– Bruce Edwards, Roberts Creek, British Columbia
It was winter 1969. I was with friends traveling overland to India in a VW bus. We were spending a few rare days in a small hotel with hot water in Tehran, Iran. This was when the Shaw was in power and the discrepancy of rich and poor was very evident. One day I ventured out on my own to explore the markets and was returning by bus to our hotel. I managed to say the name to the driver and as he dropped me off he pointed across a very wide boulevard to the hotel. There were several lanes of traffic and then a wide grassy swath, then several more lanes between me and my destination. I dodged through the traffic lanes to the grass but halfway across I encountered an eight foot wide, half culvert of open sewage completely crossing my path. It was crusty and not flowing and it half filled the cement ditch. I looked left and right. It was a considerable distance either way to the roads that crossed the culvert. I thought, “I can do this.” I tossed my few market items across, backed up and took a running leap. I made it! At least my hands did. My feet began scrabbling on the slick side of the ditch and in a heartbeat I was up to my waist in Persian poo. The absolute horror of that instant gave me the adrenalin to somehow propel myself out. There I stood on the grass in my heavy winter coat as mortified as I’ve ever been. Suddenly, from in front of our scruffy little hotel, a woman in rags began to shriek. She screamed and then began to laugh and as my pitiful form weaved through the traffic towards her, she began gathering a crowd with what I assume was a hilarious account of my stupidity.Tears of laughter rolled from her eyes and the story was repeated non stop as more and more smiling and laughing people gathered to listen and stare at this humiliated, very sheepish Canadian. She had teeth missing and was obviously very poor and having the time of her life. She advanced towards me, grabbed my arm, and without missing a beat of her oration, guided me to an outside tap and with her bare hands she began to clean me up.