Many people dream of giving up life in crowded cities in favour of a quiet town, few people actually do. After my recent decision to leave Tehran for Rasht, I’ve been mulling over taking it all the way. A short trip to a village in Guilan gave me a glimpse at what would be in store if I did.
An Unlikely Purchase
As I mentioned before, my mum grew up in the eastern district of Guilan. Though a city-dweller herself, both her parents hailed from Eshkevaraat, a series of humble villages sparsely spread throughout green mountains. Mum had always wanted to reconnect with her roots, so it came as no surprise when she acquired a garden there. The surprise came later with the circumstances.
First off, it wasn’t a “pick all you want” fruit garden, unless you’re crazy as a squirrel about hazelnuts and even they have alternatives. Then there was the fact that it was an hour’s drive along the mountain’s edge. Quite ironic for someone who’s terrified of heights. With each 180° degree turn, she invoked a saint of sorts but kept on going. Points earned for courage. The strangest thing of all? She found long lost family up there!
The gate to a cool summer retreat in green Guilan mountains.
King of the Hill
On a visit to the garden, a friendly young man, named Seyyed Masum, picnicking nearby with his family, offered to carry some of mum’s stuff down to the car. On their way down, mom asks his wife where they’re from. The answer is familiar, so next she asks whether they know her uncle to which the lady replies: “I’m his daughter-in-law.” Mom is shocked to realize the helpful Seyyed Masum is actually her cousin.
As it turns out Seyyed Masum is your typical village man. He migrates seasonally between the altitudes and the valley, knows most people in the area and has a huge heart. He’s no stranger to working on land either, so he accepted the task of setting up the garden’s perimeter. My first trip to the region was with mum to check on Seyyed Masum’s progress.
High up in the mountains, Seyyed Masum spends the warmer seasons of the year with family. His talented wife, Mahnaz, made the most of fresh local produce to prepare a variety of yummy meals. Evidently, remote does not mean restricted. Seyyed’s parents live within shouting distance, meaning they often call each other over for snacks and meals. And if their cries go unheard, Anahita, Seyyed’s daughter, is dispatched.
Food time is a great excuse to gather round and feed off the fruit of the land.
Anahita is outspoken and sweet and a year away from preschool. Till then she’s receiving an education at home where her father teaches her the way of the land and her mother how to be an ideal homemaker. She also has her tablet and her puppy. The former she whipped out to my surprise before her ice had melted to show off her novice gaming skills; the latter substituted me when my energy to play with her ran out. She’s new to both things and I tried to give her tips on handling them correctly, but I can only hope they survive this energetic girl’s trial-and-error methods.
As sweet as it is to see two kids grow up together, it’s worrying that one would want to suffocate the other with love in a mother-son role-playing game.
My concerns for the dog may be out of place, since villagers have closer ties to living creatures in general. The chicken coop is an essential unit to all houses and the barn could house sheep, cows or horses depending on a family’s wealth. Small patches of gardens in the yard provide homegrown vegetables and herbal remedies, whereas larger ones farther away produce all kinds of nuts and fruits: hazelnut, apple, barberry, walnut, and so on. Except for some ingredients and luxuries like ice-cream which they get from small stores down in the valley, these people are self-sufficient.
So where how do they make money to pay the bills? Well, Seyyed Masum takes on the odd job every once in a while. He’s in construction and so are his brothers that come to his aid at times. Although they specialize in tile work, they do what they can in times when there’s not much demand. Besides that, everyone makes some profit off the sale of their produce which is cheaper and completely organic.
While most village folk are early-rising hard workers, life doesn’t revolve around business for them. Seyyed always makes time for his family by taking breaks to be home in time for meals. By the way, they work hard and eat hard, even up to 5 meals per day. After a long day’s work, he likes to lie in the grass and watch the starry night away from the world’s bustle. Sitting around the occasional campfire with friends and family for a round of tea and laughs is not forgotten. Basically, they appreciate their living quarters to the fullest.
Blue windows for people who live closer to the blue sky.
We left after a relaxing night’s rest with a handful of edible parting gifts. On the way back, I couldn’t help but think if people wouldn’t act more on their urge to break away from the city if they spent more time in dreamy villages like Eshkevarat.
Could you imagine yourself giving up city life’s luxuries to live a simple life in a peaceful countryside village?