their roots now more than ever.
"He almost only listens to Iranian music. And for two years he has been learning to play a classical Iranian instrument."
"Javeed and Iranian Music? But why? And what about his political nonsense about freedom and equality? After all, it was why he had to leave the country."
"Maybe the one thing doesn't have anything to do with the other. He still dreams of a free Iran without religious oppression and edicts; nevertheless he doesn't have any problem with tradition."
"But why doesn't he just forget us and enjoy his life in California?"
"Because then he wouldn't be Javeed and wouldn't have sacrificed financial tability and a life of comfort all these years."
Nobody is around but us and the skeptical reception head, so we end our talk and say our farewells since Hamid is flying back to Ahwaz early the next morning and will not be able to see me any more. I am not at all fond of being watched by strange people while I eat, meaning that breakfast becomes more of an annoyance. As the only woman traveling alone, I draw everyone's stares, and the waiter in his ridiculous Bakhtiari costume doesn't hesitate to ask me every few minutes if I need anything. And he can't hide the great amusement my broken Farsi gives him. He seems to be a jovial fellow, and on my way out I chat a bit with him and his colleague. I use the opportunity to ask them about cheap hotels in the area where I can pay in

them about cheap hotels in the area where I can pay in tomans, and after some discussion they make a suggestion. The waiter is already waiting for me in the lobby when I check out and leads me down a few streets to a small inviting hotel. After the same elaborate check-in in triplicate - "one for the Committee", the manager says in a regretful tone - I get a room with a view of the tree-lined street.
"Are there other foreigners in the hotel?" I would love to meat a travelling woman.
"Yes, of course, but not many. Let me check."
In a little cardboard box that turns out to be a passport holder he looks at the foreigners' details. After awhile he fishes out two.
"One is from Pakistan and the other, wait..." - he officiously leafs through the passport until he finds the right place - "...from Bahrain!" He has to laugh himself.
"Thank you, but I really only wanted to know if there were any other tourists here from Europe. You know, with backpacks and stamps in their passports."
"Two months ago we had an Englishman."
I was really in the mood to meet a couple of globetrotters and hear their insights on this country. Finally my city tour starts. What's first? Last time I got only a fleeting impression of Esfahan. I sense the excitement of being in a special place. A tingle on my skin that sinks below the surface and waits there until my eye discovers a new wonder. Then it erupts anew and runs down my back in pleasant cascades. An uplifting feeling in my legs carries