Iran, the foreign land
.... where I was no longer an alien
By Ashkan Yekrangi
November 29, 2001
I have lived in the United States for nine years without seeing my real
homeland. I am, in essence as American as apple pie, but as Iranian as Chelo-Kabab.
The moment I step out of my house, I transform into an American
I always wondered what my native homeland was like and I imagined what
my many family members in Iran were like. I yearned for my homeland. I wanted
to see where I originated from and see the foreign land my parents always
A few weeks before summer, my parents surprised with me with the news
I had been waiting for. They told me we were going on a trip to Iran. I
was ecstatic. My wish was finally coming true.
July 10, 1992, I boarded the plane with my family to go to Persia, the
land of nobles. I pictured what Iran would look like. I wondered what my
family members would be like. I asked my parents thousands of questions.
"Daddy, are there camels in Iran"?
My dad replied with a gentle chuckle and said "No son, not in Tehran."
"Mommy, who's going to be at the airport?"
"Everyone," she replied cheerfully.
The seventeen-hour flight had come to an end and we were finally at our
destination. Everyone started to exit the airplane via the stairs that had
been attached to the side of it. As I was exiting, a warm breeze blew across
my face and for the first time in my life I felt at home -- I was no longer
As we passed through the airport I experienced first hand what Persian
hospitality truly meant. I had never seen so many Iranians in one place
and then it hit me, I was in Iran, the foreign land my parents had described
to me. We proceeded down the halls along with all the other Iranians who
had come back to see the family members they had not seen for decades.
My heart began to pump rapidly in excitement as we neared the section
where our relatives were waiting. Hundreds of men, women and children waited
eagerly looking for their families that had been estranged from their homeland.
I saw families united and old mothers crying for their sons who had left
the country to live thousands of miles away.
Then, before I knew it, I was attacked by a crowd of Iranians. My aunts,
uncles, cousins grandparents and family-friends were all kissing and hugging
my parents and I as if we were going to disappear in ten seconds. I could
not understand why all my family members were crying. Why were they so happy
to see us?
I hugged back all my family members. While I was surrounded by my loved
ones, a feeling of wholeness had come over me; I felt complete and I felt
total. Even though I had never spoken to any of my relatives except for
a few short telephone calls, I felt as if I had known them for a lifetime.
After a bit of chatting in the airport, we were off to my grandparent's
house where we would be staying.
My visit to Iran was not just a vacation, but a voyage into the foreign
land that had helped form my manners, the way I think and my way of life.
A place so many miles away, so foreign and exotic, but yet it was my home
and no distance could ever be an obstacle for reaching my home.