National Geographic : 1951 Oct
429 Pix-Emile G. Serries Gaily Colored Chadars, Women's Concealing Wraps, Blossom Again on Tehran Streets Banned in the 1920's, the old-style garment virtually disappeared; now it has made a comeback. Older women prefer black, while the younger choose bright prints. Many walk on Western-type wedgies. Tehran's buses sport handmade bodies built on American truck chassis. MP is armed with a machine pistol. welcome spring and carry the coming year's bad luck into the country and leave it there. Come, and you'll see." Next morning we set out toward the towering Elburz Mountains. Already crowds in holiday mood jammed the main road. Old and young, rich and poor-in Cadillacs, carts, jalopies, trucks, afoot, and on burros-poured out of the city. Buses did a landoffice busi ness, heading north packed and returning empty for other loads. MP's directed traffic; vendors hawked soft drinks, water, and "eski mos" (ice cream). Picnickers on foot spread cloths and set up samovars in vacant city lots. The more fortunate reached green fields, shady orchards, or pleasant mountain re treats (page 440). Soon Tehran was deserted. An English correspondent who flew into the capital that day told me later how un settling this mass evacuation had looked from the air. "As we circled for a landing," he said, "we noticed the roads jammed with people. Had no idea what had happened. Thought it must be war, or perhaps a revolution." Actually, although political assassinations, threats of violence, and occasional demon strations kept the Government on edge, the city itself seemed calm, especially after our visit to Abadan. Martial law and the mid night curfew were lifted. The vast majority of Tehran's inhabitants were too busy earn ing a precarious living to be concerned with politics. With members of the foreign press we visited the Majlis, Iran's House of Commons, where the life of Prime Minister Hussein Ala's Government hung in the balance. Deputies, gathering under the ornate chamber's crystal chandeliers, conferred in small groups or quietly took their seats. Citizens jam-packed a small gallery. Soldiers with bayoneted rifles stood by doorways. Iran's House of Commons in Action The Prime Minister and his cabinet arrived. The Speaker's gavel rapped. Half a dozen deputies spoke in turn, including emotional Mohammed Mossadegh, soon to be Prime Minister himself. Heckling from the floor interrupted them. A loud bell, rung by the Speaker, cut too-heated arguments short. At length Ala, twice Iran's Ambassador to the United States, walked to the rostrum. Calm, dignified, he read his program in a low voice: cooperation with the United Nations .. maintenance of security . . . negotia tion of disputes . . . justice under law. No interruptions now; delegates listened atten tively, thoughtfully fingering the beads that many Persian men carry. Later they gave the Prime Minister a thumping vote of confidence.