8. Back to Europe
After sunset I enjoyed a hot meal, stocked up on provisions and got hold of some plastic bags, into which I deposited my smelly clothes. Though I had changed my underwear and pants, a somewhat unpleasant smell emanated from my travel bag; and so, on the journey in a comfortable bus to Teheran, some of my fellow-travellers were slightly offended by this odour, without openly saying so, however. And I decided to one day build a temple for my guardian, should I safely cross the next borders.
Feeling tired I arrived in Teheran in the afternoon and wanted to catch a bus to the Amir Kabir Hotel. But the Persians gave out varying informations, seemingly greatly enjoying the confusion they caused. The majority treated Westerners condescendingly and seemed to look down on them. During the half hour the walk took I noticed many restaurants whose eating clientèle were protected by windows pasted shut with newspapers. Nowadays this would be impossible during Ramadan. The hotel was above a tire shop and the rubbery stench wafted into the hotel. I shared a room with the Italians and shared my secret with them. They were from Bologna and had a good laugh at my story.
After I had washed my dirty clothes we went together to the hotel's restaurant where I was greeted with a loud "Oh my God, Chris!". It was Lucy from New York, with whom I had spent an unforgettable night in Kathmandu. On her return journey she met a fellow countryman in Istanbul and fell in love with him. He had enough money to take her with him on his journey towards the East.
“Oh you lucky thing! Here we meet again – but our ways will part again quickly; this time in opposite directions”.
“Well, be as it may. But I will never forget the night we spent together and especially not after re-encountering you here”.
Her boyfriend invited me for dinner and I told them about my adventure.
“I urgently need to sell some to finance my journey to Istanbul”.
“Then let us go to our room”.
I sold 1 Tola for 35 US$ to them and some other acquaintances from the hotel. The continuation of my journey was secured! Whilst smoking some joints they listened to my anecdotes, and their eyes lit up. None of them – apart from Lucy – had ever travelled to Afghanistan, India or Nepal. We did not realize then that soon this route would be history, as only 7 months later in April of 1978 there was a coup d'état by pro-soviet officers in Afghanistan, and after this it was next to impossible to visit this beautiful country, with its Buddhas in Bamiyan, the multi-coloured lakes of Band-e-amir and the famous Chicken-Street in Kabul. And almost simultanously the Islamic Revolution started in Persia and in December of 1979 the Soviets marched into Afghanistan.
Happy and tired I bid farewell to these travellers to the Orient.
“I wish you a beautiful journey! How I would love to wander once more on this path. This expedition will surely change your life too.”
“Good luck Chris! We'll keep our fingers crossed for you”.
“Lucy, should you see our Baba once more, please give him my best regards”.
“I shall do so Chris, you take care of yourself, I shall never forget you!”
"I shall be thinking of you, at the latest when somewhere the song 'Lucy in
the Sky with Diamonds' can be heard. I will see you, my girl with the kaleidoscope
eyes, as we wander through the night of Patan and as we say goodbye at the bus station. The sun in your eyes warmed my heart and made me
forget my worries for a short time".
Our eyes became moist as we embraced.
Next morning I got on the bus to Istanbul. At the Shahyad-Tower roundabout
- the tower being a memorial for the Shahs - the bus turned off in a
westerly direction. After Reza Pahlavi's overthrow, Ayatollah Chomeini
declared the momument as the Freedomtower (Azadi-Tower) of the Islamic