Day One in Iran and the novelty of doing a French Lieutenant’s Woman hasn’t yet worn off. By that I mean wearing the hijab, or head scarf, that is compulsory for all females above the age of nine under Islamic law. Actually, nine is an arbitrary age, it really means when a girl reaches maturity.
Sinfully early this morning at customs, I saw a Japanese girl turned back because she hadn’t put her headscarf on while passing the last hurdle to wandering free in Iran. It wasn’t until a businessman in the queue behind her took the lime green scarf from her hand and ever so tenderly tied it under her chin that she was let loose in the country.
Had I known that coloured headscarves are all the rage, I would have brought one of my brightly coloured ones from Cairo. But I opted for black on the advice that muted tones of grey, dark green and blue are most common, and at least half the population wears black. But many other colours, including white and aqua were frequently spotted as my guide Reza and I tottered around Golestan Palace, Tehran bazaar and a former arsenal that is now a cool park with café and art gallery.
As it was, I left my hairdryer at home (who needs to do their hair when it’s covered all day?) but I might run into difficulty when I enter a private home (it’s on the cards) and take my scarf off to reveal… higab hair! Flattened to a pancake, it’s none too flattering, let me tell you after a day under wraps.
Hip Tehran girls tease the life out of their hair, so the fringe stands up like a 60s quiff that their scarf is then draped oh-so casually from. Actually, the boys are doing the same, without the scarf, and long, lush dark hair is gelled into gravity-defying waves that give them another six inches’ height.
As has been well reported elsewhere, nose jobs, once the preserve of the rich, have been around in Iran for at least 15 years, and are now quite common, though I saw only one plastered nose, and that was on a young guy.
The city is very safe, very clean and damned organised, by Cairo standards, though the traffic is a little vicious. If I was coming straight from Australia, it’d be different, but Tehran certainly has its own quirks, not least all the billboards of the mullahs and martyrs of the revolution around the city.
My headscarf just fell off hahahahahah. Lucky I’m sitting on my own little balcony! Signing out from Tehran…