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Sunday, 6 July 2008

DIA 247 - The Mayor of Marvast

Marvast - Merhiz Dd = 120 Km Dt = 9040 Km

In a town called Harat the police found us. It was either a remarkable coincidence or Ali, the hydraulic engineer who had invited us for lunch, called them. The police drove behind us for 55 kms to the small town of Marvast, and then told us to wait. After a man dressed in a striped business shirt and jeans had spoken English at us for 15 minutes, showing very little interest in our replies (later it turned out that he was the local English teacher, and prioritised speaking over listening), a man we had seen on the road drove up. He was introduced as the Mayor of Mavast, welcomed us cheerfully and indicated that we should follow him on our bicycles. We soon arrived at a spacious house, and were introduced to his family - his wife, his mother, his two sons and daughter. His wife was covered from head to toe in what looked like a beige sheet. His mother was tiny and dressed all in black. She sat next to me on the sofa and immediately started talking. The mayor told her that I did not speak Farsi, but she was not discouraged. About 10 minutes later I realised that she was telling me that I had something in my teeth. She sat back, satisfied.

The mayor could say a few words in English and told us that his mother had had ten children, but two of his brothers had died in the Iran-Iraq war.

The mayor's wife whisked me to the shower. When she had closed the door, she immediately took off the sheet she was wearing. Underneath she had dark cropped hair, a fitted orange T-shirt and black tracksuit pants. She looked so normal that it took my breath away. After my shower, I sat with her in the kitchen. We managed to communicate that we were both teachers - she taught the Koran in the local middle school. I watched her prepare dinner (she would not let me help). She moved gracefully, every movement as important as its consequence. She was making a chicken dish with a rich tomato sauce, rice, and beef kebabs. At one stage, Angel tried to come into the kitchen, but the sheet had been removed, so I had to motion him away.
Then the mayor told us there was a castle in town and would we like to see it. We said yes although we could hardly walk we were so tired, and the whole family except for the wife piled into the car. Mother was dropped off early at her own house but we and the children carried on to the castle. The castle looked medieval and was made of mudbrick. From a turret we had a beautiful view of the town, which was also all mudbrick.

When we returned home, the wife needed to go to hospital. She had a bad back and needed an injection. She wanted me to come with her. We got on very well together given that we found it so difficult to talk to each other. The hospital took a while due to triage - a very sick, very thin lady took precedence.

Dinner was served late that night and we were absolutely starving. Straight after dinner we went to bed in the children's room. I asked Angel where the children were sleeping, and he said on the street. I thought he was joking but then looked out of the window, and there they were outside under a mosquito net. No amount of persuasion could make the mayor change the sleeping arrangements so that we were outside.

The next morning after a big breakfast of eggs, cheese, bread, jam and tea, we were on our way to Yazd...with the police still in tow. The mayor's wife slipped me some pistachios. The mayor and his family made Marvast the most beautiful town in Iran so far.

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