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No singing for supper

Hello from Esfahan after a couple of eventful few days from Tehran, south to Yazd, southwest to Shiraz and up (north) over the Zagros mountains to Esfahan. Dave is sleeping in the hotel room after the hottest bus journey on earth (the bus felt like a travelling american diner - all chrome, booth seats, frilly lampshades and strip lights)

I'd been subtitling these blog entries with the author but i dont think mr tulloch is going to ever write anything so I'll give up on that. He has been writing a journal though so maybe he'll publish that one day. It's a shame really because I think he writes more betterer than me. You'll have to put up with my less flowery prose i'm afraid.

We spent a lovely couple of day's in Tehran, not doing anything touristy at all - we didnt go to the bazaar and we tried to go to a palace but it was shut as it was the first day of Ramadan. Instead we spent time with Leyli, Javad, Nima and Sirus who are friends of a friend of mine from QM (hi Fari!)

Leily is a fantastic artist and Javad is a world class Dulcimer player (he has CDs...like in the shops and everything). Sirus plays the Tombek (like a bongo but it makes a "tom" noise when you hit it in the middle and a "bek" noise when you hit it at the edge). Nima is their 17 year old son who also plays dulcimer and we were joined that first evening by a singer and a ne (wooden flute) player.

Leily is also an amazing cook. The restaurants in Iran aren't great because the mothers mostly stay home and cook and so why go out and pay for something that you can get better at home and for free. Most of the restaurants here serve kebabs of all kinds and maybe a stew if you're lucky. So to be in a real home experience proper casseroles and rice dishes and herb salads was a proper treat. They have a sweet appitiser here that is kind of like nutty candyfloss - it goes really well with black market vodka too ;)

Sirus is a relative of Javad's and was in town for his English conversation exam and so we spent hours chatting with him and tweaking his english (and we're happy to report he passed his exam with flying colours).

Leily manages an artists center in Tehran. Being a musician here is not easy - for example women arent allowed to sing and the government have a heavy hand in what can be released. And so the artist's center is a place for musicians and artists to meet and organise and host events. The center is in the middle of some peaceful gardens with water features and so we spent a relaxed morning visiting the arty shops, viewing the exhibitions (all astounding) and wandering round the gardens.

Dave met an Iranian girl in Barcelona (at a squat in an abandoned radar centre no less) and she told us to get in touch with her brother in Tehran. She had left Iran because she was a dancer and couldnt dance in Iran so we figured her brother would be cool too...which he was. Masoud brought some lovely friends of his - all musicians - and we spent the afternoon in the artist's centre cafe talking about life in Iran for young musicians and the issues young people face in general. All three are thinking about leaving the country to study music (although you can't get a passport until you've done military service) which none of them would really like to do because they love their country :(

We hope to meet them again when we come back to Tehran - We had a mammoth planning session with their help and after our circuit of the big cities and west Iran Masoud is going to pull together some mates and we'll go for a 3 day hike in the mountains north of Tehran before we fly out.

Big thanks to Sirus for taking me shopping the next day to buy a couple of mantau (mid thigh, long sleeved shirts) and a new headscarf since i was boiling in my, albeit thin, black cardie. I still dont look like an iranian but i feel cooler and more appropriate now. Although I only have two mantau so i've been doing a lot of washing in the sink :)

Our next stop was Yazd and luckily for us Javad used to live there and still had an old good friend there and so offered to come with us and we could stay with his friend. So we all caught the overnight train together. Roadtrip!

I'm being kicked out the internet cafe now so i'm off to wake dave and then we're going to find a tea shop on a bridge hopefully. (stories from other cities later - i've kept notes)

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Posted by rachndave 07:40 Archived in Iran Tagged food

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Wow, what an amazing adventure.
Ask Dave to keep a shopping list, ala SGP.
I'm offering 10 points every time you are told by someone to meet their friend/relative in another country and you make it!

3 points for each home cooked meal in someone's house.

by Tim Sheard

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