Iran: The Rudeness of the Taromsari Meal

069In Iran it is legal for a man to have more than one wife at the same time.  The reasoning behind this practice, along with other mysteries of Iran will be explored in upcoming posts.  For now, following on from my last blog post about reaching Taromsa for a selfie; being bundled into a car; driven through the rice fields and arriving finally with my life intact to a house.  A house belonging to my late Grandfathers late brother and his two wives …



The woman who appears on the porch to greet me is Mohmeni, his second wife.  I should say at this point, I don’t know how this woman is related to me but the villagers are pointing to the surname on the back page of my passport and then to her.  No-one understands English, so no-one knows why this Scottish girl has appeared in their village of Taromsa. They know only that I was found wandering the rice fields, wearing a ruck sack, showing my passport to passer byes and pointing at my surname ‘Taromsari’, meaning ‘from Taromsa’.


Mohmeni is well into her seventies and speaks no English,  But then I speak no Farsi.  The only tools we have to communicate are to look at each other and hug.


Mohmeni sits me down on the floor of the sizable open porch, leaving me to look out over the rice fields as she disappears into the kitchen.  My roots belong here in these rice fields, amongst the generations and history of my ancestors and in all my years of travel I have never seen anything quite so sublime as the rice field in front of me.  I wonder how much of this awe belongs to the reality of now and how much of it is running through my blood.  A great sense of belonging overcomes me and for a reason unknown to myself my life up to that point begins to make sense.




Myself and Mohmeni are sitting facing each other on an old Persian rug, a banquet of Iranian dishes spread out on a mat between us.  No words are exchanged.  Instead, our appreciation of food acts as the relationship builder, in place of conversation which is an impossibility for us.

My face is red for the duration of the meal.  Not from the spices as one might imagine but from my own behavior and rudeness.  I keep giving the thumbs up to show what a delicious meal it is.  Unfortunately in Iran and unfortunately for Mohmeni, the thumbs up is the same as giving someone the middle finger back home.  So there I was.  Giving the middle finger many times to a women in her seventies who could hardly walk and had just cooked a wonderful meal for me.  And my rudeness didn’t stop there.  Another practice common when you share a meal but not the local language, is to make ‘mmmm’ sounds to show your appreciation.  I had been told off before in another Muslim country for making such noises whilst eating.  Much to my embarrassment I had been advised of the similarity these noises have to those made during an act other than eating.  Highly inappropriate for Muslim countries.  Proving that habit overrides knowledge; the ‘mmmm’ sounds keep escaping into the air between myself and Mohmeni.  Each time I give her the thumbs up my other hand grabs the thumb back down, matched with a look of horror on my face.  Each time the ‘mmmm’ sounds, my hand covers my mouth in shock and dismay.  I wonder what Mohmeni thinks of this girl from Scotland.


After cleaning up from dinner, I thank Mohmeni greatly and explain I would be on my way.  Of course she understands none of what I am saying.  I feel a deep sadness to be leaving.  After so randomly finding her.  But unable to exchange words I am unsure if I am disturbing her.  I stand up and begin pulling my weighted ruck sack on.  Mohmeni hobbles over taking the rucksack between her hands and pulling it back off me.  She is making a ‘stay here’ movement with her hands. I smile, grateful to be spending a little more time with her.  I could wait until morning to begin the seven hundred mile journey to the south of Iran.  Mohmeni laid down some bedding for me on one of the floors of the two roomed house. That night as I lay in bed, my thoughts drift to Lucy and how her death had propelled me on this solo journey through Iran. Perhaps sub consciously reaching out and in search of the unconditional love which was missing from my life, in the form of family.  I missed her.  I didn’t know if Lucy’s soul was somewhere over rainbow bridge as the poem goes, or whether it was gone forever, but I was sure thankful she had blessed my life with the only unconditional love I had known.

I fell asleep, thankful to Lucy, on one of the most remarkable days of my life.


Thank you for reading – it’s great sharing such a special journey with you.

WBG xxx

Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.

