Last night, we all went out at about 8 pm for dinner and to spend time yet again in the Naqsh-e Jahan Square as the sun was going down and all the people had come out for their picnics, eager to break their Ramadan Fast. It is such a happy time of the day, joy, good spirits and laughter surround us as we wander through the 1602 Unesco World heritage listed 512m long by 163m, huge Square with enough space for everyone.
The atmosphere is one to behold, a memory we shall treasure though we still find it strange being ‘celebrities’. People constantly want to chat to us and welcome us to their fine country.
Polo was actually played in this square about 400 years ago and the goal posts are still at either end. It is a beautiful place which oozes atmosphere and attitude for sure.
As usual, Sara took us to a most unusual tea house for cocktails, we would never have found this crazy place buried deep within the Bazaar where only the local people go, all of whom welcomed us, took photos of us with them and then watched us slurp on our varied, refreshing, non alcoholic cocktails. (meanwhile Lucille and sisters are sipping excellent New Zealand wine as they travel around NZ and Priscilla and Eddie have probably already raided our wine cellar at a Laurieton).
Dinner was the usual mixture of grilled chicken over an open fire, lamb stews, bread, rice, pickles etc, and always a new dish to taste, last night was olives in a honey marinade (ahh Margo, you would enjoy the various combination of spices, I didn’t know you could cook lamb and chicken with so many different flavours).
We sat in yet another beautiful and intriguing courtyard restaurant, the only non Iranians there, thanks to Sara. A lovely evening.
This morning, Cameron and I had a walk down to the bridge and along the river after breakfast, the lighting was lovely on the river which amazingly was not flowing and merely a dry riverbed about a month ago, difficult to imagine.
This information we received from a young and gay student who stopped for an interesting chat, but the most interesting part was his final question to me (which he apologised for asking) ie. ‘what do I think about wearing the hijab?’
I hate it and find it hot and uncomfortable, I replied, he agreed and said yes the women should not have to wear them (he was only about 18 and obviously very bright), he said he could see they were uncomfortable as we (including the locals)are constantly adjusting, pulling back on, loosening them.
A lady shopkeeper said exactly the same thing to me about 10 minutes later, intriguing, so the hijab is not as acceptable as I had thought, they are just biding their time to get rid of them.
We met up with the group and Sara gave us a tour of a couple more stunningly beautiful and peaceful mosques this morning as well as another Persian garden, so pleasant wandering around this city with it’s many tree lined boulevards, Persian gardens, fountains (sadly also often dry) and important Islamic buildings all of which make for visual appeal, however it is still the ambience of this beautiful city that I shall remember.
Mum, I really thought this was one country I would really love to bring you to, and then I thought of a few worrying points involved in your visit.
However do the elderly people manage the squat toilets (I just can’t see you managing Mum, you would need a miniature walking stick in the loo ????)
So I asked Sara how the elderly people manage, she looked perplexed, thought about it, so I told her my Mum was 89 and I envisaged problems, she replied that she didn’t know but that they ‘probably just died anyway’ .
So maybe you shouldn’t come Mum as supposedly elderly people here just die before they reach 89, Sara is really funny, especially her accent and they way she reasons and perceives things from her Iranian cultural background.
Talking about the culture, when we were in a museum in the Armenian Quarter yesterday, I was looking at a 400 year old photo of a couple in their wedding gear and was surprised to see them in a dark suit and white wedding dress. Same with an old school photo, the class of kids were posed in rows exactly as they still organise them for their class photos today, some things never change.
I’m so not ready to go home yet, the two week trip was too short, it is our last night in Esfahan tonight (I wander what restaurant Sara has in mind for us) and then one more night in Tehran.