Evin Prison Mountain, you can see the wall in the detail
- run into a friend of the Wrestler
The Expat, the Hippie and the Beauty
We met August on Ghandi Street (Tehran’s streets all have funky names like Elizabeth, Eisenhower, Africa, Seoul and Argentina Square). Saying good-bye to the Wrestler we got in a cab and headed north. We were already 30 minutes late for the party.
The cabbie didn’t know where the hell we were going, and neither did August. After calling multiple times and driving around in circles we got to the right place an hour late. It was actually good timing because as we were waiting for someone to open the gate the Armenian contact just pulled up in a taxi.
The gate was answered by this total hippie complete with goatee and floppy leather hat. I was like okay but didn’t have time to think because the Armenian woman walked up to us and I got my first look at beauty in human form. In the words of the celebrated ancient Persian poet Sa’adi, “Holy crap!” She introduced herself and extended her hand, I was slack-jawed and feeling embarrassed due to my dirty clothes from all the hiking earlier.
We all went into the gate and walked through the garden up to the house. The door was open and I could hear Shakira playing loudly. Once we stepped in I was in for a shock. The house was large and open with wood floors. In one corner was a sunken sitting area and fireplace with a bench that ran along two walls and joined in the corner. Sitting on the bench were 5 Iranians, 4 women and 1 guy. The guy was normal enough but I was shocked by the women, who were all dressed to kill in tight jeans, no-sleeve low-cut blouses and had their hair free for all to see! They seemed even edgier than Western women. From the back came out the Expat, and technical owner of the house, a tall blonde man with a mustache that looked like a pretty hard roughneck. He had steely gray eyes that bored into you, and you never really knew whether he was joking. But he liked drinking and dancing, even though he seemed to do it while gritting his teeth.
I sat down on the far edge of one bench beside August who was sitting beside the Beauty. I declined an offer of beer and other alcoholic drinks with and incredulous look. “Hey man, in here this ain’t Iran. Go ahead!” I explained that I didn’t drink no matter where I was or what time of year it was. They offered me some Coke and something to eat instead. I was hungry after hiking and started munching away on chips, nuts and pretzels. Apparently he pizzas were on their way.
I sat and chatted with the Beauty and found out that the Iranian friend she was sitting with was an account manager at a marketing firm and could speak English. This was the perfect chance for me to bust out my business card (that says I am an “Account Manager”) and get to talking with her. She was a nice-looking woman with blond streaks in her hair and a dangerously low cut blouse. She was also very excited about her job, which most marketers are. After talking about the biz, we started a general conversation about Iran and other countries. Both the Marketer and the Beauty were surprised at what I knew about Iran and Armenia (and other places). I guess they expected the normal carpet-buying, kebab-eating tourist. I told them I was very interested to learn about Iran’s ethnic and religious minorities and how their day-to-day lives in the Islamic Republic.