A recent expedition to update my passport - it must be 5-years ago that I first came to visit as an adult.

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"That was something I wanted to ask you...", interjected the more European sounding of the two as a microphone crossed my face and the direction of the eyes came my way. A perfectly intellectual sounding and possibly interesting question was being formed but they might as well have asked in any other European language as I wasn't able to absorb it. The mic fell before me, "are you still not wanting to say anything David?", asked the main interviewee, to which the mention of my name seemed to not help, "don't worry, keep it rolling", I replied and with complete disregard to the question, I spilled out the pent-up counterpoints to my friend's prior commentary.

"I wanted to come back on a point my dear friend was making", I begun, noticing the nearby table of customers re-show interest as a new mouth fired-up. "I often get contacted by the western media showing an interest in the Iranian blogging scene and I wonder if they kind of project a romanticism in it", I added, repeating a point made in my initial contact with our international guests. "I'm not really qualified to answer in any case as I don't read blogs in Persian; because of my level of competence, and there's very little else that interests me that is written in English", I somewhat embarrassingly revealed. I returned to another point I'd mentioned in my prior correspondence, "I think it is too simple to think that politics is affected by the politically orientated; such thinking neglects to appreciate a more subtle and possibly more powerful undercurrent".

I spoke of the sweeping fad that is Yahoo 360; a social networking site that took over from the blocked Orkut; currently evading blocking by virtue of the inability to form groups, as my friend later pointed out. I'm not a subscriber to this fad but often hear it spoken about and frequently find a fellow colleague at work obsessing over correspondence or tweaking new photos of himself. I also spoke of Flickr, which is blocked here, but has a simple way around it. With Flickr, I mentioned a point that has always interested me so much with this site, this is the unifying subject matter or photography. With this cover, all manner of activity is catered for without arousing suspicion; in the case of the Iranians, this can be making new inter-gender relationships as well as delving into politics. I referred to the Flickr community, which strike me as a relatively unified, yet wholly charming bunch of people, and made a point that such active use of these sites help substitute restriction in both the culture and laws.

With such situations whereby some news organisation or another expresses an interest in the romantically suppressed Iran, I normally get turned off; if only by feeling that I'm expected to confirm western perspectives. Similarly, I watched a series of NBC reports from Iran the other day, whereby it was suggested that Iran, "has a long way to go", referring to the segregation on the innercity buses*, they explained this half-truth further, "women – by law – have to sit at the back". Well yes, but men by law have to sit in the front, and they failed to mention that the metro is unisex with even a special section for women only. With these western goggle firmly wrapped around their heads I get frustrated in meeting the requests, and not to mention paranoid for my personal safety, for which I've adapted various automatic responses.

As we arrived at the agreed coffee shop location for the interview I realised that I'd once again forgotten to get and give descriptions of how we looked. "Excuse me, are you...", we unsuccessfully asked as several foreign looking possibilities sat around. For the occasion I had invited several similarly situated friends, yet sneakily I'd not informed either party of the eventuality. With this, the plan was to deflect my input, increase the quality of results and maybe to have safety in numbers if all turned out to be not as it seemed. Upon meeting the journalists, no evidence was provided to prove their associations and a few interesting details were given that seemed odd for them to have not mentioned before; all of which not helping ease my mind. Thankfully though, common ground was a plenty and although certain points roused me as they unsuspectingly (I hope) triggered sensitive points, I managed to settle.

With a slight lapse in security, the whole of the regime would surely be gone – I was sitting in a dream American target

Both my friend and I, between us, seemed to provide an interesting juxtapose of points during the recording, to which much of my friend's words were new to me. He mentioned a declining interest in politically motivated blogging for Iranians, as the results and threats do not weigh up. It was suggested that the fate of the nation seems beyond control between elections and thus a certain futility is felt in such writing; certainly as friends of his have been punished for such activity. Among his incite he presented a fascinating volume of technical facts concerning internet activity in Iran that had both me and our international guests wide-eyed with interest.

My friend concluded on an amusing point, "we know the president is how he is, why write and complain when it's beyond you to do much about it; it's stating the obvious, like saying that Donald Duck is a cartoon duck; that he's a character by Disney and he can talk – you know, nothing changes". And with this summary the romanticism was surely dispelled as we all laughed an awkward laugh.
*Only on the innercity buses - intercity buses are mixed.

