How do I make an Iranian girlfriend

Travel diary : An Iran behind walls and rose gardens


It's warm and it stinks. A thick mist of coal hangs in the air. When I was six years old, it smelled the same on Schönhauser Allee. A first homeliness. East remains east.

Looking for a loo in the airport, I accidentally stumble into the prayer room next to it. The different ways of relieving yourself are right next to one another, I think. Even the sign on the door is almost the same. I have to laugh. Now then after all: Welcome to a foreign country.

My girlfriend's father has been there for two weeks, and WhatsApp messages have been going back and forth since then, reminding us of necessary documents, souvenirs and when and where we will be. We are currently standing in front of the entrance hall of the airport and waiting for him.

Then he emerges from the fog. "Relax, we're in Iran." He pulls us away from the taxi drivers to the median, where he looks around for his nephew's car. It honks. The nephew picks us up in his car. Didn't let himself be taken away when the relatives have traveled from so far. We stow our jumbo suitcases in the small off-road vehicle and off we go. At 140, the nephew drives between all the lanes and likes to turn around to us, turning his back to guests is ultimately impolite. Apparently, driving them into the next truck is far less. Nevertheless we arrive safely.

In Persian baroque. In Iran they understand the art of making gold out of wood. All chairs and tables are painted gold. My home is my castle. This premise has led the English into a plush, puffy cosiness. But in Iran, in Persia, Versailles was the godfather. No matter how small the booth.

1 day

A cousin picks us up from the apartment. Her dark blonde braid curls out from under the headscarf, which keeps slipping away. The four of us squeeze into a taxi and drive to the Tajrish bazaar in the north of the city. The fairytale dream of the Orient begins in one fell swoop. Nuts, fruits, jewelry, light bulbs and socks. Everything is there. Also a kind of Shiite nativity play. Three guys in silk, saber and turban perform it. Each of them has a microphone that rattles their story over as if it were God's word itself. After all, that's what it's all about. Or about Ali. And his son Hassan. And Hossein. And for them it was about God, the only, great, clattering one. There is also tea. In the first row sit women veiled in black with serious faces.

In the evening court is held with the family. Top floor of your own house. Thick carpets and a circle of chairs. The same late-romantic European lovers are always embroidered on the upholstery. That doesn't coincide with my idea of ​​our hosts, because we are visiting the very traditional part of the family. In the round I get really hot. I don't understand a word and feel watched. There is also one pistachio biscuit after the other on my way, and first of all, with no appetite, I accept them all. Fortunately, there is also black tea. Then eat. A feast. Then fruit and more biscuits.

2 day

Our uncle greets us in the south of the city. Legs like tree trunks sway his hips with every step. A smooth swing through the city. Winking button eyes, Mustache. He stands in the traffic and divides the floods. Everyone raves. The uncle makes things clear. Pretty much all of them.

We really want to see the Golestan Palace, the old residence of the Qajars. My girlfriend is piqued. You used to get in there like that. Without a queue. Without tourists. Look: Germans! But there's the uncle, and before we can say VIP, we're in. My friend says it must have seemed bigger back then. In that case, it was not the time before the tourists, but that of the old Qajars. In fact, a monster of a new building rises outside the three-meter-high, artfully tiled walls, which shadows the rose garden. The noise stays outside. It's an oasis. At the tea house we meet the Germans again in their raincoats. Jack Wolfskin made it in too.

In the evening we go to the theater in the city center. A supposedly feminist piece was recommended to us. We can get tickets via an extensive telephone chain. The ticket is handwritten and slipped to us in front of the theater as if it were a receipt.

The piece roughly translates as: “Where did the harem pigeons go?” This question is pursued for two and a half hours. I understand how to expect nothing. To the sound of wings beating, the women's ensemble often changes chador on stage and freedom flutters by for a moment. In between there is a lot of crying. So much that it annoys me at some point. I think briefly how mean it is of me when I'm usually more empathetic and things are negotiated here that dig deep, even if I don't understand them. But from the groans of the people sitting next to me, I guess I wouldn't be more enthusiastic even if I knew the language. There is criticism outside. You have seen bolder pieces here.

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