Iran Round Trip Day 4 - My Family Travels

We hit the road at about 6 o’clock in the morning on a Monday. This meant traffic, pollution and scorching heat even before the sun rose. Most people in Iran use public transportation or they walk everywhere but even with all the public services, Tehran seemed unbearably crowded.

Driving through the streets and freeways of the city is strange. The political banners dominate the scenery with vibrant colors and intricate faces. The one that caught my attention the most was a picture of a women soldier holding her infant son in one arm and a revolver in the other. The quote above the picture stated, “I love my children but I love martyrdom more.” It seems like something quoted out of the book of Al-Qaeda and yet I know that Iran’s policies are far from that. I wished they would just plaster the walls with white paint.

For prayer we paused at a park in the city of Khoramabad. A river ran through the park, guzzling along from the mountain stream at the center of the city. The mountain was home to the Al-Anan Fortress, built in the 16th century. While washing by the park fountain, I spotted a syringe and a vile amidst the grass. The objects seemed quite foreign to me. I would have expected to find these things in the locker room of my high school gym or at a football party after a game, but no, they were right where I least expected them to be. After seeing the same scene in a restroom later on, I had to assume that Iran had a major drug addict population. Noticing it with my own family at first, it is very taboo to talk about these subjects in Iran. Amidst the confusion, I tried to enjoy the fortress however; I still couldn’t get the site of those drug addicts, lying dazed in the park, out of my mind.

Our road trip seemed to be going along smoothly despite the heat. I was glad to see my dad pointing out landscapes and buildings proudly, showing off his native land. I wanted to think that this road trip was a mistake but I realized how much it made my parents happy. But our luck was soon short lived. Twenty kilometers out side of Khoramabad, our radiator broke down and we were forced to go back to the city to have it repaired. It was minutes before midnight when the mechanic finished “repairing” our car. We headed out the city again and this time, 50km down the road, our radiator heated up yet again. We parked the car right outside a power plant just off the freeway as I lay awake in the back sit of the Peugeot. A donkey trailed by the cars when my uncle finally decided to call it quits. Here was the plan: My uncle would drive the broken car with my sister, cousin, aunt and me to the bus station in the next city while my dad, mom, younger sister and girl cousin drove the other car to Dezful, our final destination. And so we drove to the nearby city of Polldokhtar or “Girl Bridge,” literally. We rode the bus to Dezful, only 4 more hours away.

We didn’t arrive in Dezful until 6 o’clock in the morning but even then I could tell that the city had not changed at all. The street lamps had the same Christmas-like decorations, the streets were lined with the same vegetable vendors, and most important of all, the river, was still the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen.

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