Kashan to Tehran
May 30, 2022
Yes, that’s me, second from the left wearing a black shirt and scarf.
The man on my left is holding a 1000 Thai Baht note. Two young men are holding books.
Here’s the story:
In Kashan, my guide Mehran and I stroll down a busy street in an area popular with tourists. Outside an international book shop, I spot a rack filled with books in English. A “must stop!”
Inside the shop and behind the cash register, the wall is neatly plastered with bank notes from at least fifty different countries. But not one note from Thailand. I open my wallet and contribute a 20 Baht note (65 cents US).
(I am an American expat who has lived in Thailand since June 2006.)
Ali, the owner, is grateful.
My gift has created a buzz among the young Iranian men in the shop. I can only imagine their visions of hope and their fantasies of tropical beach resorts. A rare American visitor! AND he lives in Thailand!
I’m an instant celebrity. The boys are polite. They’re smiling. Inquisitive.
I choose two slim paperback books: Persian Architecture and Persian Cooking.
But after almost a month on the road, my wallet contains insufficient Iranian funds. Western credit cards or ATM bank cards are not accepted in Iran. (One of the dreadful effects of sanctions.)
Once again, I dig down into my extra billfold and extract a 1000 Baht note ($33.00 US). This amount greatly exceeds the price of the two books, so Ali and I agree on a fair exchange rate. I receive the difference in Iranian currency for my last few days.
We exchange addresses and phone numbers. As Mehran and I depart there’s a whole round of handshaking and hugs and laughter.
And for me, the gift of yet another indelible travel story.
PS The 1000 Baht note is not on the wall of the shop! It’s in Ali’s wallet. Ali disclosed that he has traveled to Thailand on occasion and expects to return very soon. Perhaps he’ll call me.
PPS Iran has a popular national credit card. And of course, surreptitiously on the street, Greenbacks are welcome and easily and fairly exchanged for Iranian rial.
PPPS The architecture book sits on my shelf alongside other slim and fat volumes about Iran geology, Persian art, and history. Epic Iran - 5000 Years of Culture; Persians and The Age of the Great Kings; Bradt Iran.
PPPPS I gave the cookbook to a good friend and a serious cook in Bangkok. Perhaps he’ll prepare a meal for us.