Wave pool filled with fiberglass slide parts.

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"We're gonna put them with you, they can stay at your place for the two weeks", announced my father regarding an impending visit from two English engineers. Searching his face for cracks that would eventually bare a punch-line, I paused, waiting with a knowing smile, "Great, Hotel Hesarak", I jokingly replied referring to a downtown place I deliberately confuse with my neighborhood. With token acknowledgment of my joke, he continued, deepening the plans and lowering my smile in the process. No witty punch-line arrived, the English were coming and my father was corroborating in the invasion.

It was a practical decision, presented under the guise of an opportunity for me to be around "people of my background". I wasn't biting however and responded in kind by suggesting that we are looking cheap before our guests, demanding that the planners rethink this strategy. My protest was half hearted, although I knew from previous experience that I have little in common with these chaps I silently concluded it might be beneficial to both the occupier and occupied with each party filling some indirect role of comfort.

Chef, maid, cleaner, travel guide and translator were the roles I reminded the planners I would have to fill. All this on top of my usual nondescript daily duties. Beds, duvets, sheets and towels – my hotel needed to be equipped. Fruit, vegetables, juice and bread too – do I really live this badly? Clean, tidy, rearrange and repair – my hotel took a lot of work.

Not a sign of excitement could be found on my face, no matter how hard my colleagues searched. I wasn't upset, but then I also wasn't eager like they expected I might be. "Daveed, are you excited?", they seemed to rhetorically ask before following up with questions that would fit better if I was related to these engineers. When I arrived on-site, a little after my travel-worn fellow countrymen, it was like walking down the steps from the audience at a poor game show. The gate-keeper gaves me a knowing a smile, "are you excited?", he indicated with his nod. The laborers, one-by-one gave me a knowing smile, "they're here!", they indicated by nodding in a certain direction. The directors gave me a knowing smile, "over there", they indicated by leading me in the direction of two men darting around a swimming pool filled with water-slide parts, matching the tops with the bottoms, "Number 3?", ask one engineer, "Got it" replies the other. "Hello and welcome to Iran", I bellow over several orange and blue fiberglass half-tube curves later following with further courteous questions. Our mutual excitement was clear as their quick responses were ended with a, "Number 4?".

I was reminded of when I once did this, when I remarked on the overwhelming supply of traffic offenses and pointed out every hole in the pavement. I am blind now, I see only prices.

A rapid morning of assembly concluded, with my contribution being that of my usual nonessential role of site photographer, only once being topped by my taking 20-minutes to find the translation for 'screwdriver' after much failed miming. Over lunch we traded news of our residence, mostly led by me asking for the latest on popular culture and parting with titbits about regional politics, there was little common ground as subjects expired after short exposure. For the evening we took to a fancy part of town for some window shopping and some window shopping. The engineers seem to lead the way with their heads twisting and twitching to the unfamiliar terrain. I was reminded of when I once did this, when I remarked on the overwhelming supply of traffic offenses and pointed out every hole in the pavement. I am blind now, I see only prices.

We arrived at the hotel, with me carrying the bags. I fussed over beverages, washed the cups and gave a brief lesson on the several actions needed to be undertook for a hot shower. I set up my laptop, opened my music player and asked that they select a track – 'I did it my way', Sinatra – I was relieved. We slipped into a game of guessing the year as we double-clicked periods of our lives, iterating accompanying stories. I was reminded of how laborious a task it is to describe the subtle details from my time in England for the Iranian ears, first having to set the context, then providing a brief history of how things relate, after which it seems that any humorous content has lost its jiz and I'm being stared at in an odd way.

"Rick Astley, '87? No! It was the year I had my kidney out – that was '84", he protested after I corrected him from Wikipedia. "This is like a pub quiz back home", I joyfully noted, halting in depressing realisation, "But with no beer". There were also no smiles, not even knowing ones as we were silenced in the knowledge that this hotel had no mini-bar.


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