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Life On The Iranian Side Of Astara

The mirrored cities of Astara, on Iran's border with Azerbaijan, have been divided since 1828 when the Russian and Persian empires signed a peace treaty to end a two-year war. The Astara River separates the current Iranian and Azerbajani cities.

During the Soviet period, relatives on either side could not visit each other, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Azerbaijan's emergence as a sovereign country, many family ties have been restored. Iran allows Azerbaijani citizens visa-free visits for 15 days. Photographer Famil Mahmudbeyli visited Iranian Astara to get a sense of life in and around the city.
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Ninety-year-old Bahman Lamazrur and his wife Qirdanoz Nuspar say they have nothing but their love.
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Ninety-year-old Bahman Lamazrur and his wife Qirdanoz Nuspar say they have nothing but their love.

Amirali Kuspar, a resident of the village of Askhanake outside Astara: “I earn bread for my family by working as a construction worker. I have three children. It is difficult to find a work during Muharram [the first month of the Islamic calendar]. We have to go to the city center for shopping. There is no any transportation other than taxi to the city center, and it costs about 200,000 [Iranian rials, about $6]. It is difficult to spend such amount of money every time just for transport.”
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Amirali Kuspar, a resident of the village of Askhanake outside Astara: “I earn bread for my family by working as a construction worker. I have three children. It is difficult to find a work during Muharram [the first month of the Islamic calendar]. We have to go to the city center for shopping. There is no any transportation other than taxi to the city center, and it costs about 200,000 [Iranian rials, about $6]. It is difficult to spend such amount of money every time just for transport.”

Meshman village outside of Iranian Astara. Traditionally, there is no fence around the houses here.
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Meshman village outside of Iranian Astara. Traditionally, there is no fence around the houses here.

Tea is served by the glass, unlike in Azerbaijan where it is mostly by the pot. Every tea house in Iranian Astara appears to use the same kind of glasses, with one serving costing about 6,300 rial [18 U.S. cents].
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Tea is served by the glass, unlike in Azerbaijan where it is mostly by the pot. Every tea house in Iranian Astara appears to use the same kind of glasses, with one serving costing about 6,300 rial [18 U.S. cents].

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