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Weeks 26-27 – Ashura


Week 26, 10.10 – 16.10

So on Saturday morning I went with my parents to the bus terminal and hoped that I could get a ticket for the same bus, too. There was a free seat left and so 6h ride to Esfahan could start.
Having arrived we went to Imam square and went to Jolfa quarter to eat.
After we walked back to the hotel along the drive river bank and famous Si-o-se Pol (33 columns bridge).
Sunday we had breakfast like kings and until the afternoon my parents visited a lot of sights whereas I sat outside and read. I knew most of the places already and the travel guide can explain more about the history than I. Once I was sitting around, I could finally use my knowledge of Farsi to react to a stupid comment (“Hahaha, look! That guy is still sitting there”) and caused an awkward silence, which was a great feeling.
During sundown I took my parents to Ateshkadeh (a fire temple) lying on a hill at the edge of Esfahan where we had a nice view of the town that was greeting night-time. Initially I wanted to go back to Tehran that night by train, it just goes every two days and of course not on a Sunday evening. Hence I had to go by bus again.
Tuesday (13.10) M. and I went to Semnan to visit E. and A. for a few days. In addition we ate at a super delicious, traditional and original small kebab restaurant in a mountain village. In addition we went to Sharud and hitch-hiked from there to Bastam where we visited the Bayazid Historical complex, dedicated to Bayazid Bistami, a Persian mystic of the 9th century, and the old Fridaz mosque. Also we hitch-hiked further to the village Ghale-Nokharaghan. It lies at the foot of a more or less well-known cloud forest with the same name (Cloud Forest). Unfortunately we were too late to even go inside a little bit, because it started to get dark which was why we returned.
On Thursday (15.10) we just hang around Semnan and helped A. organizing things for her move to Munich. In the afternoon I went playing tennis with E., which I never did before and on Friday the holidays were unfortunately over and M. and I went back to Tehran.

Week 27, 17.10-24.10

A new course (the last one for me until now) started and our teacher seems to be a really religious woman, of whom we can only see the shape of her face and hands which are uncovered.
The second and third day I didn’t attend classes because I spent my time with my parents in Tehran who had finished her tour. As I noticed on Tuesday, I didn’t miss anything important.
In general I considered for quite a time to continue studying at Dehkhoda. Since the result of my last exam was the second best although it was not how I would have rated myself. Furthermore I think that I have enough general knowledge to teach Farsi to myself and that better than at the institute. On the other side I’m only allowed to stay in Iran, when I attend the language course, so I didn’t have any other possibility than to continue to December.

Saturday was the national holiday of Ashura. Shia moslems mourn the death of her third Imam Husayn who died as martyr in the battle of Kerbala. The day is celebrated on the 10th day of “Forbidden” month Muharram. The days before are used to celebrate mourning and even after black flags hang all over the city and officially it is kind of forbidden to listen loudly to music, wear make-up, bright clothes, etc. – all that is fun. But like Ramazan, only a few Iranians care. In the streets mourning processions and plays about Husayn’s journey and battle are held.
To see them, I went to the south of Tehran, to Nazi Abad. The quarter’s name has really a connection with the Nazi regime and Third Reich, since they supported a local railway company. Nevertheless there is no Hitler Boulevard of Goebbels Alley. Every hundred meters of so I was able to see a procession and it was really interesting to see all the marches and rituals being shown. Coming with the celebration it is custom to give away so called Nazri. It is free food or tea as symbol of gratefulness for Husayn’s suffer and not only for Moslems (although once a guy asked another one to give me some, but I was refused). When I went back home and waited at the bus stop, one man came towards me with a delicious lamb liver and kidney kebab and even gave me a short ride.

