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Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Bridges of Esfahan

Esfahan is a city of beautiful bridges that link two halves of the city bisected by Zayandeh River. Esfahanians like to spend their time strolling along the river, or picnic by the green belt on its banks. Every evening, or on the Friday rest day, the river banks are crowded with families and couples. At night, the bridges are lit up to create a most romantic atmosphere.
The cynic, however, would attribute this to the lack of places to hang out in Esfahan, or Iran in general. Most other forms of public entertainment are forbidden by the Islamic Republic. Dancing and partying are forbidden. Many tea houses have been shut down, sometimes because they are deemed dodgy places for un-Islamic mixing of different sexes, and sometimes because people smoke water pipes there instead of devoting time to the study of Quran. There are a few cinemas but some clergymen would love to see fewer of them open, as they might prompt naughty un-Islamic values.

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