In 2015 on an annual trip to Shiraz, my parents raved about an extraordinary Lori driver-guide they’d met in Yasuj, Farhang Heidari. I called him to ask if he was available to guide my father and I in the next few days. Greeting me as hamshireh (meaning sister – although the word literally means someone raised on the same milk), he agreed to be our guide. On our first day driving around, he pointed out the heartstrings of Lori culture with enthusiasm: from the distant peak of Qale Qalam of the Zagros mountains to the balut (acorn) of the oak trees that was traditionally used to make their daily bread. Then he drove us to popular natural sites: Seriz, Sisakht and a waterfall at Tang-e Tāmorādi filled with picnicking families. In Sisakht we stopped at a roadside vendor to purchase dried herbal remedies and ālu (plums) particular to this region.
On the second day, Farhang took us to a few stores with bālesh mahali and rende bāfi textiles, but I let him know I was more interested in hearing from the people behind these vivid textiles, so we visited a gabeh weaver at her home. After demonstrating the weaving process, she mentioned many families had stopped weaving. Cheap machine- made carpets on the market and rising inflation made it increasingly harder to sell handwoven carpets. Later that day we visited another family who expressed the same concern in Gorgu, the summer grounds of nomads in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province.
When Farhang asked us what we would like to do on our last night, my father told him I had a penchant for folk dances. When I joked that he could invite us to a wedding on our next trip, Farhang mentioned there were weddings nearby every night and it would be easy to drop in on one! He whisked us off to dinner at his home where we met his wife and one year-old daughter. Then he drove us all to a wedding! Even though I was hesitant to enter un-invited, he brushed away my concern. He introduced us at the door and asked permission to enter just for a little while. We were kindly invited in. It was truly a dizzying sight to see so many people decked out in vibrant colors moving in unison to the music. Once we left, I told Farhang: next year when I come, I want to really accompany you to a full wedding – not just peek in for a bit. So began our long-term friendship that included shared festivities and weddings for several years down the line.