Friday, June 26, 2015

Qom and Tehran

"Showing too much hair," the chador-clad woman told Nadia. She pointed to her neck and made a pulling and buttoning motion to indicate that some neck skin was showing. We were in Qom at the Hezrat e'Ma'zumeh, the Westminster Abbey of Iran. Here is where the Mullahs study at the highest level of Shia theology. Here's where the Ayatollah Khomeini studied...nearby is a town called Nauflel le Chato so named to honor the place where the Ayatollah lived while in exile in France. A corruption of Neauphle-le-chateau.

In reply to my questions about the woman's apparent chastisement, Nadia told me the woman was just being a dick-head. Well, she didn't use that specific expression, but that's the meaning she conveyed. Younger Iranians know and use most of our curse words and idioms from watching TV, movies and videos. Many people watch Real Housewives of Tehran - just for laughs...they also watch the Kardashians and can discuss Bruce Jenner's sex re-assignment in detail. Nadia knows all the popular characters from movies...her favorite actor is George Clooney (swoon). Sometimes you can forget for just a moment, where you are.

The big square was busy with chador clad women, mullahs and the devout. Holy be damned, commerce was chugging along. Upholstery salesmen unrolled their bolts in your face as you walked along. Various trinket sellers were demonstrating little toys. Every once in a while an official of some sort would come along and shoo the hawkers out of the main square. 

A beautiful woman selling rose water in Kashan.

In the restored Khaneh Abbasian,with richly decorated walls and plaster ornamentation, this fellow struggled with his embouchure but did fairly well, readjusting his lips every couple of seconds. 
Nadia and her twin sisters aged seven. After three girls, her parents were hoping for a boy when her mother got pregnant; they were unhappy after the ultra-sound and the discovery that there would be no son - in fact, two more girls were on their way. Nadia and her sisters were elated however realizing that a boy in their midst would mean they would all lose familial status. Nadia had the most to lose as the oldest child. Even after the ultra sound, her parents and grandparents hoped there might be a mistake and one of them might be a boy.
The twins are 20 years younger than Nadia - she's like a very close aunt to them. Delighful, happy children, they're like kids all over the world, over scheduled: gymnastics, music, English lessons in addition to school. They don't learn calligraphy in school, but are already very good typists. They watch cartoons, both Iranian and English and they adore Hello Kitty.
Nadia's Mother's rice dessert...delicious.

Cruising with the girls...four in the back seat. They dropped us at our hotel and then got down to business cruising the boulevard, radio blaring, shouting out the windows. Non-stop fun.


  1. I love the picture of Richard in the mirror in the Khaneh Abbasian. At least, I think it's Richard.

    1. I hadn't noticed that! You have such a keen eye.