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Itinerant in Iran

A Man Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down With Three Women - not a feature film anytime soon.

WORLDWIDE | Monday, 23 April 2012 | Views [218] | Scholarship Entry

After my friends and I consume enough lunch to feed a small herd of elephants, we decide that we have mustered enough energy to head to Atashgah, the Zoroastrian fire temple outside Isfahan’s city centre. Following a synchronised display of our finely honed Flail for a Taxi routine and a masterful execution of the Bargain manoeuvre, we were on our way.

Heading out of the city, we soon see the temple perched atop a hill. After the elegant minarets and ornate palaces of the city, Atashgah appears markedly different. The familiar lush greens and blues of the city have been replaced by the arid brown of sand, grit and clay. Not much of the temple remains, but it is still an impressive sight to behold as it looms over its surroundings.

We traipse up a few steps before realising that the trail disappears and we are left to fend for ourselves. We continue up the hill and decide it is best not to look down, but the inevitable happens and we do. Voila, the most inopportune moment to discover a sudden onset of collective acrophobia and the accompanying fear of hurtling down a steep hill.

We sit by the ruins, trying to appear as blasé as possible while frantically plotting how to go down what now seems like an impossible path. We haven’t seen a soul in an hour, but suddenly, a spiffily dressed man in a khaki suit, dress shoes, and a briefcase appears from nowhere. He nonchalantly waves for us to follow him and we gladly do. I have never seen a man so inappropriately dressed for what is essentially a gritty hike, yet he just bounds down the hill gracefully in front of us, frequently turning around to lend a hand.

Finally, we near the foot of the hill, and as swiftly he entered our lives, off he went, walking away into the proverbial, and what is now an increasingly literal sunset. We don’t get to say goodbye as he rushes off. As we head back, we’re all thankful for our knight in shining khaki. I guess guardian angels come in many different shapes, sizes, and apparel.

Tags: iran, isfahan, travel writing scholarship 2012

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