Honeymoon In Purdah: An Iranian Journey Alison Wearing

ISBN: 9780333794326

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Honeymoon In Purdah: An Iranian Journey  by  Alison Wearing

Honeymoon In Purdah: An Iranian Journey by Alison Wearing
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Twenty years after the Iranian revolution, most westerners still imagine Iran to be a warren of anti-American rhetoric, terrorism, and fanatical repression, especially of women. Not surprisingly, only an unusual woman would choose to travel there,MoreTwenty years after the Iranian revolution, most westerners still imagine Iran to be a warren of anti-American rhetoric, terrorism, and fanatical repression, especially of women.

Not surprisingly, only an unusual woman would choose to travel there, and Alison Wearing is certainly that. I refused to believe that such a place of unalloyed evil truly existed, she writes. I like to look for saints where there are said to be demons. Since it is the only country the world traveler could not imagine going to alone, she takes her fussy, gay roommate Ian, along with a fake wedding certificate and a story that theyre on their honeymoon. Then she dons a black cloak, scarf, and chador (the full body covering required by Shiite Islam) for a five-month journey from the Caspian Sea (breaking into the Shahs ramshackle summer palace) to the holy city of Qom (and Khomeinis shrine) to a hidden Zoroastrian prayer site (where she faints from heat stroke).

From the moment she steps into the country, shes surrounded by Iranians touched by her eagerness to learn about their country. There is the housewife who challenges her to a game of Ping-Pong in her long robe and scarf, offering food to her guests in between killer serves, and the Anglican minister who is wholly enthralled by the art of living.

There is the couple who spirit her away to a mountain oasis when she complains of the heat (leaving a message for Ian, Mister Canada, we take your wife. We make her cold), and the mother who tries to marry off her doctor son, joking that Wearing cant leave not without my doctor (a reference to the American film Not Without My Daughter). Wearing has a gift for connecting with others and the humility to let them tell their own stories. She also sees the hilarity in the most absurd situations. As it turns out, so do the Iranians, which makes for some wonderful laughs.

Wearing is also a poet, and she unveils the Iranians with innocence and grace--their hospitality, their quick acceptance and easy intimacy, and the real life of women beneath the veil. And while there are strict defenders of the revolution, most are philosophical: Friends, please forgive us, but our country is not perfect....

it will make us very happy if you enjoy. Keep your hearts in our people, my friends. We are strangers, but we try to be kind. This is a gem of a debut. --Lesley Reed



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