|Subject: Iran Travelogue|
It was my first full day in Isfahan. As I was wandering the magnificent Emam
mosque, two young Iranian girls came over to talk to me. They were maybe
14-15 years old and their lovely, smiling faces were framed by their black
chadors, that all-encompassing garment that most woman wear in Iran. What's
your country? they ask in halting English. When I answered they exclaimed,
America! We love America!
Questions came as quickly as they could find the correct English words: What city do you come from? What do you think of Iran beating America at soccer? Do you like Iran? After a few minutes they exhausted their English and, I thought, their interest in me. They headed off but didn't get more than 20 paces before they came back with one last question: could they take their picture with me? So we waylaid a passing tourist to work the camera and the three of us stood together smiling.
As I walked off, I contemplated what this encounter said about women in Iran. The young, at least, weren't shy. I was delighted because I had feared I would only meet men on this trip - how lopsided that would have been.
A little later as I was crossing Eman Khomeini Square, the tourist center of Isfahan, I noticed a busload of schoolgirls. I didn't make the connection until the same two girls got off and said, Come to the bus, the children have questions. As I stepped closer, all the windows went down. First, they would consult among themselves to get the proper English words and then someone would shout a question to me: When did you arrive? Where are you going next? Do you like Isfahan? They went on like that until the bus driver, who didn't look too happy, blew his horn to get everyone back on the bus. I stood there as they drove off, all waving at me. What a wonderful introduction to Iran!