Stretch your back and arms. It’s comfy sleeping on the fluffy carpet, right? Rays of sun are falling through the window, a branch of a handsome cherry tree tired after the summer is knocking on your window. The smell of saffron, sesame seeds and raisins is coming from the kitchen. Stretch again and purr contently… Oh, how they spoil you here!
Fatma is calling us for breakfast. It’s been a long time since someone pampered us like that.
After visiting several cities I don’t feel like sightseeing anymore. There are mosques, mausoleums, Persian gardens, bazaars, monuments of ancient Persia everywhere. It’s all beautiful and fascinating, but that’s the charm of a long journey – one stops exploring everything obsessively and begins to live. And life in Iran is most alluring in small towns, the ones not recommended by any travel guide.
In Safashahir women say that the whole country makes fun of them: that they find a grass, then name it and eat it. Therefore, in addition to the dishes on the table (uhm… or rather the carpet), there are always fresh, juicy, aromatic herbs and the richness of teas and infusions is overwhelming. Whatever the tea is made of, its faithful companion is a sugar lollipop with saffron. By stirring it into your cup you can be sure that there are at least four heaped spoonfuls of sugar coming along. This might be the reason for Iran no longer to bother inventing elaborate desserts. Everyone is perfectly satisfied with tea and a giant after-dinner bowl of fruit.
In Safashahir women weave carpets. Frames of various sizes furnish the living rooms and colorful threads sit on each of them. Fatma’s friends and cousins show us their techniques: one type of knot for a decorative silk carpet, a different one for a woolly floor layer of fluff. But what’s truly incredible is the view of an almost retired lady cross-legged for the sixth hour of this day and a hundred previous ones in poor light, vigorously tangling colourful knots and cutting one ready row of carpet after another. This work of art needs three more months to reach the size of 2x3m. I felt silly when these mistresses of yarn and knots wanted me to teach them how to make friendship bracelets.
In Safashahir people wish for their town to start appearing in tourists’ itineraries. For travelers to start noticing the ancient Persian ruins, old houses built from clay and straw, for visitors to have picnics by the river, where turtles swim, to visit the cultural centre, where men practice their peculiar sport, starting with waving giant wooden skittles, followed by spinning, all of the above to the rhythm of psalms. For the door to the traditional home of Mr. Reza, where we had the honour of being the first foreign guests, never to close, so that the whole world could taste his wife’s ash soup and bake shashliks with him, admire his findings and exhibits, which will soon stand in his museum, rest by the fireplace, and appreciate the heart and soul which he puts into the development of his region.
Iran offers a hundred different experiences: desert, jungle, skiing, island hopping, tracking ancient history, finding nomadic villages… Everywhere people are friendly and welcoming, and the food delicious, but here we found this unique and special something. And when we were leaving, Fatma would hitch the next ride with us and waved us goodbye until she disappeared behind the horizon.
The film uses a fragment of “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg.