Through the help of my friend Mastaneh from Mashhad, I got a tourist guide today:
She had the longest eyelashes I had ever seen, and Hanie was her name.
We went to the Royal Mosque, walking around it from the side at first, so we could get a feel for its dimensions:
Then we went in:
The four-hundred-year-old building had a spectacular dome:
And it wasn’t really that crowded at all:
We walked around in it for a while:
One thing I particularly liked was this depiction of drunken monkeys:
It had been added by later rulers in defiance of Islam’s aniconism, the proscription against making images of animals and men.
Oh, and I liked this scene:
Then Hanie took me to have tea with a group of former athletes who got together every week in the same café:
One of them liked to draw things:
He drew me:
And when I asked for a drawing of something ridiculous, he came up with something adequate:
They were very kind, these old athletes:
This gentleman insisted on paying for my tea:
Then I asked Hanie to take me to a modern place in Isfahan, a shopping center in the southern part of town:
I had never been to a mall in Iran before, and now that I had, it looked just like all malls did everywhere I went:
It was reassuring and disappointing at the same time.
Then we went to the old Khaju Bridge across the Zayandeh River. It was all very nice and beautiful, but there was a sense of something painful in the air. Isfahan was hurting, because its river hardly carried any water anymore. The river was the heart of the city, and it lay bare:
We heard something going on next to the bridge, and when we got there, it looked as if people were having a heated argument:
This was something that happened regularly in China, and it almost always drew large crowds of spectators, so I wasn’t surprised at first…
…until the audience applauded, indicating the end of an improv theater performance:
Okay, I was surprised.
There were a lot of people under the arches of the bridge. Some were having a picnic, others were praying:
And some had gathered to sing songs:
One person would start singing, and the others would join in the chorus.
Others would just watch:
And then there was this gentleman:
The button on his jacket said: I AM WHO I AM.