Tehran (Part Two)

Our L.S. time this morning took us into the early afternoon, which is a late start for touring during Ramadan.

Today was also Qods Day (Jerusalem Day), the last Friday of Ramadan which Ayatollah Khomeini had declared as a day of solidarity with the Palestinians. Busses were lined up, bringing people in from outlying towns for the demonstrations and marches. We were curious, but kept our distance.Our major tourist stop today was the Shah's former palace. A place that is both understated and decadent, it is a reminder of a very unpopular bygone era. Despite what people here might think of the current situation, there is a general consensus of gratitude that the days of the Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi are gone. His father, Reza Shah Pahlavi, had been brutal, but (much like Ataturk in Turkey), he had also brought Iran into a more modern era. Because of this, people seem willing to forgive some of his excesses. His son, Muhammad Reza Shah, on the other hand, had colluded with the C.I.A. to overthrow Mossadegh, the popularly elected head of the Parliament. Given that inauspicious beginning, it was all down hill from there, culminating in the Revolution of 1979 that transformed the country into its current incarnation as the Islamic Republic.

The statue of the Shah that once stood in grandeur was cut in half by Khomeini. Only his military boots, symbols of his overeager brutality, are visible now.

We managed some light shopping as well, wandering down neon-lit narrow stone streets of a small bazaar. There is something about the Middle Eastern Bazaar - the look, the smell, the feel - that is all too familiar to me from our time in other cities in the region.

Tomorrow we are off to Ahwaz. I don't know what our computer facilities will be like, if any, so the lag of several days will likely continue.

Oh, and these days are the birthday days for the extended Sanders' clan. My sister's is today (don't worry: you'll get something cool when I get back).