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Day 12: The Train
November 19th, 2004
After a restless night where I watched too many 24 episodes, I got up and quickly packed as August had arrived 30 minutes early. I ran downstairs and we had breakfast together, then jumped into a cab and headed to the train station. The line we were taking to the Caspian was built by Germans before WWII and commissioned by the first Pahlavi Shah. The carriages all have instructions in German and you can look down the toilet holes to see the tracks below. There is a sign that says, “Please do not use toilet when train is stopped at a station.” No doubt. Each room had 6 seats that could fold down into a large bed. August had bought all six seats in the room so we could lay down and get some sleep.

Train to the Caspian

The 7 hour trip (it is 3 hours by car but August thought I should see some scenery) is pretty nice. You pass through scruff desert, rocky badlands, larger and larger mountain passes, and rick temperate forest. One highlight of the trip is the steel bridge that crosses over a high pass. The story goes that once completed the Shah told the German engineers that they must cross it with their families before he would let any Iranians pass. Unfortunately, due to extremely thick fog, we couldn’t see anything as we passed over the bridge.

The Fog of the Alborz
We whiled the hours away staring at the mountains and talking about Japan and business management. I stuck my head out of the window to snap a few pics including that of a couple of overeager youngsters in the next room who were hanging out of their window and waving for me to take their picture. This one toothless kid was sticking out of the window from waist up!

Local Yokel
Finally we pulled into August’s home town. Ah, small town Iran. We grabbed a taxi to his house, a large one-story building with an orange tree in the garden, three bedrooms, kitchen, a large living room and an even larger separate dining/sitting room. It was an older home, but nice. The walls were painted pastel green, the carpets floors were covered with soft machine-made rugs, and each room had a large gas heater.

After cursorily meeting August’s older brother and mother August and I sat down for a lunch of rice, bread, yoghurt, pickles and some very nice boiled chicken. They brought me some slacks and a striped shirt and we started some laundry, then I checked out August’s room. He said he comes up here once or twice a month, so the room is still in use. Outside his room was laying an old, decrepit woman whose wrinkled face told a story of pain and blindness. She was an “Aunt” that had no children and no one to care for her, and since August’s mother is alone they took her in. Intermittently you hear her calls and moans from the tv room floor.

Aniki’s room has a computer, which we jumped on right away, and the rest of the night was spent on the net downloading cool programs and setting things up for August’s webpage that I promised I would help build him. Finally, at about 11:30 I decided I needed sleep. I was tired and had a headache.