Esfahan Romance

It is raining as though all the clouds in the world had opened up over the city. Plunging rivulets rush down the street, and out of the foggy taxi windows there is little to see but a wall of water. Hamid has reserved a room for me in his regular hotel, located in the highbrow Chahar Bagh, the Street of Four Gardens, suggesting some posh locale. Like a captain in a stormy sea, the driver plows our way through the deluge. He finally stops, and a porter in traditional clothing takes my bag. I can already see Hamid, who I'm sure has been waiting for me in the exclusive lobby for hours.
"Salaam. How are you? Sorry I'm late. The bus had an accident."
In a spate of unusual detachment he tells me how glad he is I made it and how worried he has been all evening.
"How did you get here so late from Chare Kord? The last bus left ages ago."
"Bakhtiari arranged it for me."
"Good," he says tersely and accompanies me to the reception desk.
I had forgotten how elaborate registration is and am not ready for all the questions the hotel employee asks. I have to state the reason for my trip, the last place I stayed, my next stop, my visa number and several other details. Unfortunately Hamid already told the personnel about me without knowing what kind of visa I have and apparently spoke of something

spoke of something like an "official trip to the former battlefields". After some arrogant and rude remarks from the man at reception who does not have a very high opinion of women travelling alone, I finally get my room key. They keep my passport, and the young man reminds me again that I have to pay in dollars. As I don't plan to stay here longer than one night, the announcement doesn't bother me. When Hamid flies back to Ahwaz tomorrow morning, I'm going to take a cheap and simple room. He has no idea how little interest I have in this kind of luxury nor that I mostly find these hotels endlessly boring. It is only the chambermaids or waiters that I can feel any affinity for, while these pompous asses make life unpleasant at the reception desk and among the guests.
We spend quite awhile with tea and Esfahan sweets in the lobby and use the opportunity to speak privately. He has finally realized what good friends I am with his brother in San Francisco, so he wants to know as much about him as possible. Whether he's still politically active or whether he's really Iranian any more. What Hamid seems most curious about is whether he will come to Iran for a visit some day.
"Definitely," I answer, "you can bet on it. It's his greatest hope."
How can I make Hamid understand that exile - no matter how long it lasts - does not mean faded memories and a forgotten home? His brother is one of many Iranian exiles who, after over a decade, want to rediscover and maintain their roots now