June 12, 2003 (8:30 PM)
I now pronounce them husband and wife! The officials have been completed, the wedding took place in a garden like place which reminded me of someplace I cannot quite remember (perhaps an echo of a future with my own wedding?)
First, we arrived and set up a few last minute things. The air conditioner was fixed and people began to pile in eventually starting the Persian dancing. Hands were moving here and there, hips moving to and fro, all in the traditional Persian style. After a bit of random dancing, a pink 53 Chevy Bel Air pulled in carrying with it the bride and groom to be. The definition of chique was once again met as they both looked excellent.
They stepped into the party room where everyone began to clap and holler and throw random objects (coloured rice) at them. They were then led to a very nice bed of flowers with a mirror, some sweets and other ‘pretty’ looking things. The ceremony began. They were warned the big warning, that they would be with each other FOREVER, and both spoke ‘I do’ without hesitation. This was a match to be. Many gifts were distributed and the bride and groom gave each other a bit of honey on a finger (I assume this was to ensure a sweet life together…but I wonder if that much honey was enough for an ENTIRE life time?) Pictures were taken and people moved outside for more pictures in groups and singles.
This is where the insane single pictures began. My uncle wanted to take a single picture with a few of the girls, and EVERYONE swarmed him turning the single photo into a mass blob of people. This would be the start of a vicious set of group pictures with the original intention of having no more than two people in it originally. Up to this point, I was very pleased by the wedding ceremony. There weren’t too many restrictions as I had assumed there would be, and indeed it was more beautiful than most western weddings.
Then, the guests were divided into 2 groups, males and females divided by a large bush. This was obviously where the restrictions kicked in. Songs and dancing broke out and I noticed something that amused me rather greatly. The males sat and talked to one another while the women did dancing on their side. The male dislike for random dancing seems to be (in most cases) global. Wherever you go, there will always be a lot of guys who simply DO NOT wish to dance. But off course, if you are married, have a girl friend, or another random female figure in life, and you are male, you are usually forced to dance. The ladies weren’t on our side of the bush to force dancing, but a few people did go up there occasionally to dance. Not as much as the females did I am sure.
After a while, food was given and all the men rushed to attack it. I was reminded of my leaving my water bottle, FULL of water on a small ledge in the ceremony, only to return 2 minutes later to find it empty. People attack food and water here like nothing I have ever seen before. Then again, they have every right to…THE FOOD IS EXCELLENT!
The only real objection to anything I had in the wedding was the male/female separation. I will admit, while females do annoy me when they swarm me asking me to dance, it is somewhat better than sitting and staring at my table cloth for an entire hour. I wish the new husband and wife a happy and prosperous life together in the crazy driving land of Iran.
Here are a few more tidbits I’ve noticed about the driving there. People in Iran are ONE with their car horn as if it is their second mouth. There is also a lot of car talk going on in the streets. Usually, one honks to ask: "Hey, I am randomly and very inconveniently cutting in, is that OK?" No return honk signifies that indeed it is OK. A return honk means, "No you idiot!"
At this point, most Iranians honk their horn once more to say, "Well too bad, I’m cutting in anyway!" at which point they actually do inconveniently cut in. The other car then watches the inconvenient cutting in and honks back signifying, "Fuck you." This would explain the great deal of communication going on in the streets! Also important to note, those on motorcycles do not bother asking if it is all right if they inconveniently cut in. They just cut in causing the car driver to skip straight to the "Fuck you."
Today on the highway, I noticed rules didn’t exist here either! People were from here and there at random, cutting in and then awaiting a barrage of honks and cursing. What I found even more amusing was that people would wait for a taxi or bus in the MIDDLE of the highway incase one comes by. A few motorcyclists were even going driving AGAINST traffic on our side of the road. And I thought my comparison to Trinity from Matrix Reloaded was an exaggeration! The conclusion to all this is: "Learn to drive in Iran and you can drive ANYWHERE." It is cool that with all this randomness and random inconvenient cutting in, people in groups of 20 or so still help when car crashes occur.
