These items and more are not allowed as part of one's hand luggage at London Heathrow

 flickr  View my photo journal

It was amusing yet not surprising that my fellow passengers aboard my flight to Tehran applauded upon landing. Unlike the flight however I felt the applause arrived early, igniting through the cabin with still the nose to touchdown. I was asked once to sum Iran up in a word and "dangerous" was my answer, with "reliable" sitting far at the opposite end I added. Having this in mind I knew there were still too many possible problems waiting, maybe like the loved-ones at the other end of arrivals – or at least those that could be relied on. I'm familiar with Iran now and due to this I chose to hold my applause till luggage was in my hand and I'd exited the arrivals door.

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.

[Exit soap-box]

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".


  • FAMILIAR was the word for me too. only for other reasons :)

    By Blogger faraari, at 10:27 PM  

  • Hi David - found your business card whilst sorting out stuff - found your website and enjoyed your blog - lost your business car, probably whilst playing with shreader! Whats your mail?? Mine is rupert@bloopinc.plus.com - Rupert Barker (from the past!)

    By Anonymous Rupert Barker, at 1:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home