Over the years when talking to a foreign tourist who has come to Iran for the very first time I’ve gotten used to hearing expressions such as “wow! I see you have restaurants in Iran!”, or “Believe me Iran was not what I’d thought”, “I never thought you had such a beautiful country” and so on.
For the global public opinions and the mass majority who do not have any particular way of knowing a distant land rather than relying on the information given to them by the mainstream media i.e. magazines, TV channels, news websites and radio stations, Iran would enthusiastically be the most astonishing and enticing place one can ever see and explore in his/her lifespan.
When switching between TV channels that perpetually hold piping-hot debates between their guests talking, not clashing about Iran’s nuclear issue, you can see pictures of spacious, dry deserts with a sequence of camels running sluggishly, demolished buildings adjacent to the slums of downtown, ballistic missiles being test-fired, multitudinous hordes chanting political slogans while rallying in the covered streets and afterwards, some interlinked strings of nuclear power plants being shown from the aerial view.
What kind of perception one might catch from this partial and subjective “image-doctoring”? Undoubtedly, they would be convinced that the target country, which is Iran in this example, should be the most terrific and scaremonger chain in the “axis of evil” and full of terrorists, atomic bomb arsenals and a forgotten land, as well.
That’s why nearly all of those foreign, specifically western visitors who come to Iran for various purposes become perplexed and confused by what they see here; a bizarre confusion which begins from the early moment of their arrival in the airport and lasts until the final seconds of their bidding farewell with the “Ancient Persia”.
Less people, except those who are in favor of unveiling the truth by researching regularly, are informed that Iran is the same country of “Persia” with 15,000 years of ancient history and civilization, a monarchy that someday was gaining dominance over India to Egypt as the largest territory of all times, where Cyrus the Great has flourished and where the most remarkable personalities of science, literature and arts came from; Mevlana and Khawrizmi to Rhazes and Avicenna, Ferdowsi and Hafez to Khayyam and Rudaki.
Less people know that Iran is the land of Persepolis, Pasargadae and Apadana, the land of oldest known human civilization on the earth and the land of “Persian Gulf”, but they know well that Iran is “the axis of evil”! The prevalence of such assumptions has no reason but the dominance of treacherous, dishonest and malicious media that feed the public opinions with duplicity, doubtfulness and misinformation.
However, I believe that awakened, conscious people, who could still be found somewhere in the world, have an ethic duty of impeding the widespread expansion of such untruths and falsifications by divulging the reality and propagating it worldwide.
To do so, on behalf of myself and at least about my country, I derived the most possible benefits from an opportunity which has occurred last month and helped me conduct an interview with a non-Iranian journalist who had traveled to Iran for a same goal of mine: understanding the reality of Iran.
Jill Worrall is a well-known New Zealander travel journalist and international tour-guide who has co-written several books on the profile of her own country such as “Landscapes of New Zealand” and “Coastlines of New Zealand” with the patronage of her husband, moreover she is intending to write an elaborate book about her observations of Iran.
She writes a regular column in New Zealand Herald, which is the most prominent newspaper of the country, in which she tells the stories of her miscellaneous travels to different parts of the world as a regular wanderlust!
In the November 2008, she made her second trip to Iran heading a group of 29 other New Zealander tourists who voyaged to most of the important cities of Iran including Tehran, Yazd, Shiraz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Rasht, Qom, Ahvaz, and Kashan.
Pursuant to my prior liaisons with her husband, to whom I should express my warmest thanksgivings for the immense help he has provided, I conducted a detailed interview with Jill Worrall and questioned a load of challenging topics focused on Iran from the viewpoint of a non-Iranian visitor.
Following is the complete text of our conversation in which a number of delicate and interesting remarks could be implied if a minimum of talent and astuteness is employed.
Let’s add that when in the first question, I called Jill a famous travel writer, she denied submissively with a humble compliment and told that maybe she will become one day “Inshaallah”, but not know!