A Lift Too Far

The Homa Hotel in Tehran has twenty-four stories and only two pre-revolutionary lifts.

I was running slightly late, and had been waiting ten minutes on the twenty-second floor. This was summertime and it was hot. I was reluctant to use the stairs, as I did not want to arrive at the meeting in a sweat.

The lift arrived and the doors opened. Inside were three teenage Iranian girls, apparently sisters. I hesitated briefly, but did not want to wait another ten minutes for a lift, so I stepped inside. It was a mistake.

The doors closed, the lift went down, and the fun started. The eldest girl made a loud kissing noise.  All three dissolved into giggles.

I focus on my own reflection in the mirrored walls of the lift. I watch my face go red. I am in a dangerous situation.

There are always ten or fifteen male hotel staff in the lobby of the Homa. There will be serious trouble if these girls complain about anything I do or say to them in the lift.

Now all three join in, giggling:

“Mister Bean!”

“We love you, Mister Bean!”

“Marry me, Mister Bean!”

Agonizingly slowly the lift rattles down. Eventually we reach the ground floor. I stumble gratefully out into the fresh air of the lobby.

How can I have been so stupid? In Iran, a man on his own never gets into a lift with only females, unless they are family.

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.