120 days: Zahra Alavi

Today, Shiraz greeted me with its poetic spirit and vibrant colors echoing through its streets and bazaars. I visited the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, affectionately called the Pink Mosque by the locals. Its stained glass windows painted the floor with a kaleidoscope of light, making it feel like walking through a living watercolor.

While sketching the interplay of light and color, I met Zahra Alavi, an architecture student from Tehran who shares a passion for Iran's rich design heritage. She was there to study the mosque's unique use of light and space. Zahra's insight into Persian architectural elements was enlightening; she spoke of the mosque not just as a structure, but as a manifestation of faith and artistry that has stood the test of time.

She shared stories of other hidden gems in Shiraz that are less known, but equally captivating. Her enthusiasm reminded me of why I travel: not just to see, but to understand and connect with places through the eyes of the people who inhabit them. I left the mosque inspired not only to paint, but to think deeply about the spaces we occupy and the light we let in.

As I continue my journey, Zahra's stories will undoubtedly influence my next works of art, adding layers of meaning to each brush stroke. Zahra was indeed a muse, but also a reminder of the common human heritage that unites us all.

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