Persepolis, where we were lucky to not have rain upon our visit.

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"Have you seen or heard the news today?", I eagerly asked with each fresh local face that introduced themselves to the group. "You know, the fifteen British sailors, have you heard anything?", was my fourth question, and like the third it was also answered with a no. "Do you Shiraz people watch the news or read a paper?", no, they would also repeat.

On the seventh day of the Iranian new year I'd left for Shiraz for a six day trip where we would join a dear friend for a long overdue visit. I was honored to have the company of my sister who was in Iran for a two week break, enjoying the reversal of sibling responsibility, among other things. Most of the trip was spent keeping a respectable amount of tourist activity going but we happily contended this by adopting a dose of local lethargy. The laziness was made easy by the unreal volume of rain which concluded in the thirteenth and last day of the new year celebration (a day traditionally known for bringing Iranians out to nature) reaching torrential conditions.

"We'll be staying at the kid's house", my friend answered as we left Shiraz airport to drop our things off. This seemed to indicate that it would be another of his family's houses yet although I never dug deeper, I suspected this was not the case. We we're well catered for with a freshly stocked fridge and mountains of bedding, but the place bore little sign of being lived in before us. A small bundle of my friends belongings seemed to oddly fit with various cosmetics and girly things found around the house. Yet it was the empty, pink, lingerie package resting near my impromptu bed that invited the most questions.

The lack of explanation seemed to ask for a lack of questions and as we overloaded the cars with more people than chairs I kept my mouth shut, as with every swerve and near miss

Like the house I wasn't sure who owned each of the different cars we used during the stay. I was however informed that my friend is still yet to pass his driving test, which made me mildly more comfortable about us taking it in turns to drive them. The lack of explanation seemed to ask for a lack of questions and as we overloaded the cars with more people than chairs I kept my mouth shut, as with every swerve and near miss.

We did Persepolis, Eram Gardens, Imam Reza's brother's tomb (Shah e Cherugh), Hafez's tomb, Karim Khan's and the local amusement arcade. "You could have done twice that amount", a friend criticised, "it makes no difference to him, 'here's a stone a few thousand years old and here's a more modern one we call tarmac'", they joked. I wasn't complaining, there was no tick list and it's a good excuse to come back future.

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My sister standing in front of Hafez's tomb, Shiraz late at night.

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"Do you want to see Hafez's tomb?", our host asked late one night having just watched one of the 180-films on his hard drive. A late night expedition to one of the world's greatest poet's resting places seemed in keeping with the haphazard holiday activities and thus we went.

It was gone one O'Clock in the morning and to my amazement the place was in fact open and more amazing still, we were not alone in the expedition idea. Having circled the courtyard, taken pictures and jostled our way to tap the tomb, we stood back and reflected.

Not being too familiar with Hafez, I asked my friend to help explain a little more about him, sadly we didn't get too far before my friend's knowledge ran short. "C'mon, you have the apparatus for nightly romances, learn a little more about this fella and impress the girly tourists while they indulge their late night curiosities", I joked, getting into far too much detail about how he can achieve this.

Just as I was explaining how he should begin his romantic tours by picking and referencing a flower (that he should later give the girls as a gift ) the bedraggled man that had been edging backwards towards us, spoke. "Hey, are you guys English or something?", came an American twangy accent. And so began a random late night deep-one with a columnist of the Tehran Times.

This man turned out to be a walking encyclopedia with a dodgy dental arcade, obviously wearing the scars of his back-to-back rolly smoking

"I'm an American refugee", he joked as he filled us in on what brought him to be visiting this tomb at 2am. This man turned out to be a walking encyclopedia with a dodgy dental arcade, obviously wearing the scars of his back-to-back rolly smoking. I was absorbed, a little more so than my sister and friend who'd accompanied me, yet I made the most of the opportunity to pick his brain.

In roughly this order we'd discussed, Hafez, poets, heritage, anthropology, language, the United Nations, the WTO IMF and World Bank, America, Iraq, the dollar, the dumping of the dollar, 2012 and a small group of 'people' with an incredible amount of influence over human kind. At about that time a well groomed young man wearing a large CND necklace interrupted us, "I heard you talking English from over there, can I join in?". Things were not at a point where one can drop in and so we fell to silence. I didn't want to be rude but the conversation had gotten freaky, our refugee friend was well researched on some alarming topics.

This was not the only time I would be wrapped in deep-ones with a dentally challenged visitor to Shiraz. I wanted to go for a second meal at the famous Bathroom Restaurant yet both this and the second choice were closed leading us to a third option for our afternoon kebab. I chose table 13 as it was equidistant to other customers but the others wanted to sit at table twelve - maybe it was the fish tank.

I can't recall what we'd been talking about but halfway through my kebab a polite English voice came from the table beside us, I'd clocked this lone woman as German and was previously intrigued by her colourful dress. "You're talking English, are you English?", she asked, "it so nice to hear and English voice", she continued. She was Kiwi but lived mostly in the UK and began to tell us of her conversion to Islam and lone travels around the Middle East.

She re-piled her rice with each subject, possibly eating it or possibly displaying it between her one-up one-down dental arcade. And so began another intriguing discussion of travel, Iran, England, oppression, feminism, education, science, religion and submission.

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