Zarafshan – Tulips for Mothers

In 2018 while studying at Dehkhoda, I learned by word of mouth a story about Zarafshan Street (خیابان زرافشان) in Eivanak (ایونک), west Tehran which was full of thousands of tulips (لاله /lā’leh/). Apparently one had to see these flowers to appreciate them. I took a taxi there to see for myself. Despite the sky […]

Reading Hafez at Dehkhoda

گرچه منزل بس خطرناک است و مقصد بس بعیدهیچ راهی نیست کآن را نیست پایان، غم مخور Though the house be very dangerous and the destination very far,There is no road that has no end, don’t grieve Mohammed Shams olDin Hafez (1315-1390), sometimes called ‘Hafez of Shiraz’ or ‘Hafez Shirazi’ in English or more usually […]

Iranian handicrafts exhibition, and Iranian cloths

I heard through the grapevine (درخت انگور /de’rakht’e an’goor/) about the 32nd National Handcrafts Exhibition at the Tehran International Exhibition Center, not far from me in Velenjak. Iran generally uses the American spelling of the word ‘centre’. (Incidentally there is a ‘Centre Street’ in New York). This exhibition centre is huge. I took a minicab […]

Yazd 2012

I visited Yazd (یزد /yazd/) for the first time in April 2012. I immediately liked the city, perhaps because I was staying in an old district which is not thoroughly ruined by modernisation. We must be honest: the old parts of the city is why tourists come to Yazd. Nobody comes to Yazd to see […]

Kermanshah 2019

Kermanshah is a major city located about 320 miles (515km) south west of Tehran by road. It had been in my mind a long time to visit this city, and nearby Bisotun. The journey should take about six hours. On Monday I telephoned the Parsian Hotel (website in Farsi) and made a reservation for three […]

Bisotun World Heritage Site

On Thursday morning I went with my driver Milad to the Bisotun, about a 40 minute easy ride from Kermanshah. Bisotun is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This was to be the highlight of my trip to Kermanshah. We drove first to Sahneh (صحنه) so I could see a smaller town in Kermanshah. […]

Tochal 2019

In July 2019 in Velenjak, at about 6,000 feet, it was perhaps 35ºC, and the air was a little bit cloudy. But I decided I would go to the peak of Tochal again anyway. The issue with the clouds concerns visibility. I had no doubts that I would be able to reach the summit, but […]

Cafe Godot

I spend a fair amount of time on Enqelab Avenue as it and its side roads have many bookshops. And I’ve come to realise that I am something of a book enthusiast. I often start walking at the junction with Vali Asr Street on the north side and head towards Enqelab Square. This takes me […]

Sadface and his Zamyad

The Zamyad 24 is a light pick up truck made in Iran by Saipa. It is based on the last Nissan Junior from the early 1980s, but with some modifications and improved engines. We don’t have an exact equivalent in the United Kingdom, but in purpose and functionality it might be considered the Ford Transit […]

Learning Persian at Dehkhoda

I had learned some Persian in London. I had visited Iran and spoken some Persian with Iranians. I took the plunge: I decided to study Persian full time in Iran at Dehkhoda. The application process took some time, but eventually my visa was issued. I organised a flight, and then one day I arrived in […]

My First Visit to Iran – Final Thoughts

Iran was not what I was expecting or anticipating it to be. What was the basis for my expectations? I have already alluded in another post to the travel advice concerning Iran from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which was negative. According to that advice, I was half-expecting to be chased down the road by […]

My First Visit to Iran – Māsuleh

Masuleh is a village in the northern province of Gilan that was mentioned in Dr Moqaddam’s books. Further reading showed it has some unique characteristics and architecture. It seemed like an interesting place to visit, so I added it to my ‘to see’ list. The people in this part of Iran speak Gilaki, an Iranian […]

My First Visit to Iran – Shiraz

Shiraz is a large city in the south of Iran, and the capital of Fars Province. Its early roots are perhaps 4,000 years old. I flew on a short flight from Mehrabad Airport in Tehran to Shiraz (flights are cheap in Iran, and distances can be long and time-consuming by road), and stayed at the […]

My First Visit to Iran – Esfahan

My limited preparatory reading told me that although Esfahan’s roots go back more than 4,500 years, it was really during the Safavid Era that Esfahan came to prominence for which it is still famous. It was Shah Abbas who moved the capital of Iran from Qazvin to Esfahan, invested heavily in his new capital, and […]

My First Visit to Iran – Tehran

This is series of several posts about my first visit to Iran. On the 2nd of June (12 Khordad) 2011 I arrived at Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) flying with now-defunct British Midland Airways, arriving at almost 4am. I stayed at the Laleh Hotel which is roughly in the centre of Tehran. I had emailed […]

Death of an ant

Sadface and the other piglets were living in a semi-bucolic world. To one side, where they mostly stayed, was an orchard behind a wire fence with a hole large enough for all the piglets to scramble through. There was the road, of course, and its human-created dangers in the form of fast moving machines and […]

Sadface and Cyclops

Sadface’s best friend was a black and white cat called Cyclops. They often played together. They were both young skinny kittens of about the same age. Cyclops had his own house, constructed under a heap of branches. He would often repose nonchalantly in his den. Other times he would leap out, run down and greet […]

Learning Persian in London

I recall reading an article in a newspaper or magazine about Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid empire, several years ago. Then, around the same time, I chanced upon an article somewhere else about Adam Ölschläger, or Olearius, a 17th century German scholar who had travelled to Persia (as Iran was often known then) by […]

Tochal 2016

Tochal is a mountain with a ski resort at the very edge of north Tehran. It’s a very popular destination for Tehranis to come to walk and relax, and a place to escape the hubbub of the city. The first level, called the Roof of Tehran, is only 2 miles (about 3.2 km) from the […]

Dehkhoda Institute in brief

The full name for Dehkhoda Institute is Dehkhoda Lexicon Institute and International Center for Persian Studies, named after Ali Akhbar Dehkhoda (1879-1956). Most people use the simpler term ‘Dehkhoda Institute’. It is located on Vali Asr Street near to Tajrish in northern Tehran. Its name implies it has two main functions. The first function is […]

Āshura 2016

Islam has a prominent place in Iranian society. One of the most important festivals in Shia Islam is Āshura (عاشورا‎), which is on the 10th of the Islamic month of Moharram. On the 10th of October 680 AD (corresponding to the 10th of Moharram 61 AH) Hussein Ibn Ali, a grandson of Mohammed, was killed […]