Tehran and I are finally starting to gel! It’s certainly not a WOW city, it kind of grows on you. There’s nothing really special except for the people who really are making it a special city. The sights are interesting but not strikingly beautiful, as a traveller genuinely interested in the different nationalities and what makes them tick, how differently they live their lives compared from mine, I am in my element. However, I certainly can see why their are not busloads of European, American, Japanese or Chinese tourists racing around after a flag waving guide, thank goodness.
This morning, we decided to return to our friendly free walking tour guide, Mersa, and joined her for her Islamic-Iranian city structure tour (Evan, I know you are reading this blog and rolling your eyes but it was really interesting) of the old neighbourhood of Tehran.
This time, we were the only 2 people on the tour which was brilliant, we got on so well with our new best friend and she was so passionate about sharing her life as an Iranian with us. She was able to discuss Iranian politics with us and share secrets about Iran that she would not normally have discussed with a group. So much fascinating information.
At the end of the tour, she stopped at a baker and made him bake some fresh flat yummy bread for us which we took to a coffee shop where she organised cheese and cool orange blossom and mint sherbert drinks for the 3 of us (regardless of the fact that the coffee shop was closed for Ramadan).
There she entertained us with stories and personal videos of how Iranians really live, how they manage to avoid every crazy restriction and rule possible, gleefully.
(Ayyaya, it made me think of Mike Ellis and Priscilla’s many stories of how they avoided the stupid South African apartheid laws and got such a thrill out of breaking them, which always makes me laugh).
Dancing is forbidden in Iran, however don’t believe it, the Iranians have their alcohol delivered to their door by men in suits and briefcases, they then have massive dance parties in areas under the house where everybody is immaculately dressed. If the police arrive, they ask them how much and the party continues. (Lyn, it reminds me of the Saturday night Behrady noisy, dancing and singing Iranian parties in Asquith).
If the clothing police arrive in the shopping mall, the phones all buzz and everybody inappropriately dressed dashes off to another shopping mall, if they are unlucky enough to be caught, they spend two hours in the local police station until their family come and collect them. All a big game and joke.
We saw a well dressed guy being marched along in handcuffs today by a policeman, they were both laughing and Mersa (our guide) thought it a huge joke.
But, what did we see and do today.
Today, we found the Bazaar fascinating with Mersa (compared to our first day here when we were on our own, had no understanding of our surroundings and were not impressed) who constantly stopped to introduce us to people and explain things.
The Imam Khomeini Mosque was interesting and again so much information, I loved the Jewish Quarter as usual, the Water reservoir, First Bank of Iran etc.
A visit to the Golestan Palace was on the agenda today, the oldest historic monument in Tehran and really important to the history of Tehran. It was rather beautiful inside with its Hall of Mirrors, interesting hall of ancient photos, beautiful mosaic tiled floors and windows.
I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I read a number of novels about Iran before I came here and that has given me such a better understanding of life here, I could relate to all of Mersa’s stories.
My Farsi lessons on the internet have also really paid off and been invaluable, I am really surprised at how much I remember and have surprised and delighted the locals (tho’, the conversation doesn’t ever go past ‘hello how are you’ before my vocabulary runs out).
Time to break our Ramadan Fast so we are about to head out for dinner.
I shall load some photos later, very difficult with an extremely temperamental internet.
Mum are you receiving my blog, please send me an email to let me know how you are.
Nadine, perhaps you could also get in touch with us sometime, we are battling to keep in touch due to internet.