> On The Silk Road - Shiraz


Back to Silk Road Index

This Iran thing is really great.
I have decided that almost everything I have ever been told about Iran is probably wrong.
It is a very relaxed country and easy to get along with. I discovered that when I met Hamid's partner.
They have been living together for about 5 years and been together for 2 years before that. They are thinking of getting married in a few months.
"Isn't that illegal" quoth I with naive enthusiasm. The answer was a shrug and "if they want to get you for something they always cann find something".
Hamid's wife also has a very relaxed attitude to Hajab - although she did put it back on when passing a checkpoint. But then she is a sophisticated Teheranite.
I am in Shiraz - original home of the wine (although they do not make that anymore) and closest town to Persepolis. This was the capital of Persia before Teheran and is a very nice town.
I flew here last night from Mashad - for anybody following my dodgy travel moment, it was an old Tupalev - which I suppose is easier to get parts for than a Boeing when you are embargoed by USA!
Talking of embargoe - it does not seem to strech to Coca-cola or Peugeot cars these days - although most of the cars (and all of the taxis) are an Iran version of the Hillman Hunter! I got a shock when I first got in one - "Hang on - how did a Hillman Hunter get here!".
Spent the day exploring - First the Bagh-e-eram botanical gardens, then the Arg-e-karim-khan castle, the the amazing and very large Bazaars complete with a couple of mosques, a few converted caravaserie and a medrassa. Mush shopping was done and much tea was drunk - this is the biggest and best bazaar in Iran with huge brick vaulted ceiling that keep it cool and long winding lanes!
In the heat of the afternoon, I went aramgah-e-hafiz - a garden and the tomb of the ppoet Hafiz. Also home to a nice tea hous in the niches where I spent the with a pipe, a pot of tea and a constant stream of Iranian women wanting to practice their English.
Yes - they have no problem about approaching and talking to strange men. They can smoke and they can drive cars. A significant number of women have the same hejab as women in small Irish county towns - scarve and house coat!
None of which is to say that they are not repressed and they cannot choose to leave the hair uncovered or wear what they want. But it is probably better to be an Iranian women then a Saudi (not exactly saying much).
Followed by more Bazaar - I left some goods at one shop to pick up on my way home and it actually took about one hour of talk, rose water and tea before I was able to "escape" :)