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23 June 2014 / leggypeggy

Watch-ya wanna buy in Tehran’s big bazaar?

Decorative ware, Tehran bazaar

Perhaps Aladdin’s lamp is somewhere in there

Undies and knitting wool, Tehran bazaar

Fancy a pair of underpants—or maybe some knitting wool

Tehran’s main bazaar might not be one of the most beautiful markets in the world, but you can buy almost everything you need.

It’a one of the world’s largest bazaars with about 10 kilometres of covered shopping and plenty of outdoor stalls too.

Poor John and I spent half a day wandering the labyrinth of corridors getting ourselves lost and then found—and finding lots of unexpected gems as we explored.

For starters, we replenished our supplies of dried fruit and nuts, and I found a headscarf that didn’t make me look too frumpy. It’s black, red and gold and has sort of an Aboriginal design. I might even wear it in public in Australia.

Scarves, Tehran bazaar

Plenty of choice in the scarf corridors

It’s compulsory throughout Iran for women to wear a headscarf—or even the full shapeless chador rig with or without face covering, which is way too hot in summer and not expected of foreign women. I brought two scarves with me from Australia, but neither quite covered my head, hair AND neck, so a better version was required.

I was also tempted by, but resisted buying, some fabric or a large men’s shirt (to cover my bum). In addition to a headscarf, a woman who doesn’t wear a chador seems to be expected to wear a jacket that is long enough to cover her bum. Good grief, I’d brought black trousers and black, long-sleeved (but not very long) tops, and figured I’d wait until someone complained about my outfits before I bought yet another layer of heat in summer. No one ever said a word.

We also ignored the touristic trinkets. There are plenty of wonderful temptations, but after years of travel, we already have too much of this stuff at home.

Evening wear, Tehran bazaar

An array of evening gowns—pick a colour

Evening gowns, Tehran bazaar

Window shopping for evening gowns

The evening gowns were most impressive and most unexpected, but I resisted buying one of them too—not really right for camping. I’m still wondering who buys these shapely, slinky, low-cut numbers festooned with beads, sequins, ruffles and glitter. I saw plenty of women in chador lingering before the displays of gowns, and I asked in several shops as to when and where people might wear such get-ups. But the language barrier was too great to get an explanation. I can only imagine that headscarves, long jackets and chadors are not required in the privacy of one’s home, and that a dinner party among ‘consenting adults’ would be the perfect place for a plunging neckline.

So skipping the party clothes, I was especially pleased to be able to resurrect my watch. You may remember that my trusty watch of ten years fell off my wrist—and was lost forever—in Sydney’s airport late last year. Luckily, I had a convenient spare in my backpack. It’s a Timex and, while it’s been mostly okay, it’s also been a nuisance.

I love the watch’s beautiful big face, large readable numbers and sweeping second hand. Plus when I push the winder spindle in the middle of the night, the face lights up and I know how many hours I have until I have to crawl out of my sleeping bag.

All these good points reminded me that when I was a child, Timex’s promotional slogan was ‘takes a licking and keeps on ticking!’ I vividly remember the watch being tied to the blade of an ice skate and being whizzed around the skating rink, and then shown to still be keeping good time.

Clearly, I didn’t get that watch! Within a few months of normal wear, the face edges had chipped. I can live with a few chips, but not when the shards lodge under the face and stop the ticking. I could shake the watch to re-distribute the shards and get the hands going again, but I was always wary as to whether the time shown was accurate.

Then one of the pins holding the watchband in place fell out. Hmm, and I hadn’t even gone to the ice skating rink in Dubai! But Dubai is the land of copies, so I packed away the Timex and purchased a cheap Rolex copycat that was way too dressy for my wardrobe of camping clothes. Maybe I should have looked more closely at the evening gowns in Tehran.

Clocks and watches, Tehran bazaar

These kind fellows put in a new watchband pin for free

That said, the Tehran bazaar came to the watch rescue. Early in our wanderings, Poor John found a proper clock shop. They couldn’t replace the face, but they were happy to provide a pin for the band—for free!

