When Negar Mottahedeh’s Instagram account got hijacked four months ago, something rather unusual happened. Filled with rage, she confronted her hacker in order to reclaim her photo-sharing account. And while that did (ultimately) have the desired effect, it gave rise to something rather unexpected: a friendship with her hacker.

The pair talked about Persian stews and jaunts to the Caspian Sea. They exchanged music. She consoled him when he spoke about his abusive father. But, perhaps most striking of all, he showed Mottahedeh what life was like in Iran, the country that she left when she was seven years old. Her full account of the experience on Wired is fascinating, touching, and also rather surreal.