Decoration I made for the leaving party

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"Hi David, your place is in england n you belong there. You have nothing to do here aparte from wasting your time and making a masive expence for evry one and [the family business]. you are beter off there. so forget iran. save your monye so u cane come with [your sister] on holiday next year. khodahafez salam beresoon. x"

I read this a few more times. I read it a couple more. I rehearsed the sentences putting myself in the shoes of my father, the man responsible for the creative spelling. There were three available responses at the time: to laugh, to be worried or to be insulted. The feeling of being insulted eventually gave way to worry, worry of descending amnesia.

The momentous occasion that was my leaving party (from Iran) seems to be partly the problem, as I have come to learn. What was intended to be a mild fusing of friends from Tehran and Karaj mutated into something considerably more formal. A handful of senior management from work got shot of the proceedings and took matters into their own hands. "Daveed, you cannot feed your guests with that", they protested while expanding the guest-list to their suiting. And yes, they were right, the simple cold-buffet available at the many casual parties I was trying to mirror would not suit the new guest-list they'd drawn-up – a list sensitively crafted to family politics and also doubling the average age.

My experience of guest-lists for similar type events in England leads me to expect that for every ten people invited, five will make it bringing an additional 2-3 unknown yet essential attendees. On the other hand, from my limited experience of playing host in Iran, I have come to notice that the formula is rather different, for every ten invited, ten make it, bringing an additional ten unknown yet non-essential attendees. But, I learned however, a new formula must be made to account for losses attributed the deterrence of a higher average age.

When I say this was a momentous occasion I refer to the efficiency of which the plans were made and carried out, something unseen where I work and something distressingly ironic. My roles as party organiser, chef and DJ were reassessed and in the reshuffle I'd been demoted to 'excuse', a convenient excuse for a large gathering. I was relieved of my duties and accepted the compromise for the time it allowed for other important matters concerned with my leaving.

"But dad, how much is this going to cost", I interrupted as they settled on catering for 140-guests with a two course meal. My concern was whether their expanding plans involved my money. "Maybe I'll help out", was the only response from my father, failing to provide a figure yet indicating that I would certainly be paying an amount towards their plans.

It seems that over a month's wages had gone on the party

That amount became clear to me the other week – my naive assumption that their excesses would not be my burden was corrected. "Put it down to experience", smugly stated my father as my words boiled over in response to the eventual cost. It seems that over a month's wages had gone on the party, eating into savings I'd entrusted with him partly earmarked for my return flight. Not for the first time my father has taken it upon himself to teach me an expensive lesson – clearly I'm not learning something about Iranian fathers here.

"The Sunday 17th flight is 524GBP or 838,400 Toman. I'd like 2get on that if I can. Are you able to 2wire the money 2[my step mother]? Hope all's well. Salam beresoon."

The above text message was sent to my father – as planned, instructing him to wire my money – as planned, including my last month's unpaid wages and money still owed to me by the family business for equipment I'd personally purchased. His immediate response opens this blog entry.



Brian Haw at Parliament Square. The only protester allowed within a certain radius of Parliament

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"I don't think the government fit the position of middle-management in this analogy, they would be the CEOs", rebuked a friend as we playfully embellished on the analogy of 'Factory Britain'. "But regardless, CEOs are answerable to the share holders, thus systemically inferior" I responded in part confusion. "So where are you in this factory?", enquired my friend as we reached for our mugs of tea, sitting around the dinner table midmorning, midweek. "I'm in the cafeteria and I haven't clocked-out", I responded in jest, neither pleased nor displeased at this realisation.

Maybe for the first time I'm a customer of Factory Britain – being here for a set period and certainly spending more than I am earning. And thus Factory Britain looks strange as I stand this side of the counter, I am simply visiting, chancing encounters with former colleagues if schedules permit. The surface details in the various departments now stop my passing eye, with subtle rearrangement of equipment suggesting a time of absence. During this visit I took the opportunity to stop by the London department, making an effort to see the displays that so many customers queued to enjoy. Yet the London department is no longer someplace next-door and much care was taken not to miss a detail I might regret after leaving. Just to make sure, and for the first time in my life, I photographed every possibly important feature joining the many other customers that pass by. Now I can see all the things staff members are blind to and now all my newly found colleagues will have to sit through the slideshow.

You'll sit in a coffee shop, then go for a beer, followed by a night club and then you'll realise it's all the same old shit

"David?". Silence has found me since my arrival, yet this is maybe due to having my perception heightened. "David?". A friend joked with me before my arrival, "You'll sit in a coffee shop, then go for a beer, followed by a night club and then you'll realise it's all the same old shit. Disappointment will follow!". There has been much I was looking forward to, some mentioned, but there are better differences, like not having to hide. "David, are you listening to me?", they scream, waking me up somewhere between two lands, neither of which feeling like a place I might call 'work'.

"David, why are you going back?", they ask, confused as to why one might choose a lesser equipped factory with a less than transparent boss, not to mention the less than reassuring work ethic. I can site many reasons, yet either way it's a cafeteria I sit in. At either table it's tea that we drink, yet maybe my answer would be that it's stories that are more interesting.



PO Boxes in Karaj, also empty.

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It was only on my recent leaving party that I learned my Iranian address. After around 8-months of living at, "right at the petrol station, get to the cross-roads and take a left - here will do, how much do I owe you?", my place had a name. Armed with these newly learned road names, helpfully written down by my neighbours, I'd texted directions to friends and family as to how they may get to the party. Over half of the almost 100-visitors managed to eventually find their way, yet not without touring the city and bothering pedestrians whom also weren't familiar with the names. Like me, "right at the petrol station, get to the cross roads and take a left...", means a lot more to my fellow city folk.

Although I'd pass the street signs daily I'd never needed to provide details of where I live thus not really taken note. I've put this down to laziness on my part but in my defense, I struggle to remember all these new names, names with no association, just odd and mostly unpronounceable words – I might as well live on Nidlen Scole, it means as much as much as Navab Safavi.

Not once in 8-months have I needed to write my address and therefore it is no surprise that not once have I received a letter – solicited or not. It actually occurred to me around 2-months ago that I should maybe check my letterbox by the entrance door, maybe there would be junk-mail, maybe I existed to somebody. After searching my flat I'd found a set of unmarked keys and eventually reunited the correct key with the letterbox. Not a sausage. I looked through one end to see the day-lit gap between flap and frame allowing a light breeze through this dusty tunnel. I think I was very pleased.

Quite possibly she'd triggered a new spending trend and would shortly be receiving an invitation to join a Caribbean cruise at a one off special price – smoked salmon can do that!

I'd remembered why this pleased so much while standing in a well mannered 'baskets only' queue of a large supermarket chain. The lady before initiated her payment process by giving a keyring with a barcode. I guessed that she'd logged in, adding to a database of spending habits that will be sold on, happily done so for arbitrary discounts on future purchases. Quite possibly she'd triggered a new spending trend and would shortly be receiving an invitation to join a Caribbean cruise at a one off special price – smoked salmon can do that!

I'd remembered the increasing ratios of colourful and clever papers that sandwiched my bills, I remembered the cameras that protect me, I remembered the passwords and pin numbers, I remembered the feeling I had when hundreds of people would look at my name and address asking me if I remembered. I remembered that I was looking forward to not having to remember.