My trip to IRAN as a CORNELL Alum

Mt. Ararat

Mount Ararat

I am writing to enlighten you about my visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1993, after Cornell University awarded a Ph.D. degree to an Iranian Scholar named Dr. Seyed Mahmood Hosseini in 1990.

Eight years after the Iranian Revolution, he came back to Ithaca, New York to study for his Doctorate Degree at Cornell and then three years later, he returned to his country, Islamic Republic of Iran, as Dr. Hosseini Ph.D.. After his graduation from Cornell University, I decided to travel from Ithaca, New York to Zanjan, Iran to visit Dr. Hosseini at his university, where he was employed as a Professor.

 American PassportAt the beginning of the summer of 1993, I rode on a Greyhound bus from Ithaca, N.Y. to New York City, where I purchased a one way plane-ticket on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, Turkey. Then I flew from New York, N.Y. to Istanbul. I stayed there with my mother and one week later, I was aboard an Iranian bus in Istanbul, which was destined to Tehran, Iran. The name of this Bus Company was Talavoni and the bus fare was only $20. But I had to get off this bus in Zanjan, Iran before it reached its final destination, Tehran. It took two days to reach the border between Iran and Turkey. Turkish soldiers stopped and searched the bus many times at military checkpoints along the way towards the border.

After crossing the border from Turkey into Iran, our bus was stopped by Iranian soldiers at a military checkpoint and it was searched again. I showed them my Turkish passport. The soldiers took two other people and me into custody in a barrack for questioning. After I showed them my Turkish passport, one soldier asked me to take all my clothes off while he searched my hand-bag. He found my American passport in my bag, and he asked me: "How do I know you are not from the CIA ?"

I told the soldier in Azeri-Turkish as I was standing naked in front of him: "I am a Turk, and I live in Istanbul. I am visiting Dr. Seyed Mahmood Hosseini." Later, he told me that I could get dressed and leave. The bus was waiting on the side of the road and after we were back on the bus, it continued on its journey to the city of Tabriz and later to Zanjan, Iran.

Finally, I arrived in Zanjan, and I checked into Hotel Sepid in downtown Zanjan. The next day, I was afraid to walk in the city with my American-brand shoes. Therefore, I left my Rockport shoes in the hotel room and walked out with plastic slippers instead. Later, a taxi drove me to Zanjan University.

I was welcomed at Zanjan University as a Cornell Alum. I met with Dr. Hosseini and later I ate lunch with the President of Zanjan University who had accompanied Dr. Hosseini and others. The University was founded in 1975.

Later in the afternoon, I met Dr. Hosseini's wife and spent some time at his home.

Going there, the trip lasted 3 days by bus, but on my way back to Turkey, I could not find any buses with a destination to Istanbul. However, I knew the road which would lead to the border town of Bazargan. Therefore, I decided to take any bus going north and then continue the journey by hitch-hiking the rest of the way north to Bazargan.

I was on a bus which went north for a while with a destination to Urumie. When the bus turned left, it was headed west and I got off this bus immediately. I started to hitch-hike further north by offering money to the drivers of private cars until I arrived at the border town of Bazargan. When I arrived there, it was midnight and after being searched again, I finally crossed the border into Turkey. I felt at home again and I slept outside on the grass next to an 18-wheeler on the side of the road at the border-crossing Gürbulak-Bazargan Sınır Kapısı.

Border Crossing between Turkey and Iran

At dawn when I woke up, the beautiful Mt. Ararat was visible, and I cried. A few hours later, a Kurd came with an automobile, and he offered me a ride to the city of Dogu Beyazit, a City in the vicinity of Mt. Ararat. I gave him fifty dollars and he bought me a one-way bus ticket to Istanbul. The name of this Turkish bus company was Metro.

With a puppy dog that I found in the vicinity of Mt. Ararat, I was on this bus to travel from the city of Dogu Beyazit to Istanbul, Turkey. The trip went very well. When I arrived in Istanbul, I stayed with my mother, and one week later, I boarded a Greek bus with my puppy dog to Athens, Greece to visit some old friends there. The trip lasted 22 hours. Two days later, I flew from Athens, Greece to New York, New York, USA on Olympic Airlines.

The puppy dog had been named "Dallas" by some kids in the city of Dogu Beyazit, which had a magnificent view of Mt. Ararat. This puppy dog grew up in Ithaca, New York and she lived there for the rest of her life.

The reason I traveled to Iran alone was to play a ghost role in improving the relations between the U.S.A. and Iran after Cornell University awarded a Ph.D. degree to an Iranian Scholar, Dr. Seyed Mahmood Hosseini. And many years later, I received a postcard from Dr. Hosseini as a postdoc at a University in Sydney, Australia where he went with his falmily.

Question: How did this improve the relationship between our countries?
99% of the credit goes to Cornell and 1% of the credit goes to me for my trip. Or:
99% of the credit goes to me and 1% of the credit goes to our fair Cornell University.

Warm greetings from Seattle, WA.

Yours sincerely,

Adnan Tuncel '78 EE, '80 M.Eng. Cornell Univ.

A useful link: An article by the President Emeritus of Cornell University David J. Skorton


This Web-site was prepared by Adnan Tuncel. Date: May 12, 2011.
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