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Monday, 14 July 2014

The Magic of Abyaneh



I had been in Iran for 10 days. I was already mesmerised by what I had seen, done, and lived, yet I couldn’t say that I was completely in love. My heart was still in the ‘getting-to-know-each-other’ phase and was probably waiting for that spark that makes the difference between a regular relationship and a special one. And we, travellers, call it a ‘wow factor’.
Do you agree that your steps could somehow be guided into the right direction? At least from time to time, I feel that it’s true. Having read of this village while researching my trip into the Iranian Kurdistan and the elusive Palangan, having a carpet salesman stop me in Isfahan and tell me of this precise place, having our taxi driver in Kashan go on and on about it during our 10’ drive through the town. Definitely signs. But then, as a different driver speaking no English whatsoever showed up to our accommodation [a quite frequent luring policy in Iran] and in-between my outbursts of rage, the dazzling heat, and the delicious vegetarian meal I barely enjoyed, I thought to myself ‘Ah well, it isn’t meant to be’. The mysterious attraction of the cool mountain paradise we’d been promised was however still there. Lurking in our subconscious.

Reddish Abyaneh
‘Would you like a ride to Abyaneh, Ma’am?’ – wow! An English-speaking person! Yes, please! Of course, he was only the Marketing man and not our driver, but the young guy taking us in the end to the village (turned friend) did speak a little bit of English and, to our surprise, apart from the English-Persian guidebook we used every once in a while, we discovered quite a few resemblances between Persian and Romanian.
The cool of the mountains was already reinforcing its presence, harshly contrasting to the 40°C we’d left behind. All the way to our parking place, I felt a familiar closeness to the wow I had been eager to utter. My regained patience had suddenly turned into sharp curiosity, as the reddish walls of the houses started calling me.
We started to wander, promising to return in 2 hours. It was the first time I felt like this in nearly 3 years, since I had discovered the narrow paths of Cumalıkızık. It felt like rediscovering them under a different shade. Leaving aside the spaces and routes in and around the beautiful traditional dwellings, Abyaneh was lively, colourful, up-and-coming. Villagers were selling fruit, jams, biscuits, bread, jewellery, and clothing, all in an atemporal mixture. The sunset was fabulous and that radiant yet dim light would underline even more the contrast between my bright red outfit and the brickish background. It felt like being a teenager to discover something she really liked for the first time and not being sure whether to call it love or not. Leaving roots or taking the earth to plant them along has to mean something. I bought myself a beautiful long blouse with the help of a very nice lady, a visitor herself and speaking excellent English.
The incredible sunset light
Time had passed so quickly. However, it’s the brief yet intense moments in life we tend to remember. Like the old villager caressing his donkey near our parking place or the teacher we took down the mountains with us, to the joy of our driver. Or probably the tea we had at his sister’s place, in a very serene and familiar atmosphere, shortly after our return to Kashan. They all went down smoothly into my heart, along with the sip of the carrot juice served at ease. In love I was.  

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