Nabbed in Iran
Two Chinese citizens were arrested in Iran. The two were carrying out survey work for property owners but were mistaken for spying. Police detained them for having allegedly taking photos of Iranian military facilities in Arak, a town in central Iran. A year ago, Iran had also sentenced two Swedish men to two years in prison for taking pictures of military facilities. Such news sent shudders down my spines. It could be Shah and me who ended up in prison. The two of us had backpacked to Iran in 2005. Originally, about 6 others were supposed to go with us but somehow or rather, they could not make it for one reason or another. Shah who planned the trip would go even if he had to go alone and I don't mind tagging along if it meant visiting the magical Persia of old that I had often read in books. The two of us thus landed on Tehran, Iran's capital on the slpe of the Alborz Mountain in the north -central part of the country. We arrived at the International airport very early in the morning and later took a cab to the city, passing the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini on the way. After finding a backpacker hostel, we lost no time in exploring the vicinity. I remembered Tehran to bit drab and dusty and as we walked on, we came to a delightful street with shops selling various things ranging from fruits to fishes, really, really big fishes which I heard were from the Caspian sea up north. A big beautiful dome of what we believed to be a mosque caught our attention just then and soon, we were busy snapping photographs. There was a big window with iron grilled of a drab old building and when we peeped through it, we saw several men in light brownish khaki uniforms. Just then too, a young man grabbed my hand. Shah and I were accused of taking photographs of a forbidden place. I think I must be handcuffed, if not the young man who took away my camera must have had held my hand and had not let it go for as long as we walked the distance to see his superior. The superior went through the pictures we had taken with our digital cameras and whew! We were let go and now, I could be here, writing! It seemed that in Iran, one is not allowed to take photographs of government buildings including military facilities and police stations.