Published: February 7th 2011January 16th 2011
SJan16 – Yek Shanbe
Got a good night’s sleep – as far as I remember – and up early as a result.
I take advantage of the metro, walking west along Taleghani to Moffateh St. to get the Taleghani Station and I casually make my way to Behest-e Zahara cemetery where most Tehranians or Iranians are buried, including those killed in the 1980-88 Irag-Iran war. First, I visit the Holy Shrine of Imam Khomeini.
The Shrine is not a particularly pretty site to visit but I try to make the best of a bad thing. I enter a Mosque for the very first time (first ever as a Muslim, sshhh?). I take off my shoes, check in both Canon cameras, but not the iPhone, which they allow everyone to retain. I walk around and am actually allowed to take videos but apparently not photos; however, of this I am not entirely sure the security’s ‘na’ was intended.
I ventured out from the Shrine towards the cemetery not knowing how I was going to make the short distance on a wet snowy day and with a large divided highway preventing an easy crossing. I flagged a car
with 2 Iranians who, while they could not agree what or where Behest-e Zahara (behest means paradise in Farsi) was, took my instructions to somehow go straight for a few hundred meters and stop out front. From here, I managed yet another lift with a young Tehranian named Mostafa (firstname.lastname@example.org). He was here to see the grave of his aunt, perhaps even some other deceased relatives, but so were about 30 other of his living relatives. I asked, and Mostafa kindly agreed, to allow me to accompany him on his visit to the grave. I watched as he went about cleaning the grave area and placing flowers and petals on the gravestone. Later, the family members arrive, uncle Reza, father and others, we chat in English, mostly Reza does the talking.
Father and Reza (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org) are army colonels, retired, getting $1000/? in pension money which I do not find out is enough or not, but am told, “more would be better”. During the grave ceremony, I learn a great deal about the family, most were educated in the U.S., uncle and father were trained at an army base in San Antonio, they have all travelled a great
deal but most of all, they are all kind and outwardly friendly people. They bring along juice and snacks, and coffee follows at the end, all of which they most willingly and generously share with me. Doubtless, they all wonder who I am and they are a little surprised when I explain that I only just met Mostafa!
(I have to remember to send some of the cemetery pics to Mostafa and Reza as I promised.)
The elder members of the family go to the aunt’s grave for a Muslim prayer ceremony. They see my camera and encourage me to take photos. I photograph what I can and try to capture the moment without intruding. I want the glass boxes on stilts containing some personal remembrances and pictures.
At the end of this interesting experience, Reza asks me to go to visit his late father’s grave, only 14 months ago deceased. We go and I join him in a prayer, including a tapping of the gravestone, that I understand is a means by which Iranians use to communicate with the deceased. I also tap and pray.
I was invited to lunch with the family, though I
decided it would be best to leave them alone and besides I needed to move on and Mostafa agrees to take me to the metro and I say bye.
I make my way back to the Atlas, tired and so I just take advantage to relax and enjoy another night of some TV and emails and blogging.
There are more photos below