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My special ticket to the said event.

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"Hizbollah, Hizbollah, death to America, death to America, death to Israel!", the attendees repeated again, in response the sporadic outbursts coming from the back. I took a look around to check out if I was in the minority in not repeating these chants; I was. I turned back and glanced across the varied crowd, made up mostly of representatives from many national institutions, and noted with some surprise that many were smirking as they played along. This moment brought memories of the days I mimed out hymns at school assembly not helped by the fact that we were all sat crossed legged on the floor listening as verses from the Quo'ran echoing throughout the room.

"Daveed, what are you doing tomorrow?", my uncle phoned and asked, curious as to how I planned to spend the national holiday marking the end of Ramazan. "Do you want to come and see the Spiritual Leader?", he asked, finally getting round to a long spoken about moment. "Of course!", I responded without hesitation, "but what do I need to wear?", I went on, confused as to whether we are celebrating or not; because at times it's difficult to tell here. "Wear Basiji stuff", he said partly in jest, referring to the type of clothing worn by the moral police, by which he simply means an open-collar white shirt, ill-fitting trousers, sandals and overgrowth in facial hair.

I sat twiddling with my finest tasbi (praying beads that is), besides my uncle whom I kept close for translation purposes as the sporadic chanting continued while we awaited the Spiritual Leader. Gradually the room filled up, for which I took great amusement in watching varying ranks arrive in order of reverse-importance. Army, navy, air force and police personal took seats bringing increasingly decorative uniforms and commanding a larger fuss on entry.

Some socks crossed my face and an apology followed and with little sign of shame, a Basiji looking chap had practically sat on my uncle's lap. "Are you going to stay there?", I ask this man, "If you'll allow me", he responded, "you're sitting on my uncle", I reminded him, "yes, I'm sorry", he politely added. Maybe I was out of line but I thought I'd see it through, "don't apologise to me, it's his legs you are sitting on", I exclaimed, arousing the attention of those around us. He came back at me calmly, "when the leader arrives everyone will rush forward and everyone will be on everybody else's legs". My uncle gave me a blink, that indicated that I should leave it, after which this guy sought new legs to sit on.

Somebody shouted something, a name maybe, to which the entire room raced to their feet. I didn't think, I just joined them to which the next few seconds seemed to arrive in slow motion. "Khaamenei, the leader!", came the chants as scores of men raced in front of me, followed by us being pushed forward as the crowd condensed. I tip-toed to look ahead and saw the Spiritual Leader snap out from behind the curtains, to my utter surprised there followed Ahmadinejad, the president, appearing from his left, and then Rafsanjani, the former president, appearing from his right. I was astonished at this fan of cards that was put before me, a full-house for sure.

With a slight lapse in security, the whole of the regime would surely be gone – I was sitting in a dream American target!

I scanned the room; the head of the parliament, the head of the judiciary, the nuclear negotiator guy, two former presidents, the most senior ranking members of the institutions, and these were just the faces I knew of. With a slight lapse in security, the whole of the regime would surely be gone I thought to myself in horror - conscious that I'm sitting in a dream American target.

The resulting mosh-pit calmed as the stars took their seats on the stage; we joined them, and arranged ourselves on each other's laps as the Basiji guy had previously mentioned. The president took to the microphone first, for which I understood pretty much nothing of what he had said. I got the impression that he was reading poetry but it's always so difficult for me to understand Iranians when they use the formal 'book' language. There then followed the stern tone of the Spiritual Leader, of whom I understood a fair amount more; although I found myself rather distracted by his prosthetic arm, that I'd heard so much about, yet never seen. I was mesmerised by its ability and its strange strained look when in the open position. This appendage turned in time with his other hand as he accentuated his agitation; being very critical of American ambitions and very supported of the Hizbollah cause citing concerns for the Palestinian people, yet mostly he referred to the region developing though indigenous desires.

Although there were roars of supportive cheers, there was no encore as the stage emptied. This moment seemed to have been as snappy as the entrance with large volumes of the attendees rushing off to try and get backstage. I joined them; not entirely with reason but rather with curiosity, yet all I had seemed to do is get in the way of the top brass as they wished each other well on this celebratory day.

