Arian Band

Week 30

We might say this week has been a ‘steady plod’ for our weary teams. No landmark moments to note, no new members of the 1000 mile club to record (though some are getting close), and no new borders crossed. Instead, just a determined effort to carry on, knowing we’re part of something that touches the lives of many people. It’s a chance to remind ourselves why we’re on this journey – it’s to keep our friends and patients in Chaparda in our thoughts, looking forward to seeing them again when that becomes possible. Our Chaparda Challenge is an act of friendship, solidarity and service, something very worthwhile, and it makes the journey what it is.

Petrovaradin Fortress

That being said, where are we on the journey this week? The tigers are pressing on through Serbia, having passed the town of Vrbas, a pretty town in the valley that they’ve been in for the past week, since leaving Backa Topola . Here’s a nice 10 minute video showing the town of Vrbas and its people. Now close to Novi Sad, the tigers have a chance to be reunited with the river Danube, their companion on this journey ever since week 14. I’m sure it’s like meeting an old friend! You can certainly feel very safe when you’re reunited because the river and the city are dominated by the mighty Petrovaradin fortress, which has protected the city since the 17th century. Novi Sad is also home to one of Europe’s largest music festivals, the EXIT festival – you can click here for a flavour… and book some holidays for July 2022 if you’d like to go!

EXIT Festival

In Iran, massive pop festivals like EXIT don’t exist. After the 1979 Revolution women were forbidden from singing in public,  pop music was banned completely, and this led to the exile of many musical artists. Since the 1990s the regime have allowed what they refer to as ‘decent’ pop music, to compete with the music being performed by exiles but which of course was accessible to Iranians inside the country thanks to the internet. One of the first and probably the most famous of these ‘decent’ pop groups was ‘Arian Band‘ our featured image for this week. With three women in the line-up they spearheaded a more modern type of music and became very popular in Iran and across the middle east – choose a video and listen for yourself!  The fabulous Irish singer Chris De Burgh worked with them in 2008, producing a very nice sound together. The band stopped playing together in 2015 but others now follow their lead.

Arian Band

Maybe their upbeat rhythms will put a bit of a spring in the steps of our wee monkeys, snow leopards and peacocks as they all continue their journey through Iran.

Our snow leopards are just outside Qazvin, where our wee monkeys were at the end of last week. It’s a very historic city, a former capital of Iran, and is home to some stunning buildings and landmarks, alongside cultural and culinary delights. Scroll this page for some samples.

Iranian bathouse

Our wee monkeys have just left Tehran and are heading out into the dry desert for the long journey south towards Pakistan. Our featured image today shows the desert landscape that these teams are now in – unforgiving in some ways, but full of oases and surprises, as we’ve already seen. Maybe in preparation for this leg of the journey the wee monkeys took the chance to visit one of the few remaining public bathhouses in the city. Beautifully ornate, they offer a social space as well as a place to bathe. Open to men in the mornings and women in the afternoons, Iranian baths are becoming more and more rare to find. That’s a great pity – I know from the time I lived in Japan what a fabulous resource the public bathhouse is! Have any of or readers experience of visiting any bathhouses around the world such as these? Write and tell us about it!

Mujeeb Ur Rahman celebrates taking a Scotland wicket during Afghanistan’s emphatic win. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images
Afghanistan take a Scotland wicket

Far off on the desert road we mentioned we find the peacocks. There’s not really much to say about where they are, the middle of nowhere, as the saying goes – though we hope they stay on the route marked out for them, as they’re now not far from the border with Afghanistan. I wonder if the peacocks (or any of our other teams for that matter) know what linked Scotland and Afghanistan this week? Cricket, that’s what! Yes, the mighty Scotland lost their T20 world cup match against Afghanistan by 130 runs, but sadly Afghani’s felt unable to celebrate their first sporting victory since the new government took over. A sad situation. 

So that brings us to the end of another week. Our teams have travelled 449 miles, but we know that there are many stored up miles waiting to be uploaded – so don’t be shy… get them online. If you’re having trouble logging on get in touch with me.

Thanks to Mike in Australia we’ve added another £60 to our fundraising – spare a thought for him and Andrew who have to walk in the sunshine of an Australian spring as we get to the enjoy the beautiful rain and wind of the British autumn…!

Have  good week ahead.