The memory associated with this innocent looking snap of mine is truly remarkable. The year was 2002, the location is Khorramshahr on the Iran - Iraq border and I was a 25 year old kid on my first major business tour in Iran, with absolutely no sense of history or conflict between the two countries. I was not sure if I should share this incident, but it’s over 17 years now and I’m sure I will be forgiven for my foolishness.
The piece of real estate across the river in the snap is Iraq while I’m standing in Iran. While clicking this snap, a young Iranian soldier was walking furiously towards us and when he was close enough, he cocked his rifle and pointed it towards me saying in Farsi to stop filming. We were in a restricted zone, which was the first violation and we were filming without permission which was a major violation. He threatened to take me and my driver to his colonel for further hearing.
All our pleading fell on deaf ears. Being presented as a spy in front of an Iranian Revolutionary guard colonel wasn’t my idea of time off from work.
Suddenly a brain wave hit me and I showed him my Indian passport and the Iranian visa. My driver translated for the young soldier that I was from India, country held in high esteem in Iran, and I was a well wisher of Iran and her people. After a fair bit of convincing he finally agreed to let me off with a stern warning.
But this incident highlighted a few important points for me:-
- Firstly, Indians and the Indian passport has a fair bit of respect in the world. Even if we as Indians don’t appreciate our country and passport, a lot of people in the world respect the Indian passport. This is something we Indians should be proud of.
- Secondly, being ignorant of history and rules isn’t a good enough excuse to be let off after doing something wrong. - Thirdly when caught doing something that’s a violation, never try and justify your actions. Better is to admit your error and apologize. I’ve seen this works every time whether in India or abroad.
As much as I can look back at this incident in jest, I must admit I was petrified when the young soldier cocked his rifle and pointed it towards my chest.