Iran Diary: Day Eleven-October 20, 2009

Mashhad > Tehran > Kerman

In the morning when we went down to the hotel lobby area for breakfast, we encountered a number of wheelchair- bound men. We were told that these were wounded veterans of the Iran/Iraq war. The Iranian government pays for their visit to the Imam’s tomb, putting them up at good hotels and providing transportation.  It reminded me that yesterday at the 8th Imam’s shrine compound, over one of the gates there was a loud speaker that announced when another miraculous cure resulting from the Imam’s intervention had occurred. I expect that the injured veterans were there in the hope of benefiting from such a miracle.

We spent the whole day in airports or on airplanes. While there are direct flights between Mashhad and Kerman, the planes are too small to accommodate a group of our size.

At the Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, one of our group members took a picture that had the same subject as mine –the message from the Ayatollah. He was taken away by security people. In about 15 minutes he returned to report that he had been asked many questions. I guess I was lucky that I was shooting from farther away and that my camera was not so visible. In any case an airport is a very touchy place to take pictures in many places in the world.

Welcoming wounded veterans 歓迎傷痍軍人

Meeting in the lobby ロビーで会う

A Convention 集会

Hotel Lobby area ホテルのロビー周辺

Reception at the hotel-Canadian flag yes, American flag no ホテルのフロント−カナダの国旗あり、アメリカの国旗なし

At the Mehrabad Airport. Ayatollah Khamenei “ The year of moving toward the revision of consumption pattern” メハラバッド空港で『消費パターン修正に向かう年』アヤトラ ハメネイ師

On the Iran Air flight I saw an American flag イラン航空の機内でアメリカの国旗を見た

For lunch at the airport I enjoyed the pizza 空港のランチでピッツアを楽しんだ

 

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Iran Diary: Day Ten- October 19, 2009

 Mashhad

This was the day of our pilgrimage to the most holy site in Iran. In the Ninth Century the Eighth Imam Reza was poisoned by his enemies in Mashhad.  We visited the holy shrine of the martyred spiritual leader in the Gowhar Shah mosque that is a center of pilgrimage for Shi’ites.  There are separate entrances for men and women. Every female pilgrim must cover her entire body with a hijab. Hijabs were lent to visitors like me.  The hijab I was given was much longer than my height and since it was a white fabric with tiny gray prints, I felt like I was a ghost in some cartoon.

The whole complex was vast and only Shi’ites could go inside of the tall wall around the Tomb. Cameras were not allowed at all. We were given a DVD that describes the shrine and its activities.

We were able to visit the building housing gifts that various foreign dignitaries have sent to honor the Imam. Among these gifts, there was a skillfully painted portrait of Grand Ayatollah Khomeini given by Kim Jong-il. The most striking was a painting of the rider-less horse of Imam Hossein after the battle of Karbala. I felt the deep sorrow of a horse which had lost it’s master.

Our guide Amir gave us a short lecture on decoding turbans:

  • White Turban-a cleric
  • Green Turban-a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed
  • Black Turban-a cleric who is also a descendant of Mohammed

With so many turbaned men around us, this was very useful information.

Amir graduated from a college in the American Midwest, and is very knowledgeable about the history of Iran. He warned us that Mashhad is only 125 miles from the Afghan border and is on the route of drug trafficking. We should stay in our hotel after dark. During the last few years, drug dealers have kidnapped several tourists to exchange for members of their gangs captured by the government.

Holy City  聖地

Non-Shi’ites could not go beyond the tall wall シーア派信徒以外は高い壁の向こうには入れない

Street scene in Mashhad マシャッドの町の風景

Familiar faces from LA ロスアンジェルスでよく知られた顔

Our very reliable and alert Amin 我々の信頼出来て機敏なアミア

At the bazaar in Mashhad マシャッドのバザールで

Koran in this hotel also このホテルにもコーランが

Mashhad evening マシャッドの夕

Girls’ night out Mashhad version ガールズナイトアウト マシャッド版  

Gift shop at the bazaar バザールのお土産物屋さん

Salad and non-alcoholic beer サラダとノンアルコール ビール

 

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Iran Diaries: Interesting feedback from Dr. Laurence Michalak

Memorial to the Iran/Iraq War イラン/イラク戦争記念碑

In regards to my recent post, Iran Diary: Day Nine-October 18, 2009 my friend Dr. Laurence Michalak wrote me an in-depth history of Regan/Khomeini negotiations. I found it incredibly interesting and I wanted to share it.

Here is what I wrote in the original post:

On the way to our next stop Patrick gave us a history lesson about the eight-year- long Iran/Iraq War.  Apparently US chemical companies were allowed to supply materials to manufacture the chemical weapons that Iraq used with the full knowledge of the Reagan administration.  One and one half million Iranian men, some as young as 14, were killed or maimed in that war.  This seems to have been Reagan’s revenge for the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran.  We saw many portraits of martyrs who died in the Iran/Iraq War on buildings and walls in Mashhad.