Ashura in moved pictures:

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Weeks 24-25 – Tabriz And Visitors From Home


Week 24, 26.9 – 2.10

Tuesday afternoon (29.9) I spontaneously decided take a day off for a longer weekend. Together with M. we went to Tabriz although the week after final exams would take place. However we took the night bus, so I with a huge lack of sleep I arrived.
After having slept till late morning, M.’s friend Azad showed us the city. In the evening we went out eating, smoked narghile (water pipe) and walked a little bit around. Since it gets dark very soon and Tabriz is in the north near mountains, it was kind of chilly so we went to bed early.
The next day Azad drove with us to Kandovan, the Iranian Cappadocia. But in comparison with the famous Turkish cliff dwellings, the Iranian ones are still inhabited. Of course every house has electricity, water and gas, but unfortunately the Iranians don’t seem to care about preserving the old architecture style when building new houses. Therefore of the old charm, that is still present in Cappadocia – mainly because it’s inhabitant -, decreased.
When we came back to Tabriz in the evening, we walked along the street that the youths of Tabriz use for “dordor”. It means something like “to cruise”. The Iranians mostly together with some friends, drive up and down a certain street in their cars – the more expensive the better. When they see interesting Iranians of the opposite sex they drive slower, exchange number through the open window or wait at the side. Sometimes they just change the passenger seats after a few seconds and drive home. While we were promenading there were only a few women, the majority were men, so many of them most certainly drove home alone, sad and disappointed. We on the other side didn’t return home in that mood.
Friday noon we went back to Tehran.

Week 25, 3.10 – 9.10

It was the week of the exam so I learned a bit more than usual. But even three hours after having finished on Wednesday (7.10), we didn’t get the final result. The others had it maximum after 90 minutes.
On Friday (9.10) my parents came to Iran for a 10 day journey, so I didn’t start travelling right now. Anyway I didn’t even know where to go, because I wanted to travel with M. who didn’t have a big time frame since she was always on the go for her German visa. So I bought my parents some SIM and metro cards and meet M. in the evening.
My parents arrived a bit tired and I went with them in the nearby park. I also decided to come with them the next day to their first city which was Esfahan.

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Week 23 – Two Weddings in One Week


Week 23, 19.9 – 25.9

Finally a great week!!! I was invited to two weddings parties. The first one was right on the first day of the week, on Saturday (19.9). So after school I took a little nap, then put my suit jacket on and went by metro near Karaj. There E. picked me up, the husband of A., at whom I stayed during my desert trip and with whom I met several times afterwards. I have to admit I was quite excited and a little shy, since I think it was only my second wedding in total and I already heard many people rhapsodising about Iranian wedding parties. On Saturday the sister of A. was getting married.
I arrived and the celebration room was parted: One part for the women where I could not enter and one part for the the men. Till dinner the men danced a little bit and I have to admit that the Persian are great dancers. Still I didn’t shy and just jumped about.
It’s tradition to throw money at the groom (or bride). Fortunately the paper money in Iran is worth not much. So 10,000 (25 Euro Cent), 20,000 and rarely 50,000 Rial-bills were thrown in the air (see video). In Germany or other western countries people either would get poor quickly or hurt themselves since they needed to throw with coins. Who catches the money is said to marry next, but mostly little children collected the bills.
After the delicious dinner, men and women started dancing together and the wedding cake was cut. But somehow it ended shortly after midnight, but it was still a very nice experience.
The next wedding party was supposed to happen on Tuesday. In the meantime a little exhibition due to Iran-Iraq war was built up at Vali-e Asr square where I use to get off the bus coming from school. You can see weapons like AKs, mortars or clothes of soldiers or posters showing “facts” and statistics.
The party on Tuesday (22.9) was also in Karaj. This time I didn’t go with E. and A. but with M., with whom I already visited the exhibition at the Museum for Contemporary Arts the week before. A work colleague got married and since it seems to be a costum in Iran not to go alone to a wedding – no matter if being male or female – she just asked me. This time the party was mixed from the beginning and everything seemed to be more formal and richer. E.g. mostly 50,000 Rials bills were thrown – I caught two. Before dinner some snacks were served and together with M.’s friends we went outside to – as Iranians always do – take photos of each other and smoke water pipe.
Like the first wedding the dinner was delicious and then we rocked the dance floor. This wedding party fortunately finished a bit later than the first one, so we could dance more. In the end every one wanted to take photos with the bride and groom. It took at least an hour since we got ours and bridal couple looked really exhausted.
The weekend was a little quieter. I met again with M. and Mahsa, who works for a travel agency and offered me to translate some texts from English into proper German (meanwhile I accepted so have my first little job here in Iran).
I didn’t get much sleep though, mostly did after school on the rooftop, but the week has just been awesome.