Like this is fine.

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I'm always mildly amused by the comments made about my limit wardrobe (albeit consciously limited in variation) especially when it is common place for the Iranian folk to wear the same clothing for around 3-days running. The other day I was once again subjected to a public bashing regarding my clothing choice (on a day that my clothes were relatively varied) and was quizzed about the jacket I wore. I proudly stated that this was my father's some 30-years previous, which was met with the same stale faces that glared in disbelief when I said I'd been shopping in second-hand stores. To hide the shame I brought on upon family, my uncle loudly announced that his son in-law would take me shopping - no expense spared. As much as I felt the urge to explain myself, it wouldn't have resulted in anything and besides, more clothes would come in handy.

So the following day I joined my uncle's son in-law for a trip to Ferdosi - Tehran's exceptionally large clothing mall with maybe 200-shops, at a guess. To get there we travelled through Tehran by motorbike-taxi, which - granted - is a fast way to travel the city, but, is also fast way to invite death. On top of the dangers found on Iranian roads we were further in danger by being three to a small motorbike (no helmets), weaving through dense traffic with our knees knocking the odd car here and there. Oddly enough I found this most enjoyable and likened it to the open-top bus tours found in London.

It appeared that we had an incredibly large budget for our expedition, yet a very short amount of time - this was made shorter still by our poor knowledge of each others first language's. It's worth noting that in Iran it's pretty much universal for shops not to price their goods, thus bringing the art of haggling, which is always made harder by the presence of any English. Often I am asked to not speak when out buying goods and if I'm unlucky enough to be alone when shopping then things can get very expensive. Although there was a vast range clothing available, with many familiar brands, I struggled to find anything I liked. This was maybe more of a reflection of my preferance - no logos, no patterns, not "distressed", torn, frayed or creased... and preferably black (red at a push). These are the rules that normally make shopping a quick and painless affair - without these guidelines the variables become too much and my mind implodes under the weight of too many questions.

After this semi-successful shopping expedition, my uncle's son in-law popped me in a taxi, giving the driver the vaguest of directions. This was to begin a painful two-hour ordeal as I tried to get back to Karaj. The driver immediately asked if I knew where we were to go - "Just go to Karaj and I'll guide us from there" I confidently replied. I then stupidly dozed off (as I usually do on the way to Karaj from Tehran) only to wake up in unfamiliar territory - the driver had taken the slow, alternative and unknown route to Karaj. As we entered Karaj I asked him to follow the heavy traffic, assuming it was heading to the center like myself, but soon we were lost. The driver became irate and refused to listen to my father's direction via mobile phone and it was left to me to quiz pedestrians as to the directions. At this point a kind gentleman entered the taxi, offering to guide us to my destination. A short while later our guide left the taxi announcing that this was where I needed to go. "Go on then" the taxi driver said, "this is your stop". The guide had seemingly taken us to where he wanted to go no doubt and further away than where I wanted to go - at my expense! The driver -  a fragile sort, grumbling repeatedly - was steaming as I asked him to drive on while I quizzed further more people. Eventually we arrived, I exited the car, threw some more money in, he threw my bags out, I slammed the door and swore very loudly.


  • Since I have found your blog, I am recommending it to my friends here in UK. I also love your pics.

    Keep up the good work.

    By Anonymous AA, at 5:38 PM  

    damn, i cant imagine you in anything other than black! let alone red!!
    Are you still wearing your scarf over there? Murphdude lost mine the other week.. but came up trumps on saturday when she accidently robbed someone elses! :D
    hope your well mate

    By Anonymous Eddy, at 8:20 PM  

  • But he looks Great in Red as he does in Black,Eddy!!! Ciao

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:09 AM  

  • In your photos I've noticed the trend of black with spots of red here and there :) Actually, I wondered if it was something you did on purpose or if you just happened to be in the same outfit whenever taking photos.
    Haggling is a beautiful thing when done sporadically, on a daily basis though I tire of it quite easily. On one of my last days in Istanbul my father wanted to buy me a pair of shoes. I suppose like you, my wardrobe choices frighten others, as you've experienced I've also realize Iranians don't respond well to the idea of thrifting, and women tend to have something to say about my shoes. Or perhaps my lack of shoes. Because of this when my father begged me to allow him to purchase something I decided on shoes, killing two birds with one stone I thought. I refused shoes from anywhere but the bazaar, as the shops in Istanbul were all very... brand name-y.. if that makes sense? It doesn't make a difference to me really, but when the brand of the shoe is spread all over it I'm not going to wear it. So in the bazaar there are selections of open toe shoes, fun strappy numbers I'd never experienced but longed for a bit after seeing all the young women in Istanbul with them. I decided on a lovely pair, an exact replica of what I'd seen on the streets minus the heel so that I'd not fall over and make an ass of myself. It was perhaps a twenty minute ordeal, my trying on the shoes, the shopkeep telling me how beautiful my feet were, my father haggling, my brother and mother telling me the shoes were ugly which I did not understand initially. I saw my father step back a bit and explain he didn't much like the shoes and I was heartbroken! It sounds a bit melodramatic but I have such issues with people giving me gifts as it is, I was confused as to why he'd say what I chose wasn't acceptable... I asked him if he was being serious and he nodded yes and suddenly it was akin to being in the Twilight Zone. Everyone knew what was going on but me... I decided to shut my mouth and allow them to work it out. After the purchase of my fabulous shoes, which I still love and wear, my father explained that telling the shopkeep he didn't like them was just a way to bring the price down. Something I obviously did not pick up on in my excitement over finding pretty shoes heh. I've been told by my mother a few times that I'm not going to be allowed to go to Iran in the summer if I refuse to buy new clothes, heh. As much as I love our culture.. some things I suppose I will never really understand.

    By Anonymous Tahereh, at 1:34 AM  

  • I can imagine it was probably a difficult and frustrating day, a combination of all sorts of bad luck and cultural clashes. But it was so funny! It's embarrassing and I'm sorry for my confession but perhaps you would laugh at the memory now, wouldn't you?
    Reading this, I think you are a very patient person or perhaps you have a very strong motivation to resist the situation. I'm trying to figure out what that motivation can be.

    By Anonymous Asefeh, at 10:25 PM  

  • Asefeh, on reflection, yes, I can laugh - yet it wasn't the first time that something like this happened and certainly won't be the last - you know how it is in Iran. Amusingly enough, throughout my time in Iran, others have noticed that my patience has waned - I think something has been gain and both lost with this. Thanks for the comment.

    By Blogger ddmmyyyy, at 9:24 PM  

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