Pam Perkins | FIRST DISPATCH FROM IRAN
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FIRST DISPATCH FROM IRAN

FIRST DISPATCH FROM IRAN

I could feel the excitement build when the pilot announced we were beginning our descent into Tabriz, but I wasn’t nervous or scared.  It just felt different.  I glanced at the other women on the plane, looking for a signal as to when I should put on my head scarf since that was something I dreaded, knowing it was mandatory during our 19-day trip to Iran.  A few minutes later,  the woman in the seat next to mine meticulously folded her large scarf, flipped it over her head, and tied it loosely in a way that made it look secure.  I followed suit, although I didn’t look as put together as she did.   Other than our group of six being detained by immigration and fingerprinted in a private room at the airport, our entry into Iran seemed pretty much like our arrival in other countries, but yet I knew it was different.   I glanced at the posters and signs written in Farsi and thought to myself, My God,  I’m in Iran.

Tabriz, where we spent two nights, is a modern city located in the north, and at one time was populated by Armenian Christians.  Like most visitors we spent our first day visiting the open air Bazaar which is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ancient Blue Mosque built in the 15th century, and the Azerbaijan Museum with antiquities from 6000 years ago.

What has struck me most is how people in the streets react to our presence.  They know we are from another place and are interested to find out from where and how we like Iran.  Some speak English quite fluently while others mumble their way through, just like we mumble the few words that our guide Parnian said would be nice for us to say in Farsi.  The easiest word for us to say is thank you, which in Farsi is Merci.  Their reaction to our being from America is just like we’d been told.  They are happy we are here, and they welcome us warmly, shaking our hands vigorously.

I am also struck by how most of the women are dressed in full black chadors, far different from other Muslim countries I’ve visited, where there was much more variety in how women dress, although many of them wear a head scarf.   Some people think Muslim women are suppressed, but we always hear that the dress is based on their religious faith, and that the more conservative women dress in all black chadors, while even more conservative women wear the hijab, which we’ve seldom seen here.

 

While walking and taking pictures in the park next door to the hotel in Tabriz, I came across two women and their young children enjoying a picnic on a blanket (picnics are big here), and given their warm smiles, I stopped and had a  conversation with them.  One was a PhD student in management and the other was a professor of mathematics at the university in Tabriz.   They  wanted to know about family life in America.  “Is it true that families don’t stay together?” one woman asked.  Having some sense of where she was going with this, I told her that in our culture, children, once they are grown, usually leave home,  find jobs, rent apartments, get married, have children, but we are different in that married children live in their own place.”  “You mean your married children don’t live with you?”  “Yes,” I answered.  “Seldom do married children live with their parents.”  “Then why do you have children?” the woman asked.  “Well, we bring children into this world and teach them to be responsible and live honest and good lives.”  My response.  “I think that is a very good thing,” the woman answered, “but we don’t do that here, but I wish we could.”  Then they told me that wearing a scarf was not of their choosing, and if they could take it off, they would in a minute.  I have found that in the few cases where I have had a slightly deeper conversation with women, other than to tell them we are enjoying their company, I find that they are eager to tell me they wish they could take off the scarf.  Now I should mention that I have never had this conversation with a woman wearing a black chador.

Here are some images from our first few days in Iran.   Unfortunately I am unable to access Facebook here,  but amazingly I can post images on Instagram.

 

 

Archeology Museum in Tabriz

Beef fat for sale to make cooking oil

Buying yarn in the Bazaar

A conversation with two local women


Wild camels seen on our drive

 

Another friendly picnic with great conversation

Happily we, the women, all took off our scarves

Local man in Kandovan

 


The oldest Armenian church in the world

mm

Pam Perkins

pamperk@pacbell.net
15 Comments
  • John Cardoza

    October 16, 2017 at 1:38 pm Reply

    Fantastic! Can’t wait for the next installment.

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 17, 2017 at 9:57 am Reply

      Thanks, John, for your loyal support.

  • Tony Michael Economou

    October 16, 2017 at 8:56 pm Reply

    The gentleman in Kandovan looks extraordinary.

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 17, 2017 at 10:08 am Reply

      He was extraordinary because he let me take his picture!

  • Shari Malone

    October 16, 2017 at 10:38 pm Reply

    Anxiously await the next blog and photos. Thank you for allowing us to vicariously enjoy your adventure!

  • Pat Franklin

    October 17, 2017 at 9:47 am Reply

    So interesting Pam. Your gift of relating to people is a gift to me as a reader of your work.

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 17, 2017 at 10:04 am Reply

      Pat, You made my day. Thank you for this supportive response. xoxox

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 17, 2017 at 10:07 am Reply

      You made my day. Thank you for your supportive words. xoxoxo

  • Mary Blake

    October 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm Reply

    Pam, you are indeed a diplomat for us. I loved your explanation about children being raised responsibly and leaving home to create their own families.
    I love your photos too.
    I’ll be anxiously waiting more blogs.
    Stay safe.
    Mary Blake

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 17, 2017 at 9:31 pm Reply

      Hi Mary, Thank you so much. I also want to be a diplomat for the Iranian people who are so misunderstood and judged when they are just like us — good, honest and loving people who want relationships to improve. We are all victims of powerful people. I’m happy you are enjoying my posts.

  • Helen Cassidy Page

    October 31, 2017 at 5:12 pm Reply

    Dear Pam, this is a thrilling account to read. I’m so happy you have the time and means to travel and photograph these countries and cultures. It is your art and your gift to all of us . I look forward to seeing all these posts and photographs ins a book one day. Looking forward to the next post.

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      October 31, 2017 at 6:00 pm Reply

      Thank you, Helen. It was a thrilling trip! xoxo

  • Jackie Brown

    November 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm Reply

    Wonderful report and photos!

    • mm

      Pam Perkins

      November 1, 2017 at 3:43 pm Reply

      Thanks, Jackie. I’m glad you enjoyed i

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