The Escape from Iran


The Escape from Iran
by Faramarz

As I was looking through my stuff in the garage recently, trying to find my last year’s tax returns, I found a small box full of old letters from my high school classmate Garsha. I don’t know why I had kept his letters for all these years, but somehow they managed to survive the passage of time. They were all light blue, airmail, Par Avion letters; the kind that you fold two or three times after you write on both sides. There was one letter from the mid-80’s that caught my eyes. In that letter he described how he escaped Iran.

Garsha and his older brother got too deep into the politics of the revolutionary Iran and at the end, the regime came after them. They had to hide at friends’ homes and finally, it got so dangerous that they had to flee Iran. His parents sold the nice Persian carpet in their living room to raise the money for their counterfeit passports. Garsha left Iran through Azarbaijan province. He paid the smugglers to get him over the border to Turkey. He wrote in his letters that he walked for two days with a Sheppard and his herd of sheep to get to Turkey. The Sheppard gave him a sheep skin (Poostin) to put on his head so that he would blend with the herd! Whenever a military jeep drove by, he got on his knees and crawled with the sheep to hide. He eventually made it to Istanbul and with the help of his relatives made it to France.

Garsha and I were buddies ever since we were 12 years old. We walked home from school almost every day and shared many of the life experiences. His older brother was a student at the Polytechnic University right next to our high school. I saw his brother only once and that was during the university strikes of the 70’s. At the time, the government had raised the bus fares in Tehran from 2 to 5 Rials. All the universities in Tehran went on strike. The students told the public not to ride the buses and as the empty buses passed by the universities, the students threw rocks and broke their windows. The Imperial Guard and the police soon moved in and went after the students.

In one autumn afternoon, as we were playing soccer in the school yard (picture), Garsha’s brother and a few other university students jumped over the wall from Polytechnic and tried to hide behind our school buildings. Garsha pointed his brother to me and said, “That’s my older brother, Siroos.” The Guards looked over the wall but did not come in. Instead, they gathered around the front gate of our school. Their commander, a colonel, asked our principal to open the gate so that they could come in and get the students. Our principal refused and reminded him that he was on the high school grounds. The Guard commander backed down after a while. He knew that he could not cross that line. He showed respect for the sanctity of our high school.

Garsha and I stayed in touch after I left Iran. We wrote each other occasionally and talked about our experiences. He was a student at Tehran University and as things started to heat up in the late 70’s, I got more letters from him. It was clear to me that he was getting caught up in what was happening around him. He seemed optimistic about the movement. He wrote about how his brother and he were delivering kerosene to the needy families of the south of Tehran every week. They would bring cans of kerosene and give them away out of the trunk of their Aria-Shahin (Rambler). I generally wrote about what was happening in the US and on our campuses; the dogmatic and inflexible leftist students, and the few Islamist who travelled to Texas regularly to get instructions from a guy named Ebrahim Yazdi who was a long time US citizen. Nobody knew who these people were or where they came from. There was one guy on campus who had heard of Khomeini. He was the son of a retired army colonel. He used to say that his father was the one that put Khomeini in a potato sack (Gooni) and threw him over the border to Iraq when he was deported! Over the years, I heard many different versions of that story from other military people. It must of have been quite a large crowd at the border on that day!

I wrote to Garsha about how you could not trust many of these people, but he was very dismissive. He thought that the movement was so large and popular that it did not matter if these people were a part of it.

After the revolution I did not hear from him for a quite a while. I was busy with my own life and assumed that he was either sent to the war or was married or something! On occasions, I sent him brief notes telling him about my change of addresses, but he never replied. Then one day, out of the blue, I got a letter from him from France and we started communicating again.