June 14, 2003 (3:00 PM)
I didn’t write yesterday but I will make up for it today. Please bear with me here because I am recovering from a rather terrible nightmare, and about only 1 hour of sleep.
Yesterday, we woke up and prepared to go to a museum. We drove to King Reza’s palace doors in Mr. Kashani’s car where we got an old friend of his to join us in the car, thus giving us driving access to the palace.
We drove to the top of a hill with a beautiful mountainside view. The grounds we huge, comparable to that of a large park. The King’s main residence was huge and the walls inside were covered in mirrors and fine ceramics. The ceilings were usually made of sensitive ceramic or clay sometimes appearing as though they had been made with a microscope. Upon entrance, there were two staircases going down and another set going up. Upstairs was very large with numerous waiting rooms. The ceilings had sensitive clay on them in a variety of shapes, but primarily in patterns that reflected the monstrous rugs down on the floor.
Downstairs were the waiting rooms and a very large dining hall with about 20 seats lined up nicely. There were wooden seats and tables and careful tiling and ceramic work once again. There was a huge silver plate for seafood and I do believe it weighed more than I did!
The next place we visited was the military museum. They had airplanes, jets, a crashed and destroyed jet, the King’s former car and a historical transformation of Persian Infantry starting from 1950 AD and going back to 500 BC. It was cool to watch things go seemingly medieval in a time when the rest of the world was still achieving consciousness.
The Persians had chain mail and knight like armour much like the Europeans had in the renaissance, but this was at a time Before Christ (BC). It saddened me to think that such a prosperous and advanced empire resulted in the Iran of today.
We then saw rifles, swords, bows and arrows. The guns had sharp knives at their ends that could be used when the gun was out of ammo. Arya liked the curved swords saying they reminded him of Sephiroth’s sword (a villainous character from the Final Fantasy VII game).
Next, we visited another palace like place with huge carpets ranging in the hundred meters. There were pictures and paintings and the careful clay ceilings with mirrors that the wealthy seem obsessed with. On one level there were pictures on the ceiling from the Shahnameh, with Rostam and Sohrab on them at various times. The rooms were very large and exquisite here.
The basement had its own theatre system (very large) and various pieces of artwork. Royalty from all over the world gave pieces of art to the King, gifts from the high to the high peoples of the world. We then went to the small river on the palace grounds where we ate lunch on a deck like set of seats. It was very relaxing as we ate and laughed and asked people to bring us random yoghurts (unaware that they would later be charged on the bill). We felt like royalty here!
Next, we drove to BabaShahrokh’s house but on the way something happened that I will never forget. A girl on the side of the street came to the window asking for money, and after seeing the bottle in my hand, asked for water. I was not paying attention and the girl went away thirsty. Only later when I turned back did I realise what had happened. I was not paying attention, looking out at the sights of the streets and the girl went away thirsty. For the remainder of the day, I felt really terrible, the pain almost unbearable. I vow one day…one day to make sure no one ever starves or is thirsty ever again. Like Robin Hood on a global scale. There is MORE than enough wealth to go around and save those who are dying every day, and those corporate bastards MUST see the way. I’ll see to it…
We went to Agha Ahmad’s house afterwards where the males were all localised. The females were all at Madarjoon’s house, but they would mix later on in the night. The guys watched football (soccer), ate seeds and played a game of 21 with numerous random arguments breaking out over trustworthiness and money. Having a good time is what it was all about, and this was how the guys had their fun. It was like the Canadian equivalent of drinking beer and watching hockey!
Then it was off to Madarjoon’s house where there was more dancing and partying, the guys and the girls finally mixing. The night was full of dancing and before I went to sleep, the sound of random insects irritated me. It was one thing to have an exciting night that tires you out, and it was quite another to have insects buzzing around your ear when you desperately try to get some shut eye. Hopefully I will get some sleep tonight.
