As I sit eating chicken kabobs in a restaurant, a young Iranian woman has come to visit me. As she pulls up a freshly painted wooden chair her beautiful smile and round face radiates outward from her chador, (a type of full coverage headscarf). She is bursting with questions.
Her energy penetrates me deeply with familiarity. Are you single? Yes, I say feeling unburdened from all my tall tales about my fictitious husband Casper lately. I feel alive with honesty to say, yes, I am single. I cycled into Iran from Pakistan alone, as part of my world cycling tour.
Are you single too, I ask her? Yes, she beams, I am 25 years old, I am a nurse. She merrily says with a large grin of pride, that in Iran it is not a good thing. She explains, she just broke it off with her boyfriend/potential husband a month ago because the boys in Iran are bad, all they want is sex. I laugh with agreement, for the testosterone driven attention level for a western woman every moment of the day is about as heavy as a late night in a pub at university back home. I smile with a grin of acknowledgement and tell her the boys seem to really like me here. She straightens her chador and says yes it is because of sex and the western movies they watch of people who look like you having lots of unmarried sex.
In a moment of sisterhood exchanged over Iranian kabobs, while sitting on refurbished chairs, I say that it is ok and sometimes misunderstood in many countries to be a single woman at any age and I think her choice is wonderful. Her chador continues to shine with a strength and pride only found from going against the norm in a culture where society expects women to be married and giving birth in their early twenties and it is almost unheard off to be single at thirty.
Our shared laughter wanes as the chicken kabobs run dry. We exchange Facebook contact details, and decide to update each other of our relationship status as life progresses for these two single women from different parts of the same world.