Wednesday, December 17, 2003

My British friend says:
SHUSH APRIL1997 I arrived in shush on a blistering hot day. I was here to see the CHOGHA ZAMBIL outside the city. First I needed a coke to cool down and then something to eat. While looking around a bloke of about 25 years introduced himself to me.His name was Mohammed and he spoke excellent english. I told him that I was travelling around Iran for 3 weeks.He invited me to his home for me to meet his family .

I was not to keen.In the west it is considered stupid to go to a house of somebody you just met.In fact it is downright dangerous. It was still daylight so I decided to go with him.He was friendly and said he liked to speak with tourists so as to improve his english.Funny thing was he spoke better english than me!!!!!!!.Mohammed lived with his parents and two brothers.Luckily for me they had air conditioning!!.His mum was about 45 years,an extremely nice woman.His dad was out and would arrive back in the evening .The family were very pleased that I had come to their house.Within 30 minutes she had prepared food for me,as well as the cold glasses of water!!!!Myself and Mohammed talked for a couple of hours and then I decided to leave.BIG MISTAKE.They wanted me to stay at least two nights!!!One night was not enough. Mohammed would organise a taxi to take me to chogha zambil tomorrow.It is something I do not like doing but finally I decided to stay.

Mohammed never told me if he was working.He was well informed on world affairs and liked talking english.Also he had a good sense of humour.Around 8 o clock that evening his friends started to arrive at his house.They were here to see me.For the rest of the evening I was to be the centre of attention.Not my idea of a perfect time!!!.However it turned out to be a fantastic night.I sat beside Mohammed and in front of us sat 12 of his friends.None of them spoke english so Mohammed would be the translator for the night.Later his dad arrived back.When I saw him my face must have shown that I was surprised to see how old he was.Mohammed noticed my amazement and then introduced his dad to me as "this is my father,he is 100 years old"!!!.I don't know how I managed to keep a straight face. For the next hour his friends asked me many questions about life in europe. When I told them I was not married,did not have a steady girlfriend or had no intention in getting married they they were shocked.The reasons I gave such as liking the freedom of being single,of being able to travel when I liked,marriage being a big commitment,so many marriages ending in divorce,did not satisfy them.I think such a solitary lifestyle is not common among among Iranian men.In fact it was my biggest mistake in Iran telling people I was single.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.Next time I go I am going to invent a family!!!!!!.

Mohammed and his friends wanted to know what the west thought of Iran.I was sorry to tell them that Iran had a bad image in the west. Then they told me that none of them liked their government. During the evening Mohammed's mum and friends were getting the food ready in the kitchen.Every time she came to the sitting room with some food she had a question for mohammed to ask me.How were my parents?How many brothers and sisters I had?Were they married? In europe,britain especially,people socialise in pubs and clubs I told them.Also that we need a few beers to enjoy ourselves.I suppose you could say that alcohol is a social lubricant.In my case it is but tonight I was thoroughly enjoying myself without touching a drop!!.To end the evening we watched the video RAMBO.It had been a great night.

Next morning mohammed accompanied me to the chogha zambil.On returning we went to visit a friend who had been a prisoner of war in Iraq.He told me he was held for 7 years.Then in late afternoon another friend took seven of us on a drive into the countryside.We visited a farm that had afghans refugees working on it.The evening was still hot as drove about.When we got back to shush around 8 oclock an evening meal was waiting for us.Tomorrow I would be leaving for Esfahan.I thanked Mohammed ,his family and friends for a wonderful two days.I had been treated like a king.I promised to write and to send on the photos I took of mohammed at the chogha zambil.Next day Mohammed,ever the gentleman,took me to the bus station to see me off.Iranian hospitality has to be experienced to be believed.I hope to return to shush ,some day,and meet these fabulous people again.

This post is writen by "Sidney Phelan"


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