October 13, 2004 GMT
On Being Iranian

Ground Hog Day We have left Kashan twice now.. not that its such a beautiful place we could just not tear ourselves away.. we just made such a mess of it the first time it was best to go back and try again!!

Kashan, a bit south of Tehran keep going past the Tomb of the good guy Khomani.. OK lets start with Khomanis tomb - to a lot of people in Iran he was a huge good guy, a reformer, a savior and a great leader, to others he was nothing of the kind - well when he popped his clogs he got a huge tomb just north of the Holy City of Qom - its still a work in progress, the Khomani International airport is now open, but the whole project was vast, and still on going - we saw the central bit, the main event with the coffin, and Iranians being Iranians for many it was a Grand Day Out complete with picnic... When the whole lot is finished - I means its been fifteen years now - it will a Khomani Land Fantasy Park

The Big K himself


So leaving Kashan - we started by leaving late - had a fine time at the Bargh e Fin (Fin Gardens) contructed to look like an Islamic version of paradise, good it was too, fountains and pools and shady bits, lots of Iranian Picnicers, a tea garden complete with Hubbly Bubbly pipes.... click here for an image and here for one more too

We left the bike loaded to go near the entrance opposite a army gaurd post - very safe - as as is normal when we returned so did the man who wants to practise his English - there is always one.. the short of it is he tells us a short cut to the freeway, across the fields and on the the highway up a dirt path.. We eventually end up doing a lot of this, cutting on and off the freeway across the fields, up dirt embankments etc... So the good news is we get going fast, the bad news is we are low of fuel at the start

For a country with rediculously cheap fuel, 1 dollar and 10 cents for 20 litres there aint many places to fill up from - I guess at these prices there is very litlle profit to be made in the sale of fuel... Off we go. nice wide smotth highway little traffic, in fact the high is new, not officiall open yet, so when we get to the service station it is closed - well not officially open yet... aaagh, problem, got 2 litres left sloshing in the bottom... But this is Iran, there is always an entrepreneur, and low and behold there is a guy with a plastic bottle of 5 litres of the finest Benzine waiting just for a guy like me to sell his stuff to - for three times the going rate!! Thank you very much, off we go... and miss the turn to the next town to fill up properly ... Chris tank runs dry first... Oh Bugger, but no wait this is Iran, we have not seen another car or truck for a hour, but within 2 minutes along comes a huge fat man in a 1970s Cheviotte Monte Carlo no less, he stops at the mearest hint as a waved hand in distress and we syphon off 10 litres of the good stuff ...

Only in Iran could he turn out to be the former Iran Handball Champion who now
owns and runs Esphahanss best Pizzas restaurant, Pintos Pizza.. Of course he speaks good English - what do you want this to be difficult or something !!! So with 5 litres apiece we cut across the fields to the old highway, back the way we came to the town we missed and fill it up to the brim... As it is now way way past the faffing point of no return, back to Kashan we go, check back in to the Goulestan Inn again and go feast on water mellons and Bannanas.. It one of the rule of adventuring, If its foriegn and you dont speak it, 90 mins before dark stop, start looking for your bed for the night and food..

The next morn off down the same highway, benzine sloshing to the brim we see a pick up truck waving us down - What comes around goes around... Of course you can have 10 litres of Irans finest motion lotion syphoned off our tanks, no charge..

Later on the highway we stop for a Comfort Break.. Chris says 'what again? and I have remind him of that trueism "Small Bladder - Big D+ck'........ Chris turns to face the road and I think 'How Rude', But I learnt the meaning of P+ssing in the Wind - you get wet feet!!

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The Big K Himself


One of the Rules Of Adventuring is to eat at the truck stops that have lots of truck stopped outside (aaagh so thats how they got thier name then!) Why.. well as its a truck stop it is cheap, as it has lots of truck outside the food will be good and will also be safe.. you never want to be first of last in the que for foriegn food! - Think about it -... So thats exactly what we do, and what we get is a good chicken kebap with rice, a coke, salads and tea.. When it come time to pay the cash desk man is playing the fool.. which is a bit unusual, the Islamic sense of honour and hospitality runs deep around these parts.. he wants 70,000 rials.. thats expensive I think (10 dollars for the both of us) with a bit of miming and my two amazing sentances of Parsi launched at the man he really does want 70,000.. OK, so I pay up and leave.. as we are fussing with the bike to go an old man come over and addresses us most insistantly - my Parsi just cant manage it, he shows me 20,000 rials in cash and points back to the cafe... Like hell I am giving him more money I think, and a stomping in I go... The scene is an absolute wonderment, the local guys are giving the cafe guy some serious grief, voices are raised, fists look like they are to follow.. we are given 20,000 back for being overcharged and wished well on our way - Only In Iran

Persopolis

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A bunch of old rock, but a very interesting bunch of old rocks and the only reason to go to Shiraz.. I mean they dont even make wine there any more.. Unfortunately for us this was to be our turn around point too.. but more on that later

We sat, we stared, we contemplated.. So What has history taught us?.. Mostly it is Dont do THAT again!!... personally I have learnt from my ever so brief time here that there will always be moments in the middle when it seems like it will never end, but it too shall pass... Nothing Is For Ever.. Take this place, how many thousands of years old, at the time this was the centre of the world .. It was the super power of its day.. and now. a bunch of old rocks with backpackers... I like what Victor Frankel said when he was up to his ears in it.....It was the 1940's and he was travelling on a train eastward out of the Germany republic, not first class seating but a cattle truck with 50 other men, Jewish men.. He was off to Auschwich on a one way ticket. For some years up to that point he had been working on his treatise on psychiatry.. He is quoted as saying these word during that journey...

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing - to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way"


He survived his time at Auschwich and later wrote......We had to learn ourselves, and furthermore we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life but instead to think of ourselves as who were being questioned by life, daily and hourly.

click for an image


OK Been sitting in the sun too long looking at rocks.. what we need now is a nice cup of Chai

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and then I will tell you all about it later

Richard

Posted by Richard Stone at October 13, 2004 05:21 PM GMT
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