Across Continents

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Cash for Karzai

November 19th, 2010

Back in Xi’an I’d met Jesse, originally from Delaware in the US. We’d chatted about various things on the tour bus, and whilst wandering around the many souvenir shops we’d been taken to. Much to the irritation of our guide. Inevitably, visas came up in conversation. As did Iran.

Explained I’d chosen not to attempt to pass through the Islamic Republic, preferring instead to head for Central Asia. Nothing against the people themselves I added, just the idea of handing over around two hundred US dollars to apply for a visa, only to have my request denied. Just didn’t appeal.

Jesse seemed to share the same reluctance to visit. We imagined the scene at the Iranian Consulate if he’d sought to apply for entry. “This is the Iranian Consulate – surely you want the Israeli one?” a bemused official might ask. “No, this one. I’d like to apply for a visa”. Struggling to regain his composure, to hide his consternation, the chap would eventually dust down an old box file and produce an application form.

The paperwork complete, they’d be just one question left. “And the application fee, where do I pay that?”. A smile from the official. “Just drop it in the bag by the door. The one marked “Cash for Karzai“. Crisp notes only please”.

[The author hopes to visit Iran one day. Waiting first until Israel have established direct flights into the country. Rumour is that’ll be to Bushehr]

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