He wrote about how his brother Siroos went into hiding in Kordestan where they had some distant relatives. His wife and his 3 year-old daughter were with him too. They had paid the Kurdish smugglers a lot of money to get them over the border and into Turkey. Then finally, on a cold autumn night, the family got on a horse, Siroos in the back, his wife in the front and the little girl in the middle and followed the smugglers through the treacherous mountains and the valleys. Every few hours, the smugglers passed them from one to the next. In the middle of the night, the little girl, tired from the ride and the cold started crying. The smugglers told them to shut the girl up. Her cries were ricocheting through the mountains and were making it very dangerous for everyone. But she wouldn’t stop. The armed smugglers told them that if she didn’t stop soon, they would have to kill her. Her mother, in tears, gave her some cough syrup and pressed her face against her body. The little girl fell asleep after a while.

They made it to Turkey and eventually ended up in Istanbul. Siroos sent his wife and daughter to France but he stayed behind. He hoped that things would change for the better in Iran and he could go back. But everyday there were more and more bad news about arrests and executions. After more than a year in Istanbul, he finally gave up and flew to Paris to re-unite with his family.

In one of his letters, Garsha described the scene at the airport in Paris where Siroos arrived. His little girl was so excited to see her dad that she kept going back and forth and kept asking her mom when her dad would come. Her mother kept telling her to be patient. She would put her face against the glass window and kept looking for her dad. The people at the airport who were waiting for their passengers were all curious about the little girl. They were wondering who she was waiting for. Finally, when Siroos arrived at the baggage claim area, the little girl saw her dad. She jumped up and down and kept telling everyone in French, “Mon Papa…Mon Papa!” Siroos’s wife just stood back and wept quietly. The French bystanders looked at the emotional scene and smiled at the little girl. They had no idea what this family has been through. The family’s long journey out of Iran was finally over.

I put Garsha’s letters back in the small box in my garage. I just didn’t want to look at them. But I know that one of these days, when I have more free time I will sit down and read them again. They are in a way the story of the hopes and the disillusionments of many of the Iranians of that time period.


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Maryam Hojjat

Sargord, did morteza Khamaneie defend IRAN in WAR?

by Maryam Hojjat on

or Rafsanjani's sons or other bastars' sons ? so, Please shut up.


Faramarz I have a box too....

by Tahirih on

 I escaped Iran 27 years ago and have a box too with my original letters to my family from Pakistan (which my brother kept and sent me years later). I look at them every few years or more,because they remind me of such a painful period in my life.

Iran will be freed from this corrupt and unjust government and either we will go back or our children,but one thing is certain to me Iran will be freed.



BTW recently in Iran I found my OWN box of letters!

by Anonymouse on

My parents had gathered ALL my letters dating back to 1978 or so and I tell you I felt bad for myself and my family for what we went through.  Compared to what others went through mine was nothing.  But still there was a big WTF question mark!

I didn't read all the letters but put them all in a box for later (since they were all scattered in various boxes) if someone else or myself (in retirement :-) wanted to read them someday.

I don't keep my letters here anymore but my parents had kept COPIES of their own letters! So I'm covered! 

Everything is sacred

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

yeah it use to go from park shahr all the way to yousef abad for 2 Rials we were more civilized!! staring at the leng-o-pacheh from the 2nd floor.         Maziar


great read and wonderful memories, thanks

by Fatollah on

we all have a shoe box or something full of those par avion letters. But, I never dare to reopen them ... 


اتو بوس دو طبقه خط ۱۰۱


Thanks for your comment Maziar. We used to take khat e 101 with my high school friends, go upstairs and grab the branches of the trees on Shah Reza street, until the Shagerd Shoofer would come after us!


Great Memories!

maziar 58

javani kojaii......

by maziar 58 on

faramarz khan thanks for reading your old mail for us.

BTW I clearly remember that students demonstration on shahreza Ave. chanting in : YA ENHELALE VAHED   YA NERKHE AADELANEH.  Maziar


Those blue letters

by divaneh on

Dear Faramarz, I also got a box full of those par avion letters. Once you have more time, I give them to you to read after you have finished reading yours.

Sarkaar Barandeh: Come on, admit that you get a kick out of the literary abuse, otherwise who would make such a silly comment? The guy was running for his life and if caught would have been put against the wall, then you think he should have reported to the nearest committee (as they were known). 

