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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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Week 6 – Part 1/1 – See you soon, Tehran


Day 40, 1.3, Sunday

I don’t know, what I did the days before.
On Sunday I met with Roman and a friend of his at the university of Tehran and later we went eating (you HAVE TO read the menu, they served specialties like non-alcoholic bears) and visited an interesting photography exhibition.

Day 41, 2.3, Monday

There is a bus from the international Airport of Tehran into the city, but only few people know of it and information are hard to get. I wanted to change it, but failed.
The bus should commute between the international airport and the bus terminal at Azadi square or the local airport. But at the terminal no-one knew of the bus.
Then I met with Zhihui at Azadi Tower and we went up. The view of Tehran from above is really nice. After falafel and hiding from stupid teenagers we went to the local airport. But there the existance of this mysterious bus was denied as well, although when I arrived in January I saw this bus leaving from IKIA.

Day 42, 3.3, Tuesday

I met again with Roman and his friend Maryam. After class we had a picknick near Tajrish and went to different book stores. Then we had a coffee and on the way we saw a perverse situation: A woman running for a bus having one shopping bag in each hand. While running her, scarf slipped and her hair was uncovered. Instead of just running into the bus and put it on again inside, she stopped and asked Maryam to put it on.
As we enjoyed the coffee on the kerb a security guard asked us to go somewhere else.

Day 43, 4.3, Wednesday

It was the last day of school and we had an exam, but it was quite easy.
In the evening I went to the bus station and went to Esfahan.

Days 44-45, 5.3-6.3, Thursday, Friday

When I arrived to Esfahan, I walked to the Hostel, where I stayed four years ago. Nothing seemed to have changed: I think I had the same bed, which was worn, in the same room. Only the attitude of the guests ws different. 4 years ago, no-one would sit in the evening on their beds and use their Macbooks.
I had to rest for two hours since the bus ride was only 6 hours and sleeping on the bus is often impossible for me to sleep.
With new energy I met with Shirin, a girl that I met 4 years ago, and two German tourists, Uli and Paul, and we walked a bit through Esfahan. It was wonderful having escaped from Tehran. In the evening I went to 33rd-bridge (si-o-sel pol) to take photos and to relax a bit.
For the next day we planned to have picknick in the mountains, but it was cancelled since a friend of Shirin, I. was caught by hijab police (dress police). She had worn a too short coat meaning, although wearing jeans, it only nearly covered hear knees.
Shirin had to give her ID and I. had to fill a form stating that she’ll never do such carelessness again. We took the cabin on top and ate breakfast, playing billard and table football.
While Paul and Shirin took the cabin back down, we – our group had been extended by two persons – walked down and took a taxi to Imam square again. Together with Shirin, Uli and Paul went to the remaining sights while I. and I waited on the square answering surveys of young students, who giggled when I ticked off being single – welcome to everydaylife in Iran; at least to the nice part of it. Then two men approached us, asking where we were from. We answered that we were a married couple from Montenegro. The men never heard of it and fortunately went away without further questions.
In the evening, I went back to Tehran again.

Day 46, 7.3, Saturday

I hadn’t had much time to get sleep again, since I had an appointment at 11. Zhihui and I met the girl (L.) at the local airport and some days later she asked Zhihui for my number.
It was a bit odd. We met at Enghelab in the center and about 1.5h from Velenjak. We went to some bookshops to buy some for her French classes, to a café and she invited me to spend Iranian New Year (norooz) with her and her family in her hometown since she would be bored. Then we went to a park, ate sweets and went through the whole town to Tajrish bazaar to buy some stuff for my parents. This appointment however lasted 8 hours. Before we said good-bye at the metro station, I told her it was strange for me, but in for myself only on cordial terms. Thereupon she reacted a bit upset.
Since in Iran officially unmarried relations are non-existent, going out together and flirting goes more far than in Europe.

Day 47, 8.3, Sunday

It was mine last day in Iran for one month. I packed my stuff and said good-bye to Roman and Arne and went to the airport at 9pm. At 5am I left but before at 2.30am, L. called again…