During this week we saw the 29th anniversary of the revolution, for which I went along once again

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"David...?", she asked, slowing toward the end with the intent of me following up with a surname. "Just David; he'll know who it is", I added before casually turning once again to her husband – the Nicaraguan ambassador to be – "so how long till you open then?", I enquired, nearly diverting his gaze from our female company. We were provided with a vague schedule for which seemed to hinge on the Iranian president's approval; maybe a month he guessed. The reminder prompted a sigh from his wife, who had apparently just exhausted the Hotel's Thai and Italian menus and wasn't enjoying being prisoned by the unfamiliar snow.

"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 compatriot

Coincidentally, 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.

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The knife dance as performed by Reza The Styx

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"Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you", we sang to a rendition of the Iranian version of the song. I looked on as we also made our way through the Iranian version of events, nearly forgetting that it actually was my birthday and the glowing face we all looked on at was celebrating four days late. "Who's this one from?", shouted the helper as they sat before the recipient; perfume, a fancy shirt and ornamental modernist candles revealed themselves with kisses and hugs returned in kind. Group photos were arranged before the cake was cut and distributed. "Happy birthday", I wished the host as she smiled back with thanks; I restrained from mentioning it was actually mine.

Following the relief of finishing my weekly Farsi class I was picked up by a friend, "happy fucking birthday man!", he reminded me before suggesting a plan to fill out the otherwise unplanned afternoon. "Let go find some chicks", he prompted to which a place sprung to mind with embarrassing ease. "Those girls are checking us out", he said under his breath to which I later look to my 3 O'Clock as instructed. Two of them later left the cafe; "that's a sign man", I was informed, to which he also up and left, leaving me to contemplate if being freshly thirty really was too old for this type of thing. Both the girls and my friend returned and the text messaging began. "Dude! she says, 'I like your friend', I'm gonna give your number; tell her it's your birthday". A text message arrived for me; "Happy birthday", I read out to my friend. Reluctantly I played along and called the number as suggested; "they'll meet us outside in a few minutes", I summarised as we settle-up and left. Conscious of the legal and religious obstacles we quickly greet them to rearrange a rendezvous. "We're out celebrating our friend's birthday", says the one who likes me, to which I inform her it's mine on this day too. "Oh no, hers was the other day", she corrects me as we discretely slip off for safety. "OK, it was a pleasure meeting with you", my friend interjects in response to the girls' suggested plan, "we've got a birthday party to go to", he adds, and thus I guess it goes.

"Happy birthday Daveed", my friends greeted me as they arrived one-by-one to my house to celebrate the dying moments of my twenties. "It's not my birthday" I remind them, repeating the dying hours of the twenties part, "my birthday is tomorrow", I remind them as I'm handed various paper bags with gifts within.

Dance away a decade of decadence. Dance dammit, dance

'Dance away the dying moments of his twenties. Dance away a decade of decadence. Dance dammit, dance', it was written on the amusing invites made by a friend. I felt slightly safer having these printed and distributed knowing that he'd forgotten to add a time and date for the event.

"Daveed, why are you not dancing?", exclaimed a friend, interrupting my playing host. "Can it go louder?", "put on the Iranian music" and "when's the salsa coming on?", they came as I struggled with my make-shift set-up. "When will we do the cake", they came, "when will we do the presents", they came as I jumped between various music genres and failed to pleased.

"Who's this one from", shouted my helper as he sat before the me. The eyes glared on as I was worried they would: I'd needed to maintain a consistent level of surprise and gratitude. Books, traditional bowl, books, traditional shirt and more books revealed themselves before I gave my gratitude speech in two languages.

"Who's going to do the cake dance", shouted a guest as the traditional beats fired up while I sat before the 'Happy Birthday David' cake. My house mate then pulled off some traditional shuffles with a knife being delicately dangled before me. Tradition has it that I'm to be denied the knife three times as it's danced before me; I got two traditional shuffles before the slicing and distributing began.

"Happy birthday", they wished the host as he smiled back with thanks; the host restrained from mentioning it wasn't actually his birthday.

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Watch that 'q' change to an 'n'.

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"So back over to Tehran. Tell us, would you say that your writing would be different if you were sitting in London?", came the voice on my mobile as I paced the cold echoing hallway having nipped out from the Latin beat and salsa of a Thursday night gathering. I wondered if my anonymity was a good enough example while conducting the cosy conference call of three – plus the few hundred thousand tuning in maybe. A friend then opened the door to see where I'd gone, "Daveed?", they shouted. Damn that echo.

"Yes", was my simple answer before elaborating further, "but it's not necessarily the establishment I adapt for, I worry about antagonising with the people and their culture". I've pondered this matter for a while now and am amused at how my 'freedom of speech' is not restrained by a well placed few, but maybe by the ideology of the mass – it's chickens and eggs though. "But there are ways to present things to... you know?", I semi-smugly added in conclusion.

Also on the BBC I see much the same thing but from the other end. As the homepage repeats 'Iran' (watch that 'q' change) with greater frequency I've taken to visiting its 'Have Your Say' public comments section, a forum for all manner of sqitted mush. Of late there's been a few of the, "How should the world deal with Iran?", "What now for Iran?" and a "Here's a neutral question about Iran, how on earth can you say it's anti-American?".

"45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?"

I use these features as a measure of sorts, a measure of how much stronger the Americans are at the game. Oddly enough when 'Have Your Say' first appeared it was the measuring point that frustrated me. As the entries are monitored and were previously measured before posting, we witnessed a for, against, for against series and no indication as to what the mood was. "There are surely some matters that clearly get a weight one particular way?", I wrote to the Head of News around the time, indicating that maybe their tweaking distorts the picture. You might for example have had 8-displayed responses to, "45-minutes away, Yellow Cake, Alooominum toobs, satellite images – do they think we're stoopid?". Four of these responses might say, "let's blow those sand monkeys further down the evolutionary ladder", and four-hundred could have said, "read the receipts!".

Things changed.

Fourth in the 'most recommended', backed by 179 people to date – John, NYC, USA:
"Another question set up so this "Have Your Say" can become a US-bashing forum. Why should we fear Iran having nuclear weapons? Because they are a fundamentatlist, theocratic state which severly curtails freedoms and human rights. The US, on the other hand, is still a bastion of freedom and human rights despite what is highlighted by the foriegn press. Which do you fear?"

In first place, backed by 261 people to date – Russell, Winnipeg, Canada:
"The world should do nothing about Iran. Iran is a sovereign nation and it is entitled to have nuclear power consumption. Just because the USA is war-mongering doesn't mean the world has to listen to their made up lies. The country the world should fear is America! Their government is crazy!"

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