Iran Police Station

The regime

Sometimes I am being stopped by a policeman, nothing serious ever is requested. While cycling with Darryl we are often being stopped. Perhaps we are such an odd couple. Perhaps his Australian passport and my Dutch one -some Farsi words dotted underneath the visa sticker, done by the consul of Tbilisi- are reason for questioning?

Barking dogs won’t bite but at least they chase away

My reaction to authority might be rebellious, while Darryl’s definitely subdued. And so it happens that we are having a pee break, I never come to that stage, instead we’re being held up again by an undercover police who scrutinize our passports thoroughly. To such an extend that I wonder if he is able to read them. Usually police men of Iran can’t.

They never tell why they are acting like our passports are as if they belong to the most wanted criminals on their earth. They just examine you as if you were a very suspected wrongdoer. For me, as a person who is curious and want to know all the in- and outsides of any matter which has my interest, this is difficult. So I ask these police man: ‘What’s the problem?’

‘No problem.’

We end up for four hours at the police station. There’s a funny kind of interrogation and I get a body search and all my stuff -literally all- is being checked. Seriously and exhaustively. I ask several times what they think of us, why they do this and what is actually going on. Darryl thinks we should be quiet and tame, but the Buddhist in me is far off. I have the right to know what is going on. ‘We have no rights in this country,’ is Darryl his comment. I don’t agree, I am not an ant.

The day started with Darryl saying nothing would happen today, a boring flat day ahead of us. And since this is our first days on the plains of Iran, we would be in for a 100 kilometer. I know better, and excitedly comment that a new day can bring us many adventures, unknown yet. While cycling there’s no such day as a boring one. Even with peddling out of the city we attract a lot of attention. Darryl is splashed with pomegranate and holy trinkets and a lot of cars and motorbikes pulling next to him, asking where he’s from. I just have to watch my mirror and smile at the scene behind me.

A few hours later my approach is slightly different. I still laugh, mostly at my own recalcitrant behavior. Being in the police office a man dressed in khaki military outfit start to film us and I pull my two piece head cover over my chin and nose so only my eyes are visible. If the man don’t ask permission to film me, I will be as an Iranian woman. ‘I will let you do the talking,’ I tell Darryl, my concession to his muted state of being, ‘and I will be quiet unless I really do not accept what’s going on.’ And so I am obedient and silent. I am dressed decent while I watch the men constantly, their eyes cast down if the catch my beam of eye contact. I feel most comfortable in this position, only my eyes are visible and not my full expression, thus, the room is filled with a mix of recalcitrance and excited fun and triumphantly vibes. I feel literally covered and while been filmed I feel the opposite of figurative being naked. I think it’s rude and hostile to film us without asking permission, in hijab I feel safe. In hijab I copy their women. We still don’t know why we are being filmed, why we are here and why they closed the iron gated behind us?

‘I have no gun under my arm and no bomb between my legs’ I know they won’t like this

Translator: ‘This is not an interrogation, don’t worry, this is for your safety. Thank you. You should not be afraid, we do not harm you. Thank you for your cooperation. This is just a normal procedure. Thank you.’

Me: I am quiet. I promised Darryl not to be hotheaded.

Translator: ‘What is your name? When are you born? What is your job? Where did you cross into Iran? Where is your living place? What is the name of your street? And what is the number? Which date did you enter Iran?’ Darryl neatly answers all the questions. Clear and strict. Meanwhile I write everything down, as they film I act like a journalist, something they surely don’t appreciate.

Darryl and I think we might be suspected by the moral police and Darryl and me are certainly a freak show, as we call it. Darryl and I on a bicycle are a weird vision to most people in Iran. I keep silent throughout the interrogation, which this is not, according the head officer, his words translated by a younger military guy. His nose is big and flat and dotted with little blackheads. The head officer is missing a part of his front teeth, his beard and mustache clipped short, the style indicates he’s a religious fellow. His eyes are a mixture of deep green and tells me he’s just doing his job. Soon I find out how well he’s doing that.

Translator: ‘Is this lady your wife?’

Darryl: ‘No, she is just my friend,’ and Darryl explains how we met. Darryl and I are usually brother and sister but of course, as soon as we entered this barricaded habitation, we went for the full truth, which is the most safest as well. Not for the Iranian modesty police, or what ever they stand for. They probably think we are a not-friends-only-couple, pitching the tent in the open and enjoy the same freedom we have in our free minded countries. Cycling and who knows what more our way through humble Iran. Well, no!

Translator: ‘Which route did you take?’ and ‘Which city is the best in your opinion?’ I know Darryl deliberately avoid answering Sanandaj, which is Kurdish. He plays safe and answers Shiraz.

Translator: ‘Are you married?’ and ‘Do you have children?’ and ‘When did you see your wife for the last time?’ I can’t help but I have to laugh, and the head officer too. We exchange a glimpse of smile.

You may fight for your rights, also in Iran.

I don’t like their authority, as if these Iranian men don’t want us to sample the taste of freedom. Darryl assumes this is all about ethical motives, us being not married. I think it’s more about usual investagation from their side. Darryl was always prepared this day would present itself and while now we are surely going to be being locked, who knows for how long -Darryl’s becoming paranoid- behind the metal doors creaking on it’s hinges. Darryl is horrified with my rebellious behavior although I think I am just a petite little woman struggling with intimidation. And the police, they know how to handle such petite ladies.