I rather enjoyed the fact that I may have been surrounded by some of Iran's most influential names and not have been aware of it. In fact, this became a bit of a game to me; guessing the value of these cards as they shuffled themselves around at the end. Yet in this moment I was reminded; this is the only way in which I am a player among them.

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Keep banging on the walls of Fortress Europe.

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"No, it's not that they aren't allowed to leave, the government aren't keeping them here", my father corrected me, as we filled the commute with the usual analysis on Iranian life, "it's just that nowhere else will have them!". It was over a year ago that I'd had this realisation, it came as such a surprise that I remember the exact square metre of road he said this. This sad reality shouldn't have came as a shock to me, but I don't hide it – I'm incredibly ignorant of immigration and VISA issues – and to all those that find me, call me or email me it comes as a shock too.

"Daveed, I want to buy a house in Cyprus, maybe we'll go live there", my uncle perks up, something on the TV must have prompted him, "can I get a VISA?", he gets there, "do you think they'll give us a VISA? Can you find out?". This is the latest idea, Cypress, the latest country and his latest expectation of me. I look up inquisitively when he gets to these questions, maybe I look like I'm thinking about it, I hope so. If he could tune into my mind he might hear this between the distortion – "what dear uncle gives you the impression that I – dressed in my jim-jams, sipping tea while trying to block out Turkish soaps – have the foggiest about immigration and VISAs". I probably give a 'hmmm' at this point, then I sip, "never dear uncle have I ever personally* applied for a VISA or immigration, I've never even seen the form(s) and never made an inquiry about such things". These things are not aired, partly through politeness and partly because he and all the others that come with their questions don't want to hear the second reason why: that I mostly never need these things while traveling.

I did some maths, "at the current rate dear uncle you'll hear news in five years, so – don't make any plans"

Maybe I'm tetchy due to help I gave in what became an unsuccessful application for a visitation VISA to Great Britain and the ongoing help in the – as yet – four year process of immigration to America, both of which seem to appear more like a sick joke. I'll begin with the America gig, I'm still unsure with this one whether it's legit – the papers and stamps seem official enough, provisionally it's a green light, it's just the, "your application is being processed, do not make any plans..." bit that baffles me, maybe it's just the way the Americans put it, everything seems like a scam. "Can you call them", my uncle asks, "can you check online", he repeats. They've given him a handy user name and password, "your application is being processed", do not make any plans...", it says when I login with nearly a word-for-word copy of the letter, but it looks neat and makes my uncle feel that things are moving along. Just to confirm, I called, guided my way through the labyrinth of options, tapped in enormous strings of digits and finally got it, "your application number is 'x', we are now dealing with 'y', do not make any plans...". I did some maths, "at the current rate dear uncle you'll hear news in five years, so – don't make any plans".

The Brit gig was simply obscene and insulting as well as very expensive, remember, this is just for a two week holiday. I was drafted in for translation - not that my uncle can't read English - more that, even by lawyer's standards the paperwork contained an extra special weave of verbosity. My uncle had failed the initial application, having stumbled on the interrogation process, the poor feller mislocated a small town among other things, how silly of him to say north-west, it was clearly south-east. But the British aren't too harsh, they give you the option to appeal, and at only twice the price of the initial process, roughly two month's average wage. But it was failure again, this time my uncle couldn't prove that all the land and property he owed around Iran had any value, deeds don't mean dollars, oh how they wriggled out of that one. The re-appeal was available but the game could have gone on with the embassy raising the bar, inventing more English and taking further money. Unless the family were to leave a deposit, like my uncle himself, the embassy expected it would end up being an asylum case at the other end.

A colleague was rejected a visitation VISA for Canada the other day and another for America. In the Canadian case I was told that six people were successful in just over a hundred applications for that day, this is good business and psychological torture. I hear chants of freedom coming Eastwards, but they seem self-serving - as my father once enlightened me, the jail is imposed by those who chant the loudest.

*I have had two VISAs, one work related for America, but it was all taken care of for me and another for Lebanon, which was never used and also arranged for me, yet not entirely necessary due to me having a British passport, it was simply a time issue.

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