Prologue to Iran
June 8, 2022
Hot and Humid
On May 2, when I arrived at the Immigration desk at the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport with my United States of America passport and the Electronic Visa document that was issued in Bangkok by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran (after patiently waiting six weeks for the approval of the thirty-day visa from the Ministry in Tehran), I am escorted to a separate area where another Immigration officer scribbles information and makes copies of everything. He then hands me a form printed (with questions?) in Arabic script that I assume is in Farsi and points me to a nearby desk where another officer is on the phone. He never looks up.
Just then a young couple approaches the desk. The man begins to chat with the indifferent officer. The young woman with a one-year-old child in her arms interrupts her husband and alerts him that I was there first. I show them the form. It does indeed contain a series of questions.
The young woman translates each one. Her husband dutifully writes my answers in Farsi on the form. Apparently, and without hesitation, the young couple provides their foreign guest with normal, immediate, and unreserved assistance. (For the next month, this surprising gesture was only the first in a series of generous gifts.) They barely hear my “Thank you.”
After clearing Immigration and Customs, his smartphone in hand, my portrait on the screen, my awaiting driver wheels my bag to his car.
On the highway to town, we pass a monument with four lofty majestic gold columns that surround a colossal gold dome:
The Mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of The Shia Islamic Revolution.
I whisper to myself, “I’m in Iran!”