Thursday, 27 March 2014

dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee........

  We take a bus to Kashan from Tehran in order to avoid the nasty roads and the big city suburbs that stretch endlessly southwards towards the deserts of central Iran. Amir is kindly hosting us through Couch Surfing, but as it turns out he's on a jolly with his wife, Samaneh, so they're not actually at home.  No problem, he says, just call him when we arrive and he'll ask his brother to meet us.  It's kindness like this that takes Couch Surfing to another level here in Iran.  We alight at a park in the city and after some lunch try and grab a phone form an unsuspecting local.  We know this is very cheeky but it has worked so far.  The last laugh is with the Kashan locals.  We are variously pointed to a shop selling SIM cards, to an internet cafe and to a pay phone - although I might have imagined the latter - I haven't actually seen one in Iran yet.  In the end we give up and return to the park where a family on holiday approach us to talk and take photos.  Here we're in luck - they are happy to help us.  Unfortunately, Amir's phone is off.  Eventually, after being invited for tea and more photos by another family group, another man kindly offers us assistance.  This time we make contact with Amir, who apologises for their absence.  Soon afterwards we are following his brother's car to their house, where we are invited to make ourselves at home.

the three brothers from Khomeinishar who help us phone

For a couple of days I've had toothache and the next morning the pain is unbearable.  We set off to find a dentist and are directed to a dental clinic where I am promptly examined, the tooth x-rayed, and then informed that I need a specialist.  Unfortunately, it being No Ruz, they are all on holiday.  I should try my luck in a bigger city like Yazd or Esfahan.  I'm given an anaesthetic injection to numb the pain.  Otherwise the only pain relief that works is a little cold water.  Numbed, we head off to sight-see a bit, but I am deeply troubled.  Kashan is a fairly quiet city - with tree-lined roads and some fabulous old houses and an old bazaar to visit.  To the west are the Zagros mountains and to the east, the desert.  It's hard to imagine ever being cold or wet here in the strong Spring sunshine.  
a derelict han in the bazaar

Later in the day the anaesthetic wears off and I'm howling in agony. We ask at a pharmacy for pain-killers but their best suggestion is an ampoule and a hypodermic needle.  Gayle balks at the thought of giving me an IM jab.  I don't blame her.  The pharmacist contacts a doctor who comes to the shop.  He's tall, young, chatty and a bit frivolous.  I am in severe pain and find myself talking about football.  The doctor is a Man Utd. fan of all things.  He takes us to a clinic where he pays another doctor to give me the jab.  As a parting gift, the doctor gives me some suppositories that will help me have "sweet dreams".  He refuses to accept any payment for the treatments or medicines.  Incredible.  I sincerely tell him I hope Utd. beat City tonight.  It's the best thanks I can offer.  But the pain refuses to subside.  Desperate, we phone Amir who quickly asks his brother to help us.  Mohammed takes us to another friend who then leads us to a dentist.   It's 8.30 in the evening and the dentist takes a quick look and an x-ray.  He sees I've had root canal work on the tooth but it has not been done effectively - "excuse me for saying this, but the work is shit". His English is pretty good.  He can fit me in the next night for the work.  I am prescribed more pain killers which do not work.  But finally having summoned up the courage I try one of the suppositories.  Never did I ever think that pushing something up my backside could bring me such relief.  I have sweet dreams. 

one of Kashan's merchants' houses restored to its splendour
 After over an hour in the dentist's chair, Mohammed Ali (real name), punches his fist in the air.  He has just checked an x-ray of my tooth after a hell of a lot of drilling and poking and grinding and scraping and liquid chloroform and antisceptic in my mouth.  He is satisfied with his work.  I feel like I've had a round in the ring with the Muhammad Ali. The work has cost a small Iranian fortune: 400 tomans.  That's 4 hundred thousand tomans, which is 4 million rials. The currency has so many noughts now that the locals abbreviate as much as possible - terribly confusing to us dumb tourists.  Having handed over the £80 the dentist tells me of the side-effects of the treatment:  "You will have pain for a week.  It should diminish after a couple of days".  Now, where did I put those suppositories?  Oh, yes, that's right.

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