During this week we saw the 29th anniversary of the revolution, for which I went along once again
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"I don't suppose there's any tension with America for opening an embassy here in Iran?", I enquired, attempting to sympathise with some blurted rehash of Chomsky's Nicaraguan/World Court pièce de résistance. Since I was in deep, I threw in the name Chavez a couple times before retreating back in wait of a damage assessment. Impact was made regarding the torturous 80s; it also seemed that Chavez was maybe helping things (if only for new flight routes) and lastly, no problems were perceived in developing diplomatic relations with the Nicaraguans. "And what about you girls; have you not got husbands?", he suddenly popped, the ticker was now fully operational, "such beautiful girls; why not?", he tocked as the south American charm offensive could been seen visibly melting Tehran's month old snow.
Our loitering around the hotel entrance had run its course and in an effort to spare the girls of the simmering Latin blood (and myself from an inevitable diplomatic slip-up) we concluded our chance meeting. "So I'll be telling the president that David said hello?", remembered the wife, "yes, and wish him luck too", I added as my friends stood confused as to whether they should maintain a straight face.
"If anyone asks, you're a diplomat from the American Embassy*", I told my Americanised compatriotCoincidentally, that evening I was invited to the leaving do for the Swedish Embassy's Cultural Attaché. Last I heard he was due a promotion, so the preceding hours to what was sure to be a proper knees-up were over-shadowed by a curiosity for what lay behind. "If anyone asks, you're a diplomat from the American Embassy*", I told my Americanised compatriot as we arrived at the uptown apartment, yet my ice-breaker took a tumble: "Oh, you're with the Swiss* Embassy!", a European diplomat later responded, knowingly playing it back at us with a wink.
I pointed out a mutual friend's urban art – traditionally framed and scattered among the apartment – as we found the room to dump our coats. Turning the light on revealed that two of the four walls were top-to-bottom with books, "how are they getting back?", I gasped before heading off to correct these mounting questions. "Here's some pistachios", I explained to our departing friend, thrusting forward a box of the most expensive ones I could find, "you can't leave Iran without pistachios; we've just saved you the shopping time".
"So what the fuck?", I exclaimed in unison with my compatriot, "why are you leaving us?". As he was explaining, I surveyed the room, making playful assumptions with the mixture of skin tones, accents and hip movements. Among the English speaking; young and old, yet another wall revealed itself to me, leaving me once again gasping; this one was filled with a generous offering of international catalysts, positively dripping with availability.
"So how many people work at the Argentinean Embassy?", I asked the coincidentally Iranian looking guy, "two", he responded; "I'm the deputy", he added with mixed frustration and pride. I was distracted as he effortlessly jumped between Persian and English, amused at how his Spanish tongue wrapped around the local dialect better than with English. He went on to inform me of their meager existence, for which seemed to sustain itself out of some stalemate, "there was some incident with a bomb a few years back", he partially explained, before finding a polite moment to exit in the direction of the hubble bubble pipe where he sat for the rest of the night, connected in solitude.
"So where are you from", I asked the very English looking chap waiting in turn for the hubble bubble pipe, "Dublin", he responded. My slip-up came, reflexively I asked him which embassy he worked for, and while I failed resolve the capitals of the republic and the north he came back, "what do you think?". I answered wrongly, "these British don't know there geography for shite!", he gasped ! I bowed my head in shame to him and the all the twenty other Republic of Ireland folk that were apparently also in the country someplace. He offered the hubble bubble pipe to me and I offered to wrap it around my neck before slipping off to seek exile among the few compatriots.
*There ain't one.
**What little diplomatic relations there are is conducted via the Swiss Embassy.