Iran has been totally brilliant even if a little surreal at times. What has attracted my attention the most on this trip is how gifted some of the people here are at replying to a question you have asked without actually giving you an answer.
For the first few days I thought either I was going a little crazy or I had forgotten my Farsi and was asking questions that didn’t make sense.
For example I would ask my uncle if he wanted my mum to give him a call when she came out of the shower, he would give me a long lecture about how he doesn’t have any hot water in house! Or I would ask my grandmother how long she usually left chicken drumsticks to cook before they were tender, she would give me a complete chicken recipe with orange juice and onions, entirely missing out the part about how long it takes for it to cook. Apparently ‘The trick is to put a lot of onions and a tiny bit of water. The onions make it very tasty.’
The answers usually went on for so long that by the end I couldn’t even be sure what my question had been in the first place. So I came up with a cunning plan. Every time I asked a question and people started going off on one, I would keep interrupting with the same question until I got my answer.
This tactic worked for a few days and I was very proud of myself for having solved this problem.
I wanted to go to the Friday Market and buy something but since I had absolutely no idea how much this thing was, I decided to do some research about the price first before going all the way downtown and finding out that it was too expensive.
Anyway we went to someone’s house and I noticed that she had a few of these things so I thought great; this person will probably know about prices and all that. So I asked her, ‘Can you tell me how much these things usually cost please?’ She replied, ‘Why? Are you thinking of buying some?’
‘Yes but I wanted to know how much they are before going all the way to the Friday Market.’
‘Yes that’s where I bought mine from, the Friday Market. You know…’ Here I sensed she was getting a bit sidetracked and could do with a little interruption. ‘Yes but how much did you buy them for?’
‘You know you can buy them in all different colours now.’
‘Yes but how much for?’
‘You know when I went to buy these a friend of mine came with me and bought some as well. Would you like me to ask her if she wants to sell hers?’ She wasn’t giving up.
But neither was I. ‘That’s a good idea.’ I said, ‘So how much do you think your friend might want to sell hers for?’ Clever I thought; I had well and truly cornered her.
She paused for a moment and then replied, ‘I could call her and ask her about that but I don’t understand why you want to buy hers instead of just going to the Friday Market and getting some for yourself. Don’t be so lazy, it’s very easy to get there.’
I had met my match.