Day #16 Sweet Persia, Accident in Traffic & Blessings in a Mosque

Good morning. After a seven hour bus ride with a short break in between we reached the hart of Iran, the pearl of Persia: Esfahan. About five o’clock in the morning the hole uncle of Mohammed my travel companion welcomed us with half the family. Mohammed’s aunt prepared a breakfast, She still wore the scarf around her head for my full stay. So the all was awake to welcome us and offer us a meal and a lot of sweets and a futon in the living room. I was working on sorting out pictures and wrote the first episode of Teheran this morning, while Mohammed slept a bit. I had a good sleep in the bus, because I was the only one who couldn’t understand the movies the showed there the hole travel. So I switched of the soundbox over my head and slept there.

The movie corner of Iran:

To say something about film and movie in Iran. Iran has its own movie industry with a lot of films. There is no other country which could produce films in Farsi – in Afgahnistan they speak a similar language which is understandable like a very ruff slang to Iran people. The movies in Iran are most likely family movies. Romances and Tragedies are fitting to the emotions of Iran people, so they are popular. Something like an action movie you can’t find here. The have famous actors here also women, but they for sure have to wear in the hole movie then a scarf and clothes to cover they upper body down over the wast. One very beautiful actor even made it to hollywood. But don’t ask me what her name is. Movies are pretty harmless here. No kisses, no hugs, not even a touch between a male and female is allowed. But if you want to see some great movies from Iran, go to the net and search for “Where is friends house” and “Philosophy and sex”. Both are new movies and they was recommended to me. By the way, they even have sitcoms here in Iran, but for sure, I didn’t got the jokes. In TV they have the regular stuff. I saw some children shows in the morning, which looked pretty close to the American Disney Club or the German Tigerenten Club.

The family I am hosted in is a pretty wealthy one. The father is an engineer and even visited Germany before. They have three children – all boys. The oldest cousin of Mohammed became our tour guide to Esfahan. The mother is pregnant and maybe this time it is a girl. They have a very nice big flat in good house, close to the river in Esfahan, which is the most expensive area in this city. Again the main part is the Living room, which is just wast big an includes an open dining room and kitchen and goes into the floor to the sleeping and bath rooms. They even have two toilets, and one is a western one – yeah!

Toilet corner from all around the world:

Never thought I write about this, but it is a major MAJOR issue of your daily life, but nobody is mention it. The just say I go to this and that place and the sun is shining, but the most important things are missing. Here it comes: While I write this, I saw a few more toilets in other countries so I know how different this is. I told you in Iran the have about half and half western toilets and this ugly holes in the ground. I was talking to Mohammed about this, who explained me how to use them. He is convinced, that this is more comfortable and hygienic than the other one. Hygienic maybe, but not comfortable. You have your cloth lowered under you knees an holding them to make sure, you not pee on them while you duck down. Two steps on the ground mark the place where you supposed to place your feet to not miss the target and sometimes there is not even paper. I wondered about this, but there is usually a SCHLAUCH to clean everything. So this was the reason why in Doha Airport and a lot public toilets everything was messed up with water all over. Not really the best way to keep it clean.

Mohammed’s Cousin guided us then this morning through the Pearl of Persia. Our first step was the famous Khadjoo bridge over the river nearby. The Bridge is really worth seeing it. It has slightly the shape of an eagle if you look from above. The constructions of the arcs in the bridge allows to whisper messages from one corner to the other. Very funny, we tried it and it worked. I was told that the guards could communicate from one end to the other on this bridge. On one side are some stairs to the water, where the people of Esfahan sit down and chill out. You can see groups of old men sitting there with a teapot and have a chat. Very relaxing. Also the bridge has a good echo. If you stand in the arc it works like a loudspeaker and volumes up your voice. A boy sang a traditional song there. It sounded beautiful.

Further on my way to the inner city we came across a statue of Kamal Esmaeil a persian philosopher. That reminds me, that I have no clue about the philosophies in the middle east. This might me a interesting topic to read when I am back home. Also all the way in the park along the river are little postbox like things. I was told this is to spend money for some muslim organizations to do charity. The muslim have a strong culture for charity and this might be especially true for the bighearted Persians. Also it is said, that the people are blessed if they spend money, so I put in some coins. Just in case of a case.

