Pakistani visas and the US Den of Espionage

The counter official in the Pakistan embassy suggested we apply for a 30 day visa, so we could look around at his beautiful country.  We agreed, heartily, thereby eschewing all advice the British government offered on their travel websites.  If he was that keen for us to see his country, despite the fact that 3 weeks previously a Frenchman had been kidnapped on our exact route, who were we to know better? 

And Pakistan sounded an amazing destination, once you got passed the whole Taliban and Baluchi Independence Party situation… 

We applied for a 30 day visa, and left the office on a high.  We had prepared ourselves for a lengthy and difficult interview.  We had even written out our route and drawn a little map.

We returned to pick up our Pakistani visa a few days later!

While we waited for the visa we went to see the sights. 

We photographed the ‘Down with USA’ paintings on the walls of the ‘US Den of Espionage’- the new name for the old US Embassy.  The building is now used by the most hard-line militia as a headquarters.  We took the photos sneakily.  The paintings are one of the more open symbols of Anti-Westernism in Tehran.  

We photographed the plaque commemorating German atrocities to the Iranian people during the Iran/ Iraq war, handily situated opposite the German Embassy. 


We cut out newspaper clippings of the more outrageous media-manipulation and propaganda, including references to the ‘Zionist Regime’, Iran’s name for Israel.

In the carpet museum we behaved like irritating adolescents on a school trip, high on the first real coffee we’d had in a while. 

We sat in the café, caffeine coursing through our veins, listening to an Australian girl explain to two business men how to break into the smoked fish market in the UK.

Two diligent students discussed the carpets seriously.

We got a high-speed tour of the Jewels Museum by an Iranian who said ‘innit’. 

We visited the parks, where young Iranian couples go to kiss and fight. 
I played on the outside exercise equipment.  It is a very good idea, though hard for a woman wearing a Burkha to use.  Having said that I did see some Burkha-clad women using them with great aplomb in Turkey. 

We wandered past a tiny roadside park and commented to each other how nice it was that all those young men had somewhere green to have an afternoon rest.  I watched one put something down his sock, and realised with a jolt it was a syringe. They were all junkies openly injecting by the side of the pavement.  We watched them stare into the bushes. 

It was fairly odd to see in a strict Islamic country.  Alcohol is illegal here, but apparently the police turn a blind eye to injecting heroin at the side of the road.

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