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January 9, 2003

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Left Tehran and entered the country's religious center, Qom. We see a mullah every minute, religious leaders dressed in flowing robes (usually light brown) and white turbans. A 'regular' mullah wears a white turban. A mullah descended from Muhammad wears a black turban. A green turban means that the wearer is not a mullah yet still a descendant of Muhammad. So much for turban etiquette. Women don't wear turbans yet they must keep their head and hair covered at all times by using a head scarf, usually black, called a hejab. In Qom, women go a length further by wearing a chador, a full length shawl that runs from head to toe, also usually black.
In the town square stands Ayatollah Khomeni's religious school - yes, this was the Supreme Leader's hometown.
Kashan is the best place to see traditional Iranian houses. This one was built in 1834 by Tabatabei, a carpet merchant (even then people paid too much money for carpets). The builders carved intricate designs in the stone facade and used stained glass for the windows.
Every friday, free bisquits and rose water!
From Qom we strike south to Kashan where we'll spend the night. For dinner we have an uncomfortable political discussion involving American troops occupying Afghanistan and Iraq, seemingly surrounding Iran with evil intentions.