Why did I move to Tehran in 1996? I’m still not sure. I hadn’t set foot in the country since we’d left in ‘81 leaving memories of Iraqi bombs and traumatic family imprisonments behind us. I suppose I was young and wanted adventure. I wanted to reconnect with my father’s family and homeland. And I had romantic notions of being of service in some way.
The first days, weeks, and months were a blur of meeting family, settling in, and learning how to navigate a big city. Hopping shared taxis was an art form of its own as you had to figure out where to stand to catch a ride in the right direction, where to get out to catch a new taxi for the next leg of the journey, and how to avoid the young men who posed as cab drivers as a way of luring women into their cars for conversation.
But it wasn’t long before the new-ness and strangeness wore away and I was just living and working and making friends and falling in love alongside millions of Tehranis doing the same.
I worked at the Ministry of Reconstruction Jihad close to Laleh Park with colleagues dedicated to expanding access and economic opportunity for Iranian villagers. I lived in northwest Tehran not far from the Kaj round-about where I’d meet up with friends to go shopping or stop in at one of the assortment of cafes and restaurants. And my soon-to-be husband and I would walk along gorgeous ValiAsr boulevard making hopeful plans under the canopy of old plane trees whose roots drank from the joob waters flowing on either side.
All of these places and more appear in A Door Between Us. One of the great joys of writing is getting to spend time in a city I love but in which I no longer reside and haven’t gotten to visit for four years.
Oh, Tehran, I miss you! I miss the crowded bookstores of Enghelab, the ruby-colored heaps of zereshk in the Tajrish bazaar, and the pickled walnuts we’d peel during hikes at Darband. May we be reunited again soon and until then, I’ll think of you often and fondly at my keyboard.
Reader, what places do you enjoy visiting through your writing?
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