In the process of voting

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"Guys, don't you get it, every time we vote we are voting against ourselves", I tried to point out to my colleagues-cum-team mates as we sat huddled around a table for our end of year party. "Hey come on, we gave you four votes on the last round!", gasped an opponent on the neighboring table as an end of round vote count was taking place. To say that the system descended into chaos would be to suggest that it was ever anything else; true, the lady who beat me by one point in the acting round of the competition did do a great job of convincing us she was constipated, but merit was long forgotten by that point.

It was a simple situation; ten tables with roughly five or six people per table; each round we'd send a suitable candidate to either sing, draw, dance or appear a little clogged up. Following each round we were asked to vote on the performance but with the exception of not being able to vote for one’s own representative. Yet, with this haphazard recognition system it soon became apparent to me that one should never rightly cast a vote for they'll only vote against themselves. Regardless, the voting went on; be it for recognition of merit and a willingness to ‘enjoy-the-taking-part’, or be it for the tit-for-tat; back scratching; "we voted for your shit skit, where's our payback?".

Naturally I took it all very seriously, paying careful attention to the new and unavoidable vote bartering, yet conscious that we'd always schemed the better result. As the competition concluded our mixture of great team performances and vote trading brought about a tie for first place with the Media Monitoring department, for which was oddly settled with a round of tug-of-war. Our failure here was in accepting the newer and shinier end of the two-part, make-shift rope, leading to a swift demise and very sore hands.

Another small voting matter took place this weekend, with equally as many peculiarities and equally as contended. This weekend saw the elections for the parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran; which – depending on what side of the Atlantic you stood – was an event that would test of the president’s approval, or be a display of defiance against the Grand Arrogance.

‘who’ and ‘what’ were therefore interchangeable; without somebody to vote for there was nothing to vote for

“Are you going to vote?”, became a repeated question asked by very few optimists. Many considered that I’d presented my willingness with these words, for which were often thrown back with a, “what is there to vote for?”. This question would rouse resentment, for which seemed to centre around the vetting process, whereby many so called reformist candidate didn’t gain prior approval by the Guardian Council (the supreme authority in Iran). The words ‘who’ and ‘what’ were therefore interchangeable and thus without somebody to vote for there was nothing to vote for.

A friend of mine assured me that one must be pragmatic; that one must pick the lesser-of two-evils and to at least put an, “urgently needed halt to some upcoming disastrous policies”. I could appreciate his desire for crisis management but wasn’t convinced that this is a sensible solution.

My friend stood alone among all those in my circles. “What for?”, became the reasoning for a boycott, but yet again I found no comfort in this being a solution. I was reminded of the end of year work party, "guys, don't you get it, every time we vote we are voting against ourselves", but like the party we would surely end with a tug-of-war.

I’d gathered a few friends for lunch on the big day, whereby we’d hoped to reach a decision for the will-we-won’t-we? I’d pitched my optimist friend against a self proclaimed intellect with opposing views, yet the resulting sparks – though entertaining –still had me sat on the fence. The decision tormented me as I tried to openly consider all options. My immediate options were as follows: to vote (pragmatically and based on trusted advice; for I was desperately lacking), to boycott or to spoil the ballot. Each option held a weight that tugged hard against the other, yet the rope seemed to somehow be wrapped around our throats with only the means to breathe being the thing that would give.


“I think Iran is a relative beacon of light in the region and in some ways refreshingly honest with its democratic process”

“So who did you vote for?”, came a microphone to my face, “I don’t know”, I responded, being half true and slightly ambiguous in my words. “So what do you think of the elections so far?”, returned the microphone, “In what respect?”, I questioned, conscious of all the eyes turning in my direction as I spoke in English. “It’s interesting to observe so many people having faith in a strange ideal”, I continued, sticking with the ambiguity. Her questions were also vague as she alluded to how things compared in a global context, “I think Iran is a relative beacon of light in the region and in some ways refreshingly honest with its democratic process”. Her astonished face led me to want to retract my words, “how do you mean?”, she came back at me, “well, the controversial vetting process, I’d say other nations have more subtle means, but nevertheless have some form of vetting; it’s interesting to see that it’s rather straight-up here”. My indifference almost silenced her; it seemed too much to consider that somebody from beyond these borders wasn’t bleeting for democracy. Again she asked what I thought of this local display, yet I didn’t know what to add, “you tell me, you’ve been here longer. How does it feel for you? Do you think this is going well?”, I said in agitation. As I turned the questions around, she turned her microphone around, flicking the off switch underneath and indicating to the cameraman that they were done.

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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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In position for the shoot.

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"Close your eyes Daveed, look up Daveed, press your lips together Daveed, look down Daveed", the makeup artist requested as she poked and prodded various devices at my face, "what's your eye discrepancy? Me too, can I wear your glasses; I forgot mine?". What a strange job for Iran I thought to myself as the face staring back at me gradually resembled my favourite character in the Wizard of Oz, "you must be one of few in this trade in Iran, I mean, you must be spending more time making-down than up", I curiously asked. She responded with an anecdote of a film she worked on in which a scene was scraped as the chicken on the table looked "too erotic".

