Vote now for Best of Detroit 2021

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Room with a veil

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2002 at 12:00 AM

At first, Alison Wearing's view of Iran is obscured by the native attire she dons, her Western upbringing (she's Canadian), and a romanticized view of the Middle East. But by the end of her journey, Wearing — and readers of Honeymoon in Purdah — may be surprised to learn that basic human ideals are the same the world over.

Her five-month journey begins with an 18-hour bus ride from Istanbul, and a colorful cast of characters previously unknown to the author: from drivers to housewives, opium dealers to Christian missionaries, through deserts, mosques, cities large and small. The political upheaval, oppression, and religious fundamentalism of Iran simmers in the background, but Wearing doesn't focus on it; instead she chooses to concentrate on the human exchanges that make her trip a rich experience.

Wearing's sometimes uncooperative companion Ian is her gay roommate posing as her husband, since traveling alone as a woman would have been impossible. Their "honeymoon" is only a ruse.

"I have come to this place because it frightens me; because it frightens the world. And because I don't believe in fear. In giving it such power," says Wearing. Though armed with only a rudimentary knowledge of Farsi, Wearing is never without Iranian citizens — complete strangers — willing to offer advice, friendship, lodging, and food.

Honeymoon affords readers a unique opportunity to armchair travel, but eventually it's time to return to the familiar. Throughout the book Wearing struggles with her attempts to wear Iran's socially acceptable female attire: the hejab, chador, and manteau. As the journey ends she can't help but feel a release to be rid of it, removing it once she crosses back into Turkey.

"I wait for the next big gust to launch the fabric into the sky. It swoops up like a kite and hovers. I am leaping up and down on the sidewalk, trying to keep it in sight. Watching the air make light of weight. Watching the shape of a darkness that dances."


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 20, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation