Nick is in Iran

My friend Nick is in Iran for a few weeks. This was his latest email:

So, then, it could begin like this, with the boys busy at their football, kicking the ball within the quad, bouncing it off every surface- streetlamps, parked cars, each other’s heads – who still find time to direct my lost steps to a small door in the adobe wall, behind which a minor set of stairs lead up to the roof, a full three storeys high, from where there are domes in three hundred and sixty degrees, the largest that of the Friday mosque, its two turquoise minarets pointing, missile-like, towards the heaven presumably contained in the immensity above, an azure sheet without interruption, cloudless, blue, eternal, ripped only by the mountains, far and to the south, purplish in the distance, a hue just darker than that of the other mosques, aquamarine, cyan, their tile work aspiral with Kufic calligraphy, delicately patterned forms of geometric beauty, whose splendour still struggles to match the richness of their larger brother, and thus seem only better daubed versions of their nearer cousins, the thousand plain adobe domes that top every house in view, sun baked for seven centuries to a pale but warm orange, stronger than their shell appearance, and still the ball continues to ricochet with a punching sound, as the sun begins to slip from view, sending out a syrup light, a treacly illumination that coats every dome, minaret and bagdir- the Corinthian devices beloved throughout Yazd, which channel the slightest breeze into the houses, cooling and ventilating them -setting fire to surfaces, making the shadows bulge and lengthen, causing children to run for home (though not the ones kicking below), imbuing the air with a sense of gathering, conclusion, the knowledge that whatever the ills or merits of the day, it is at least, done; all that remains is to fade it out, to thin the light, thicken the dark, and as if in encouragement, the first lights begin to blink on, domestic pinpricks, then, a faint greenish glow around the farthest set of minarets, a sickly mouthwash hue that gradually mellows to a go-sign green, and then when the scene seems fixed, even as it is fading, the first voice begins, the rich and resonant cry of the muezzin, calling worshippers to prayer, reminding them that although the day is done, one duty, and not just any, but the greatest, still remains before they can begin their evenings with family and food, that they must kneel, prostrate, consider whether they had been righteous this day, whether they must make amends, strive for better tomorrows; this first invitation, perhaps exhortation, is then joined by a second from the east, overlapping, rising, falling, competing ululations soon joined by a third from a loudspeaker only several streets away, a harsher more insistent sound with a metallic aftertaste, so that the city is completely awash with voice, blending, combining, all striving toward the same aim, that of invoking surrender to the God that is but one God and his name is Allah, no doubt watching over the now darkened city, the mountains lost from the horizon, the meals being prepared and cooked, the children arguing over an offside decision, the light breeze starting to spring up, the wish that I’d brought a sweater, the fairy lights strung between the minarets, over the whole city and all of its inhabitants, including me who wonders how he might fix the scene in some more lasting way, thinking it could begin and end with the football’s percussive echoes, with the sounds of the old city of Yazd, that all I need do in-between would be to talk of wonder without end.