conditions not to go outside.
Massive uncertainty, severe sanctions on its economy and a diminishing supply of hard currency have sent the Iranian currency, the rial, into a tailspin that appears unlikely to stabilise anytime soon.
As the Iranian economy struggles under international sanctions intended to halt its nuclear programme, one unofficial indicator that has yet to be rattled is the Islamic Republic's robust consumer confidence.