After a huge breakfast, we say goodbye and the girls take us to the bus station where we get to know, that no busses are going this day. It is like Western Christmas day. But the girls don’t give up to help us and walk with us to the next taxi drivers. After very intensive haggling, they organize a car for us that takes us in three hours directly to Kashan – for 20 Euros, only! We are very grateful and are sorry to have to say goodbye already. We would have loved to stay longer. The girls did not hesitate to hug us in front of all the men. Qazvin is supposed to be a conservative city.
At least, Masoumeh I will meet back in Germany a couple of months later again.
Our ride is easy and our driver does not talk so much. We drive endlessly through desert land and see only few villages on the way. A ruined ancient caravanserai is one last witness of old trading routes that crossed this land in direction of the legendary Esfahan. The spring touches the nature here and there and we can see families making selfies in blossoming canola fields near to Kashan.
Persians are strange. They are the kindest people you can imagine. They outperform themselves in their tradition of Ta’arof. However, as soon as their hands touch the steering wheel of a car their blood pressure and adrenalin level rises and they turn to aggressive berserkers that are upset about the impertinence of anyone to share the road with them leading to the mutual attempts to kill each other. There must be some magic spell involved…
Our host Mariam told us to be dropped from the taxi driver on a crossing. Like our previous hosts, she fears denunciation. If we thought Qazvin was conservative, we have to think again. Kashan is extreme. Mariam welcomes us, but there is no hand to give nor hug. She even wears the tshador, the black full cover of the body, which, unlike the burka, at least lets the face stay free.
We follow her to her home, and as soon as the door closes, she throws the tshador into some corner and we see her wearing clothes, which you would not wonder about on any Western girl. She introduces us to her husband Ali, who is a very funny guy, and their son Mechtat, who is more interested in his computer games and who is the true ruler in this family.
II do not know this term to this time, but I will hear it later. When a baby is born and it is a son, the mother rises it to the sky and calls it Dodool Tala – Golden Penis! Boys grow up as something special, mothers tend to treat them as little princes and the younger they are the more you notice this treatment in their attitude.
The family lives together in an apartment separate from their parents. While they are very open and modern, the parents still live in a very conservative way and everyone agreed that it is better for everyone to live in their own way. For Norouz we are invited to join them to Mariam’s father’s place. We have a late lunch and – of course – chai and share our stories. It is still a little time left, which Uwe and I use to explore the city of Kashan ourselves.
They serve us fruits and cucumbers (in Iran they belong together) as well as sweets.
The table is decorated with the seven signs of Nowruz, the eggs, fruits, grass, goldfish, dates, spices and coins.
Mariam tells the others our story. We let them know what honor it is for us to be present on this special event. As we heard before, the radio announces a countdown until the correct switch to the New Year. We notice when they get quieter and focus on the radio. Soon the New Year will start… there it is, the family hugs each other, they shake hands with us and we exchange courtesies. The father takes our hands and gives us his blessings. He also takes money notes from his Quran and gives one to everyone. This is a blessing of wealth for the New Year.
In the end, they serve a surprisingly (for Persians) small dish of kookoo – small medallions of potato, egg and vegetables. We said goodbye and leave with our hosts to spend the rest of the evening with them.
Ali tells us the fascinating story of their romance. They met each other many years ago in the university. However, they were not allowed to talk to each other, though. So, Ali smuggles a little paper note into one of her books and left one of his books on an appointed location for an answer. They continued this secret love for three years, until Ali had saved enough money to ask her family to be married to her. However, he is not allowed to ask himself. His father has to go to her father and request the marriage. But his father refused to go and Ali was hopeless. His uncle was pity for him and went in the fathers place and the marriage was arranged after all.