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Dear Faramarz: thanks for sharing those loving moments

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Hey Sargerd: there was no distinction between Khomeini and Saddam! Both were killers, torturers and maniacs.


I encourage hamvatans to boycott this AIPAC dominated website

by BoycottIraniandotcom on

As you can see from the articles, this purportedly Iranian site's content is
anti Iranian and comes largely from an Israeli/AIPAC perspective, which is
offensive to the vast majority of Iranians. Please do not engage with this site
except to warn other Iranians.


oh those blue par avion letters!

by Monda on

I can still taste the glue on the last fold...

Faramarz, it's so great that you still have such close contact with your past. After 15 years or so, I lost all my old letters in this desk during a move - it deeply burnt my heart.

This was a great blog. I hope Garsha and his daughter are doing really well these days. 


Thanks Faramarz

by bahram9821 on

Faramarz, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I do have one of those boxes filled with letters, I should bring them up from the basement and read them again, thanks.


ببین حاجی پیروز


You see Haji Pirooz, I don't know much about your background or your contributions to the cause of democracy and progress in Iran, but I have to say that you seem like a polite person. However, you are very selective about your facts. I have noticed that while you shed tears for other causes, when it comes to the Iranian people you are very brutal and unforgiving. My high school friend and his brother have done a lot more for the Iranian people than the likes of you. Don't dismiss them just like that.

You have the luxury of sitting thousands of miles away and look at the situation in Iran like a soccer match. You wanted your side to win, for whatever reason. These people put their lives on the line, and more.

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

Blue Par Avion letters...!

by Everybody Loves Somebody ... on

Faramaz, we all have boxes full of those blue Par Avion letters in our garages! Most of those letters brought bad news to many of us! Everything from friends and relatives getting executed by the criminal revolutionaries for serving in the military to classmates getting murdered in the name of monafegh to others getting blown up in the battle front. Even good news such as weddings and birth of children didn't seem to bring joy in the middle of all those miseries. The 80's can probably go down the history as the worst decade in the recorded history of Iran.




by Fair on

Please excuse the fascist self proclaimed major.  He is just doing his job as a professional propaganda agent, and actually has no first hand experience with respect to Iran, especially during war time.  Despite his best efforts, Iranians (especially those of us who were there and involved at the time) quickly see he is a fake, and sides against the Iranian people with those who rape and execute them and run over them with SUV's.

A true anti Iran cheerleader with no honor whatsoever.


Sargord "instead" of defending Iran? Selective memory?

by Anonymouse on

If you actually cared to know the history of that time you'd know that the Islamic Republic just would not let some to join and defend the country.  Martydom was such a big deal to them that they brainwashed some to treat war as a party!

At least read some books or see some movies, even those that passed regime's censors, to know how they questioned your love of Iran if you didn't practice Islam like they did.  Our own JJJ went to join and go to war front but they didn't let him!  I don't feel like searching his story for you but he can post the link if he wants. 

The same attitude still goes on but you wouldn't know it if it hit you in the head. But it is ok Iranians "tolerate" the likes of you on a daily basis and your presence here is a "light" refresher for us. 

Everything is sacred


Rough times. I guess those who survived are lucky to be lucky!

by Anonymouse on

That period was like a massive earthquake, tsumani, hurricane, tornado, wild fires, flooding, famine mixed with war and political upheaval all hitting Iran at the same time.  Like all laws going out the window and made up laws spreading all over the place.

Perspolis paints a good picture of that time.  After 30 years they look so far away but those of us who survived it will always remember and relate to these stories.  Some day these stories will be told again as they happened in books and movies to write the complete history of that era and not just from a select and sanctioned group.

Everything is sacred

Sargord Pirouz

So instead of defending Iran

by Sargord Pirouz on

So instead of defending Iran from Saddam's army, your friend was busy on the home front involving himself in intrigue.

One must accept the consequences for the actions one makes.