Noilly Prattle: Persian Odyssey: Part XIV – Return to Esfahan

Friday, June 1, 2012

Persian Odyssey: Part XIV – Return to Esfahan

Leaving the sites of Persepolis and Pasargad I came to the crossroads where the tomb of Cyrus the Great is located. It just stands there in what I can only call splendid isolation. Unimposing, really, at first sight its sheer simplicity, almost blending with the surrounding desert, gives you the impression that the whole desert constitutes his final resting place. Unconfined to a mere rock face as is the tomb of Darius and others at Naghsh e Rostam, Cyrus's “greatness” seems as vast as the land itself.

Almost literally in the shadow of Cyrus's tomb I checked the drive train of the now considerably lightened Enduro, threw away most of the remaining gear that would no longer be needed for the final push back to Esfahan, turned away and headed west by northwest. The damaged sprocket had survived reasonably intact thanks, I suppose, to the constant attention and TLC I gave it and I no longer worried about making it back to Esfahan. It had come more than three quarters of the distance and would undoubtedly last for the final leg of the journey. I wondered (considering what I had seen in Kermanshah), as I rode along the highway, what I would find when I arrived back in Esfahan at the end of August, 1978 when, in retrospect, strikes and demonstrations began to paralyze the country.

Iranian kebab with roasted tomatoes
salad with various herbs
Superficially, things hadn't changed much in the week or so that I had been away. My third house looked unchanged as I opened the gate and pulled into the courtyard. I was looking forward to a good meal and a bath and sleeping in a real bed, but I let the bike idle while quickly dumping my gear in the courtyard. I was pretty worn out but there was nothing to eat in the house so I decided to go out for some lamb kebab and the green herbs on the side that I loved so much. I was probably not as alert as I should have been and the traffic on one of the main thoroughfares was very heavy. At any rate I hit a guy who was working his way on foot through the stalled bumper to bumper traffic. Being on a bike you can snake through traffic snarls and that was what I was doing when this guy suddenly appeared in front of me. I hit him and spilled right there on the street. 

Next thing I knew I was sitting, dazed, on the sidewalk with a crowd of people all around me. The bike had been righted and appeared not to be seriously damaged. I asked about the man I had plowed into and, although he was nowhere in sight, they insisted that he was not seriously injured either. Nevertheless, they were anxiously urging me to get back on the bike and get out of there. My head was clearing up by now and I could sense the urgency of their entreaties. They were frightened about something. I tried to ask what was bugging them, but my Farsi was totally inadequate. They realized, of course, that I was a foreigner, probably American, and someone managed to speak enough English to let me know that it would be best if I made myself scarce before the police came. I don't know if they were trying to help me or simply didn't want any hassles with the police, but I picked up their nervous vibes and did, in fact, get back on the bike and, a little shakily at first, returned to my house unfed. I locked the gate then took a long hot back and went to bed. I had some trouble getting to sleep even though I was exhausted, with the incident leaving an uneasy foreboding in my mind. 

To be continued...


Anonymous said...

Joe, how did you know where and how to travel? When you got to the tomb of Cyrus, for instance, was ANYONE around? These places are not the 'typical' tourist areas, it seems, with throngs of people milling around, yes?

Noilly Prattle said...

My BA is in History. I especially liked the ancient world and knew of these sites. It was just a matter of finding them on a map, planning a route and having the wheels. Maybe the time of year (the heat of high summer) had something to do with the solitude. These sites are popular with Iranians at special times of the year like Nowruz (Iranian New Year), so, yeah, I pretty much had them all to myself--just as I like it. NO ONE was around Cyrus' tomb at the time. Silent as the tomb--so to speak! ;-)

Anonymous said...

how absolutely fabulous!

Noilly Prattle said...

Twas indeed!