Iranian Local: Where are you from?
IL: I told my sister your accent sounded like an American! I have never met an American before.
Me: Then how did you recognize my accent.
IL: I watch a lot of American TV. (Discussion continued about her being an electrical engineer for a city power company. She installed a VPN, so can access YouTube and watches American TV shows over internet, despite government trying to stop most internet access.)
Me: (noticing that she did not cover her hair in my presence) Are you Muslim?
IL: No, but I have to pretend to be. If you are not Muslim, you are not allowed to work for the government (the power company she works for is government owned).
Me: May I ask what religion you follow?
IL: If there were a god, there would be no Middle East. There would be no Ayatollah. There would be no Trump…
We spent two evenings in Yazd, which is also known as the city of wind catchers.
We rose well before dawn to drive to the Amir Chakhmag Complex to photograph the images shown above. Saba and Mehmet worked out a deal with the owner of a coffee shop/gallery to use their roof top at 4:00 AM to photograph the “blue hour” before the fountains were turned on, which would have destroyed the reflection.
We stopped along the way to photograph the Tomb of Persian King Cyrus (top left) and later another ancient village constructed from adobe with wind catchers.
We photographed the Dowlatabad Garden, which had more beautiful stained glass windows.
We had dinner at a small rooftop cafe, where we photographed the Yazd skyline at sunset. This is where I had the conversation with the woman summarized at the top of this post. We talked for over an hour, while I periodically turned to click the camera shutter, then continued the conversation.
Our Iranian guide was quite proud to state that Iran has religious freedom, because 2% of the population is not Muslim. I suspected from the moment that she made that statement that it was probably not really true. This woman was the only Iranian to openly state this, but I had the definite feeling from other conversations that a larger number of people only pretend to be Muslim in order to survive in the current society. This is probably the hardest idea that is foreign to my beliefs for me to accept. I do hold a strongly held belief that the government should have zero relationship to religion, be it Muslim, Christian or Hindu.
Yazd has a peculiar architectural structure that I have never seen before — a “wind catcher.” This is an Iranian developed structure that provides natural ventilation to the home in hot climates. The tall columned structures above (bottom image) catch the wind, regardless of the direction it blows from. The wind is directed down through internal shafts, where it blows over a pool of water, and then through the home. This provides a natural air conditioning, developed centuries before the electrical air conditioners mostly used today.
We had a chance to wander through the bazaar today (top two rows), where copper items for the home are in abundance (middle). As always, we also like to watch people (lower row), and saw one group of friends peddling around in a foot-powered four wheel cart while laughing and having a blast (lower-left).
Finally, as evening approached, we attended a traditional local workout session at a wrestling gym. Two dozen men spent an hour in rigorous exercises, to the music of a drummer who also chanted (middle-right). Towards the end, after an exhausting hour, they picked up massive weights (middle-left and lower-right) and tossed them like they were pillows. (I tried to lift one, and with both hands, could barely manage it!)