April 17, 2004
One of the things that happens when you stay in a country long enough is that everyday life starts feeling normal. My heart no longer races when I am a passenger in a car hurtling down the wrong lane into oncoming traffic. I see color everywhere, even when people are all dressed in black and beige. I am obsessed by foreigners (I have talked about this previously). I don't notice a lot of the strangeties of my every day life anymore.
That said, I often think of my father's stories of the ragman driving his cart through the streets and calling out his offer to buy old clothes; or the vegetable vendor rhythmically chanting his offerings. Every day, I hear similar chants. First the vendor with the fresh herbs drives slowly through our neighborhood. Next the small truck with tomatos, cucumbers, and oranges. Later a man will come by asking for left-overs to feed animals with. Some days a truck comes by with offers to buy old appliances or plastic bottles or old clothes for rags.
At first, I thought these calls came from police vehicles. I was not used to anyone but the police broadcasting their voices from their cars. Now, the rhythm is clearly recognizable to me as are the words.
Advice to Iranians on feeding non-Iranian visitors
This is another everyday thing I have meant to write about for awhile. This is Very Important Advice. If you have a non-Iranian visitor to your home for a meal do NOT, I repeat NOT, feed them kebab of any sort. Trust me. They are sick to death of kebab. Your visitors might even appreciate some of your vegetarian dishes. Iranians might feel offended if they receive a vegetarian meal, but most westerners would be thrilled to eat one after eating kebab after kebab after kebab in the restaurants.