Imagine yourself a newly married nineteen year old American woman thrust into living in a foreign country, where your new husband is the only person you know. Now imagine that foreign country is not just any country; it’s Iran. Back in 1975, Ann Craig-Cinnamon, a teenager from Kentucky, rather brashly married a man nine years her senior who she had dated for only a few months and moved to Tehran, Iran where she lived for a year and a half. Walking Naked in Tehran tells the story of her time in Iran. Living there was difficult and challenging but was also an incredible, rich life experience which she tells with candor and wit. It’s also a look inside a country and culture that has been closed off to much of the world for decades. This story is inspiring and has a message for others about the journey to find oneself and the relationships along the way that help to mold you.
The author also had to negotiate the strange terrain of Tehran without the benefit of common everyday conveniences that most of us take for granted, such as a car, a washer and dryer, even an electric can opener. Simple things such as fixing her first Thanksgiving dinner had a surprise in store. By today’s standards, communication in 1975 seems like the Dark Ages. Not only were there no computers, email or cell phones, appointments had to be made days in advance just to call family back at home in the states. She felt alone and cut off from the rest of the world.
Iran’s culture was not only different; it was not particularly kind to women. She found herself often the target of unwelcome attention including an incident in which she was stalked and assaulted. She lived in fear and anxiety which was compounded by the fact that she suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), something she also had to learn to overcome to live a normal life.
But this is not a negative story; this is an uplifting one that is written with humor and a spirit of self-awakening. It is full of authentic characters from the old beggar she passed every day on the street to the expatriates who became her friends and lifeline, to the crazy Lebanese Encyclopedia Britannica salesman who taught her that being naïve won’t cut it in life.
Walking Naked in Tehran gets its title from a recurring nightmare the author had while in Tehran and for many years after her return. The nightmare indicates how troubling she found living in Tehran. Now she sees her time there as a blessing. The message is life-affirming. It is to embrace life; to grab every opportunity and to live your life to the fullest.