National Geographic : 1951 Oct
431 Iranian Bakers Create Their Own Styles. This One Specializes in "Breadbaskets" Slapped against the roof of a dome-shaped oven, these "loaves" baked brittle over a charcoal fire. Most Iranian bread comes in wide, flat sheets. Restaurants serve it folded like napkins. small British-built taxis, pushcarts, wagons, handmade buses, war-surplus trucks, and plod ding burros (page 444). Carts and wagons are painted in bright geometric designs. Horses' legs and tails are dyed henna; blue beads on their harness ward off the evil eye. Even in the city's main square a flock of sheep and goats, perhaps a string of camels in from the desert, may momentarily tie up traffic.* Though the city boasts broad streets, traffic lights, dial phones, and pretentious buildings, it still lacks sanitary water and sewage sys tems. Water from the mountains flows in its square stone gutters, called jubes. Children wade in it, men wash in it, animals drink it. No foreigner touches jube water, nor do those who can afford a well or to patronize the swarm of water peddlers who fill their two wheeled tank carts at city wells. But for the mass of people it's the only water available. Before we left, we watched men laying huge water mains down the center of one of the city's chief thoroughfares, marking the * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "Old and New in Persia," by the Baroness Ravensdale, September, 1939, and "Modern Persia and Its Capital," by F. L. Bird, April, 1921, dawn of a new era for Tehran (page 430). Iran's chief city, like the country as a whole, is still only in the shadow of the ma chine age. Local products are largely hand made, from the shiny samovar that graces every home to the handsome bodies of the nation's buses, built on U. S. truck chassis. (Many of the buses, copying Cadillac, sport tail fins). Parts of the city seem like surging beehives, their people banging and clattering away from dawn to dusk. If your automobile motor needs a new part and one isn't avail able, the chances are an exact copy can be handmade in short order. Factories are few; modern plants produce textiles, cement, cigarettes, bricks, and car pets. South of the city a forest of tall chim neys marks the yards that turn out the buff colored bricks from which the capital is built. There, too, stands one of the world's largest grain elevators, which Iranians call "silos." Shops are small. Tehran has no department store, unless its vast covered bazaar can be called one, and no real grocery. The druggist, not the grocer, sells powdered milk, and only the cereal man sells rice. Everyone seems to be in business for himself; butcher, baker, vegetable man have their own tiny stalls.