– Go Lewandowski! – the Iranian border guard stamped our passports taking us hundreds of years back in time, according to the Persian calendar. It’s 1395, America still undiscovered. – Welcome to Iran and the lady needs to cover her head.
– Yes, yes, I know. – The giant yellow shawl had already been waiting ready and set. It’s a blanket on a warm summer night, a beach towel, a scarf that brightens up November, an insect attractor in tropical forests and a flashy banner calling for help on a desert island. In Iran it evolved into a hijab.
From the 70s, when Iran was changed by the revolution, every woman is obliged to cover her hair. The very religious ladies traditionally wear feet-long black cloaks called the chador. Chador means tent in Farsi, so I kinda fit in. The vast majority, however, prefers their headscarves loosely wrapped around their necks and shoulders or tied under their chins babushka style. These headscarves have one irritating quality: they fall down. What can a lady in her chador do when she’s wandering across the bazaar with three shopping bags filled with carrots, tangerines and rice and a kid pulling the hem of her tent? Well, the lady can either manage the kid and the shopping bags with one hand, leaving the other one free to control the cloak waving in the wind, or bite into the sheet drooling just slightly onto it (believe it or not, this is the most commonly chosen option!), or invest in clips that will fasten the chador to her nose or ears. Sounds comfy? I bet it is.
The ladies who decided to skip the chador in favour of the smaller and theoretically more user‑friendly hijab may apply hair pins, but if the scarf slides down shamelessly revealing a part of the ponytail, one may always count on the support of cultural police. “Miss, you have a problem with your hijab!” – the helpful officer will exclaim. They’re less bothered by tourists, I’m allowed to err.