National Geographic : 1960 May
Tehran: A royal ride on Persian rugs OUR press plane left Delhi in darkness. Soon the sun rose behind us, and we raced it to Tehran at 650 miles an hour. We reporters had slept only four hours that night, but we stayed awake debating an issue: not the touchy Soviet border, not Afghan military might. Iran's part in CENTO (Central Treaty Organization) was not even mentioned. No, these journalists, the world's highest salaried, discussed only one topic: Would we see the Persian Shah's fiancee, Miss Farah Diba? I was so confident we would that I wagered my last ten rupees with a fellow passenger as we landed in Tehran. With a flourish, Shah Mohammad Reza Pah lavi, wearing his bemedaled khaki uniform, arrived at Mehrabad airport as Mr. Eisen hower's jet streaked across Tehran's sky. Miss Diba was nowhere in sight. KODACHROMEBY SERGIO LARRAIN, MAGNUM The President's reception was the most military we had so far seen. Soldiers swarmed around the airport and along the route into Tehran. Overhead, Iranian jets whizzed by, spelling out IKE. An estimated 750,000 people cheered Mr. Eisenhower's motorcade. He saw welcoming banners such as GREETINGS TO FARMER IKE FROM THE FARMERS OF IRAN. One recalled home: WE MISS MAMIE BUT WELCOME IKE. Huge U. S. and Iranian flags framed our view of the distant Elburz Mountains; exqui site Persian rugs carpeted the pavement. To our horror, motorcycles and automobiles rolled over them. "Don't worry," an Iranian as sured us, "they're good Persian rugs. We often age them this way." He explained that the best hand-woven rugs have more than 500 knots per square inch. Each district has distinctive design, color, and technique. At the Shah's Marble Palace, I knocked on the gate for the guard. I had drawn the pool for Tehran, meaning I was one of only two photographers allowed in the royal grounds. My cameras were loaded and ready -in case Miss Diba should pass by. Jubilant Iranian courtiers told us that in the Shah's study Mr. Eisenhower had con gratulated him on his approaching marriage. In the palace I was shown the dazzling, confusing room of mirrors, a beautiful mosaic dome, and famous paintings. Iran had one thing in common with every country we visited: wet paint. I brushed against it in a palace bathroom. It mattered little because my clothes, smeared with green, white, olive drab, blue, and black, already looked like jungle battle dress. When the President and Shah lunched on Caspian Sea caviar, grilled steak, and par tridge, I departed. There was no time for pictures. Mr. Eisenhower was scheduled to address Parliament after lunch (page 635). For the President and reporters, the sched ule was crowded. Before dawn he bade Mr. Nehru farewell in Delhi, then lunched in Teh ran with the Shah, and now was airborne for Athens and a state dinner with King Paul. Aboard our Boeing 707, I dozed off. A correspondent jabbed me. "It's about those ten rupees," he reminded me. "Oh, yes, of course," said I, reaching into my pocket. None of us ever did see Miss Farah Diba, soon to become Queen Farah but the President did. 632 HS EKTACHROME(OPPOSITE) BY GILBERTM. GROSVENOR© N.G .S.