While reading a Newsweek article entitled "Tehran or Bust", by Iranian native Hooman Majd, about his visit to the Jamkaran mosque five minutes outside of the town of Qum (Iran's religious capital), I came across the following paragraph regarding the local tradition of dropping written notes into what is effectively a wishing well to ask the Mahdi for assistance:
A tall, slender and handsome young woman in a black chador, with the faintest hint of makeup, furiously scribbled at another counter, oblivious to the fact that she was in the men's section. She folded her note, walked up to the well and dropped it through the grate. "A special favor?" I asked her. She looked at me suspiciously for a moment, and I explained that I was a reporter. "It's private," she said, "but we all have problems, don't we?" She walked away, perhaps skeptical that I had no ulterior motives. Her answer and her demeanor, however, spoke volumes. She was purposeful and had no time for state-imposed gender segregation. Whatever her "problem" was she didn't want to take it to a mullah in Qum who might lecture her on the fine points of Islam or Islamic behavior. (...) And she felt she had a place to go, on a weekday when perhaps her family or husband were at work, to unburden herself.
This paragraph grabbed my attention to the point that I put the magazine down. I've been thinking about the universality of "The Female Experience" ever since. Cross-border, cross-culture, religion-independent, universal truths apply to us all.
"We all have problems, don't we?"
Yes, yes we do.