Behzad started to chop minced meat. Just in case it wasn’t minced finely enough and gave me the slightest chance of separating it from the rice grains.
– That’s that – I thought – I’m having falafel for dinner tonight…
Iran is no paradise for vegetarians. For animal right protectors neither. Think twice before you agree to watch a wedding video, because the dramatic bah bah of a ritually killed sheep will stay with you for a long time. It is much more fun to see the wedding pictures, particularly because they are the main reason people get married.
The bride and the groom start the preparations for the big day at 7am and only 12 hours later they are both primped enough to firstly quickly get married and then run off for the photo shoot. If they manage to get to their very own party before midnight, it’ll be good, but it makes no big difference if they do, because nobody will recognize them anyway. The bride’s smoky eye will look like Cher’s in carnival, the eyelashes will have silver feather attached, the blush will be the colour of the lipstick, the lipstick will be the colour of beetroot, the platinum blonde highlights will have glitter on them and if somebody wanted to annul the wedding because they married someone else than they intended, it would most likely be possible.
But the real preparations for the party start much sooner than 7am. Seven out of ten Iranian women spend several weeks of their lives with a bandade on their noses. A nose job is so obvious, natural and fashionable that ladies proudly exchange phone numbers of their surgeons, while the less well‑off girls just place the bandade themselves, hoping nobody will notice the lack of change in the shape of their noses. Men mostly remain by the face they were given by nature, but dare the hairdresser disappoint them! A hairstyle imperfection equals bad mood for a week.
When everyone looks pretty and unnatural enough, the dancing may begin. Dancing is man’s show. They swing and quiver their chests and shoulders, and when the audience is shouting “shake it baby!”, that’s most definitely meant for the male dancer, not his female partner. She keeps the distance of half a meter from the star toddling and wiggling her wrists gently to the rhythm. She’s not singing, not at all, because it’s not appropriate for a woman to sing.
It all looks completely different during unofficial parties, in which the participants fight the system by drinking home-made alcohol and singing loudly, both boys and girls. These usually take place in the sanctity of their houses. When the crowd is in a very revolutionary mood, they take the party out to a car and drive around pointlessly until the date moonshine is all gone. It needs to be emphasized that the driver is never disadvantaged.
This could explain why crossing a street is an extreme sport here.