28 Replies to “Iran: The Rudeness of the Taromsari Meal”

  1. Wonderful story Ish….Tears and smiles and a few chuckles as well. Cannot wait for your next new adventure to be coming up!
    I think I shall start giving rude people here the “Thumbs Up” and an evil grin! hehe

    1. Hey Kim 🙂 Ha ha ha – World Bike Girl readers can all start giving the thumbs up in their workplace 🙂 lol xxx

  2. What a wonderful journey your on and so brave of you .you are a remarkable lady , IF””you ever settled down and have children of your own… what remarkable tales of your travels you’ll have for them, i wish you well and stay safe. Xxxx

    1. Hi Brenda – thank you It’s funny I always think I’m the least brave person in the world because I get scared at the ridiculous small things but people keep saying to me but braveness is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. So maybe I a brave ‘lassie’ lol not brave enough to have kids though … ha ha ha xxx

  3. Hi Ishbel, I had the biggest smile whilst reading this, this poor lady must have thought ” what is she like !!” but how lovely that she wanted you to stay, what very welcoming and friendly people in your ‘home town’. I am loving reading about your experiences on your journey – Boldly Go Ishbel !! best wishes Estelle

    1. Hi Estelle, thank you so much – yes I giggle about that meal – at the time I was mortified ha ha ha yes it’s a wonderful thing in the world that you don’t even need to speak the same language to be able to express or receive kindness and love. x

  4. What a wonderful blog.How marvelous to find a long lost relative on your journey and for her to be so welcoming.I am sure she forgave your so called rudeness.LOL!She will have such stories to tell her neighbours about your visit.I am sure Lucy was by your side as you fell asleep on your makeshift bed.

  5. I thought of you today on a trip to Wales when I saw a couple cycling with a small child in a carrier very similar to the one you had for Lucy, and here you are, with another interesting episode in your journey. The different meaning in every day gestures lead to all kinds of embarrassment. I know. Been there, done that in SE Asian countries, but it’s usually accepted with good grace and smiles. Lucy came to you for a reason, and she changed your life, just as you changed hers. Good luck with your on going journey and stay safe x

    1. Thanks Mandy 🙂 I was just astounded at how many times I gave the thumbs up when I knew it’s meaning lol mortifying – enjoy Wales! Xxx

  6. It was so lovely to hear from you again. I cannot imagine the surreal feeling you had as you dined with that kind lady. I love how you have been inspired by the spirit of Lucy. She has been honored by you, my friend. And you have honored us with your stories.

    1. Thanks Marian 🙂 Yes it was surreal! I just couldn’t believe how many times I kept giving the thumbs up lol shows you the power of habit! My experience with Lucy will always be with me and she has inspired me to want love in my life in which ever form that takes 🙂 x

  7. Lovely to red your latest story Ishbel, I found it really interesting and I Do so admire you for undertaking your journey and on your own. I am sure Lucy is watching over you and that she is happy in the knowledge that you gave her so much love and happiness in her life. Good luck on the rest of your journey and stay safe.
    June x

    1. Thanks Neale, my writings really coming on since the first blog I wrote lol I actually get asked to write blogs for companies now but then would have no time to cycle the world lol

  8. I am so enjoying your blogs, and love following your journey. I also have an urge to travel in simple ways, and for some reason I find the same countries you are travelling fascinating and interesting. I lived in Turkey for 5 years and felt as if a part of me belonged there, I travelled many places some on my own and some with my husband, never did I feel unsafe. Enjoy your travels, keep blogging and stay safe. xxx

    1. Hey Jan travelling simply for me lessens my label as a tourist and gives me more access to the real people of a country. I hope you are able to get some travelling done in the near future! If you ever are visiting countries for the first time that I’ve been to in my blog feel free to mail me any questions 🙂 xxx

  9. Such a joy to find your blog post in my email this afternoon! This part of your journey really gets to me deep in the throat and I don’t know why. A sob moves upward, then turns into a smile. I think I identify with the awkwardness described in your futile attempts to communicate without a common language to share. Unique photos, and thank you. Does wife number 1 live in a separate house? Lastly, I think of Lucy, too, and when I do, my body relaxes and feels peace. Yes, her soul is among us. I hope you realize my words are genuine. Patricia

    1. Hi Patricia – thank you so much for your words. I totally get what you’re saying about this part of my journey – I am the same catching me in the throat, possible sobs turning into smiles. Means a lot you are sharing this journey with me. Wife number 1 died only weeks before I arrived. Little did I know my arrival had been a blessing. Lucy is still the best thing that’s ever happened to me. If I come across another Lucy on my travels I’ll keep her forever – hence why Lucy’s trailer will remain at a friends … waiting for when that time comes if it ever does. Have a great day. Ishbel x

    1. Thanks Yvonne – I figure if I feel safe in Castlemilk, Glasgow – I’ll feel safe everywhere else in the world lol xxx

  10. Good luck with rest of your journey through Iran. It sounds like this lovely lady enjoyed your company, she was no doubt fascinated by your gestures and sounds even if taken aback by them initially. Stay safe.

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