Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hashish Trail - Chapter 12 - Guests in Iran

And then we were bouncing over the desert sands of Iran, heading toward Tehran, the capital city. We had been briefed on behaving properly while in Iran. In those days one could be shot for smoking marijuana, for example. It may still be that way, I don’t know.
Suddenly I am overcome by my immediate need to find a bathroom. Ha! That’s funny, since the buses aren’t as conveniently equipped as that, and we’re about a half day’s ride away from the nearest civilization. I was urgently explaining all this to the girls when an Iranian lady overheard our conversation, spoke to the driver and he stopped the bus for me. So now I’m standing a ways from the bus and the men are beginning to shuffle out for a stretch. We were in the middle of nowhere, worse the middle of the desert, and not a rock or even a sand dune in sight.  Luckily by this time, and due to our experiences in Turkey, we were wearing a full length shawl over jeans and t-shirts. So I tented my shawl, dropped my jeans and did my business right there in plain view of anyone who might be interested. So em-bare-ass-ing, but only for me, it seemed, as no one even seemed to notice! I was given privacy where there was none; perhaps it was desert etiquette. Dysentry really doesn’t care who’s watching!
The lady’s name who helped me was Nimtadj, and through subsequent conversation as we travelled along, she told us they lived in Tehran and would be honored to have us stay with them for as long as we liked. Her brother was in Parliament and her husband held a respected position in Tehran. I forget her husband’s name but it was Nimtadj that we grew to love as we came to know more about her over the next week or so while we were guests in their home. They were as fascinated by us as we were by them, and they wanted to share us with their friends and family.
Strict Muslim rules were set for Nimtadj. Her husband controlled everything. Nimtadj was not allowed to leave the house without her husband’s permission, and then only in the company of an older family member or her husband himself. She had no access to her own passport or other identity documents, and no title to any of their possessions. All legal documents were locked in a safe deposit box which was only accessible by her husband. Without her husband she would be destitute and homeless. They were wealthy people, but Nimtadj had no money of her own. When her husband chose to do so he would take her to see their son in university in Germany, or to see relatives in Europe.  But just in order to leave Iran Nimtadj and her husband had to post a $1,000 bond to assure their return. So other than these brief excursions (which did not include any freedoms), she lived in their house in Tehran and she ignored the ache in her heart.
Nimtadj had the telltale swelling in her neck indicating a goiter. When we asked her about it she said it was unshed tears. She was a prisoner of a system that allowed her no freedom. Her dreams of being free like us and following the sun would not be fulfilled. This awful realization made her so sad and we comforted her as best we could, though we lacked comprehension of the true tragedy of her life. Over the years since then, we have all wondered how her life played out. We spoke with her about keeping in touch by mail, but she assured us she would never receive the letters. She would also not be allowed to correspond with us.
One day while we were guests in their home, Nimtadj’s husband suggested he take us on a tour of their farm, but Nimtadj was not invited. I’m hoping Donna and Sharei can add to this, because all I remember from the tour was the sexual advances made to both of us for the duration of the “tour.”
Nimtadj’s sister and father then invited us to stay with them for awhile, and they were dear people as well. During the time we stayed with them, we began to notice the huge contrast between the standard of living in Iran and that of Turkey, which we had just left. One day, for an experiment, Sharei and I went right downtown in the heart of the business district of Tehran and began to beg. We stuck out our hands and people immediately started depositing coins into them, but we didn’t stay long at that enterprise. It surprised us that they would view us as even needing a handout. And, more, it surprised us that they would help people they viewed as infidels! I hoped we were as kind to people we didn’t even know.
You should know that input for my story will hopefully be given by Sharei and Donna, and the book will be rounded out with all 3 perceptions. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. The poor Lady Nimtadj, I wonder if she ever found some freedom. I love the book Aunty . I'm looking forward to reading Sri and Donnas inputs as well.