We were now fully attentive to our surroundings and determined to find this address, but our driver didn’t seem to know exactly where it was. The driver eventually arrived to what he believed was the street of our hosts. It was a very narrow street and he struggled to drive the car up. “Call your friend”, was what we managed to gather our driver was saying. Our plan for the first few days in Tehran was to stay with a couple we found on the Couchsurfers website, Zahra and Mobin. We tried to explain that we didn’t have a cell phone connection to be able to call anyone yet. Reluctantly, the driver used his phone to call our friend for us. “Please answer”, I thought to myself. Eventually, when the driver spoke, instructions were provided for us to leave our suitcases with a neighbour and travel to our hosts’ office. Our driver appeared to have other plans.
Once they got a hold of the neighbour on the telecom, we saw a middle-aged Iranian lady come down the stairs with her home-chador on. After exchanging a few words with our driver’s wife, she disappeared. Our driver helped us take out our bags, and we were confused as hell. “I thought we were going to the office?” I had tried to convey. The couple smiled and said a ‘Salom’ goodbye. We took this as a cue for us to pay them, and it dawned on us that we had no idea if we were at the right apartment block and what on earth we were going to do if it wasn’t. In our confusion, we lifted our heavy suitcases up the stairs, looking out for their unit. As they weren’t home, we decided to ask a neighbour for help. There wasn’t much we could do waiting outside their unit in the cold with all our luggage. The middle aged lady answered the door opposite our hosts’. With a look of mercy, she allowed us to enter her home. We tried to communicate to her that we wanted to leave our luggage with her and come back to collect it as soon as our hosts came home. She motioned for us to stay, and called Mobin, our host. Mobin said he would come home at 1:00pm to let us into his apartment.
We spent the next few hours sitting awkwardly in this Iranian woman’s immaculate little unit, waiting for Mobin to rescue us from this awkward conundrum. I still remember this time vividly because it felt like the oddest set of circumstances. Being my first day in Iran, and ending up in a random woman’s little home drinking my first Iranian tea and eating sweets and fruit. She was incredibly gracious and kind, but I could tell that she had never dealt with such a random situation. She may not have dealt with many foreigners at all. Using our phrase book, we tried to communicate basic details of our life and plans for our trip in Iran. Dhuhr prayer arrived, and we she let us pray there as well. We noticed we were in the home of a very religiously devoted woman. During almost the entire stay at her home, she was watching the Islamic channel of Iranian television, which played surahs from the Quran as well as sermons.