While in Iran I made notes, on paper, in a journal and on my phone.
Here are some of them, starting with this one in Shiraz: Today I saw a handsome woman storm across a busy street, child in hand. She was full of fashion, feist, and control. Both men and other women fighting for a place on the road, driving in all directions, gave way to her and the kid and seemed diminished by her presence. It was majestic.
This was even more startling because on my first day, around 6.30am, as I walked down a Shiraz double-lane, island in the middle, street, two women said “Hello”.
“So bekhair,” I replied.
Obviously my accent was too good and I heard one say to the other: “Is he Iranian?” I laughed, they laughed, I stepped across the first bit of road on to the island, then, failing to look to the right for vehicles on the next bit, I stepped again and a car missed me by about eight centimetres. Nearly took my head.
Here’s a photo of one of the waiters in our Shiraz hotel. She, along with her co-worker, was funny, cheeky, and she walked with a flowing, athletic walk that I will never forget.
Because of them, their egging, okay, and my desire and willingness, I danced on night three to an Iranian band and almost convinced a table of women to join me.
“We love to dance too,” one said.
“Come on then,” I replied. But they didn’t, but they did, in their chairs, at their table, laughing.
Just three days in and I knew Iran was going to be all and more than I expected.
The fabulous Pink Mosque, built in the late 1800s during the Qajar dynasty. Architects were Mohammad Hasan-e-Memār, an Iranian architect, and Mohammad Rezā Kāshi-Sāz-e-Širāzi.
While in the centre square, a number of school boys approached. They wanted to know where we were from. One of them kept repeating: “Shiraz is no good.” I soon learnt why – He was from Isfahan.
On our way out, more boys. They taught me their version of “Long live Iran”: Zen neg e ziot. We yelled it with our arms raised. They loved it. They are joyful, exuberant, eager. Later, I learnt the phrase was not quite right and I stopped using it and found others to take its place.