After reaching the inner city we went into a restaurant to have the special and traditional meal of Esfahan: Beryani. It is a very rich meal, which you only should eat often if you do hard physical work. It’s tasty, like everything with a lot of fat :-). Beryani is a meat paste wrapped in a big piece of flat bread. You got a hole onion at the side and a meat soup. Very tasty and very unique. As a drink we had the common yoghurt drink from Persia. It looks like milk, but it has a bit sour sparkling taste.

After that meal we went further down into the city to the main attractions. But before we reached them I came across the driving habits of Persia. When we crossed a one way road I concentrated on the cars from the right and suddenly I was hit from the left and fall down. A second later I pushed my self up and it seamed everything was fine. Legs move. No ripped trousers. Nothing hurts. I just moved fast to get over the street before a car came. On the other side I turned back and saw an old man on a motorbike. He said something in Farsi. Mohammed and his cousin stand totally bluffed next to the motorbike driver. Obviously he was going in the wrong direction of this street, which is common for motorbike drivers. He just don’t cared about the traffic of the cars and the pedestrians and drive. Again: motorbikes in Iran are driven by people which signed a contract with the devil. The drive everywhere: On sidewalks, between cars and for sure the down care about traffic lights, one way roads or other signs on the street. Mohammed couldn’t believe that I came through without a scratch. Me too. Then his cousin mentioned, that it might be, because I but some coins into the charity box and was blessed. Hmmm. Maybe, there is something on it.

Finally we reached the center of Esfahan. Mohammed asked me to close my eyes. I was not so pleased about this after my traffic experience before, but I did and he carried me through an arc into the place of the city center. When I opened my eyes, I was standing in the middle of Naqshe jahan square. The place is like a big stadion and I was told that they really played a kind of polo here in former times. Now there is a big lake in the middle and on all four directions of heaven is a building representing: Politics in opposite of culture, religion in opposite of economics. The politics building is a small palace with a good balcony to have a good view on the square. Today there is a museum inside. Opposite is a small mosque for women. A beautiful building. The south side had big gate to a hugh and famous mosque. The mosque itself was in a different angle to face Mekka. Our first target was the economics building, opposite of the mosque. We went up to a tea house through a very narrow staircase. Now we was sitting in one of the loges on the wall around the square. We got some tea with saffron and a ghalyun and sat down in the sun. A ghalyun is water pipe where you can have different flavors to smoke. Mohammed call it “Hubble Bubble”. It’s easier to remember. It is very chilly to sit here in the sun and just let the time pass by. I learned how to drink tea Persian style and we made a lot of fun. After our tea ceremony we went down into the bazar. Persian bazars have special flair. I like it. I also did a video of that, to catch the atmosphere. watch out for it.

Then we crossed the square to go to the mosque. It is really a famous one. It is also printed on most of the money here. Mohammed gave me a tour to the mosque and I also did a video about this. It seams that Muslim has a very different understanding of their temples from christians. While a church is a sacred place where you can’t do photos and have to behave, is a mosque a natural daily life thing. Other tourists form Persia where there and checked out the acoustic of this hugh dome. It has a really loud echo if you say something or just tap the ground in the middle. After a while Mohammed went away to pray here. His cousin carried me a bit further around. Then they changed. In Persia, the people are not so strict with the five times a day praying. But they pray when they feel like praying. While we was walking around in the mosque I had my only contact with the police here. Two policemen stopped us and asked some questions and wrote something down. Mohammed explained me, they checked the personalities of Mohammed and his cousin, because they was afraid that me, the tourist, was kidnaped by them. Very careful, but strange. I didn’t now that kidnappers bring their victim to a mosque…

Before we left the mosque I put in some money in the a charity box. This time no coins, but a bit more. You never know, it is a long travel and some blessing could be helpful.

Mainly that was it for this day. I also had a ride with a horse chariot around the square, I was invited by a carpet dealer for a tea, and some other small things happen, but this is not worth telling.

Oh, one thing, when I came back to my host, we watched the first Iran vessel start into space. President Achmadinedchad pressed very seriously the button for the first rocket start of a Iran space vessel. I guess the people here are proud of that.

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