Mofid and Ayatollah Garb Alert
AliBob and I had a lunch date today at Mofid. We wanted to eat in the cafeteria together, but it’s segregated and I don’t feel comfortable sitting with a bunch of girls I don’t know while my hubby eats lunch with the higher ups of the university on the other side. I must say things like this are quite annoying. Women and men sit thigh to thigh in taxicabs but they can’t eat lunch together? Not even a married couple? Whatever.
Anyway, so Mr. Islami, the kind and helpful clerk that he is, brought us lunch in AliBob’s office. He also gave us food and really nice dishes and silverware to eat off of.
The food was sabzi ghormeh, which is basically stewed meat cubes with kidney beans in a green (spinach and other greens) sauce. It was *really* good, and if the meat was lamb, we couldn’t really tell. There was lots of rice and mine was leftover, so Mr. Islami cleared our dishes and put my leftover rice in a plastic bag for me.
Then we were about to have tea when Dr. Elahi came to visit us. So we all had tea together and talked for a while. He said he has to go to Tehran tomorrow for his uncle’s “chehlum”, which means the fortieth, marking 40 days after someone’s death. I think it’s done in Pakistan too, but my family doesn’t really do it. But he also said that one of our neighbors, Agha Mir Mohammadi, was having a ceremony that day to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Jaafer Al Saadiq and wanted to invite us. It’s at 7am. Irfan Ali said yes immediately so I managed to also say yes in a normal and convincing tone. 7am. I can’t remember waking up that early even in the US. Except for during Ramadan, which was special.
Okay… so we had already discovered that Dr. Elahi is also a cleric, a “taleb”, as many people here are. But I’ve never seen him in his “ayatollah garb”, so I was only too excited about this. I had my camera on hand and behold, Ayatollah Elahi (N.B. He's not *really* an Ayatollah! Sara thinks everyone who wears the clergyman's garb is an "Ayatollah"!):
I took the liberty of touching his clothing and discovered that it is quite heavy. The over cloak is of a heavy cotton, made in Syria. The suit-like garment underneath is actually a wool-poly blend, quite thick, and is in fact suit material. You can’t see it in the picture, but the suit undergarment had a cool and very subtle design on it of a light yellow and blue stripe/plaid on a sand-colored base.
Just in case you all were wondering, because I certainly was and asked, yes, the turban does come apart. No, he does not have to wrap it in place every day. Only when it is washed, one unravels it, washes it, dries it and wraps it back up. Yes, there is a specific way to wrap it and they are taught this along with all their other studies. Now I can die in peace. And yes, he took it off and let me touch it! It just feels like thick white cotton wrapped up. Now I know. But I still find the ayatollah garb cool. It’s so Qom.
Then AliBob went to a lecture by Grand Ayatollah Ardebili (the founder of Mofid, remember?) who is 80 years old and still lucid and speaking.
I spent a few hours checking email and surfing the web. When AliBob returned, he told me that Ayatollah Ardebili is actually a dead-ringer for Santa Clause. He’s a blue-eyed Turk with a white beard and he’s from Ardebil in Turkey (hence Ardebili), so that was interesting. He also mentioned that this lecture was harder to understand because of the Ayatollah’s sophisticated and intellectual Farsi.
After the the lecture, random people wanted to meet the Grand Ayatollah and so he did that but apparently they all cleared the way as Irfan Ali was summoned by the Ayatollah’s and Mofid’s people as the guest of honor here in Iran and in Qom and at Mofid. Also, the lecture had been filmed and AliBob noticed that he tended to feature prominently in several of the different shots from all different angles from all the cameras.
He’s SO cute and funny and special, my hubby. He’s not exactly thrilled with all this attention, but what’s he gonna do when we go back to the US and are just two regular unimportant dorks again? Or maybe potential “terrorists”?
The sun started setting and AliBob has a gorgeous view out of his office overlooking the treetops to the mountains so we got a few sunset pictures. Maybe during the day, he’ll take a few good ones of the actual view.
And towards the right a little bit: