Sunday, August 07, 2005

Rose Petal Marmalade

The jetlag lingers. I was going to load up a few notes that I kept while en route from Calgary to here but I'm not on my computer at the moment. I've been in Tehran for a little more than 12 hours and I'm quie happy to say that much of the anxiety I felt leading up to this is gone. Whatever niggling doubts there were stirring my stomach and clenching my chest have been set aside. I had a very easy entry into the country with no inspection of my luggage and questions about the copy of Underworld that I brought with me. I decided that this was not exactly the best time to try and goad myself through another attempt at reading Ulysses and decided to go with Underworld because it was a good long read and that I'd find something new in it the third time through. Halfway to Vancouver though I realized that Salman Rushdie had a blurb on the front cover. I covered his name with a decal from Vancouver airport, but wondered if that would just draw more attention to it.

It was fascinating to stand in line at customs and see the mix of westerners and Iranians, not to mention the ubiqitous Hello Kitty paraphenalia.

I was met on the other side of customs by a gentleman from the university I'll be teaching at. He's studying German at the moment, so occasionally he replies nein instead of no but that is hardly reason for him to apologize for his exceptional English. He escorted me to my hotel where I checked in at 3am. The drive through Tehran was quite fascinating and I was keen to see it all by daylight. There was a lot of traffic for the hour of the night and I'm sure even more during rush hour tomorrow. I slept for about six hours and after a call to Bahman (sp?), an ever-smiling member of the hotel staff, I was sitting down to a breakfast of eggs, toast, feta cheese and rose petal marmalade.

The view from my window faces south which is a broad vista of sun-baked browns and sand. There is a heavy haze over it all and the hotel is on a hill which probably exposes it to a bit more of the haze. I didn't notice it last night, but on the ceiling there is a sign indicating the direction to Mecca and a prayer rug in the night stand next to, I assume, a copy of the Koran and another book.