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A day in Darband


By Syma Sayyah, Tehran


Autumn arrived abruptly in Tehran a few weeks ago.  First we had a good deal of rain and thunderstorms, but mostly we get a wind, sometimes cold and rough but generally pleasant.  The best thing about it either way is that the wind blows away the smog covering Tehran and we get a clear blue sky which means that we can clearly see the mountains surrounding this crazy and dear city of ours.



I have mentioned before that one of the pleasures of writing for Payvand is getting to know some of the readers who write to me and become good friends.  On one fine day last week such a Payvand friend, Kambiz, invited us to lunch at a restaurant in Darband.  Darband is one of the old hiking bases, on the north edge of Tehran, not far from the famous Tajrish Square and bazaar where one can find all sorts of items, fruit, meat, vegetables and delicacies and indulgences to buy, see and enjoy.



We had agreed to meet our friend at the restaurant.  We parked our car in the streets behind Tajrish and walked to the square and from there got a taxi which took us to Darband square and from there to Sarband square where one can not miss the huge statue of a hiker that has been the sign of Darband ever since I can remember.




In the street leading from the square there are many shops selling berries, nuts, aloo, and lavashak (made from cooking plums sour berries or pomegranates).  You can also buy fresh walnuts when in season and  zalzalak (orange hawthorn berries).  We used to go hiking a lot when I was younger but these days after a broken foot and bad knees, I have to adopt slightly gentler activities.  Yet I was unable to control my urge, and since we had half an hour, we started up the trail which is lined with shops and restaurants.



Some young couples were venturing up in the most unsuitable shoes.  Fortunately we also saw some hikers going up in full mountain clothing and with all their walking gear to stay overnight at the mountain lodges or panahgah where hikers can shelter during the day and sleep overnight.  On clear nights we can see the lights from the panahgah when we drive to the north of the city.  Just knowing that it is there and some can get there and enjoy breathing the fresh air, the sense of comradeship, companionship, sharing and belonging to a group of hikers who have made it thus far can be thrilling.





The trail is long and interesting and one can enjoy the many waterfalls and a stream that flows alongside.  All along there are many cafes to stop for refreshment and rest.  Many of the cafes sell kebabs or delicious jigar (barbecued liver).  There is a chair-lift which takes about an hour to take you up to the top of the main trail but I have never been on it, but it seems to work although it is very old.




I had to stop myself continuing to go up as the descent is what my knees don’t enjoy very much and we were becoming late as well.  We met our host at the Koohpayeh restaurant where we enjoyed the lovely hors d’oeuvre buffet and our shishlik and chicken kebabs in the open air.  The staff were polite and courteous and the place was clean.  Our waiter, Mr Seyamak, who took great care of us, gave me great pleasure when he brought us a manghall – a pan of hot coal - to keep my feet warm.  It was great.  Jaye shoma khali – your places were empty.



I have a few pictures to share with you. 

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