In Kashan today we visited a beautiful and ornate hammam (a bath house) where we stumbled upon a rather uncomfortable fact of life in Iran.
The hammam is no longer used for bathing but we asked whether there were other baths houses that retained their original purpose. There are, said a local. “Men,” he said, “go to discuss politics and the economy”. So far so good. “Mothers go to find wives for their sons,” he continued.
Okay so forget the base uncomfortableness that many marriages in Iran are arranged. That’s true of lots of places. The irksome fact is that the reason the hammam is an optimum place for daughter-in-law browsing is that it’s the only place outside the home where women needn’t dress conservatively. They’re bathing and they’re not dressed at all. So while a son may have no idea about the figure of his wife to be until they’re married, he may rely on his mother’s judgement. And that’s just weird.