I lingered, unsure what to do, aware of the many people around us and the police just across the street, before thinking ‘fuck it’ and pulling her into an alleyway for a cheeky kiss.
She had to leave, of course, and I had plans to check out Iranian Kurdistan.
I LAY IN MY SLEEPING BAG, the cold barely kept at bay.
I had entered Iran during the depths of winter and was beginning to wonder if this had been a mistake.
If somebody had told me a year ago that I would meet a girl on Tinder in Iran and go backpacking across countries like Pakistan and India, Bhutan and Myanmar, I would have laughed.
Smiling broadly, the Mullah shook my hand, welcomed me to Iran in scratchy English and stamped a small booklet with our photos pasted into it. We took to the road, keen to explore as much of Iran as possible, to peel back the layers of an often forgotten country and to hitch the entire length of Iran and back.“It’s only a temporary marriage anyway,” she shrugged, smiling.Temporary marriages, or Sigheh, are used by lots of Iranian couples for lots of different purposes; a marriage can last from an hour to a decade and a dowry, traditionally, has to be paid.It had taken four days of hitchhiking to get to Tehran and I was still getting used to a country where I had yet to see another backpacker.I had accepted that backpacking Iran was going to be a very different experience to traveling in any other country I had visited before.