a very dangerous afternoon


 

So we get dropped at our hotel in Kashan and arrange for our taxi driver, Abbas, to take us to the nearby mountain village of Abyaneh that afternoon. Half an hour later we are back in his cab, brushing ash off the seat, when he asks if it’s OK if his friend joins us for the trip. This not being India, we agree, and a few minutes later, six-year-old Sepideh and her leopard print-clad mother, Sara, tumble into the front seat. Given that Abbas is a rotund 60-year-old, it’s not quite what we expected but we roll with it. Sara immediately tunes the radio to her preferred station and soon we’re all clapping and grooving in our seats, Abbas included, as we cruise past the uranium enrichment facility. We stop for petrol; there’s no electricity at the first pump so we reverse a few hundred metres at high speed to the petrol station next door.

We had actually met Sara earlier in the day when we checked in to the hotel. She leapt up from behind the counter and mistook us for Italians. We presumed that she worked at the hotel, but as the day unfolds it becomes clear that she neither works at the hotel nor knows Abbas from a bar of soap. But no matter.

We arrive in Abyaneh and after some cursory photos of Sepideh on a tortured donkey, we settle on a greasy spoon for some lunch. In between squirting alarming amounts of mayonnaise on her sandwich, Sara insists on whipping my headscarf off for alternate photos of me wıth unwashed blonde locks flowing and with a tablecloth substituted for the floral kerchief famously worn by the women of Abyaneh. Abbas rasps “he he he” in the corner as the sandwich guy quizzes Linds on the availability of alcohol in Australia.

Wandering the picturesque streets as Sara sets up various photo shoots wıth reluctant villagers, all the while not-so-discreetly complaining that they are notoriously tight-fisted, we happen across a lovely grove of the most fragrant miniature rose bushes; Sepideh picks one, two, ten and then her mum helps her strip the whole lot. In a deserted corner, the headscarves are again whipped off for more photos; an affectionate hug somehow morphs into a sort of strangle and everyone laughs, exclaiming that Iran is indeed very dangerous. Such is the hilarity of this gag that it is repeated several more times throughout the afternoon, each time the stranglıng increasing in ferocity and accompanied with various other acts of abuse, such as mock eye gouging.

After a visit to the town mosque, more photos and an impromptu dance performance of mild inappropriateness for a six-year-old, it is time to leave. Everyone is weary and quiet on the way home; Sepideh prattles away in Farsi until she falls asleep in my lap, shedding a tear for the bag of chips mysteriously lost between the carpark kiosk and the car. We roll back into Kashan and drop the girls off on a random street corner. Sara waves and shouts “Ciao!” as we drive off; she still thinks we’re Italian.

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2 Responses to “a very dangerous afternoon”

  1. Erin Bell Says:

    Hey dudes, what a strange sequence of events. After the leopard printed-ness and the fact that she was at a hotel unknown and then a taxi unknown I thought maybe she was a prostitute, but that is a tale you can recount for the chi’dren one day…

    Anywho, all you still sound as though you’re having the time of your lives! Tom and I have been inspired by your tales and thinking of going to KL and Melaka early next year (but probably only if we don’t get to move to Melbourne).

  2. beyondbagot Says:

    I can just see you two munching down in Melaka & KL. On my birthday I enjoyed a massive bowl of ‘pork skin herbal broth’ washed down by many a Guinness. Could there be anything more “erin and tom”?

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