Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Thinking about Iran
A long time ago I spent 4 months in Iran. I remember walking so much and so far every day on the cobbled sidewalks that my arches fell. I remember when they took an X-ray of my foot my brother in law said in the corner of the photo, in Farsi, was written "foreigner". I remember the gold bazaars, where stalls and booths were set up in long aisles. My American boyfriend was happily buying chunks of gold and I bought a golden Turkish wedding ring. I loved taking it apart and putting it back together again. I remember going to restaurants and ordering beer; "obi joe", and seeing the disapproval on the faces of the other customers. Hitch hiking to the Caspian Sea. Singing with my guitar on the top of a car in the desert to hundreds of people who emerged from the sands. Spending two days with a small movie company watching them film. Smoking tarioc. Losing my American boyfriend. Learning phrases in Farsi in the park with the help of Iranian students. Watching Nixon ride down the avenue with the Shaw in a fleet of cars. Seeing posters of men hanged for some political reason. Buying flat loaves of hot bread called "noon" on the street in the morning. Drinking tiny cups of tea with a sugar cube between my teeth on the sidewalk. Jumping over the jube. Watching children hammering metal plates with their fathers. Crying over women and children begging. Listening to people recite poetry for me in the park. Trying to wear a chedorah correctly. Sweating and panting at night in the terrible heat. Staring at the red and blue lights inside the giant fountains of water. Taking taxi's down Abu Rayhan and shouting "dasta chap dasta chap!!!" to the driver. Learning how to walk across the crazy traffic on Abu Rayhan. "Pretend you do not see any cars coming. Step out and look the other way as you cross. They will stop." Visiting middle class families who had layers and layers of carpets in their homes. Visiting rich Americans who worked in the oil industry who had indoor swimming pools and teams of servants. Watching my brother in law tending his tiny patch of grass in the enclosed space behind his house. Going to Gom, the extremely religious city of gold, and not seeing a single human being because they all remained hidden while we were there. Going out with Ali, an artist at the Iran Journal newspaper, who had a vague understanding of the English language and often wrote,"make love not war" on his drawings. Not understanding the enormous differences between American and Iranian cultures. Falling in love with everyone. Wanting to stay forever. Not being allowed to renew my visa. Getting on the wrong plane and ending up in Syria. Never knowing what happened to Ali. Wishing for decades that I could return. And still cooking rice, chelo, the way I learned to in Iran.