An Iranian welcome, for us, tops the list. For 40 days and 40 nights they call us out and soak us up. It is consistent, from top to bottom and side to side. It’s hard to grasp. In fact, it intoxicates! Just as well, as a not a drop of alcohol passes our lips. For 40 days and 40 nights!
On the road, they honk and hail us. The shortest of walks marks 5 heartfelt conversations. Young girls and boys creep up, shyly, to practise their English. Parents in tow, nod their thanks! A question to a Farsi-only speaker has an English speaker at our side within minutes! A query about a restaurant has the young man coming in with us to help us order food! The camera shop owner who can’t assist accompanies us to his 3 competitors. A stranger screams off the freeway to gift a 3kg box of nougat. The tea, the extra apricots … the countless invitations to supper ….
It leaves us weak at the knees. THANK Allah for IRAN.
An endless gracious welcome!
But there is something else …. And at last we finger it. It is CuRiOsItY! Their CuRiOsItY is InSaTiAbLe!
They cram our encounters with questions! Why are we white? Are we married? Do we have children? What about a marriage contract? Do we drink beer and wine? What do our bikes cost? What do we do for a living? Do we have a house? What do we think of Israel, America, and of course Iran? Iran, Iran, Iran. They boast and apologise. They spill pride and insecurity.
Their CuRiOsItY knocks us for a six! Iran is supposed to be a Closed Society. But Iranians have wide Open Minds! Iran has this liberating national streak. And a fanciful national charm. This is an out-of-this-world attribute! Iranians are curious about the curious. They query, pry and probe about the odd, the strange and faraway. They collectively live, each day, curiously.
Salute. SaLuTe. SALUTE. Is it possible for us to greet more graciously and live more curiously? As Iranians do? We are going to give it a damn good shot!
And as our road in Iran runs out, we feel a little sad. No country will ever be the same.
Thank YOU so much, IRAN.