Let’s play a little game of true or false, shall we?
TRUE OR FALSE: Iranian women are timid, shy and socially repressed creatures.
I shall be arguing the negative, supported by evidence of the check-in and boarding areas of flight BD 931 from London to Tehran.
Despite an upbringing that values virginity and fragile beauty above all else, these women have cultivated a form of flirting that is nothing short of art.
I have been admiring their craft since check-in. It involves an intricate sequence of complex gestures which manage to be both innocent and seductive, clandestine and deliberate, disinterested and committed and all within the strict confines of permissible behavior.
It begins with the most innocent of glances, always from under a thick web of lacquered eyelashes. It is quick – blink and you could miss it – but it is pregnant with meaning. It tells the prospective suitor ‘I have noticed you’.
Then, just as this look begins to arouse interest, a flick of the chin and slight pout of the bottom lip drives the man away, wondering if he was ever the object of such attention.
I’m telling you – these ladies are samurais.
And so it continues. A slight turn of the shoulder, a faint widening of the lips, a gentle clinking of a teaspoon or the accidental dropping of a telephone number to the floor.
CONCLUSION: I may have cracked the hijab but I have much to learn.