Subject: Iran travel story
Here's the last little story from my Iran travelogue. Hope you enjoy it.


When I arrived in Shiraz I noticed that there were black flags throughout the bazaar and even in some mosques. When I inquired, I was told that they were in observance of the death of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, in 680.

One night as I was lying in my room, I heard the sound of chanting coming from the street. I sat up wondering what the heck was going on. The evening call to prayers was over, so what could it be? I quickly grabbed my jacket and headed off to find out.

On the street in front of the hotel I found men marching in two lines. At the head was a man chanting through a loud speaker. The men marching behind him were dressed in black shirts and carried a little device I later learned was called a shallagh. It was essentially a short wooden handle with a cluster of light chains attached to one end.

The men marched along and every 8-10 steps they turned to face each other. As they did they chanted, Hussein, Hussein. At the same time they hit their backs with the shallagh. Eight paces forward, face the center and hit your back - over and over again.

There must have been a hundred or more men in the procession - slowly they marched past me. Standing there alone in the darkened street, a shiver went though me. Somehow I found the whole thing frightening, this intense religious feeling is so alien to me. There was something going on here I had trouble understanding. I also found it a singular sight and the memory of it comes back to me whenever I think of Iran.