Part 3 - Reflections before and after the trip
Because of the image of the Middle East that TV and social media gives us I must say it felt kind of nervous to go, especially with this short notice. What about visa? How should I speak to people? What should I wear? Am I allowed to wear pants? Do I have to cover both my neck and hair? Helia made me calm about all these things and everything went really smooth and I could even get the visa easily when arriving at Teheran airport. All the people I met were so kind and also curious about what I was doing in Iran. It started with a mother and her daughter right beside me at the plane and people continued to ask me what I was doing in Iran, where I was from, if they could take pictures with me and someone even asked me where my guide had gone.
Of course cultures looks different from one place to another. One thing I noticed was the calm and kind of restrained way of behaving, both women and men. There were no big gestures or callings in town or at the streets. When we went to the home of some of Helia’s friends everything was more relaxed and casual, but there still was this calmness.
I felt that all the places we visited had a great sense of culture and history. When we travelled by car (which we did for many many hours) there was always Persian music on the radio. All and all I could count to three times that I heard English music, which I think is a huge difference from Sweden where most music is in English and people even use English sentences instead of using Swedish words quite a lot.
In Sweden we have a long history of connecting with Iran, which I’m very happy about. Some facts from Ashk Dahlén’s introduction to the Swedish book “Iran – från dåtid till nutid”:
Findings from for example Gotland bear witness that vikings have been trading goods with Iran for a long time. In the end of the 17th century commercial relations were made between Sweden and Iran. From 1911 Sweden also helped to set up schools for officers and a gendarmerie in Iran. Three years later the gendarmerie had gone from 200 officers to 8900 men, of which 36 were Swedes. The connection with Sweden grew even stronger and in 1919 the first Persian diplomatic mission was opened. Ten years later the first Swedish embassy opened in Teheran. Since the 1930s studies of Persian philology and literature has been available at Uppsala University and in 1971 the Swedish Crown prince Carl XVI Gustav participated, among other monarchs, at the of 2500 year anniversary of the throne decay of Kyros the Great at Persepolis.
So, what did I bring back with me?
The last day in Teheran we visited a book- and CD-store where I could buy some addition to my bookshelf. I bought a bunch of new CDs, poem collections by Saadi and Khayyam, as well as two books with lots of information about old historical findings form over ten thousand years ago. I’d like to read more about findings and the religious beliefs that existed before Islam and compare them to other parts of the world, and not the least in Scandinavia.
In a pre-Islamic belief there was an idea of a “tree of the worlds”, quite close to the beliefs of the Nordic idea of Yggdrasil, as well as the idea of the world getting destroyed and reborn that reminds me of Ragnarok and so on. Yet, I don’t want to say too much since I’ve not yet read that much about it.
But one thing I know for sure is that I want to continue to learn more about this country’s culture and history and I definitely want to go there again!
Who is Helia?
Helia is a Master of Persian dance, my main teacher in Persian dance and also a very good friend of mine. She was born in Shiraz, Iran and decided to dedicate her life to Persian dance. Like no other, Helia possesses the ability to connect with the hearts of her audience, by sharing the art of Persian Dance.