my black flag

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When I woke up, I had a Lady Gaga song stuck in my head.

The NA clock was still there:

NA clock

And so was the NA tea pot:

NA tea

I said goodbye and left the little mosque:

Gombazli mosque

The village still looked a bit like a frontier settlement from the Wild West:

Gombazli road

But the black chadors everywhere broke the illusion:

morning in Gombazli

I got some hot water for my tea from this little shop:

shop in Gombazli

The shop owner was very friendly, and she didn’t wear the chador:

shopkeeper

Then I was out on the desert road again:

road

A guy in the mosque had insisted on buying me a box of carry-out food. I had it as a sort of “roadside brunch” in the desert:

breakfast

Here’s the Let’s Walk video of the day:

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One time a motorcyclist stopped for a chat:

biker

We didn’t understand each other very well, but well enough to establish that: I was German. I was walking, not cycling. I had come from China. I liked walking in Iran. I was trying to walk to Europe.

Apart from this, it was a quiet walk, though. Sometimes I would see a herder:

herder

And sometimes a truck full of guys who were apparently on their way to one of the little Imam Hussein pavilions in the village:

dudes on truck

I found one of their black flags laying on the ground next to the road. I figured it must have fallen from one of the trucks, so I picked it up and fastened it upright:

black flag

It felt good. Like giving back a little.

The road went up and down after this:

yet more road

Rolling hills announcing the beginning of the mountain range that I would have to cross:

hills in the desert

Two men got out of their car, handed me two puddings and then hastily drove off:

pudding

Other dudes stopped for a picture:

dudes who stopped

A picture with the Caboose and me:

being photographed

There were abandoned buildings:

abandoned buildings

There were little pink flowers:

flowers

There was the winding road:

afternoon road in the hills

And then I arrived in the village of Shurloq, where I went straight to the mosque:

mosque in Shurloq

These two were already there:

little biker

And so were they (again, trying to look serious because it was a time of mourning):

young people in Shurloq

These two gentlemen took me to an office building where I would be spending the night:

the office in Shurloq

And these little biker dudes came along because it was a spectacle:

the bicycles

I was told that the main service for the holy month of Ashura would be tonight in the mosque, and would I like to be there? Sure, I said, if that didn’t mean bothering anyone. I was told not to worry.

They showed me an instrument of self-flagellation that some people used:

Yahir showing the instrument used in the ceremony

Though today it was just going to be about beating one’s own chest with one’s hands.

So we went to the mosque, and the Imam, after leading the prayer, started talking:

service in the Shurloq mosque

It was a long speech of which I didn’t understand a single word, so I looked around, and I was surprised to find that a little girl was there, too, running around in the midst of all the men in their reserved part of the mosque:

she was there, too

Everyone was looking at me:

dude next to me

Especially the kids:

and his son

And then it got serious. The lights were turned off, and the imam’s speech started sounding increasingly sad:

lights out

Some people took out handkerchiefs and started sobbing:

hearing sad words about Imam Hussein

There were wailing sounds from the part of the mosque that was reserved for the women.

And then we all got up:

pictures of the self flagellation

And the rhythmic beating of the chest started:

self flagellation

People did it with different fervour, and especially the teenage boys were really going at it:

young dudes especially active

The self-beating lasted maybe an hour or so. Then we sat down and had a meal:

dinner in the mosque of Shurloq

It was simple, and I liked it:

rice with gravy

When I got back to my office building it was almost midnight:

the office

Quiet and clean, and right next to the Caboose:

sleep

It was a great place to sleep.



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