Yesterday Christian Science Monitor published an article about Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the person whose bizarre story of being trapped in an airport for 15 years was the inspiration for the character of the protagonist in the movie The Terminal.
In this article like many others, Mahran karimi Nasseri (mostly known in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport as "Sir Alfred") is presented as a victim of bureaucracy. The real story, however, is completely different. Sir Alfred has stayed there not because of a delay in processing his documents, but because those documents identify him as an "Iranian". What he insists the authorities to accept is recognizing him as a European,. He doesn't want them to know him an Iranian immigrant or political asylem-seeker. What he wants is documents to show the world that he is not from that loser third world country. He wants documents that officially announce him European with European "blood" in his veins.
The mental illness of Mehran Karimi Nasseri is not a personal issue of an individual. It is very much related to a post-colonial mental decease of "third world" nations like Iran who view themselves as degenerated creatures of a damned part of the world that they always need to escape from.
Dreaming about "khaarej" (in Persian meaning "the foreign lands", but basically a word being used just describing Europe and North America,) as dreamland of order, beauty, and happiness is something I have mentioned before in two other posts (1, 2). Dreaming about "khaarej" is our national mental decease. (Yes! if we have such a thing as "National car" why shouldn't we have a national mental disease!?) The case of Sir Alfred is not that special. It is the same decease the whole nation is suffering from, but in this case it has reached its ultimate level, a level of crisis.
When you think about Reza Shah period (the 1930s) when Iranian nation -the entire nation- was banned to wear its regular Iranian costumes, and was forced to wear Western style suit and a stupid hat imitated from the French police's uniforms, you can see were the story of Sir Alfred has began.
In the the movie, Zelig (1983), Woody Allen narrates the life-story of a character from the '20s and '30s, Leonard Zelig, who has a very strange personality: he can't be himself. He psychologically and physically reflects whatever surrounds him and whoever he is with. He transforms all the time, jumping from one personality to another. The only thing doesn't change in him is his eagerness to escape from being himself.
"I wanna be liked"... It's a statement by Leonard Zelig under a hypnosis session in the movie. I can hear the same thing from Sir Alfred Mehran talking about his dreams for his "future life" in "khaarej." I can hear the same thing from many other Iranians whose souls are trapped in an airport which is supposed to be their gate to the utopian heaven "the West" promises to be.
For more on Mehran Karimi Nasseri see the documentary Sir Alfred of Charles de Gaulle Airport.