June 15, 2003 (3:31 PM)
I’ve been to bazaars before, but never to an Iranian one (or at least I don’t remember it). From the outside, it looked normal, a little crowded maybe. But then you realise there are STAIRS going DOWN. Down there is a place unlike any other place in the world. It looks a kilometre wide and long and every meter has its own shop. People swarm in and out of the main halls purchasing just about everything you could name (but nothing that really caught my interest).
Someone is trying to sell soap, someone else plates, and there are random people running around screaming the name of their product in hopes that someone will buy it.
At the bazaar I hear business is very good for some of the merchants. While they work in a store the size of a small telephone booth, they end up making a fair bit of money from selling to distributors. The chello-kababi was horrendously crowded. There must have been hundreds of people in the small area, and the waiters were rushing here and there carrying dozens of plates on each hand! These men and women were truly making the most of their hands and redefining the definition of FAST FOOD. This was FIRST CLASS FAST FOOD, fast food with the quality of a restaurant! If business could ever get like that in Canada, well, you may just end up richer than Bill Gates.
The place was VERY crowded and to some extent reminded me of a busy bee hive (it was truly a buzzzaar…ok, BAD JOKE! I DIDN’T GET SLEEP LAST NIGHT!). I was also somewhat reminded of Tokyo.
Speaking of which, I took the Tehran Metro today. It was very neat and tidy, much better and newer than the Metro in Toronto. It was deep into the ground (deeper than most subways I have seen) and the stairs just kept going down endlessly. When we got to certain stops, the train became so crowded that people had trouble closing the doors.
Like some restrictions in an Islamic society, the men and women were separated even on the metro. There was a cart for women and others for men. It is similar on the buses. The buses are divided into two sections, male and female (males sit near the front, women near the back). I found this whole separation very discomforting. The sexes should be mixed for variety and control! I use the world control because sometimes men are ready to kill one another, and the only thing keeping them from doing so are WOMEN! I do like the fact that the male/female separation carries on only until University. And besides, it is good to sit next to a female for once. I actually miss my university, but I gotta keep myself occupied and thinking about other things. Soon I will be back home anyway…
Hmmm…interesting that I just called Canada my HOME as opposed to my birth place, Iran. Then again, Iran felt like being HOME again, so I suppose it is simply a case of taking Canada fore granted causing me to miss it.
After a bit of resting at Madarjoon’s house, my parents came back from the bazaar (I came home earlier with Amoo Mehrdad) and we all went out to a restaurant in the mountains. The air was fresh, the view was stunning and everything else was heavenly. We found a great place high up in the restaurant where we once again sat ON the table (on the deck like objects), the view of the mountains behinds us, the small brightly lit shops sparkling below, and the moon and stars shining above us. It was a little bit of paradise when the food arrived and we started to laugh at jokes and other things.
Afterwards, we took a walk up the little paths in the mountains and once again my breath was taken away. People had made homes and shops IN the mountains. The fresh air, the rivers flowing around us, people sitting in the shops drinking tea and laughing at 12:30 AM…it was all truly unbelievable. The Iranians are very ‘fun’ people when they are not on the road. They stay up late, drink tea, laugh, and relax. It is very different from the Canadian analogy of shops closing at 9:00 PM and the streets becoming deserted after 11:00. Shops up here were open, people yelling the names of their products past midnight, and the air carries a cool breeze and scent of mountain air with it.
June 17, 2003 (8:58 PM)
I miss home. The past few days here have been fairly uneventful. It has simply been having people visit us and us visiting random people that I do not recognize. There were a few more moments of near death experiencing done on the roads of Iran. I cant wait to go back, especially since I’ve learnt so much here, and I think I’ve opened up a lot.
Iran seems to have woken me up a bit more along with a few dreams I have had here in Iran. My return to Canada will be great. I think Iran has truly made me smell the air of life and prepare to grab the bull by its horns and make it my own. Over the past few days, my eyes have opened up extremely thanks to this trip to Iran.
Wait for me Canada! ILL BE BACK! For I left as a peasant in your cruel world…but I shall return a god…