Got the Indian Visas!

Trip Start Apr 29, 2006
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104
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Trip End Nov 15, 2007


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Flag of Iran  ,
Friday, September 1, 2006

31.8.06
Got the Indian Visas.
Tehran

The sun on the canvas of our Nissan Patrol camper made us get up, so Lynn and I decided to do some washing. There was a fast running drain or stream flowing behind our campers so we asked the taxi drivers about it. They showed us where to get the best water for washing our clothes. I wonder how the people felt about having a clothes line strung up around their car park. There was little else we could do. Tehran has no Caravan Parks and no Laundromats that we know of.

Shala came to pick us up at 4pm so that we could wash our sheets in her home. She was most insistent, and we were glad to be able to wash our big sheets.

I had rung the Indian Embassy 3 times during the day and was finally told to come and pick up the Visas at 4:30pm. Shala offered to drive us so Des obtained the address from our taxi driving friends staying next to our van. After stopping off at Shala's for her to refrigerate the watermelon basket I had made for supper, we high tailed it down towards the Indian Embassy, only to find it was not where the taxi drivers had said. I made three phone calls and begged for the Embassy to stay open after the normal 5 o'clock closing time. Shala suggested we go with a taxi as she did not have a licence to drive into that area of Tehran. It was already 5:10pm when we got into the taxi and I was in a sweat that the Embassy would be closed and we would not be able to pick up our Visas until Sunday, our 10th day, the day we had to exit Iran.

When we arrived at the Indian Embassy at 5:40pm, the staff were leaving the offices and the section where we picked up our application forms on Monday, was already closed. I ran to the beautiful, solid timber doors of the Embassy's guest entrance and thrust our four passports into the hand of the first person to open the doors, stating, "We were told to pick up our Visas at 4:30pm so here are our passports to put them in. I'm sorry I'm late, but we got lost, and the office girl said she would stay at the Embassy until I arrived...."

"Just a moment" was his reply. He had my passports in his hand, which I took to be a good sign.
The Indian man, whom I had begged on Monday to please have our passports ready by the Thursday option rather than the Sunday option, (as we have no Iranian Number plate to stay beyond 10 days), came to the door asking, "Who told you they would be ready", and "You have to pay for them first". I told him I had rung at 9 then at 3 then again at 3:30 (as instructed) and was told by the Indian Embassy office staff to come in at 4:30 and pick the Visas up. He opened the door a little wider and let me into a beautiful sitting room to wait while he personally processed the visas. How lovely.

So a little hic-up turned into a nice gesture. When he handed me the passports back, I gave him an Aussie keyring with our flag on it. Des said he had no doubt that I would get them. Bless him!
Our taxi had waited all this time with Lou, Lynn and Des and drove us directly to Shala and Azizi's home.

We had an informative time at their beautiful villa and met their son Amir, who took photos of the evening and gave them to us on a disc. We asked lots of questions of Azizi about Iran and its people, country, politics and religion. We would have loved to stay a little longer but Shala and Azizi had an engagement party to attend.

When Azizi brought us back to our vehicles with our washing, we were just hanging out our sheets in the hope they might dry before bed, when Parinaz and Massood, a couple Lou met in the internet café, came to our cars to see us. Parinaz, a member of the Iran Tour Guide Association, was disappointed that we were unable to come to dinner with them that night as we had already accepted an invitation from Shala and Azizi, but she did take Lynn and I to meet her family who were most hospitable to us also. Her mother had the most beautiful carpets in her home, some of which were large silk woven pictures and beautifully framed.

It has amazed me that Iran is not as I expected. I thought it would be a poor country, with shy, suspicious people who did not like or welcome westerners. Just the opposite is true.

There are over 75 million people in Iran, 7 million of whom live in Tehran. We have had quite a few rides in the taxis in and around Tehran and find them quick, cheap and plentiful. The taxis are not new by any stretch of the imagination and we have only used one with air conditioning on. At one stage, we 4 shared a taxi with another person, I had to sit on Des's lap with my head against the roof, but the other passenger insisted on paying as we all got in and out at the same place. He was a local, so knew what to pay. We understand that sometimes we may pay a little more, but to us it's still cheap and convenient.

Sometimes we stand by the side of the road waiting for a taxi and a car stops so we all hop in an indicate where we would like to go, assuming it's a taxi. The driver happily takes us to our destination and we ask how much. Mostly they just mumble a bit and shrug so we pay what we think is fair, not really sure if we travelled in a taxi or not. One man spread his arms wide when he dropped us off, would not accept payment and spread his hands and said "Family"
Most people greet us with "Hello, how are you? Where are you from? Welcome to Iran"

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