Later in the day, we found a proper watch shop and—yes—for a mere $5 they could replace the face by the next day. Our challenge was going to be to find the shop again, which we did—eventually.

So I’ve got a watch again that doesn’t need sequins to go with it. Sadly, the frequent and extreme changes in temperature (from boiling hot in the desert to the air conditioning that’s available occasionally in hostels) have caused the watch face to crack, so I’ll need to go replacement shopping again in one of the Stans. I’ll keep you posted.


Leave a Comment
  1. annathrax / Jun 23 2014 8:43 am

    Looks amazing! So vibrant and colourful. Iran is high on my list.


    • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 11:35 am

      Iran is well worth a visit. The headscarf business for women is a pain in the neck, but everything else is great.


      • annathrax / Jun 23 2014 2:10 pm

        I dont comb my hair most of the time, so the headscarf could be a winner! 🙂


      • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 9:35 pm

        I must admit that a headscarf is just the thing for a bad-hair day. 🙂


  2. lmo58 / Jun 23 2014 9:38 am

    Hi Peggy,
    What an amazing shopping experience! Ten kilometres of shopping and so much to choose from. I could get lost for days in that sort of bazaar.


    • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 11:36 am

      Good one, Louise. I think people do get lost there for days. 🙂


  3. lambsearsandhoney / Jun 23 2014 12:13 pm

    Hi Peggy – I have to say that I’m more than a little envious. Iran has always been high on my list of places I want to get to. Along with Syria. 😦
    I guess I’ll just keep vicariously enjoying it through your trip.


    • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 1:02 pm

      Syria is one of my favourite places in the world. Our first daughter was born in Damascus. Iran is great too. I promise to post a heap of entries for both Iran and Syria.


  4. suchled / Jun 23 2014 7:30 pm

    I still can’t balance the war in Syria and the wars in Iran and Iraq with the apparent freedom with which you seem to wander from hot spot to hot spot.


    • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 9:34 pm

      We try to avoid danger. Plus, I have been very fortunate to be in the right places at the right times. Egypt in the 1970s, Syria in the early 1980s and again in 2009, and Nigeria, Mauritania and Mali in 2009. We have only just left Iran, which is very calm and welcoming these days. Our most dangerous stint was in Beirut during the Civil War in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And really, we just had to be sensible about where we went.

      I have yet to visit Afghanistan and Iraq. Poor John visited Baghdad in the 1970s. We planned a trip to the swamps there for 1980, but the war broke out and we never went. Maybe someday.


      • suchled / Jun 23 2014 9:39 pm

        Thanks for responding so quickly.You’re having a loverly time, I wish I were there.


      • leggypeggy / Jun 23 2014 10:29 pm

        My pleasure. We are in Tashkent Uzbekistan with a half decent internet connection. After tomorrow or the next day, we probably won’t be online for at least a week. Off to go camping in Kyrgyzstan. I’m sure there’s a spare tent if you want to catch up with us. 🙂


  5. / Jun 24 2014 9:36 am

    Great bazaar Peggy … and watch saga. It truly reminds me of one in the old town of Amman – complete with underpants and evening gown display! So, you mostly just had to wear an appropriate head scarf? ~Terri


    • leggypeggy / Jun 24 2014 12:04 pm

      Thanks for pointing out the link between fancy dresses and fancy underpants. They do go together. 🙂 And I forgot to mention the long sleeves and the temperatures over 40°C.


  6. chattykerry / Nov 22 2015 8:22 am

    How lucky you were to visit Tehran – maybe one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2015 9:42 am

      Iran is amazing. We had such a wonderful time and were always welcomed and always made to feel safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • chattykerry / Nov 22 2015 1:25 pm

        We have a large group of ‘Persians’, in Houston and they are delightfully warm- hearted.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Nov 22 2015 3:02 pm

        That’s exactly what I would expect.


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