It's early morning on the first day of the year 1393. Last night at 20:27:07 PM, the exact time of the Spring equinox, the ones who follow the Solar Hijri calendar, celebrated the beginning of a new year. Mr S. and I walk through the quiet streets of a private condominium at the Caspian Sea.
Everything is clean and very pretty here. Each house has a small porch and a surrounding garden. The streets have ligned orange trees and thin naked cypresses. There is even an underground passage connecting the condominium with a private strech of sand at the caspian coast. This way, guests can comfortly reach the sea without crossing the terrifying iranian roads.
Mr. S. is in his early 70s. He has two children: A son who lives in the United States and a daughter who lives in Teheran. It is about is son that we have been talking over the last 20 minutes. "When the revolution broke, we feared for our son" Mr. S tells me. "He was politically active and against the regime, he wasn't safe here anymore." It was the year of 1979 and the Pahlavi royal family had just fled the country. A few months later, the world's first Islamic Republic was founded. His son was 18 years old when he left Iran through Pakistan to Europe. "He reached Paris with a false passport and was sent away by the french police on the first plane" He landed in Lisbon where the portuguese authorities didn't notice his fake papers. "We didn't know where he was, he had little money and at the time, there was no possibilty he could contact us" Mr. S. stops as we walk past a family in sport suites. Mr. S. stops and greets them in farsi.
He was politically active and against the regime, he wasn't safe here anymore.
We continue walking and after some minutes he proceeds: "Somehow, he got in contact with his uncle who lived in Florence. My brother visited him in Lisbon and helped him as best as he could" By the time he left Portugal, he was granted political asylum and was able to travel to Italy where he applied for a student visa at the United States embassy. "After finishing his studies in Washington, his student visa expired and he had to leave the USA, or find an american wife..." Mr. S. smiles at me. His son got married and has been living in the USA ever since.
Mr. S. story is a very successful one among many, many others which didn't have the same happy ending. It is estimated that after the revolution and start of the Iran-Iraq war, over 1.2 million Iranians have fled the country, some of which never to return.