The director's birthday cake

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"If vee look at dee graph ve can see der eez several picks", continued my colleague in her monotone drone as she readjusted her headscarf with the beginning of each projected PowerPoint slide. I looked on in horror as a graph indicated PICK, PICK, PICK, PICK and a fifth PICK, all of which marking high points with some audience of some form of media; the subject of which was lost on me as the lines reached up only to be capped with an excitingly coloured misspelling. I shriveled back in my chair to hide from the other native English speaking in the room for whom we were presenting to. "PEAK, PEAK, PEAK, PEAK and frinkin' PEAK!", I muttered into my hand, conscious of how this only reflects badly on me.

"Using world of mouth", popped up on a later slide for which a further crevice on the chair refused to absorb me as I edged further back. Over 300-slides flashed before us during the 3-hour pitch to a private mobile network provider, a recent comer to the market of which broke the state run monopoly. Me and seven other colleagues arrived to try an achieve what we didn't last year with the previous pitch. "Daveed, I want you to present the creative side of the pitch", announced the company director having just dragged me from the busy studio. Being slightly concerned that the development of the proposed campaign evolved way beyond my understanding (due to my attention being needed elsewhere) I suggested another colleague. "Why me?", I asked, trying to hide the traces of stress in my voice while tapping my pen down on a long list of other projects bullet pointed in my diary. "Prestige", responded the marketing direct to my other side, leading me to draw the pen to the pending new year date circled on the lower end of the diary. The thick circle transformed to a zero before my eyes, for which I imagined being added to the end of my pending salary increase.

"What does the slogan exactly translate as again?", I asked the director as he stared on emotionlessly, "is this it?", he responded, "have you started the presentation?". He knew only too well that not only I but the entire department lost the love for the concept – his concept – upon having it forced on us; poo pooing all the others shortlisted. Before the four unimpressed eyes my embarrassment shifted to confusion as I once again questioned exactly who assumed the most senior creative role.

Who holds the most senior creative role has been a mystery to me ever since joining the company - at times I've erroneously considered it might be me. Not only has this been illustrated otherwise on many occasions but was literally evident on slide 245 whereby by an incorrect spelling of my name sat below that of a former colleague who no longer works for the company.

During the live performance I animated myself as best I could to the shortened version of the creative team's section of the presentation. I tried to gloss over the fact that the concept didn't seem to correspond with how things function with mobile network providers and compensated for this in a fine display of BS, plucked from thin air as it seemed appropriate. The result was a grinning director and none of the glaring gaps pointed out by the prospective client.

But then pinkie needed to go, leaving me baffled as to why the presentation continued in English

One-by-one our team stood before the four bemused Iranian faces and one foreign key player's. It was bizarre to hear my colleagues present their respective department's efforts in English and yet pleasing to hear that more errors existed in the typed word glowing before us. Two of the twelve watched in comfort, but then pinkie needed to go, leaving me baffled as to why the presentation continued in English; was all this for my benefit I thought as I pinched myself. This lasted about 20-slides before we all realised that we were Iranian and thus heated words were exchanged in the resulting power vacuum.

Their second in command emerged with peculiar criticisms, maybe to show us that he warrants his role despite his age. None of these made sense to our side of the table as he careered on and above the noise brought about by the open-office, "Salam Mehdi jaan, sedaam miad... Allo, Mehdi... Khoobi?". The resulting laughter wasn't helping number two's platform. "Allo, Mehdi, goosh kon... Mehdi, balah baleh... nah, 'W.W.W, dot, eye arr aye'... Mehdi? Gerefti? 'W.W.W, dot', Mehdi?", continued the hilariously loud voice as I pondered if the network provider in use was also the one we'd come to try and win work from.

My director rose to conclude the tiring episode and brought laughter again to the room with his repeated mention of not being served tea as yet, "it's not Ramazan is it?", he remarked, only getting another wry smile from the other side of the table. We were done; laptops closed; notes gathered and hands shaken, we took to the lift and waited for the doors to close before expressing our thoughts on the afternoon. Unlike my colleagues I grumbled on about the absence of warm beverages; questioning what exactly we in Iran are trading these days.

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Traditional sweet shop from the town my mother lives in.

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"Hello... yes...", my periphery hearing locked in, I knew this tone, I knew that yes, "HANG UP!", I shouted. Another yes came, "MOTHER, HANG UP!". "No, I don't have gas...", she answered confirming my suspicion. "YOU DON"T NEED IT!", I persisted as the door shut on me. Twenty minutes later the door opened, "you don't know what that was", she almost smugly stated aware of what was coming from me, "I know you don't need it", I replied...

My mother might consider herself lucky: prize draws inform her that she has been shortlisted for a possible £10 - £15,000; traveling traders that come to town, hire function rooms to exchange hundreds of pounds of my mother's limited cash for a black bin liner of unknown and already owned electronic goods. "I can't believe my luck", she'll probably one day write after adding her bank details in response to the email informing her that she's won a lottery she never played.

"well if you're dead how on Earth will you be able to press the button!"

"So you've just provisionally agreed on... what would it be? ...over £340 something over a two year period!", I shrieked. "Well what if I'm lying dead!", came the first of her justifications, "well if you're dead how on Earth will you be able to press the button!". "They call people!", "who?", "you know, people nearby", "and what if you're not carrying this alarm thing?", I hated doing this but I hated seeing my mum being taken for a mug once again. The burglary scenario didn't stand the logic test either as I pained to hear the poor repetition of the sales staff's pitch.

"Ok, ok, I can cancel it tomorrow", came the voice of defeat. "Mum, it isn't about me being wrong or right... you know...", I calmed myself, "if you haven't already got it, you may not need it". I then followed by asking her to join me in writing a list of everything she might need, this may have appeared a little condescending but I wanted to illustrate my point, and politely let her know that she just isn't that lucky.

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