It is now two and a half weeks that I have returned to Barcelona. So much has happened. My body and mind was getting to the edge of exhaustion. Traveling thousands of kilometers within the last months, working everyday, speaking Farsi 24/7 and meeting new people all the time had left its mark.
Return to Tehran
When me and my team returned to Tehran mid-February I was on the height of pressure. Yes, the photo tour was over, we had done an amazing work and had taken pictures of 15 houses within one month. Only maniacs do that. But I had two topics making my heart unease: We had to select pictures of all the 5000 pictures we took over the last month before my departure in two and a half weeks; and I had no place to stay in Tehran.
This last point might sound silly to some but it was causing more and more of my sadness. Iranians treat guests probably better than anywhere else in the world. So in the last eight years of my trips to the country I had never stayed in hotels but always with people. The same this time but after now also traveling through the country and sleeping mostly at private homes it gave me a hard time to always draw upon this hospitality, to always have the feeling I owe someone something even if Iranians would definitely deny that.
In the end I moved for a couple of days to a close friend who has a little studio apartment in the west of Tehran. He has one of the best views you can have but 25sqm are hard for two people and more than two weeks. I considered going for the first time in a hotel, which would cost my a fortune as Tehran is not a cheap place. I was also looking for some distance to the Iranian hospitality which is amazing for a couple of days but often takes all private space westerner are used to when experiencing it longer. Not that my friends would be like that, but most families.
Me the intruder
The next time I moved to the cousin of my filmmaker, he gave me the big bedroom and again I felt bad being the intruder of someone’s daily life, even if I knew my host would strongly deny that. I tried to make up circumstances by cooking and buying food. And really felt like we are roommates. I am always startled by how much people support me in Iran.
And within my last two weeks we made it and we selected the final images for the book. A the same time I even met some people interested in sponsoring the book or publishing an article about it. My nights I didn’t see any of my friends, I was exhausted and just making it from one day to the other, longing my return to my own home in Barcelona.
But in between also life happened: I went to the wedding of a close friend in tehran and got my makeup done before. What Iranian women call light seemed to me like the mask drag queens put on before entering the stage. I didn’t recognize myself, none of my friends did and before hopping into a taxi I quickly made the light version lighter.
I went to my favourite market in Tehran, the Friday market and bought again dozens of woolen socks for my family. I went to eat my last kebabs in cheap but tasty stalls around downtown. I attended the opening of a gallery exhibition. And I celebrated my birthday only three hours before a taxi would take me to the airport.
Selfpublishing means learning everyday
I think I never been as tired in my life like on this 31st birthday since a trip to Spain when I was 15. 50 German teenagers together for a two weeks beach and fun vacation, of course we didn’t sleep much. While spending my birthday with my family in Germany, only two nights later I was back in Barcelona, two bags full of dirty clothes and souvenirs. My heart was longing so much for the return and when arrived was shaken: Is that my city? Is that my home? I was too long gone. My soul was still somewhere but not here. I gave it four days off to come back.
It did and it was good. Because work didn’t stop. Just after my return the graphic designer working on my book arrived. Eva Gonçalves (www.unfinishedinventory.com) initially just messaged me on Instagram, she liked the book idea and the pictures I posted from the travel. Hopefully one day she would work on a book like this. I has realized in Iran that I needed someone to work with me here in Europe, to sit together. So the initial wish to work with an Iranian graphic team wasn’t working. I turned to Eva and after a Skype call was sure that it would work. Yeah, another like-minded person!
Being Portuguese but living in Berlin she shares a similar story of life like me. The urge to travel, to life in different places, to connect with people. She is doing a three month off-time and was happy to hop on this project. So she came to Barcelona and for four and a half days we did barely anything else than working and had fun. We went to the printer, selected paper and talked about possible covers, a big thing when talking about a book. I learned a lot from Eva about layout and printing, asking a lot of detail questions. She confessed usually clients wouldn’t be that curious. In the end we reached our goals, tired and exhausted and both not being totally healthy but we did it.
Book launch set: 19th of May!
Since Eva left a week ago, I have been finishing the last content about the houses, their owners and about Iranian design. Also we are super happy to have signed up the architect, advisor to the president of the Iranian Organization for Cultural Heritage and former Head of the Fajr International Film Festival, Seyyed Mohammad Beheshti for the introduction of the book.
So everything is on schedule. The images are in post-production (meaning they became even more beautiful through Photoshop), the content will go next week into editing and then proofreading and everything will be ready beginning of April. We will start printing by end of April and if everything goes fine (fingers crossed!) will have the books in our hands mid-May. To celebrate this we will hold our book launch in Barcelona on the day of the presidential elections in Iran, the 19th of May. Afterwards, I fly to Tehran to celebrate a second time with all the owners. So cross your fingers for us!