There are seven things – “haft sin” – that are as mandatory to Nowruz like a fir tree on Christmas or bunnies and eggs on Eastern. These items are green grass, eggs, coins, fruit, spice, dates and the poor Nowruz goldfish. I asked what became of them after the days and the answer was that they either die themselves or the get set out in a natural water – and die there.
Poor Nowruz goldfish. We will tend to tease any Persian we get to know from now on by asking for any goldfish we see in a pool of a palace whether they are Nowruz goldfish or not.
The items are sold everywhere in the streets. Pots of grass build little fields and many tanks with tiny red fish are standing between and on top of the cars.
Besides them the bazaar is full of everything; they simply substitute any shopping mall. You can find fridges and carpets as well as food, electronic devices etc.
We have tea in between, playing also the Ta’arof game again. Our friends lead us to a tiny hidden kitchen within the market that serves the traditional food of Tabriz: dizy. Basically it is some fatty stew from meat and vegetables that is served with fresh bread.
In a complex procedure you separate the meat from the bones and the rest from the stew. Then you put some bread into the stew and use the other bread as wrapping for the meat. Persians serve bread to anything and often it also compensates forks or spoons.
We head back home, have a nap, tea (=”chai”) and go to the big park of the shah in Tabriz, the Shah-Koli. It is really cold and the trees are far away from wearing leaves.
The park is not very special apart from the lake with a great pavilion in its middle. Its shape and colors are miraculously reflecting on the surface of the water.
There is a small food place, where we go where we find chai, pachlee (finger food beans) and some friends of our friends. In this place there are only men. This is one of the places, where men go out and meet each other – this is, what they tell me.
I ask, where the girls go for meeting No one can answer to me. They probably would like to know that themselves.
For dessert I take out one of the Black-Forest-cans that I smuggled under the eyes of the border police. “The cherries contain alcohol” – I tell them and and everyone starts cheering enthusiastically.
Back at their place we have more chai and music until the early morning. I brought my boom box with me for exactly situations like this and it turns out that it was a good decision regarding future events. After listening to music we play guitar and sing. At one o’clock we have dinner. Persians have a slightly shifted schedule compared to us.
Most of our friends dream about going abroad. One wants to go to Italy to study architecture. Another one wants to go to Germany to become an engineer. He decided to learn German rather than English and speaks the language really well.
One year later he will write to me that he made it and moved to Essen.
Another friend is a chef and his dream is to go to the USA. One other friend is a nurse and the last one is a teacher.
Iranians are passionate smokers. Maybe this is because it is one of the few freedoms that they are allowed to do. Maybe it helps against the stress and of thinking of the future.
We talk with a lot of young people about politics and they are very unhappy. They ask what we would do in their place. It is a hard question.
The people say that other cities are more modern than Tabriz. From time to time we sit somewhere and have tea or pomegranate juice. In the night the people are busy with shopping. Not only they need the seven items, but also it is custom to be dressed in fully new clothes on the New Year. And people love to go shopping. Another entertainment that’s allowed. Our friends say Tabriz is not as modern as other cities in Iran.
There are also no other tourists. Uwe and me spend four days in Tabriz and don’t see any other foreigner. But the Iranians see us, stare at us on the street and stop to tell us “Welcome to Iran. I hope you have a good time. Goodbye”. It even happened that a car pulled over and from the windows they called to us “Hello, nice to see you here in Iran. I hope you have a great time. Goodbye!”.
Hospitality sits deep in the genes of Persians and they suffer a lot from the fact, that the world thinks they are evil. Nations unfortunately get always identified with their politics and not the people. The Iranians are extremely friendly and feel glad to see foreigners who do not believe in the media. “Please tell your friends at home that we are no terrorists” is one thing a man tells us on the streets.