Me at engagement party.

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A trio of obstacles have been surrounding my planned Christmas visit to Dubai to celebrate the festive period and the new year with my [mother's brother] and his family. The most troubling of these obstacles being the absence of my passports! Some two months ago one of the many notaries that loiter around in the offices offered to help "arrange" my army service (it is compulsory for male Iranian nationals to serve two years. Due to a few unfortunate circumstances I am eligible to serve, yet somehow I'm in a lucky minority who are eligible for a "buy-out" at around $5000). This gentleman, a war veteran, requested my passports and promised rather much. I very reluctantly entrusted him with my passports (both British and Iranian) and had faith in my uncles and father who seemed to trust this man. Following this I had joined the war veteran for multiple expeditions to various official buildings, each occasion I was surprised at what exactly he had hoped to achieve, we were pretty much cold-calling and it appeared that he had no particular plan. To complicate matters further, we had used this veteran to get me a cheaper flight to Dubai (due to his veteran status).

Come Christmas eve I was stood packed and ready to go to Dubai after several changes in flight plans. I waited nervously whilst the veteran, who had been assuring me that he would arrive each of the four days previous with my passports, tickets and temporary exemption for my army service - "I'm on my way", "tomorrow, 2 O'Clock", "Tomorrow, 6 O'Clock". "He's in Mashad" explained his wife whom I desperately called due to her husband's phone being off for over 24-hours, "A driver is bringing your passports" she continued. It was only that morning that I received the ticket and the behavior of the veteran was not helping my confidence about the other matters, the only thing he seemed able to arrange was the string of bullshit that exited his mouth. Even if the passports were to arrive in time at this point, I was still not sure how things stood with my temporary exemption from the army. My flight had departed and my passports had still not arrived, so I called my [mother's brother] in Dubai to explain that I would try to get a flight for Christmas day.

As a conciliation for my change in plans an uncle in Tehran invited me over, "Tonight my house is Dubai and I'll be your [mother's brother]" and so Christmas day I awoke in Tehran, put on the Christmas tunes on my laptop before rearranging the plans. Whilst in Tehran I took the opportunity to go out for coffee with a friend before sitting down to a Sunday roast with my Dad, brother and step-mum. Earlier that day I had successfully phoned the veteran who was once again giving me the run-around and sadly I got my hopes up that I might be able to get a flight that night. It was just before leaving for an engagement party that night that I had a call announcing the return of my passports - one of my better Christmas presents maybe. I was informed that I also had a ticket arranged for the next day, first-class even.

Boxing day came and I headed off to work where my passports were waiting for me, yet no ticket, in fact the first-class part was an embellishment on my uncle's part - a joke apparently. Predictably our veteran friend had his phone off again and I rushed off to attempt to change the ticket myself, but alas, no seats were available that day, worse still, I learned that no extension had been made with regards to my army service. So, Christmas eve; no passports but ticket, Christmas day; passports but no ticket and Boxing day; passports, ticket possibility yet no army service. Ultimately I can't leave the country, as is still the case to this day. My visiting time of 3-months has passed and I can either get an exit VISA with great trouble or arrange my army service which has to be done either way.


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