Friday, June 23, 2006

Ashura (10th Muharram)-- Pics

It seemed a fitting day for such a tragic day. The sky was overcast and gray, and there was a light drizzle the whole time. This helped keep the day cool and bearable as we marched in the procession and observed the ceremonies. It also lent a sorrowful atmosphere to everything, and at the time I thought wow, rain in the desert, how special. But considering it was a desert, we saw several days of rain over winter and spring. I learn something new every day.

I don't know if I should say this, but I did "enjoy" myself. It's a nice atmosphere, where everyone is out, women, children, men, families, friends. Free drinks (juices, tea) and even some free food are served along the processional route. These are called "nazr" foods, as they are the result of someone's "nazr" or oath being satisfied. I know there's a term for this in English, but it escapes me. Basically you pray for something, and if it is fulfilled, in return you feed people.

When it was over, it was kind of sad because we'll have to wait again until next year for people to be in the same public space again. Even on this day, boys were "cruising" up and down the streets, and girls were giggling coyly as the boys walked by. The universality and inevitability of human mating rituals never cease to amaze.

Walking. Chanting as well, but I didn't know the words so I just listened. It sounded nice and melancholy.

A standard. The night before, these were lit up with lights and fire.

AliBob had the camera. The head tapping is a ritual expression of mourning. We women followed behind the men. The men were allowed to participate in other mourning rituals, while the women were only allowed to walk and do the head or chest tap. There was a lot of wailing on all sides.

Interesting art. AliBob can probably explain this better than I can.

More mourning.. the uniformity is interesting.

Many baby boys were dressed up in this outfit to represent Imam Hussain's 6-month old son who was shot dead with arrows when he lifted him up to ask for water for the children, who had been without water for 10 days in the desert in July.

The inside of part of the Imam Khomeini wing of the Masuma shrine. Beautiful and understated (as opposed to the mirror mosaics dominating everything else). This is also a common area where families can be together instead of segregated by gender.

Tehran- Pics-- 1

Our Firoozeh Hotel Room. At 16 bucks a night, you can't beat it. Soft sheets, relatively clean (the hospitality industry in Iran needs a major pick-me-up, except in Mashhad, where it's fine. I've just pointed potential entrepreneurs to a lucrative niche, I'll accept a nominal percentage as my fee.)
*And* they have BBC World News, so that's definitely cool. And an awesome breakfast. What more could you want? BBC and food.. must be heaven.

And there is the aforementioned breakfast. Two super greasy fried eggs (just the way I like 'em!), tea, delicious rose/apple jam (or carrot, quince, sour cherry, etc.), butter, Turkish Noon-e-Barbari (the bread), Azeri feta cheese (phenomenal).
The Equal is my import for personal use.

We're in Park-e-.... I forget. Tehran has a lot of these parks. They're beautiful and quiet and cool and amazing places to people watch.. particularly the interactions between young men and women of courting age. Ahhh.... flirting under repression. It's a self portrait as you can tell, which is why we look dopey and glazed over.

Another view of the park:

These kinds of roses are EVERYWHERE in public spaces in Iran.. used as plantings throughout. But really, just behold my photographic genius. I think I was messing around with the macro function. I need to learn how to use the camera properly at some point.