My visit to Iran had restored my faith in having a conversation just because two people were interested in what the other had to say – without an agenda, a profit motive, or because one had a point to make.
Here we sat, ensconced in the warm acapella tones of the locals singing. We couldn’t understand a word of the Persian songs, but their beauty was as stirring as the gold and amber of the sunset hitting the arches of Khaju Bridge, their stories as full as the centuries of secrets held in these walls of bricks and stone. We completely lose track of time. Time is a fluid concept when your entire existence is barely a speck in what these 17th century bridges have seen.
The latest set of sanctions hurt not the regime but the people. My heart aches at the thought of the ones who have to suffer the real, everyday consequences of these sanctions – being unable to purchase daily necessities and medical products; the increasing isolation as the world backs further away; the sheer loneliness at knowing your passport (and salary earned in Iranian Rials) won’t ever let you see the rest of the world. These are the ones who pay the price for politics and power – the people whose smiles were genuine, who offered help without asking for anything in return when we were in need, the curious who earnestly wanted to know more about where I came from and what I thought of their country.
No other country has touched me in the way Iran has. It’s there in every warm cup of saffron tea; in every “Salam!”, and in every smile you got from a stranger on the street.