The beauty of an unplanned city is the fact that it is unplanned. Free from rigid concepts of what a street is supposed to look like, or the style of a building, humans without authoritarian oversight generally let their creativity carry the moment. In many places in the world there exist cities built on what came before; people pick up from where they left off after an invasion or natural disaster, utilizing the materials of the old for what will be new. But more than this, as people build on the old under any circumstance, many of these cities express an individualism that is both mind boggling and enchanting. Most Iranian cities express this in abundance. Its cities have been built and rebuilt many times. We found some of the best examples in Kashan, some of which by complete accident. Of all the places we traveled through in Iran, we found Kashan to be the most intriguing.
As we worked our way through the old city we decided to split up, my wife seeking out more honey – we were going through it like mad each day – and me looking for a good price on saffron, the stuff that colours rice yellow.
“OK. You go that way and I’ll go this way,” I said. “No more than 30 minutes and we’ll meet back here.”
“Sounds OK. But what if I get lost and can’t find my way back?”
“You have your Woolx on today?”
“That’s all you need. Oh, and here’s your passport.”
And off we went. I followed passageways and alleys marked by old wooden doors, stone steps, and tantalizing fragrances from small kebab houses tucked in here and there.
Kashan Door in the Sky
At one point, a passage ended with me gazing out into a vast courtyard. I stood three stories above it with a set of steep stairs leading straight down into the expansive courtyard. A few small tables lay scattered next to me with a few people sipping tea. A cheery fellow struck up a conversation with me and told me all about his favourite Hollywood stars. However, I didn’t realize what I had stumbled into until working my way down the steps to the bottom and looking back. Door upon door, arch upon arch, balconies here and there with no particular rhyme or reason filled the scape. It was truly a work that only an artist could have dreamed up – and it came together in the most fascinating way. It made me laugh at the pleasure of it.
Living in Art
“You found your way back!” I was secretly pleased that we both found our rendezvous point.
“Yup! Look at this honey! Did you buy any saffron?”
“No saffron I’m afraid. Only artwork – but it wasn’t for sale.”