Another cigarette break saw her on the chair complaining of back pain; something about a car being lifted when she was eleven. I looked around the room with a sense of awkwardness, two of the audience were wheelchair bound, one of which had just minutes before stared at my hand as I went to shake it; unable to move much below the neck. A young observer kicked a bin across – it slid just in place for the falling ash – before he continued his swaying back an forth between the various helpful moments. I noticed his odd shape, like his arms were firmly crossed with every maneuver; it looked oddly arrogant. It was only when the phone rang and I saw him chin the receiver to his shoulder that it came to me – the guy has no arms; cripes, I thought as I imagined my daily routine without arms. A coincidence I thought; my face was caked in makeup for which I could not touch no matter how much it itched – what does he do when he has an itch, needs to piss, change clothes and what breaks his fall. "Can I take a photo of you?", he asked as I saw him with a mobile wedged between his big-toe and next-toe. And so my photo was taken as he balanced on one leg and somehow pressed the correct button from the other. "Look; not bad!", he joyfully stated, having rotated the handset to show me the results.

A few days prior to these scenes I'd nonchalantly agreed to partake in a photoshoot on behalf of a local client. Oblivious to what was planned, I'd turned up obscenely early for work to then join colleagues on bus journey to the south of Tehran to a place known as Kahrizak (derived from the name of the charity), a place better described as a large megaplex, housing 1700 variably challenged Iranians and 700 rotating staff. We'd been requested to provide an advertising campaign that didn't focus on getting donations of money – for apparently this was in plentiful supply – but rather on asking people to give there time and love.

Having been made-up, we made our way round to the theatre in a golf buggy wearing the label, 'donated by LCS, London England'. As the manageress dodged the wheelchairs being pushed around by the slightly more able, I was amused at how it was I that was being stared at; I heard echos of my mother, "David, don't stare!", yet it was I that was the odd one out with a silver face and a Star Trek tunic.

"Look into her eyes; you know, this is the woman you long for", enthusiastically requested the shoot director as we arranged ourself on stage, "yes, reach your hand out to her", he added as I jokingly brought out the thespian in me. If only he knew the existing office gossip about me and the colleague that he asked me to connect eyes with for an uncomfortably long period, "yes, that's it, you want her!".

"Excuse me, can you put my leg back on the rest?", asked the man whose hand I couldn't shake, "oh, and can you readjust the newspaper in my hands?", he added between the director's shuffling of the wheelchairs back and forth. What the photographer didn't capture, the toes of the no-armed guy did as we moved to a new arrangement, "now you're angry; point at her; shout at her!", I was instructed, "yeah, you screwed up on that Renault account!", I shouted as she turned to ignore me – just as instructed.

We were buggied to the MS centre for which everybody felt the need to remind me, "this is the MS centre", with a deliberate pause following. This section of the shoot didn't involve me so I took great amusement in walking around and being stared at, like some visiting clown. I joined my fellow protagonist and another female colleague in what they referred to as 'head hitting' – a euphemism for paying visits I assume. "Hello, we're here doing a photoshoot...", explained my colleague as she entered each room. I would wait outside initially; we were in the women's section, "we have a man with us, is it a problem if he comes in?", she would ask on each occasion.

With each room I was surprised at their surprise – ah yes, I look like the Tin Man I had to remind myself

With each room I was surprised at their surprise – ah yes, I look like the Tin Man I had to remind myself. The first two girls perked up for the occasion with one reciting cheeky poetry as she lay before us, each word struggled to pass her lips as her eyes spun like fruit machine wheels. The next room was not as severe and the one after held a delightful sense of humour – how they transformed as we entered – TVs were immediately switched off and smiles bridged the little skits they performed for us.

The last 'head we hit' had a performer who battled with severe convulsions, "you turn the TV off, let me put the music on", she asked as she shook the stereo into giving us the pop, yet slightly traditional sounds of Pourya. Upright on the bed, she shimmied back and forth not missing a single word with each song. We joined in, cautious to not alert the staff, "don't tell them", she whispered, "it can be our secret". The Tin Man had been oiled-up and pulled out a few moves to the first, second, third and forth song. Our performing resident was playing Pourya, pointing at me – the subject I guess – with each reference, "I can't live without you", she nodded to me with a wink.

"Shall we go after this one", I asked my colleagues in English, "what?", asked the girl. I lied in response, "I was saying, c'mon, let dance!". I was convinced that we'd repeat the album again and my colleague seemed to not have the heart to break the performance – one of us had to be brave.

Our reason for being there, at Kahrizak, became clear to me at that moment as a difficult goodbye was made. "In one month!", protested the girl as we told her we'd come again. "You know Daveed, she's the same age as me", my colleague added as we walked away, but she was courageous; not dropping a tear over her stage makeup. And me, I guess I found my heart; I guess I'll go back.

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Russell Brand interviewing Iranian comedian Omid Djalili.

