The telecabins

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"So would you like to explain what brings you to Iran", I ask the forty-something German standing within my view finder. His voice adapts to a semi-serious tone as I played around with the video camera positioning, "I'm in Iran to cover the elections", he responds, explaining that he will do so as a photographic journalist as part of many politically orientated projects he's working on around the middle east. We stood almost halfway up a scenic mountain setting overlooking a hazy Tehran, I set our photographer-guest to the side of the frame to both catch the passing groups of curious Iranian tourists and the crossing telecabins hanging in the sky behind. He spoke with an impassioned frustration about his more prominent project, "I'm photographing walls, that is, walls of detention: the West Bank in Israel/Palestine, the Mexico border and Belfast for example".

The impromptu interview came to a natural close whereby I realised I should probably get the borrowed video camera back to its rightful owner. We squinted up and down the mountain in search of the group we'd arrived with yet a quick phone call confirmed my suspicions that the day's events had pretty much been called off and a regroup for tea and cake had commenced. With disappointment we set back down to join the group and with further disappointment I listened to the real meat of our guests opinions as the camera hung switched off and by my side.

The Big Green Spring-Clean: join us in clearing up the clog-up. In and effort to rid Iran of rubbish we are conducting periodic team cleans. Begins Friday 7th March (17 Esfand). Meet @Bam-e-Tehran @Tochal (end of Velenjak). 9am. Bring gloves, wear green & make a sign "People came & cleaned me". Pass it on.

"I know the leader of this certain NGO", interrupted one of the American raised Iranians at the cafe table, "and I could arrange coverage with this certain publication", she continued. This triggered others of similar culturing to add in, "oh, and I know this person, who knows this other person, who's involved in this certain group". Within a short period of time we'd amassed a list of potential-maybes to come to an event with no clear definition. "How about we just set a date; all of us here will attend; do this once and then take things from there", I suggested, conscious of putting talk into action for this proposed ongoing event. But supposedly one group needed to notified, another person needed to pull some strings, things needed writing and delegates needed to be found to delegate to the lesser delegates. Apparently I was not appreciating the dream; indeed I appreciated the hidden purpose by which Iranians can nurture their association to the land (that they may feel has been taken from them), yet my suggestion of leading by example was met with silence. "Next Friday, 9am we meet at this location, wear green, bring gloves, make signs and be ready to document the process", I put it, "I'll send a message around, please pass it on".

The Afghanis persist on undermining our efforts. We've still yet to find so much as a pistachio shell

"Day three of the Big Green Spring Clean...", I jokingly gasped as one of the group was rolling with the camera, "... and the Afghanis persist on undermining our efforts. We've still yet to find so much as a pistachio shell". We were fooling around, yet it was true, we came across a waste bin every 20-metres and an Afghan circling every 40, yet this didn't deter our 20-plus team. Headscarfs were held in place with one hand while plastic bags were grasped at in the other; contingents of mostly young women leaped off the beaten track to respond to the calling of a glinting ring-pulls. "Excuse me", interrupted a woman while I'd gotten to day four, "I just want to say, what you are doing is great, keep up the good work", she continued before darting off. "Did we get that on film?", I asked as I turned to the camera once again.

I tried not to read into the fact that only one of the three well-connected, American-raised conspirators turned up (and late at that) and instead enjoyed the abundance unfamiliar Iranian attendees wearing some shade of green. But I later learned that the successes didn't stop there, another mixed ethnic friend who also didn't attend informed me that the multinational company she works for awarded her with a prize for writing about green issues. She'd suggested some association within her writing, "I hope you don't mind", she smiled. Her prize was a trip to Malawi to take part in some kind of green activity – I can only guess that'll involve delegating tasks to locals on how to offset the carbon footprint her trip will produce.

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