a litany of kind deeds

 

We’re back! After leaving Iran a few days ago, we’re now relaxing in the fine surrounds and hospitality of A Different English Village and have a bit of catching up to do. Although the blog wasn’t actually blocked in Iran, most of the computers we had access to appeared to be contemporaries of Alexander the Great. In any event, we’ve now had a little more time to digest our whirlwind tour so we’ll try and bring things up to speed in the next little while.

Iran blew us away with its history and diversity – although Islamic by name, the visible influences reflect the fact that it lies at the crossroads of the world; there is strong resistance to Arab culture and much of modern Iran feels European, albeit stuck in a pre-revolutionary time warp. But what humbled and surprised us most of all was the extraordinary hospitality we received. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised – a lot is actually written about this in travel literature – but it’s hard to overstate the friendliness and keen interest that people had in us, invariably wanting to know what we thought of Iran and excitedly reminding us of Iran’s last minute victory over Australia in the 1998 World Cup qualifier. We couldn’t help but notice in many people a palpable sense of relief that foreign tourists are still interested in visiting and the litany of kind deeds that we amassed flowed steadily from the moment we stepped off the plane to the day we left. The young dentist who sat next to us on the flight, returning home after a year of post-graduate study in the Phillippines, kept a crowd of his family members waiting while he made sure we could change our money, gave us his number to call if we needed help and apologised for not being able to drive us to our hotel. Mohammed saw us trying to flag a cab in Esfahan as he dropped his wife off to do the grocery shopping and insisted that he drive us to the bus terminal, whisking us to the right counter to buy our tickets and waving goodbye as the bus pulled out. Three times we were invited to be people’s guests for a meal, twice in their homes. And I don’t think either of us will forget the photocopy man in Orumiyeh – operating his business with a sole machine in a windy laneway and suffering an obvious visual impairment, he steadfastly refused to accept payment despite our endless attempts to outlast him in the obligatory exchanges of ta’arof.

It certainly didn’t take long to get a feeling for the “other” Iran, beyond the inflammatory behaviour of the regime and the extreme image presented in much of the foreign media, and the other Iran is by no means homogenous – for different reasons, an Afghan refugee family shares the same disdain for the regime as a young stockbroker. The other Iran wants rising inflation brought under control; it also wears hot pink, sequinned Converse All Stars. The other Iran is destined to live in interesting times.

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One Response to “a litany of kind deeds”

  1. Marshie Says:

    I bet your folks were toally stoked to get that phone call. “Hi mum and dad, we are out of Iran and safely ensconsed in Iraq.” I know you are in the “safe bit,” but still… xx

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