When I started traveling around Iran, I was very young. Formerly, when I was younger and traveling with the family, I had gone to Mashhad, Qom, Isfahan, Northern Iran, and Hamedan. I am not sure about where you live, but being with family in Iran has special customs. It was more serious for me since I grew up in a family with discipline. Everyone had to be together and experience the same fun while ignoring their opinion for the sake of the majority opinion. Besides, parents particularly have a special place in the Iranian family and there are thousands of reasons why we should prefer their view over ours.
Anyway, the first time I went on a trip by myself, I was young. I had chosen Yazd and I wanted to visit the city during Nowruz. At that time, I thought a journey is about visiting historical buildings as much as possible. I believed that traveling is about getting up in the morning and roaming about historical buildings and UNESCO sites till the night comes. But many things changed as years passed and I entered the third decade of my life. Slowly, from a journalist who likes to see the weaknesses of the city management, take pictures, and publish her report in the top famous newspapers, I turned into a person who prefers enjoying herself over the enlightenment of the public opinion.
It has been a while since I lost the count of the places I have seen or the funs I had. I no longer care if I have seen a UNESCO site in a city or not. Finding common ground with locals and have a chat with them is more important to me. In fact, if I want to evaluate my trips, I count people whom I talked to and those I heard the story of their lives.
How my trip to Bandar Torkaman started?
Of course, somethings might be ordinary and common to you and you have already experienced them before 30, but it took me a long time to reach this point. The first time this aspect of the trip became interesting to me was when I went to the Bandar Torkaman in Northern Iran.
In fact, I was invited to this city by one of my colleagues. I traveled there from Tehran by bus, and my friend took me to his parents’ house. I had stayed there for three days and my friend’s parents or his spouse’s family were my hosts during my stay. This was probably the point that made me understand the new aspects of a trip, for I had just gone to the hotels by then. And the conversations with the hotel clerks were always limited and formal. Up to that point, I’d never experienced the fascinating feel of the continuous contact with cordial people of a city. And I prefer it now over watching the sights and attractions of a city.
My trip to Bandar Torkaman was one of my most delightful and memorable trips in Iran. It is funny to mention that I had not visited any historical buildings during those three days. I spent my time visiting beautiful Turkmen women in their long, cheerful dresses and scarfs. I went into the woods with my friend, her wife, and his little daughter, and enjoyed drinking tea and talking about routine life. Even my friend’s mother-in-law invited me to dinner one night.
Receiving gifts, best part of the travel
And you know what was the most interesting thing? The whole family of my friend’s spouse was at her father’s. And they all accepted me while having dinner and my existence was not in the way of their happiness. It was evident that this family is the usual family with their usual habits and manners. In that family, siblings laughed and had fun together. No one was silent because of the presence of a stranger. They were all talking and having a good time at the dinner table.
In addition, according to their custom, I had received a valuable gift in every house I visited. This is perhaps the most fascinating part of my journey to Bandar Torkaman. Turkmen headscarves are one of the most expensive and beautiful clothes in Iran. And I received three colorful, beautiful, and valuable scarves.
Food was more impressive. Except for the days we used to go to the woods and eat regular Iranian picnic lunch (which are kebab and Jujeh kabab), I was able to eat local Turkmen food in the rest of the meals. Believe me, home cooking under no circumstances is comparable with the garnished dishes of restaurants. During these parties, I realized that the Turkmens cook Ghormeh sabzi in a different way from people of the capital. They also add tomato paste to their Sabzi polo and Fish instead of vegetables!
Things I learnt about people’s life in Bandar Torkaman
At the same time, I noticed that it is an accepted tradition for the Turkmens that the new bride lives in the same house with her husband’s family forever or for a while, has her meals with them, and does not have an independent life until her husband becomes rich enough.
The trip to Bandar Torkaman also made me learn a lot more facts. I realized that most of the residents of the Bandar Torkaman are Sunnis. However, contrary to all the images and propaganda carried out against Sunnis and Shias in Iran, they accepted me as a Shia. Not only they accepted me, but they welcomed me warmly. Whenever I wanted to pray, they would give me a Turbah, without any kind of insult toward my religious beliefs.
But above all, the memory of the colors of the city remained in my mind. A plain, port city with a modest little square that was beautifully decorated. There, women had been dressed in their own way; they did not look like women wearing Manteau and headscarves as they do in Tehran and other major cities. Women of Bandar Torkaman have made their city a colorful one, a city worth visiting every year…