My Trip to Iran

Friday, January 29, 2016


Late last year, my mom and I went to Isfahan, Iran, for a few weeks, and it was one of the most enjoyable, meaningful trips I've ever taken. 

Because both of my parents are Iranian and grew up in Iran, I'm an Iranian citizen (without having lived there before), and as a child, growing up in England and later the States, my siblings, mom, occasionally dad, and I would visit Iran nearly every year. And every year it was a struggle to get us there. We'd whine about having to leave our friends, familiarity and (most importantly) neighborhood pool. But we would quickly get attached to our cousins and all of the pampering when there and begged to stay in late August when it was time to go back to school. 

It hasn't gotten any easier over the years. It's always hard for me to adjust when I return (and sob uncontrollably for 24 hours on the journey home), and this time felt especially difficult. It's hard to have most of my family on the other side of the world, and living in Chicago, I miss the intimacy of walking outside and seeing people that look like me, speak the same language as my family, eat the same foods and come from the same background. It's such a wonderful feeling, and despite Iran's issues and negative reputation, my favorite place. 

We tried to get Brian a visa to join me this time around. We filled out all of the necessary paperwork, took the photos, paid the fees. We had people helping us in both countries, but after months of waiting, we woke up to rejection one early Saturday morning in October. And although we were extremely disappointed at the time, it ended up being for the best. 

It was a great opportunity to travel with just my mom for the first time, see family after many years, share stories and answer a bunch of questions about work, weddings and day-to-day life in America. It's always so interesting to see what fascinates them (wedding registries, potlucks), and what's hard for me to adjust to there (death-defying driving). Had I gone with Brian, we would have focused on exploring. But I needed this time to relax with my grandparents and live for a few weeks in the place that, in many ways, feels most like home.

Below the jump are lots of photos and stories (including a strange new family tradition...). Thanks for coming here and letting me share my love. 


It takes a little more than 24 hours door-to-door to get to my grandma's house, and we lucked out this trip with the best accommodations. Both of our flights there and back were practically empty, so we got three seats each and were able to stretch out and sleep almost the entire way. We also found a reasonably priced airport lounge in Istanbul with Internet, an open bar and food buffet, which helped pass our 8-hour layover. 


As always, when we got to Isfahan (at 3am) we had family waiting for us at arrivals. We went home and everyone came over for breakfast, only to go straight to work after.


Brian and I decided to give my grandparents iPhones before I left, and when I got there they were telling me how much it bothers them that everyone's hooked on their phones these days. And then a few days later, look at this! 


I brought home a metal tray to hang on one of our living room walls and was excited to send Brian photos of it being made. Growing up, I thought going to these markets was the biggest drag. This time I filled my suitcase instantly and can't wait to go back for more.



My grandparents still live in the house my mom grew up in, and being in my grandma's kitchen while she cooks is such a strong memory for my brother, sister and me. We'll smell a spice here and instantly feel nostalgia. There is no stronger, more caring woman. Or a better cook.





Brian and I received dozens of bouquets and sweets congratulating us on our engagement. It felt like every morning someone was dropping off an extravagant package. So many haven't seen me in years and don't know Brian, so I was always shocked. My grandma's physical therapist even stopped by with a pair of gold earrings.








My aunt surprised us with the absolute best homemade Nutella cake at a family party one night. It was the perfect treat to wash down all the samosas we'd devoured.



My family threw a big party for me and Brian — filled with a korsi (a low table with a heater underneath it and blankets thrown over it), kabobs, the best stews, gifts, money throwing and a lot of dancing. Earlier that night my aunt had told me she had a surprise for me, and I told her I didn't like surprises, unless it was B showing up. Then she surprised me with a cake with one of our engagement pictures on it and said, "Look! He's here!" It was the sweetest surprise.

The party was also like a little wedding of sorts. My dad wasn't in Iran for his wedding to my mom more than 30 years ago. He was in England finishing his doctorate and was worried that if he returned to Iran, he'd be forced to join the army. So my mom did it alone, with my dad's dad standing in for him. They had a small wedding (five guests) in England a few months later, but they wanted to have a gathering in Iran so their marriage would be acknowledged there and some family and friends could be there to celebrate. It's always been strange to everyone that my mom did it alone, so we made it a family tradition and had me do the same.


Faloodeh (cold, rice noodles) with saffron ice cream is my absolute favorite Iranian dessert, and I didn't get my hands on it until a few days before we left, at which time I had three servings a day.



One of the perks of Iran has always been seeing my name on things like storefronts, products and as characters in movies.



That's it! For now. I can't wait to go back with Brian after we're married. Dozens of people there asked about him and said to send their love. He talks to my cousins there weekly, and knows a decent amount of Farsi already. Going to Iran and being Iranian is one of the most important parts of my identity, and I feel so blessed to have met someone that embraces it with me.

Have a great weekend! xo

4 comments:

  1. "Earlier that night my aunt had told me she had a surprise for me, and I told her I didn't like surprises, unless it was B showing up. Then she surprised me with a cake with one of our engagement pictures on it and said, "Look! He's here!" It was the sweetest surprise."

    <3

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ladan, so many parts of this reminded me of having all of my relatives in Italy, the feelings of having a life here and a life there - and only finding things with my name on them in Italy :-D what a sweet trip with your mom! Gorgeous photos too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your sweet note, Valeria. I hope you get to visit Italy soon <3 xoxo

      Delete
  3. It's an excellent location, right in the heart of the city near public transportation. The DC wedding venues have coat hangers right at the entrance where you can leave your coat, and a lobby where you can set up some cocktail tables.

    ReplyDelete

Want to get in touch with me immediately? Email me: ladan.nikravan@gmail.com