Is this only the end of our second day here? I think it must be Monday, November 10th.
Today was mostly about jet lag. Norah fell asleep at about 4pm yesterday. Nothing in the world could wake her (believe me, I tried). I followed her to bed around 6:30, happy that I had at least made it until dark. She woke around 9pm, hungry, ready to start the day and ‘impressed’, she said, to see that it wasn’t day. I could not get her to lay down for a moment until 1:30 am. At 5:30 am, she was ready to go again.
This afternoon, Norah and I walked a couple of miles to the tomb of Hafez, the most beloved of the beloved persian poets, with our guide, Elly. There is only one rule of the road here: watch out for yourself! No crosswalks, very few traffic signals (it is mostly traffic circles) and nobody stops for anybody. You are basically crossing a 4 lane highway every time you cross a major street. Thankfully, we only had to do that two or three times on our way to see Hafez.
The price of entry was 2000 tomans each (less than $1), except that the guy made me show my birth certificate proving that my dad is Iranian or I would be charged 15,000 tomans. I do not pass for Iranian, not to anybody, not for one minute, which means lots of being stared at in the street, price differentials, and lots of random people wanting to know my life story. It doesn’t help that my hejab is almost always falling off and I am constantly either adjusting my scarf or unaware that it has totally fallen down.
Norah is like a Hollywood starlet everywhere she goes. Her photo has been snapped by Iranians and European tourists alike. Lots of selfies are being taken with my child amidst declarations of adoration for her and blessings. Elly realized that you almost never see foreign children here, and most folks are so attracted even to foreign adults. People literally cannot tear themselves away from Norah. They grouped around us most of the time we were at the tomb of Hafez. Old ladies would restrain themselves for a few minutes until they couldn’t resist and would just have to touch her hair or kiss her. One woman, on catching sight of Norah, made an exclamation about her and then begged her companions, ‘Somebody give me a candy for her, please!’ She was distraught that one was not produced.
The tomb of Hafez itself was definitely on my must-see list, and it did not disappoint. The buildings, the gardens, the tile work, and the reverent people, from all over the country, who have come to pray for Hafez and read his poems, all contribute to an atmosphere that was a perfect way to spend a jetlagged afternoon. I couldn’t think of a memorial quite like this one at home, which illustrates the cultural differences well. There was a handicrafts display on site, with all the familiar (to me) rugs, dolls in handmade clothing, inlaid wooden boxes, painted tiles, and trinkets, but also so many things I’ve never seen. I’m hungry for the bazaar now!
Food today? Persian omelet (which are scrambles) for breakfast served with the ever-present pile of fresh green herbs, called sabzi, (chives, several kinds of basil, mints, scallions, radish greens, tarragon, and more), which we eat by the handful with each meal, two kinds of cheese, jams, and bread. Lunch was rice steamed with tomato paste and meat served with fresh home made yogurt a friend dropped by (along with a few liters of still warm, raw cow’s milk), with sabzi, salad, and several kinds of pickled vegetables.
After our long walk and all of her hard work being adored, Norah lay down at my feet at 6 pm, chatting happily to me about nothing much at all one moment, fast asleep the next. I’m fighting the same feeling.