I have a once in a lifetime offer for you. I will take you straight to Tehran, Iran, and leave you there alone. Sounds good? Let’s go!
You are now standing in the 26C heat. Blink your eyes a bit – the sun is bright and it’s a bit windy. Are you okay? Good. Enjoy!
Sweat is running down your back, your head is cooking under a dark scarf covering your hair. You are wearing dark trousers and a long-sleeved tunic. Closed toe shoes. “I wish I had shorts,” you think for the last time in your life (okay, in your time in Iran). You convince yourself that the scarf is protecting you against the sun. It actually is.
[Wanna come back? Already? Try to handle it a bit more, it’s gonna be awesome. Promise.]
You are attentive as always while in a new place. Touch your pocket – yep, your phone is there. And your passport and wallet are in the bag – checked! You look around – and see everything but yet nothing as it’s your first time here. High buildings, old and new, street sellers, juice bars. “Taxi, taxi!” someone yells to you. “Oh no, I need to tie my stripes,” you try to trick them. “This is something every country has in common,” you think while squatting. “Crazy taxi drivers.”
You allow yourself a little sigh.
Hey, but what’s there? Oh, just a metro station, hundreds of people are going underground like moles into lairs. You sweep a bit sweat from your forehead, and notice a green park over the street. Some locals are having a picnic, drinking tea and making BBQ. They wave to you and you wave back and think how come they already noticed you. It’s actually pretty sweet. The sun is merciless, a pure nightmare for the ones having a way too light skin.
Maybe it’s cooler in the subway? Doesn’t matter – if your brain is a cabbage your legs can surprisingly work automatically. Can the lady in the ticket-office speak English? She can. You now search for a metro map on your phone your friend sent you yesterday. Wait a sec, no need to – see, there’s already a man in a suit rushing up to you, asking if you need any help. “No, thanks,” you reply gratefully and notice how cool bald he is. You continue making your way through the crowd. Burkas, scarfs, hundreds of eyes staring at you. “Welcome to Iran,” many of them say and walk away waiting for no answer. All those sights. All the good wishes. You feel a bit hesitant. Where am I exactly?
[How do you feel? Shall we continue? Good!]
The train comes and the crowd pushes you into the wagon. Men are offering all the seats to women. You are now sitting on a hard plastic bench – sweaty sticky hands holding your bag on your lap – watching people. You make a room for an old lady to fit next to you with five or six huge bags. You stare at her with the same interest like the others are watching you. You smile. She smiles. You both laugh.
You decide to get off in the next station.
Back to the street. High minarets in a walking distance. “Haa, exactly the place I was looking for,” you pat yourself as you were thinking about visiting a mosque before. You consciously ignore the fact that it was by accident.
“Now I just need to see how the system works here,” you think in front of the holy place, and decide to observe the others first; on the very moment someone touches your hand. A women, covered with burka asks you if you want to enter the mosque. Oh. You smile and say “yes” and have a quick analysis in your head on a topic “Can I trust her?”. You investigate the spark in her eyes. Body language. Wrinkles on face. Voice tone. Just as hundreds of times before you can make a decision in half of a second. Everything works. This stranger can be trusted.
The woman takes you with and makes clear that you give your bag away. “Wait?!” a bell starts to ring in your head. “But it’s a mosque…,” you quickly calm yourself down and give your bag through a window into a small stall. And get a bed sheet as an exchange. What? No, it’s a chador. You observe it with a real interest having no idea what to do with it. A woman with burka helps you to cover yourself. And now? You are ready to enter the mosque! Which you do, your heart full of trust towards the woman, your mind ready to learn and discover about the new beautiful culture.
You enter the complex. First thing you notice is a man cuddling the other one with a green fluffy duster.
“Now I’m curious,” you start laughing, seeking for an answer…
[To be continued…]