PART VII: We are not dirt and dust, we are the nation of Iran

Friday, 12 June 2009

We woke up early in the morning. My mother-in-law, who had come from Iran to visit us and help Maryam while she was studying, Maryam, Kay and I. We took our passports and got on the coach from Oxford to London. We arrived at the Embassy of Iran in London at about 11 in the morning. Our plan was to vote quickly, then go to Hyde Park for a picnic since it was such a lovely, sunny day.

I wanted to be in Iran on election day itself but, since my mother-in-law and Maryam were not going to accompany me, we decided we would vote in London and I would fly to Tehran the following day. I had several things to do in Iran: I had to move house as the lease on ours had expired; I had to negotiate with our account manager at the bank for the loans that Caravan was going to need; I had to resolve a dispute between Caravan and one of our translators; and I had to attend a meeting to determine the titles we were going to publish over the next six months.

When we arrived in London, long before we could get to the Embassy, we felt that we were back in Iran. Everyone in Kensington High Street seemed to be speaking Persian! I approached two girls and asked them in Persian, ‘Where is the Embassy of Iran?’

‘You want to vote?’ the girl answered in heavily British accented Persian which revealed she had grown up in the UK.

I nodded.

‘Welcome to the club. All these people are here to vote, and the queue ends there,’ she pointed.

We were nearly a mile away from the Embassy with thousands of Iranians crowding the street. We joined the queue; while we waited, we answered questions from the British passers-by who asked, astonished, what on earth was going on. When they realized that we were all there to vote, their eyebrows rose in amazement. They had never seen such a commitment to an election.

I began walking along the queue, talking to people. Almost everyone was going to vote for Mousavi, even those who had never been to Iran, who were born and brought up in the UK. A group of about 20 communist dissidents had gathered in front of the Embassy, shouting that this was a charade and that people should boycott the election rather than participate in sanctifying the crimes of the Islamic Republic. People laughed at them and said it was time they put aside their differences and participated in the destiny of their country.

We left soon after casting our votes, confident that a significant success was on its way. I kept calling my friends in Tehran to ask how things were going. One of my friends who was working actively in Mousavi’s campaign, said, ‘There is no one in the country voting for Ahmadinejad. Mousavi has 70 per cent of the vote, even in the villages.’

So, having nothing better to do but wait, we picnicked, daydreaming about the bright future of our country now that the people had decided to take control.

When we got home at about 5 p.m., the first thing I did was turn on my computer and check the news.

The official news agency of Iran declared that Ahmadinejad had won the election with 63 per cent of the vote.