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The sun was beating down on a harsh city landscape, the ravens and crows screeching overhead whilst the Tehran afternoon dust started to settle on the sidewalks, chaikharnehs, supermarkets and shopping arcades. Shoppers strolled out in groups and resolute singletons looked for unknown completions. Workers tumbling out from shifts entered the suburban scene with relish taking in the somewhat qualified purity of the air. Some wore masks exposing an exaggerated view of the pollution threat to lungs, heart and body. Paykan taxis add to the general air of vitality needing an outlet, and the fumes they exhale are real. The Ferdowsi statue celebrating the erstwhile Persian poet looks down on all this with an air of tolerant and bemused understanding. In the bazaar, crowds stroll and search for sumach, saffron, coriander, Persian carpets and gold.
At the Azadi monument crowds gather for sight seeing, bus trips on crowded, gaily trumpeted and beribboned Mercedes coaches and for outdoor greenery picnics under the cedars, fragrant olives and shady acacia.
The scent on the city’s edge is of oleander wafting in from the market where traders display greengage and turquose sari cloth, fawny brown and charcoal black chador gowns as well as produce for food and drink.
Hassan is saying a heartfelt ‘Hod hafice’’ to his group of wellwishers who crowded into two smelly, gas fuelled cars to accompany him before his return to Tabriz in the northwest up by Lake Van.
The trip to the Azerbaijan capital is uneventful and there are people to meet him there on his return. ''Salaam Firoze, Khonum'' says Hassan meeting the twenty three year old, who has fair hair for an Iranian, and seems excitable, warm, friendly and physically well endowed. ‘Let’s go to the bus station cafeteria for a coffee before returning home’ she says.
‘Why don’t we pray in thanks for your safe return at Kuche Haj Jabbar, and then buy some apricots and a large watermelon for our repast?’
‘What shall we do now that you’re back, Hassan?’
Next week we’ll buy in some Johnny Walker, Marlboros and durex condoms in Turkey when we cross the border and come back by the mountain route to bypass the frontier controls at Dogubayazet. Then we can start selling them around the Northwest up to Sari and Rasht. And we could gt hold of some dvds of the liberation party for distribution.
That’s fine. But we need to decide who does what, Sis. We should get a move on too.’
'' Why don't we get Shofiq to drive us up there and we can easily walk past the frontier post area on foot by those deserted mountain paths and arrange for Neget to drive up to about twelve kilometres from there, if he sets out from Dogubayezit.''
'Khoda hafez Firoze' repeats Hassan and shoots off into the twilight leaving his sister bemused and happy at the encounter, but worried about the possible repercussions under the current political circumstances, with the hardliners in control.