This One Is For PPGG:)
As my dear online friend intends to travel to Iran –to buy socks – this post is dedicated to her to subdue the inevitable “cultural shock“:
“For a first-time visitor, there’s nothing quite like arriving in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A few minutes before our plane touched down at Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport this weekend, all the women aboard started digging in their bags for head scarves and long-sleeved jackets called manteaus to comply with the country’s strict Islamic code. Dozens of Iranians who had been happily drinking alcohol and displaying skin-baring tops now covered up faster than you can say “the Great Satan.”
Once on the ground, I waited for several minutes in a long line before an immigration officer glanced at my U.S. passport and curtly pointed me to a different queue. There’s no sign that tells arriving Americans where to go (tip for future travelers: it’s the line on the far right), but it seemed pointless to complain.
The officer in the second booth took my passport and disappeared into a side room. Several minutes passed and soon I was the only one of the several hundred passengers from our plane still waiting in the dilapidated terminal. A parade of uniforms periodically offered reassuring gestures or grunts before going on their way. Meanwhile, I continued to sit.
I’ve been in plenty of Third World countries, so travel headaches are nothing new. But after about 45 minutes, worried that the driver I’d arranged to meet me would give up and leave, I was struggling not to lose patience. By now, it had been 21 hours since I’d arisen at 4:20 am to catch my first flight at Dulles airport and I was beat.
My thoughts were interrupted by yet another officer. “Mister, mister,” he said, indicating I should follow him to a chest-high wooden shelf behind his desk. And it was there that I was slowly, clumsily and quite sloppily fingerprinted. At one point he yanked my thumb so awkwardly I grumbled: “if you bend it any farther than that it breaks.” He didn’t understand English but I think he caught my drift.
I’d been warned by a colleague to expect this treatment, which is how Iran retaliates for the United States fingerprinting Iranian visitors. But understanding why this pointlessness was occurring didn’t make it any more enjoyable.
Suddenly, another officer nudged me with an elbow. Pointing to the man doing the fingerprinting, whose back was to us, the second officer pantomimed smearing my ink-covered hand across the his back. The young Iranian officer’s smile was so genuine, and his giggle so infectious, that it was impossible to remain irritated. And just like that, I was glad to be in Iran.” David J. Lynch, USA Today