your bleeding heart

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Through the help of my friend Mastaneh from Mashhad, I got a tourist guide today:

with Hanie

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:

inside the mosque

The four-hundred-year-old building had a spectacular dome:


And it wasn’t really that crowded at all:

mosque courtyard

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:

trash can

Then Hanie took me to have tea with a group of former athletes who got together every week in the same café:

group of gentlemen in Isfahan

One of them liked to draw things:

old gentleman in Isfahan

He drew me:

this is me

And when I asked for a drawing of something ridiculous, he came up with something adequate:

this is Trump

They were very kind, these old athletes:

hat and glasses

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:

malls are all the same

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:

end of the show

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:

little ones

Or film:

filming the singing

And then there was this gentleman:

I am who I am

The button on his jacket said: I AM WHO I AM.

True that.

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