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Let's go to Ardabil
Iranians are good at enjoying their lives. Their amusement is summarized in chattering and dance

By Kaoru B.
April 15, 2004
iranian.com unedited

Just got a email from John Mohammadi recommending a site created by a Japanese woman with notes and photos of her trip to Iran. On top of the page it reads: "Persia is present Iran. I received such a heartful and warm hospitality when I visited Iran. This homepage is the travel note that a Japanese woman who married an Iranian spent some months with his family in Iran." Here's her notes titled "Let's go to Ardabil" and "Pleasure in Iran":

Let's go to Ardabil

We went to travel to Ardebil of Azerbaidjan province where [my husbamd's] Parents were born. We will visit the uncle. He is Father's brother and live in Ardebil with his family.

We went with all family, Parents, Brother, the eldest brother's family, Sister's family. There were 20 people traveled with us. Three cars were full of us. 

If we pass the town in Japan, we can find a lot of houses in the country side. Many people live in Japan.

But when we passed Tehran city, we found only a wilderness and no one was there. I could see the mountain far in the distance.

Those mountains were different from the ones which a Japanese imagined. They were mountains where the wilderness swelled from the ground as they had few trees.

It was the world of ocher color including the mountains to see in the distance. It was not a desert, but it was like the plain where it became rough.

The middle east has many deserts. Tehran is in the northern part of Iran and has no desert. The climate is almost the same as Japan.

Iran faces the north border with the Azerbaidjan republic of the ex-Soviet Union. There were many areas which are colder than Japan.

Ardebil is one of the coldest areas in Iran.

Out of Tehran
Each town is isolated in Iran. We hardly found a house between the towns. Tehran is a megalopolis beyond the population of 10,000,000 people.

If you compare with Tehran, the scale of other towns is very small. The atmosphere does not change at least in the surroundings of Tehran.

As for going from Tehran to Ardebil, we need one day by car. We drived freely with taking a rest once in one or two hours because it was long distance.

When we passed through the next town of Tehran, we took a rest. We stopped the cars in the shade of green trees at the side of the road.

We laid the mat on the grass, and had a tea which Mother and Sister packed into the pot at home. There were no house and no shop in the surroundings.

I found a party of a family trip like us a little far from us. Mother went to chat with the party's women and she did not come back for a long time.

Though Iranians never trust strangers soon, they often talk to the person who sat on the neighbor in the restaurant or the outside.

We finished the first rest, and went more to the north. Though the air of Tehran dries, damp increases in facing the Caspean sea in the north.

We found wheat fields near Tehran, but they changed to rice fields near the Caspean sea. The scene of ocher color dyes green gradually. Because it rains and there is much damp. When the climate looks like Japan, the houses and the scenes also look like Japan.

I felt the illusion that it is in the country of Japan. It was falling the rain which was never seen in Tehran of summer.

Chaikhane
When we looked for the place to have lunch, we found a cabin beside the road. It seemed to be a small restaurant or Chaikhane (tea room) because there were some tables and seats in front of the entrance.

When Brother went in, it was Chaikhane.

Mother and Sister brought the meal from the house. Because we can not have meals in the country which has very few restaurants and we do not know where it is.

My husband and Sister's husband negotiated with Chaikhane owner, and he borrowed us to eat lunch there.

No guests were there. They had no sign to get custmers. I was afraid the shop can go well or not. We begun the lunch in the whole Chaikhane.

The menu was Ghorme-sabzi (Herb and meat stew), Yogurt, Istanbli (Tomato piraf). They packed in the morning, the meals were still warm.

Children began to play and ran after the hens that were pastured in the neighbor when they finish eating lunch. The hens were fine and fast runing because they were kept in the outside.

Here was Chaikhane and we had Chai at last. [Note ends without describing time spent in Ardabil]

***

Pleasure in Iran

The Iranian has a few amusement because of religious precepts.

There is no bar because alchol is prohibited. There are neither a club nor a disco because it is prohibited that a man and a woman have a date before they marry.

There is no Karaoke because they are not interested in singing. There is no habit that stays long in the restaurant, and they only have meals there.

But the Iranians are good at enjoying their lives. Their amusement is summarized for the chattering and the dance.

And they often go shopping and a walk with the family. Whichever park we go to any time, it is strange to be crowded.

There are more adults in the park than children because there are more placed like a garden with the walk way than parks with playing.

The children do not go for play with the friends very much because they are busy with the relatives association even if they are children.

