It’s hard to know what to make of Iran
On the one hand you get a loud and clear message on whose side the country is on
On the other hand you suddenly get a familiar face staring at you in a book shop window
Our visit to the former Shah’s secret police jail was the nearest we got to anything political. It was a pretty harrowing place, in which the guy who showed us round had once been imprisoned.
But they overdid the message a bit for me, in the same that Ken Loach does in his movies: one video or story about the torture methods of the old regime would have been enough but we had probably 20, leaving us fairly shell-shocked or even desensitised by the end. This was a former secret police car, by the way.
We were staying in a hotel right opposite the former US Embassy, still owned by the US but now occupied by some student organisation. Distant memories in my life, but made me want to look more into that whole period around 1979-81.
Nice to see newspapers still read by everyone in the morning, even if not everybody buys one…These guys are reading the papers for sale on the ground
Hot water is available at every other street corner in Iran for filling up your thermos on the road
And even the most humble roadside caff has fantastic Persian carpets covering their seats.
We went through honey-producing areas, where you could buy from shops selling whole honey combs
Pomegranates were available by the truck load
And one town had a very special biscuit, with a cinnamon-sugar blend
Women wore more black than these local biscuit makers’ costumes suggested (but more on that in Anita’s post to come on clothing in Iran)
And the food was good everywhere we went. Most common dish being a grilled lamb – shashlik, served up with either Iranian grown rice or with bread (though we preferred the Azerbaijan bread on the whole).