Here is Dr. Laurence Michalak’s comment:

Hi Yasuko:

I enjoyed your photos and journal.  I’m sure many Iranians believe that supplying chemicals for Iraq’s chemical weapons was “Reagan’s Revenge” for the Iranians kidnapping American diplomats.  However, the US helped BOTH Iran and Iraq, in order to prolong the war, and Khomeini helped Reagan to defeat Carter in the US election.  There is strong circumstantial evidence that, through Vice President George Bush and Oliver North, Reagan made a deal with Khomeini that if Khomeini would keep the Americans hostage until after the election to help him win, Reagan would supply spare parts to the Iranian air force (the Shah had bought American airplanes but many of them could not be flown because the US refused to supply spare parts after the Iranian Revolution, and Iran needed them badly for the war).  Khomeini kept his part of the agreement, keeping the hostages and releasing them only on the day of Reagan’s inauguration. Reagan kept his part of the agreement, supplying spare parts to Khomeini in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal.

Best,

Larry

Dr. Laurence Michalak is a cultural anthropollogist with extensive experience in the Middle East and North Africa. He speaks Arabic and is especially knowledgeable about the Western Arab World. Dr. Michalak organized Berkeley’s academic programs related to the Middle East.He has published numerous articles and reviews.

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Iran Diary: Day Nine-October 18, 2009

Tehran -> Mashhad 

We flew from Tehran to Mashhad in the morning.  It was interesting to see some American consumer products—M&Ms, American brands of chewing gum, metal toy models of F-16 fighters with American markings—for sale at the Mehrabad Airport shops.

Mashhad is 530 miles east of Tehran and very close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.  We were cautioned to be wary of both drug dealing and kidnapping but neither was in evidence.  As the burial site of the Eighth Imam, it is the holiest city in Iran and an important pilgrimage destination.  It is also close to the burial site of the great poet Ferdowsi, creator of the Shah Nameh. We visited his mausoleum in Tus.  Many people stood around his grave, quietly reflecting on the poet’s life and is great undertaking.

On the way to our next stop Patrick gave us a history lesson about the eight-year- long Iran/Iraq War.  Apparently US chemical companies were allowed to supply materials to manufacture the chemical weapons that Iraq used with the full knowledge of the Reagan administration.  One and one half million Iranian men, some as young as 14, were killed or maimed in that war.  This seems to have been Reagan’s revenge for the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran.  We saw many portraits of martyrs who died in the Iran/Iraq War on buildings and walls in Mashhad.

Morning at the hotel: Instead of a Gideon Bible ホテルの朝:ギデオン バイブルの代わりにコーラン

Our comfortable tour bus in Mashhad マシャッドの快適なツアーバス

Portrait of a martyred engineer  殉教者となった技術者

Tomb of Ferdosi in Tus  タスにあるフェルドーシの墓

Memorial to the Iran/Iraq War イラン/イラク戦争記念碑

Memorial to a young soldier 若い兵士の記念碑

Sylvester (without Tweety) at a popular Kebab restaurant 人気のシシカバブレストランの シルベスター(トゥイーティーなしで)

It takes two to kebab 二人がかりでシシカバブ

A family at the War memorial site 戦没者記念碑で会った家族

The largest kebab I have ever seen 今迄見たシシカバブで一番大きい

 

 

 

 

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Iran Diary: Day Eight-October 17, 2009

 Tehran 

It was our last day in Tehran. We said goodbye to Traj’s badminton group early this morning at Raleh Park. It was so nice to have gotten to know them in the last several days.

Our group visited the Reza Abbasi Museum to see their famous miniatures. I was totally mesmerized by the amazing work and became immersed in the splendid world of Reza Abbasi (active in the late 16th to early 17th century).  Often the images seemed to bleed out of their frames into the world of the viewer.

On the way to the lunch, we drove by a tall government building displaying a mural of an American flag depicted with bullets and skulls (the building is nicknamed “Bullets and Skulls”). Our lecturer Patrick talked about the history of the American CIA meddling in Iranian politics in the 60’s. There was a long silence on the bus.

We had some free time in the afternoon.  My partner and I visited The Iranian Photographer’s Centre. They were having a 20th year anniversary show in which 200 members were showing their work. A young lady, a college student, whose work was in the show volunteered to guide us. We talked about cameras a little; she is a Canon shooter. Since this was a government-funded organization, there were no political photographs.

Classical dress 伝統的な装い

Contemporary dress 現代的な装い

Our last day with the badminton group バドミントングループと最後の日

A Reza Abbasi miniature レザ アバシの細密画

The “Bullets and Skulls” building  『弾丸と頭骸骨』ビル

The show at the Iranian Photographic Centre イラン写真家センターの展覧会

The work of a famous portraitist 有名なポートレイト写真家の作品

Our guide with her work 案内してくれた女子学生と彼女の作品

Lunch at a restaurant favored by Tehran intellectuals テヘラン知識人に人気があるレストランでランチ

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