Friday 30 October
I’ve been neglecting my duties of late and for this I hope you will forgive me. This is due in part to recent world events, of which more anon, but aside from this and for reasons I know not, I have recently lost all my mirth. I’ve been having a very interesting time in Iran, with its ups and downs, but for the most part, the next few entries will be more for photographs rather than any outrageous stories. However I’m hoping a return to form is imminent and something devilish is just around the corner to satisfy your twisted needs.
I had a…mmm…unique time for my birthday in Shiraz, which is one of the must-see cities in the south of Iran. It is known as the city of poets, literature, wine and flowers. Before the revolution in 1979 (a very good year) there were some 300 wineries producing the goods here. Now, it is rumoured to be in the thousands, as locals make small batches in secret. You’ve got to jump through hoops to get it though and it’s crap. Consume at own multiple risks.
I’ve spent most of my time in the city wandering around, camera in tow, getting helped across roads like an old lady. Or man. Like an old man. You see Iranians are helpful to a fault, and even though I’m now a 36-year-old adult (debatable) male who I like to think is perfectly capable of tying his own shoelaces, nonetheless locals are almost in perpetual competition with each other as to how hospitable they can be. It’s like a hospitolympics. No wait. Olymipitable. Hang on I got this. Hospitics. Olyhostalics. Ahh fuck it – anyway there’s a slight downside too.
It is with great sadness and regret that I must report my first ever negative review on couch surfing. I’ve been hosting and surfing for six years with an impeccable record, however I noticed with dismay my Shiraz host has put a blot against my good name. I am now forever tarnished. The reason? Because I urinate standing up.
Technically this isn’t the only cause of my now defiled profile. You see my host was clearly a believer in something called “ta’arof” or “Taarof”. Now while not so widespread that you think everyone is trying to trick you, nonetheless it is a sneaky little play whereby a select few Iranians will appear to offer you something under the pretense that they don’t want something in return, but they actually do. Or that they offer something nice – but it’s not that sincere. Like when you’re bashing away on your X-box and you ask if your girlfriend needs a hand in the kitchen. Anyway, woe betide you if you don’t acknowledge this. Honking of car horns and scathing attacks in Farsi to name and shame a tight foreigner will result. Or in my case, a negative reference on couch surfing.
So apparently I didn’t help him around the house enough, treated him as my servant, and that I’m “dirty and unhygienic” because I pissed standing up. I assure you only one of these is true. He’s thought it necessary to give me a negative review on my otherwise unblemished profile, while I lied through my teeth to give him a positive review, as I believe negative references should be left to only extreme cases – assault, theft, unwanted sexual advances, never having watched Star Wars and not liking Marmite. A massive chip resides squarely on his shoulders.
His house was miles outside the city centre, he lied about how good his English was, his apartment was filthy, he concerned me with his homemade sex-chair (yes) and he cancelled my original length of stay – leaving me little choice but to frantically search for a last-minute host. This might explain why I wasn’t able to help him “cook” the ramen noodles.
Furthermore, (as while I’ve tried not to labour the point I’m still seething) he’s been in touch with people who have already hosted me here, and advised against hosting me again. This is of course against CS rules and etiquette, and merely a sign of insecurity and petty jealousy. However these two ‘girlfriends’ are exactly that – friends – and they informed me as to the reasons behind said negative reference – something he didn’t divulge and justify on the site itself – which is where you’re supposed to do it. In addition, he has been bombarding them with suggestive text messages in an attempt to score a date. When confronted, the gutless wonder did nothing to address me, but began to send aggressive and threatening messages to my aforementioned friends – much like – you may recall – his equally cowardly countryman regarding the ransomed laptop a month or so back. Unable to talk to me mano a mano, these fucktards M.O is to accost my female friends with abuse and threats until I’ve no choice but to halt my justified line of attack. Couchsurfing has since been informed and he is being investigated, however that little red mark against my name cannot be removed, so there’s a special place in hell reserved just for him.
Speaking of couch surfing, I intend to write an extensive post regarding this once mighty culture-exchange behemoth in the near future, because quite frankly, it’s gone shit. Watch this space.
Where was I? Ahhh yes, Shiraz. jewel in the crown of southern Iran. In fact jewel in all of Iran if you ask me. It’s a beautiful place, with lovely gardens and green space (which I didn’t go in because the tourist-tax entry starts to add up), and the added bonus of one of Irans must-see sights within day-trip distance. Persepolis.
Literally meaning “city of Persians”, Persepolis was the grandiose seat of a chap called Darius I, getting construction underway somewhere around 515 BC. It was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979 (a very good year), and while a lot is left to the imagination, there are still some fine examples of ancient architecture and rich decoration, as well as the now (in)famous Persepolis graffiti from later years. It seems nobody respected ancient history in 1890 either.
A former throne of the Achaemenid Empire, Persepolis was built to be the finest city on earth, reflected in the expense of its decadent reliefs and the gowns of the patrons who frequented it. Raised on a giant stage, it sits crumbling into the desert dust, but still pulls in the tourist hoard every year. It was beautiful to visit in late October, the crowds giving way to cooler climbs, and a brilliant Autumnal sun-set. Well worth a visit.
But for me perhaps the highlight of my Shiraz visit was the Nasir Ol Molk mosque. You know the one. You’ve seen it a gazillion times on some crap site like Buzzfeed, banging on about how Iranian architecture is like dropping a tab of acid. The thing is, they’re not far wrong. Simply a wonderful sight to behold first thing in the morning. Dazzlingly tripping the light fantastic – but once again – watch out for the stampede of tourists whose cameras are bigger than they are.
So I’m slowly catching up dearest readers. I’ve only got six more entries to write before I’m on point. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise in advance for how much shite I’m going to be spewing, but in the meantime please enjoy some pictures from my jaunt around this beautiful country. You know it’s hard work writing comedy gold all the time, but I’ll do my best to get into a fight or have a drink thrown in my face before I leave. I kinda miss it. To be honest though, such is the safety, friendliness and hospitality of this country and its people, I think that would be almost impossible.
Apart from my Shiraz host. He’s a dick.