Then, I hear the sound of my bicycle bell. I am alarmed at once. Perhaps they are hauling my precious bicycle outside the gates? I stand up and hurry to the door. The military man whose job is to translate and watch over us, wants to stop me. But since this is Iran, he can not touch me, so I keep walking towards my bicycle with an excuse of going to the toilet.

He: ‘No, you can not go to the toilet!’

Me: ‘Yes, I can. I have to.’

And off I am, through the door. Seeing the head officer pulling the straps on my pannier. He is not succeeding. What an officer, I think, he can’t even open my bags. Loaded with bombs, tape recording material, spy ware, condoms, burqini’s and guns.

Me: ‘What are you doing? Do you think you can just open my bags like that? You should ask permission first. First of all, you start filming me and now this! You can not do this! I will go to another police and tell about you and your disrespectful behavior. ‘

Thankfully Darryl is not with me, neither can’t he hear me. He would explode by the sight of my disrespectful behavior. What do I think? Am I talking to some junior police? No. This is the head officer I am talking to. I am telling the head officer I can put a declaration against him. Thankfully, the military translator runs after me, translating all I say. At once, the head officer stops. And as if by magic he offers his excuses a few times.

He: ‘Yes, he admit he is wrong. He admit he should have asked you first. He is very sorry and he won’t do anything before asking you first.’

Me: ‘Okay. Now I will cooperate, because I have nothing to hide. You can have a look in all my bags, you can search me too.’ A lady appears, chador kept up between her teeth. Soon her hands are massaging my breasts, sliding between my legs and touching my stinky feet, which I excuse myself for. She probably needs to come with some result and want to hand over my credit cards to the head officer. I don’t want to hand over my credit cards and tell the lady I will hand them over myself, which I don’t.

The search through my panniers takes a lot of time. Thankfully I have no condoms with me, the only weird thing which I carry are an incomplete set of tarot cards and little lucky dolls together with a shark teeth and a Tibetan khatag. Nevertheless, my camera and it’s self-remote control, hard disc, pepper spray, notebook and GPS are taken apart and searched through in another room (the smart phone goes unnoticed). I am fine, as I said I have nothing to hide, there’s not even a photo in bikini. I really am very decent and probably very unlike their judgment about European women. The only photo which shows too much skin is one of my upper leg, showing a bulging, open flowing wound. Perhaps the head officer is impressed because he smiles at it and ask what it is. Ah, nothing really special sir, just a splinter of a mortar flashed at me while I was spying at your atomic progess…

The military translator runs up and down to make photocopies of several bankcards, my second passport, my driver license but also addresses of people who hosted me. I am worried those people will be reprimanded and ask if they want to leave them in peace. The many SIM cards I kept are highly suspected, as well as my second passport. Some more questions are being asked. All the while I am sitting relaxed, drinking chai. This is their job and I have nothing to be worried about. Meanwhile Darryl is about to freak out. But why? I am not the journalist they think I am…

He: ‘What is your job?’

Me: ‘I am a saleswoman,’ is my honest reply. He seems to be confused and asks me again what my job is, followed by ‘on which river?’

Four hours later, nothing found, we are finished. Darryl’s stuff hasn’t been searched through so I know it has to do with my behavior that they did search mine. I offer the lady my only gift, a pomegranate. I ask the military man for a proof of search, so we won’t have to go through this each day, which will slow us down tremendously.

He: ‘It won’t happen again, this is only one time. Thank you very much for your cooperation.’

Me: ‘No problem, it was a pleasure meeting you. But can I have a photo then, at least, one photo of the head officer.’ I smile my most sweetly smile.

He: ‘No, the officer is married and his beliefs accept no photo of married people.’

Me: ‘Okay, I understand. Well, it was nice to meet you anyway.’

As a token of friendship I am offered two religious books. I hope it’s the Holy Qur’an since I lost both my Qur’an in India. It isn’t the Qur’an, those are two books about Iranian conduct and probably women in society, which I am interested in too. Alas, the books are in Farsi and I must decline them. I thank them thoroughly for their nice friendship, our special meeting, their lovely welcome. And for once, I am not ironic, or definitely not full heatedly…

We wave each other goodbye, all the while I can see Darryl really wants to move away from this place, for once I am the one who keeps him up. And off we are. Leaving another little adventure behind us…

www.astro.com Today you may become very consciousness of the limitations imposed on you by circumstances and other people. Your task today is not to let yourself be overwhelmed by them. One effect of this influence is a sense of loneliness or inability to communicate with others. You feel that there’s a gulf between you and others that you can’t possibly cross. What you are experiencing is the real gulf that always exists between people. But there is no need to let that truth drag you down. You my not feel this effect psychologically, as described above. Instead you may find that you are actual unable to communicate with people, or that other constantly get in your way and hold you back. But you have to make compromises. If you are honest in expressing your needs to others, you should be able to work it out.

To Darryl, my Fairy Godmother: I am, actually not, sorry for my behavior. With my doings I put you in your own imaginable danger. But, you, as being my Fairy Godmother, should know, me being Cinderella: I do see the world as a play. For me, the Earth is a wonderful place to be and I played all along with these policemen. I don’t see danger in this, because I did not sense danger, not one second. To me it was a difference in approach as I have never been a tame sheep… we would not be put in jail and even if we would, it would have been yet another adventure. Dear Darryl, I know you shiver by these naive words of mine, but trust me, I know what I am doing because I cruise on inner connectedness, maybe not refined yet, but certainly intuitive.

 

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