Having travelled to 13 countries, a Japanese woman and an Indian man refer to Iran as the best tourist destination and the paradise of earth.
Somewhere out in the heights of Himalaya, they fell in love with each other at first sight and now miles away from that romantic start, they are sitting in the living room of an Iranian host’s house. They are drinking tea and telling stories about their long journey on their bikes. Suniel and Yucca have gained a good reputation on the social media due to their exciting, adventurous travels. On the social media, they have been nicknamed as Sushi and Sambar (two authentic foods of Japan and India). One of them has come from the Far East, Japan, and the other one from the land of elephants, India. Love of travelling is the glue of their marriage and this very love is why they are now in their favourite land, Iran.
Here is IFP’s translation of a report by Khorasan newspaper about their experiences in Iran.
Suniel and Yucca are both educated figures and before embarking on their adventure, they had great jobs in India and Britain. One of them was the project manager of IBM Company and the other one used to teach Japanese literature in Britain. Now they have reached Iran after visiting 13 countries of the world and expressed enthusiasm to live here for some while and even run a business in Iran’s central city of Isfahan. They believe that Iran is the paradise on earth.
Short Honeymoon Turns into a Long Journey
Suniel says that travelling on bicycle was part of their honeymoon plan, and soon turned out to be very interesting and exciting to them.
Suniel notes that they would like to know which countries are more hospitable. “We wanted to know if it is possible to trust the roads and cross the borders with the help of people’s kindness and never be forced to look for a place for sleeping or some food.”
He stressed that people have been kind to them in all countries; among all, however, the kindness of Iranians was of a different type.
“Iranians do not wait until you ask them for a favour or direction; they would come to you, share their food and help you willingly,” Suniel said, adding that, “I had this experience for several times that I was on the road and the cars coming from the opposite direction would pull over just to see if they can help us with anything.”
Yucca picks up her husband’s remarks and after mentioning that she has fallen in love with Iranian saffron ice-cream, she goes on to say that, “During our trips, we were repeatedly invited to Iranians’ houses where they would serve what we desired before we mentioned it.”
She stressed that she felt like home in Iran.
Suniel and Yucca have allocated certain amount of money for their travels; something around $5 per day. More on their budget, Suniel says, “We could have specified more money but we wanted to know how further we can travel on account of different nations’ kindness.
In response to a question on why they’ve picked bicycle for travelling the world, he came up with an interesting reply, “On bicycle, you don’t ride too fast to miss the opportunity of enjoying the beauties of your surroundings and neither too slow to become bored.”
“Before I met Yucca, I had ridden around the entire India and Yucca is the only fellow traveller that I can pedal a bike with around the world,” he said.
On bicycle, you don’t ride too fast to miss the opportunity of enjoying the beauties of your surroundings and neither too slow to become bored
A Mixed Image of Iran
I steered the conversation towards their mentality about Iran before they got here. Suniel gave a straightforward answer, “Up until about 15 years ago, my mentality about Iran was the same picture that the media outlets had drawn in my mind; a country, full of chaos, conflict and insecurity.”
He referred to an Iranian Muslim couple who were his guests and said, “This couple changed my preconceptions about Iranians; however, my outlook on Iran changed fundamentally when I felt its people’s kindness with my own senses.”
Yucca, on the other hand, highlights the magnificence of Iranians’ cultural heritage that she had been acquainted with in a museum in London before and said, “I became familiar with your country in a museum in London; hence, I always wanted to see it myself.”
She refers to the works of Iranian renowned filmmakers such as Abbas Kiarostami and Majid Majidi as a major factor in her acquaintance with Iran and added, “They have showcased many cultural commonalities between Iran and Japan.”
Japan’s Green Tea in Iranian Cuisine
Suniel and Yucca, who have been fascinated by Iran during their two visits, had plans to pass on their experiences to others through several projects. One of these projects is Yucca’s green tea.
She pointed that green tea is the product of the Land of the Rising Sun (Japan) and said, “During my journeys, I would add this tea to the raw materials of the local cuisines of each country and keep record of their tastes.”
“I believe that the cuisine of every country is made in the kitchens by the housewives who make it with passion,” she said, noting that you never find a real cuisine in a restaurant.
Yucca stressed that green tea goes best with Iranian Dolmeh, which is belongs in the family of stuffed vegetable dishes.
Suniel, who specializes in management projects, has gained many experiences as well and says, “During these journeys, I had an opportunity to become familiar with business environment in different countries.”
Every country’s cuisine is made in the kitchens by the housewives who make it with passion. You never find a real cuisine in the restaurant.
Memories of Iranian Hospitality that Never Fade Away
When I ask them to share a beautiful memory, they look at each other and smile. They recall a memory from their travel to Iran’s southwestern city of Yasuj as the most unforgettable one.
“We were near the city that a pickup pulled over and firmly insisted on giving us a free ride and that we should be his guests,” Suniel said.
He said that they accepted the man’s kind offer; however, when they wanted to get on the car they became very surprised to see his pregnant wife and child sitting there.
He went on to say that they lived in a modest, rustic house.
“We noticed that they didn’t even have enough food at home but the man went out immediately and borrowed some food from their neighbours,” he sai.
“At their insistence, we sat at the table; however, they ate less so we have more.”
He said that the next morning for breakfast, they had only one egg left and the man’s pregnant wife even left the house so we had no sense of guilt at breakfast.
They narrated another memory from the hospitable people of Abhar, a city in Iran’s northwest.
“They took us to their house insistently and before long we noticed that the house has become full with around 30 people who had come to welcome us,” he said.
Contentment in Living a Simple Life
Suniel and Yucca have plans to travel to Iran again and said, “Our friends and families can’t wait to visit Iran after we shared our pictures and memories with them.”
“My wife and I have found contentment in living a simple life. Although we have lucrative jobs, we never tried to live an aristocratic life,” Suniel noted, concluding that, “Through these journeys we practiced to acclimatise to living a plain and simple life and we learnt to travel without polluting our environment.”