Mostafa Rahemi, Attari (Persian traditional medicine man) in Shiraz
Mostafa Rahemi, attari (Persian traditional medicine man) in Shiraz

Mostafa Rahemi, 80, is an attari (AT-tawry, traditional medicine man who heals using herbs and plant extracts) and a former bodybuilder. His store, filled with yellowing historic photos, is the only one left in an old alley in the ancient Shiraz neighborhood of Ghashoo-Ghashe, near Shah Sheragh Shrine. 

Rahemi (RAW-hemy) says:

“Seven-hundred years ago, back when the Mongols ruled, this neighborhood used to be filled with stables for donkeys and horses.

“Through the centuries, it became a prestigious neighborhood. This whole alley was filled with shops. All of them eventually sold out and moved on. I’m the only one left – I guess because I don’t have anything better to do.

“My kids all live in Sweden. When the come back, they say, ‘Iran is like a matchbox. We feel constrained. Over there we get to stretch out.’

“The Iran of today is a warped dark version of what it used to be. It’s rotten from the core. People learn to lie from their fathers and they from our leaders.

“Back then, the gold seller actually left his product right in the store window and went home. It would still be there when he returned in the morning. Can you believe that? People thought differently. They could not steal because it was fundamentally against their nature. Today stealing comes naturally.

“I walk with a stoop because seven years ago I tried to stop a thief robbing my home. He smashed my back and so today I walk like this.”

Also published on Medium.