Taken to police station :-(
Mashhad Travel Blog› entry 8 of 18 › view all entries
On my first morning at Mashhad, I got taken to the cop-shop by the hotel receptionist bright and early. He didn't believe that I could have entered Iran without a visa; likewise with the police officer at the station. Here's the "interrogation":
- "Do you have anything to show that you don't need a visa for Iran?" I showed him my TIMATIC printout (the database which airport check-in staff use to decide to accept you for a flight, visa-wise anyway). He took a copy.
- "Do you know the attractions and sights in Mashhad?" This is question used by many authorities to separate prostitutes and illegal labourers from genuine tourists. I know my stuff very well here.
- The hotel receptionist chipped in with "Have you ever been to Palestine?" A**hole I thought - whose side was he on! I showed him my passport which was endorsed "Not Valid for Israel".
- "What do you think of Iran and nuclear?" I think I wowed him with my response to this one. I stressed that Iran's nuclear ambitions are for energy and not weaponry. Then I added that even if it was for the latter, why shouldn't Iran be allowed as Israel, India and Pakistan have it too!
What struck me the most was that the police officer could pronounce the "Nuclear" word correctly unlike the "most important man on earth" (Bush pronounces it as "nucular"). Did your mummy ever say "Say it properly otherwise you can't have it"?
At the end of it, the officer wrote me a note (taped to my passport) saying that I'm in the country legitimately. This would help me in case his colleagues in other cities are ignorant of the visa requirements for very special nationalities like me ;-)
At no time during the ride to cop-shop or during the meeting did I feel anxious. Deep down inside I knew that Iranian hospitality would see me through. The only thing that seemed missing was the (lack of the) offer for a cuppa tea.