Left 7 a.m. for Kasvin, 140 miles, many breaks on road and only arrived Nahavend at sunset.
People seldom trouble to record those things or they would discover how silly it is to believe in omens! I slept like a top and there was no sort of firing or trouble. Several wires to-day. Bicherakov offers to escort my party through, but he is an Ossietin [Ossetian] and out simply to fight for the Ossietins against the Bolsheviks which has nothing whatsoever to do with my aims. We had a very pleasant combined service with the Americans. Called on the Governor Nizam-es-Sultanat [the Governor, possibly this man] and met there another Teheran Official, who spoke French, Haji Saad-es-Sultanat [special delegate for Russian affairs], the better man of the two. A pleasant hour’s conversation from which I gather that the former is a sympathiser with Kuchik Khan – though, of course, he did not say so, I judged it merely from his face.
Left at 7 a.m., arrived at Kasvin 2 p.m., staying with Goodwin, Bank and Consul, Sir Charles Marling and Col. Napier* – Minister and Military Secretary, Teheran, came to confer with me – very interesting talk. There never was such a terrifying situation – but one is not paid to be terrified. The Caucasus seems already to be in the thick of civil war – and Persia also on the verge. My port of embarkation is in the hands of Persian revolutionaries and my port of arrival in the hands of Russian and Tartar anarchists. Kasvin is a filthy, filthy town, and full of disorderly Russian soldiers. But beautiful fruit gardens all round – I have at last seen a pistachio-tree – after meeting the liquorice bush in Mesopotamia – and some beautiful coloured tile domes in the town.
* I cannot identify any of these men
More snow and more snow. It is awful. Had long talks with Shore, Goldsmith, Mc.Murray, Barttelot, Rowlandson etc. re this doubly, doubly complicated situation in North Persia and in the Caucasus – it is enough to make one’s brain reel and thoughts continued all night and destroyed sleep. Shore looks utterly nervy and broken down, Rowlandson also. Called on Russian General Baratov.
A day of disasters. Got up 3.30 a.m., breakfast 4.30, left at 5.30. Splendid day, Lt. Georgiev of the Cossacks comes with us as a guide. Difficulties began at once. It was dark when we started and one of the cars dropped into a ditch and broke something which delayed us for 1½ hours – when every moment was precious. Reached the Kangavar Pass 5,600 feet (snow) about 12 noon. We had to get out and push every single car over the Pass one by one – it took us 3 hours. Reached Kangavar 4 p.m. Here the kind Russians had a hot meal waiting for us, which took us an hour to eat, but I did not grudge the delay, as I thought with a hot meal inside us we could take whatever chances might lie before us. Left Kangavar 5 p.m., darkness soon came on, the road was often no road, and there were risks of cars losing their way, however, we eventually reached Asadabad and got cars and all tucked in about 9 p.m. Some Russian chupattie, some cheese and rum and a very welcome bed. The drivers are splendid Englishmen and grouse about nothing – they were on the go from 3 a.m to 10 p.m., 19 hours, and were quite cheery. Ready to start to-morrow at 7, get over the big Pass 7,600 feet and hope to reach Hamadan about 11 a.m. There will be lots to do there.
Left at 4 a.m. Sari Mil. 7 a.m., Karind 10 a.m. Harunabad 2 p.m., all cars in by 3.30 p.m. The Serai was very dirty, so we turned the Kurds out amicably and took private houses which were just like those in any Punjab village. It was very beautiful winding up the narrow Pass through the snow by moonlight – we had to get out and push here and there and the first 2/3rds of the road Karind to Harunabad was wet clay and very difficult. Last third quite good, only because it was dry – this place was one of the resorts of Harun-el-Raschid of the Arabian Nights, hence its name. All the road is between 4000 and 5000 feet above sea-level and it was very cold.
Floods and deluges of rain – servants’ houses all flooded out and one washed right down. I am so pleased at having my proper pay of Rs.2100 a month that life seems quite different. My arrears are also Rs.1200 which enables me to pay all my debts at the shops. What a huge war this is. Bay writes from Belgium, others from France, Watts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, Irwin from East Africa, Cunliffe in West Africa, Bob and Wattie are in Salonica and here are we on the Afghan frontier. Bennett writes from Persia.
*Rs = Rupees