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Published: October 1st 2005
Starting early morning we are departing Esfahan which I feel is not a moment too soon. We are looking at a drive of roughly 400 km to reach Tehran. First we will be going north to Kashan, then northwest to Qom before reaching Tehran in the evening. We make an early stop in a small town near Esfahan to look at the local mosque, and Mr. Bergman buys yet another little souvenir in spite of the protests of his wife. The next stop is a slight detour from the route to Kashan via the village Natanz. This name is nowadays (2005) closely associated with the Iranian uranium enrichment program, but to us it is simply the home village of Mr. Hoseyn, and when he invites us to have some tea at his mother's place we are quick to accept. Soon we are seated on the carpet in his mothers little house and drinking tea and eating tasty grenadillos.
Waving goodbye we continue through a rocky, barren land that shifts colours abruptly. Yellow sand, brown rocks, red stone, grey rocks, black cliffs. I have really come to appreciate the views of the desertland. When we reach Kashan we make a quick
stop at a local mosque where a crew is shooting some sort of cultural TV-program and the mosque is closed for visitors. We turn around and head for the restaurant where we are going to have our lunch, a place run by an English woman known as Jane's. As we are preparing to eat a busload of Germans enter the arena and join in the fray at the buffét table. Except in Tehran this is the first major tour group we have come across on our trip this far. As we are ordering our bread and tea we are making some small talk with Jane and when she learns that we are from Sweden she has a surprise for us; one of her waitors used to live in Sweden. As he introduces himself he asks which city we are from. When I mention Jönköping he gets excited exclaiming "I used to live there too, I worked at Lilla Krogen!" (a notorious restaurant near the railway station, perhaps something for a Swedish travelblog to focus on...) in Swedish, which is very amusing.
In the afternoon we make a visit to the peaceful Fin Garden which has an elaborate system of
small canals with running water and lots of fish swimming around in it. We then continue towards Qom, the main teological center of Iran, and the place where many of the country's leaders have studied, including President Khatami and Ayatollahs Khomeini and Ali Khamenei. We are not allowed to visit the Agha Bozorg Medressah but we stay on a hill on the other side of the parking lot to take some pictures. There is lots of people going about their business here, and Qom in general is a perfect place to spot mullas.
In the late afternoon we reach the outskirts of Tehran and the traffic is getting really bad. The road has four lanes and gradually gets more and more congested until it is a grind where the cars create a total of seven lanes on the same four lane highway. Naturally we're stuck for a slow crawl for a couple of hours. Watching the bumper to bumper traffic from the front seat is a bit taxing, but Mr. Hoseyn does an admirable job at finding small pockets and squeezing us into them. traffic in Tehran reminds me of the puzzle game "Parking Lot", in which you must
move bricks around a small cramped arena to navigate one piece from one end to the other.
We are quite tired when reaching the Laleh Hotel and I am a bit depressed when I check in and go down to the restaurant to have a lonely dinner. As I go back to my room and sit down to write the daily journal the phone suddenly rings. To my big surprise it is my friend Rezvane who has found out how to find me and we decide to meet tomorrow at noon. Excellent, miracles happen even in our time it seems.
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