These items and more are not allowed as part of one's hand luggage at London Heathrow
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As we unceremoniously exited the plane, via the mobile-stairs to the tarmac, I wanted to compare the first breath of English air – inhaled weeks before – to that of Iran. My single word then might have been, "fresh", as I was reunited with the cool moist air, cleansed by a frequent rain. Whether alighting near to the runway spoiled this test for me, I couldn't say – I took a lung full of warm arid air, tainted by a multitude of synthetic smells and summed it up in a word – "carcinogenic".
For various reasons previously explained, only one loved-one was reliably waiting somewhere among the other reliables clotting the arrivals exit. Other than Passport Control, this was the only Iranian who knew I'd returned. Partly due to some attempt to reassert my independence I'd avoided contact with my family and this remained the case until I'd received a surprise text-message saying, "you have bin seen in tehran, so pls let me know where u are?".
Within my first day back in Tehran I'd uploaded photographs of the excessive security procedures seen in London Heathrow before passengers can board. Although my photo-journal is blocked to the Iranian browser, a former colleague/friend-of-the-family evades the filters and occasionally checks my updates. As the message was from him, I erroneously concluded that these photos announced my arrival.
The Heathrow dog scare photos:
I'd posted forbidden pictures of a forbidden creature to a forbidden website"I hope you're not taking pictures", asked one of the two stiff gentlemen overseeing the procedures while I was aiming up the sniffer dog with the frightened Iranian women. "No!" I lied, "But why would we not be allowed?", I followed on. "Because you can't", he angrily responded. On reflection I found it all rather bizarre, I'd posted forbidden pictures of a forbidden creature (it is illegal to own dogs in Iran) to a forbidden website. And, due to the obvious unfamiliarity with dogs, each Iranian passenger was subjected to what was possibly a terrorising procedure, seemingly in the name of terrorism.
As it turned out, in one of the few outdoor moments prior to meeting any family I had actually been seen – within two days I'd been spotted among the 15,000,000+ people of Tehran. Following that first message my phone was flooded, word had gotten around, the phone didn't stop flashing (I'd switched the phone to silent) and my inbox filled with Pinglish questions from family and friends, yet not my father. My hiding was over and it was then that it sunk in – I'm back. And, how does it feel? In a word – "familiar".