Nesfe Jahan, pt 48

13 November 2010

I’m the only tourist on the minibus to the Iranian border. There is only one other man who speaks English. Unfortunately. It turns out he’s loud, obnoxious, and a terrible listener who can’t even give a straight answer to a direct question. Sigh. After hitchhiking, I feel that paying for a ride should give me the right to be left alone. But no such luck. As we walk to customs, he asks me if I know any farsi, and I reply with “salaam”, glad that after 30 minutes he shows the slimmest interest in something else than himself. But he asks me if I know “shalom”. “no”. “it’s HEBREW, you know. From ISRAEL”. God, I didn’t need that. I wasn’t nervous about crossing the border, too much research. But he was kinda stealing my moment. I speed march to the buildings, and the Iranian side is kind enough to give me preferential treatment, letting me in before the masses of Turks and Iranians. They give free maps and travel advice too. Nice people. I exchange part of my cash (Iran doesn’t have visa or international bank cards due to embargo) for 70 bills of approximately 3 euros, the highest denomination. I start to figure out the best way to get out of there, involving 20 Iranians standing around me in a circle, when I’m saved by a suit. An Iranian lawyer living in Istanbul, very calm, very congenial, offers me to share a taxi with him to Tabriz. Together with another passenger, it would come to 6 euro’s for 4 hours ride. Fine by me. He’s already found the other passanger. The ogre from the minibus. And, in that moment, I know exactly what that means. I quickly nab the font seat, with a look of “I’m a tourist, I’m entitled”. And what happens is exactly as I saw it. For 4 full hours the oaf bellows, emphasized by banging my seat, discusses every stupid news topic under the sun. As I exchange looks with the driver and the lawyer, I know they think the same thing. Maybe someone should put up the money for his seat, and leave him standing. But Iranians are too nice for that. I can only sush him for five minutes at a time, and end up getting a massive headache.