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Iran, the foreign land
.... where I was no longer an alien

By Ashkan Yekrangi
November 29, 2001
The Iranian

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 spoke of.

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 an alien.

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.

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