They go to park with the family and the relatives. I went out many times, too. We enjoyed chattering with taking a walk.

We went out to the uptown which the stand like the one in Japanese festival stood in a line many times at night.

The other stands were a little different though the one of the roasted corns looks like a Japanese one.

I saw many stands of hanging very sour dark red dry cherry. It seems to be good to eat them with walking.

The fortune teller with Chador called the people to make a bird quote a sacred fortune-telling.

It was good to take a rest in Chaikhane stand. It is pleasant to take a walk in crawded in the uptown which it is cool.

It is common to go out with all of the family to such places with the little children though they come home 1 or 2 o'clock late at night.

Shopping
We need one day to search one thing in shopping.

They can find surely Nan shop wherever they go so they have to go to buy anything by cars. Because there were not many shops of vegetables or fruits. we had to look for the good shop around the city.

We went out to buy the shoes in the other day. We were looking for them in many stores of a street standing only shoe stores.

It is difficult even if we find the goods we want. We must surely beat down in the Iranian stores. It is presumed to put the price.

They fight thoroughly even for small money. They sticks to buying it by the correct value.

When Chai was served for us while negotiating price, I was waiting with having it.

My husband said to me not to come with him when we had to buy something expensive. If I were with him, it would be difficult to beat down and he would get high price because they think all Japanese are rich.

We thought pitiful of the children to have a little amusement, so we bought a tricycle for them on that way home. The children drove around noisily in the big living room every day.

We went out to look for the books in another day. Ther are many places in Iran many stores to handle the same goods join in one place like a Japanese wholesale district. You can go near Tehran university for the books.

We ate out for the first time at that night. We ate the sausage sandwich in the restaurant. Because pork is prohibited in Islam, both sausage and salami are made by beef.

There were chicken and sheep meat in the show case. I was surprised that the brain of sheep was too real. It will be sliced and make a sandwich.

The beef sausage had smoked smell and it was delicious. When we came home, we were comparatively scolded by Mother if there was no food like the sandwich. She does not trust any meal of outside.

Pleasure at home
As I say the pleasure at home, it is the home party. The relatives or the friends are gathered and have a party readily.

We were invited by the eldest brother's, Sister's, and the relative's house like every day.

Party menu is very luxurious compared with the usual meal. The eldest brother liked a fish uncommonly to an Iranian, so he cooked Mahi-kebab (fish barbecue) for us many times.

We can not find the caviars in the city because they are for the export though Iran is famous for it.

They eat white fish like the stergeons , the parent fish of the caviar and so on. The salted dry fish is sold in Tehran, the inland areas.

Young family serve often western dishes like Lasagna and the Pizza. I remember the handmade tastes of Shish-kebab and Juje-kebab (chicken barbecue) roasted on chacoal at home.

The dishes made by Mother are all traditional dishes in Ardebil and Iran. It is such as Dormeh of the grape leaves (the stuffed meat), Kufte (boiled huge meat balls) and Ghorme-sabzi (the stew of herbs and beans).

When there were the dish which I can not eat, Mother cooked the different dish only for me like the meatballs with eggs or the hambergers boiled in tomato.

Women's kitchen
When the guests such as the relatives came home, all were pased through the living room, but many women gathered in the kitchen to help and talk with the housewife.

The aunt sat down on the floor of the kitchen, and she was making salad in this day.

The cutting board is seldom used for cooking. They move skillfully small knives on the big ball and the lettuce was cut. She quickly cut cucumbers and tomatos by corner.

I tried to help her. I can't catch up their speed at all because I am acustomed to use the cutting board in Japan.

The niece also cut the lettuce. arranged cucumbers and tomatos to make a line, and decorated salads like a cake. She gave play to her sense like making the handycrafts more than cooking.

They did not stop talking with moving her hands. Even the Islam women who care men's eyes can show themselves freely in this limited room.

I heard about the quilting bee that the housewives gatherd for patchwork quilt in USA. They enjoy conversation with sewing quilt all together.  I think the kitchen of the Iranian women look like it.

Nan of every morning
Though householding is women's work, shopping is men's work in Iran. The father went to buy Nan every morning though he said that his body was painful.

My husband and the nephew went to buy Nan if they could. Every day they buy Nan only for the same day if any one goes.

There are some kinds of breakfast Nan. One is Barbari that is thick and has a wavy shape. It is a little hard and tastes good.

The other is Sangyak that is roasted on stones paved in the oven. It smells burned and is very delicious.

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