Saturday, July 01, 2006


In Iran it was not advisable to smoke. We were clean; not taking any risks, and went directly through on busses with only the necessary stops in Teheran and Mashad. When we arrived at the longed for border of Afghanistan, it was past closing time. It was the night of the full moon, two weeks after our departure, and the frontier guards offered us smoke, so that when I bedded down outside the frontier post I was immensely high and happy. I discovered that I could change my perception at will, back and forth between a picture and a pattern, whether my eyes were open or closed.
We stayed two weeks in Herat. Most transportation seemed to be by horse drawn gigs, and since all the horses wore small bells there was a constant tinkling in the air. We began to make acquaintance with other travelers that we had already seen here and there on the way. For work, I had brought with me another book to translate: The Secret of the Golden Flower. I like translating because one is forced to penetrate the text with deep understanding. For the same reason it is only a few special books I would want to translate. The pleasant balance between social life and inspiring work continued.

I took long walks around; Herat was not so much a town as a big village. One day I heard music with drums and by following the sound I came to a house. From the outside it was just a long wall with a gate in the middle, but as I reached the gate people came out and asked me in for a wedding. Inside was a big courtyard with musicians, dancers, and guests. In one end there was an open porch where the bride and groom and the close family were seated. I was given food and then invited to queue up outside a small room in a corner. It contained an enormous water pipe that a little old guy was firing up with much coughing. The queue moved in and each one took a hit and went back out to join the end of the queue, so that the queue became a circle that continued until the pipe was finished. Now the master dancer challenged me to dance, and I locked onto him. I was able to follow him step for step, and he got wilder and wilder and finally tore his shirt off, but that I didn’t want to follow because I didn’t want to show my money belt. The dance was over, but everybody was satisfied, and I was offered food before I left.

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