This weeks diary is bought to you by three of World Medicine’s trustees, Najma, Barbara and Emma, and we hope you enjoy our ramblings and forgive any shortcomings!
Emma begins… This week, the theme of journey has had particular relevance to us at World Medicine. Our dear friend and fellow trustee Alison had to embark on her own long journey from Cornwall to her home in York. We were all thinking about her a great deal, aware of the challenges and discomfort the journey might bring. We are so pleased that she is at home again and Alison, if you are reading this, we are all rooting for you and willing you back to good health!
Meanwhile, we continue, geographically separated but together at the same time in our journey. Scotland is very wet today and “dreich” as we say here. Autumn marches on and so do us Peacocks. We are now in the final third of our journey to Chaparda, still navigating our way through Iran. Our next significant city to pass through is probably Mehriz, featured in our main photo today. It is a desert city, described by the Iranian travel centre as a “green diamond” in the middle of the dessert. It boasts a UNESCO World Heritage Persian garden called Pahlavanpur, combining nature, art and architecture, definitely worthy of a visit. I was interested to read that Mehriz has a diverse spiritual population. The Yazidi’s, Zoroastrian,Islamic and Jewish communities have all been interwoven here since ancient times. I have to confess I know very little about Zoroastrianism, so I looked it up… worthy of the time… the core belief is crystallised as Good thoughts, Good words, Good deeds. ( Humata, Huxta, Huvarshta). Not a bad maxim to have!
Barbara continues the diary with news of our other teams….
Our Wee Monkeys are well into Iran now, skirting around the bottom of the Caspian Sea, the world’s largest body of inland water and skipping through the small village of Nik Pey – Nik Pey was actually granted city status in 2011, but it only has 450 residents so you might miss them if you blink. It’s a long and dusty road in this part of Northern Iran, but never fear there is a motorway service stop within a few miles where the wee monkeys can pop in to chatter over tea before they set off again hoping to get to Tehran within a few days – where a visit to the glorious Golestan Palace awaits.
The stately Snow Leopards are also in Zanjan province on the heels of the Wee Monkeys. They might be considering a detour to visit the Masouleh Forest Park, one of the most beautiful in the middle east with its massive range of trees, beautiful waterfalls and the attractions of Masouleh village which is built into the hillside – ‘where the yard of the building above is the roof of the building below’ and used as pedestrian areas similar to streets. Also known for its fog and freezing winters – perhaps the Snow Leopards will feel at home.
Our White Tigers are resting up on the Hungary Serbia border perhaps knowing that they are too late, unfortunately, to search out their cousins the Caspian Tigers, as they were hunted by the Russian military in the last century and none have been seen since the 1970s and were declared extinct in 2003. However, it has been noted in previous diaries that the Tigers do love a park – and the breathtaking Uvac canyon is ahead of them – a wonderful nature reserve with the spectacular Uvac river winding through its 75 square miles. Enjoy Tigers!
And now Najma adds her personal memories of Iran…
Iran has been Islamic for only 1300 years. 1300 years does sound like a long time. But the Persian culture shaped throughout the times of Persian Empire was not lost, rather absorbed into Iran’s Islam. Iran is rich in cultural symbolism, much of which derives from prehistoric times. Iran is the only nation in the Middle East that uses the solar calendar. It is also the only nation on earth marking the advent of the New Year at the spring equinox.
It is also different to regimes in the neighbouring countries, not only because Iran’s population is predominantly made of Shiite Muslims. Iranian, consider themselves as not part of the Arab world which is mostly Sunni Muslims.
Iran has some very devoted Shiite Muslims who undertake to do a pilgrimage of Prophet Mohamed’s grandson, to Imam Hussain’s shrine which is in Karbala, Iraq. Done on foot, a walking distance of over 1000 km is covered in approximately 8 days. Emma and the Peacocks might think it is leisurely walk down the Glens!
Iranians History – The Islamic and the pre-Islamic world have both provided national symbols for Iran, and these have come in conflict in recent years. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah, tried to make the twenty-five-hundred-year-old monarchy itself a central symbol of Iranian life. A series of public protests on the throne took place at regular intervals from the 1890s to the 1970s. These protests regularly involved religious leaders and continued throughout the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty.
Therefore, Iranians divide their country’s history before & after the Revolution of 1979, when the spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini took over and Iran became more Islamic.
I visited Tehran as a child in 1970, when Shah Pahlavi was ruling the country. Tehran felt like a modern European city with the locals dressed elegantly in western outfits and very different to the neighbouring Iraq where most women were in barakah (covered from head to foot in black). I saw my first snow there. Overnight almost a foot of snow had fallen but by 9am the city council had cleared all the roads and life was working as normal. I visited my first stage Burlesque. I have not been back, but I am sure there are some changes in 50 years!
Thanks Emma, Barbara and Najma – what a fabulous diary and what wonderful insights… We’d love to have other guest entries in the diary so a plea to everyone – please feel free to add anything at all – it gives us a wonderful variety, as you see.
Our teams have been getting a move on this week – maybe it was the thought of the snow that Najma mentioned but whatever the reason we’ve logged an additional 668 miles this week – fabulous! Fundraising has slowed right down with nothing added for a number of weeks now, so maybe a bit of a push in that direction…?
Have a great week and thanks again to our guest diarists Emma, Barbara and Najma!