Tehran Bazaar 8.24.2014 / by Walter Kitundu

Tehran Bazaar was the order of the day. We looked at a map and tried to get our bearings before setting off into the midday sun. We headed to the metro station at Haft-e Tir and descended the stairs into the rush of semi-cool, semi-fresh air bursting from the tunnels below. Street musicians offered up a soundtrack that gradually faded into the murmur of people vying for position at the ticket counter, at the turnstiles, on the platform, and in the cars. It was warm but not too warm, crowded but not claustrophobic. 

The train slipped into the darkness and I considered my position several stories underground, in an unknown darkness, below a city that promised to find me lost no matter where I eventually emerged. But I wasn't alone. I had a solid bearing in my wife who strikes out into the melee to learn, to expand her map and deepen her capability. It occurred to me that if I were compelled to nest, the trick would be to make a nest as wide as the world, and to be at home in it.

We emerged in Emam Khomeini Square and spun south toward Golestan Palace… which was closed. We are developing a good track record for visiting closed palaces. I wonder which set of gates we will see tomorrow. 

Moving on toward the bazaar we located a bustling falafel shop and grabbed a couple of sandwiches. They were working nonstop with a constant crowd pressing in from all directions. It was popular for a reason. The falafel was fresh and hot, tucked into newly made bread with crisp vegetables and a tangy sauce.

We took our prizes to a shady area by a fountain and made a mess of them before buying a cup of tea from a vendor who strolled through the park with his dispenser strapped to a luggage cart.

After lunch it was on to Tehran Bazaar, an immense market sheltered from the sun by a sometimes intricate, sometimes makeshift, generally stunning roofing system. The sunlight filters into the dusty upper reaches and disperses through skylights, air conditioners, cables and signs, setting the place aglow.

The market takes on staggering proportions and is thrumming with visual detail. My processors couldn't keep up and what often appeared as just another storefront, upon a second glance would reveal itself as an entirely new corridor vanishing into the distance with its own character and theme, ablaze with gold frippery or clad with a quarter mile of undergarments. 

We walked for a long time before emerging onto the roasting sidewalk to make our way back on the periphery. The street was peppered with 125cc motorcycles and men loading trucks and carts with various goods between shaded sips of tea. With your eyes closed you could make out what each store might be selling as the aromas gathered in fragrant puddles outside the doors.

We walked back to the metro and headed home planning to go out once again for dinner but we underestimated the effect the bazaar had on us. Exhausted, we decided to call it a day.