Scent of Saffron
My grandparents’ house
My grandparents’ house in Kerman was typical of desert houses. The rooms, all surrounding a desert courtyard, were spacious and bright, with high ceilings and colourful glass at the top of the doorframe. The biggest room, with two doors opening on to the verandah, was kept spotlessly tidy and always looked ready for guests. Carpets covered the entire floor area of all the rooms. Mattresses were spread on the floors, on the top of the carpets from wall to wall, and handmade cushions were laid against each wall for guests to lean on. Curtains were embroidered with lace, and oil lamps, colourful crystal and glasswork, decorated the shelves. The courtyard was bordered by cypress and pine trees and all types of flower-bed. A pond stocked with goldfish was located in the middle of the courtyard and vases of geraniums were laid around it. Summer evenings began by the splashing of cool water over the hot stones of the courtyard. Water would spread on the wide verandahs, in front of the rooms and over to the ‘pashuyeh’ (borders of the pond). Moist air would fill the courtyard. The carpets were spread around and cushions laid against the wall on the verandah. Dinner was placed on a white sofreh, on the floor. The family shared such summer evenings, sitting around the sofreh. cross-legged, eating and conversing. The main evening entertainment was story-telling by the elders, poetry reading or talking about ordinary events of the day.
The house had a thick wooden gate at the entrance which opened onto a long, enclosed corridor. The courtyard appeared at the end of this corridor. The gates had big metal handles, with which people had to knock hard in order to be heard. Couples had their own quarters but the kitchen and the guest-room were shared by all. Sometimes, a widowed aunt, mother-in-law or a single uncle lived in the same household. Servants had their own rooms, usually located by the gate.