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Dear Russell, Matt and team (with Trevor being sadly missed),

I'm writing to thank you for the grand service you provide in cheering up a nostalgic ex-pat living in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A fine mix familiar tunes and juvenile behavior (made more so in the absence of Trevor) lifts the spirits for the working week ahead.

I'm not quite sure I'd want to translate that British citizens are calling a radio show pleading for advice on how to avoid friends pissing on their legs

Listening to the show is quite a laborious task and not made any easier by the circa 1998 connection speed. Dodging the IT guys hawking building in search of the culprit responsible for bumming all the bandwidth is a frustrating deviation from your verbal ramblings. Then having to explain why I'm folded over, ripping the earphones out in tears of suppressed laughter is my next problem. The strange looks from my colleagues who are poised with concern is a tad embarrassing. I'm not quite sure I'd want to translate that British citizens are calling a radio show pleading for advice on how to avoid friends pissing on their legs in the showers or about the reasoning for dolphins hooking their cocks on the slack of one's shorts.

Speaking of piss, work and living in strange places, I've just recently been kicked out of my grandmother's where I suffered a temporary stay while seeking new residence. Her official reasons for not wanting to endure me any longer were: 1. that I piss standing up (back-splash I guess, although I do wash the surrounding area of the hole in the ground) and 2. that I spend too much money. I found these reasons odd as she is unable to verify either. My next available living option adds an additional 3-hours commute to my day and quadruples the travel expense, thus nullifying 50% of her argument – I'm not sure I'd want to contest the other.

OK, it's been a sore subject for me lately and one I actually contemplated calling and pleading "help!" over.

Congratulations on being the number one downloaded Podcast, I hope you get around to finally dishing out some promised ice-cream and all the best of luck in your campaign of freeing Tibet from Chinese occupation.

Keep up the good work.


Russell Brand's weekly radio show on BBC Radio 2 can be found here.

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During the 4-hour crashing of heads in Dubai.

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"So the bumper cars start, sending the father spinning backward out of control – y'know, kinda goofy like", our Liverpudlian senior-creative enthusiastically illustrated with accompanying jolts and an animated smile. I followed the explanation as we flicked through the booklet, staring down at what appeared like my illustrations, my writing and my hard-work. Our northern friend walked us through an unseen variation of my brainchild, "they've shit on it", I mumbled under my breath in horror.

"Then we see the father making eyes with the boys, y'know, 'I'm after you', y'know, it's that father-son thing, like... y'know, it's gloves-off". I raced further ahead in the booklet, "the boys high-five!", I nudged at my colleague in alarm. Not wanting to interrupting the amateur dramatics, I quietly took it up with our Dubai-based colleague to my right, "they high five!?", I whispered. A strong indian accent responded, "y'know we...", he paused to find the words – 'jazzed it up', 'made it more lively' maybe. 'Shit on it', were the words I refrained from putting in his mouth.

Crafted for the Iranian market and well within the limitations of Iran's culture ministry.

I was sat in the pre-pre-production meeting amidst a cocktail of nationalities representing different interests, gathered to tweak and refine a television advert to be aired in Iran for a Sony camera. It was nearly a proud a moment for me as the excessively long 3-months that it had taken to get to that meeting, my efforts had shone through. Of the 9-concepts proposed the 3-short-listed were of my making. The concept finally selected was a carefully choreographed one, merging cliche with parody resulting in a multi-layered, humorous advert crafted for the Iranian market and well within the limitations of Iran's culture ministry.

It was then the turn of the director to explain his 'treatment', this was a likely clash I'd been concerned about for some time – frighteningly aware of how they've previously butchered concepts. My planned precision in shooting sequence and scenes, all synced to specific music – detailing camera-angles and shot-durations – had left little room for a director's input.

The meeting was more correctly a game of Chinese Whispers – I'd previously sat in our offices in Tehran, being the animated guy, getting provisional confirmation on the script, having gone through all the subtleties – careful to illustrate the details and their meaning, preempting any creative conflict. Yet our indian colleagues had added their 2-Rupees' worth, passing it on for the French director to have his 2-Euros' worth – hugely deviating from the client's prerequisites.

Over 4-hours we'd resolved these embellishments, regrettably concluding on a compromise of everyone's ideas, leaving a tough lesson for me to learn and the ashes of a provisionally excepted concept.

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A metaphor if you wish.

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"Salaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!", "Seh-laaaaaaaaaaam!". "How aw wooooooo?", "What's the noooooooows!". "Gnawawaaaaaaw, doooodoooboo...". These are grown professional women, married too – this is what I remind myself as I cringe at my desk and push the earphones in further. A hand arrives to my shoulder surprising me, "Day-veeeeeed?", "Yes, morning... nothing, fine, thanks, you? yeah... so...". It wasn't going to go down well but I've finally brought myself to ask, "are all Iranian women like this, I mean, is it cultural?". Mostly it is I am told, two or more women are prone to trigger in close proximity, ascend in pitch before shooting compliments at any possible difference. "Ooooo, is this new? I like your hair! Nice colour!".

"Do men like this, I mean, why are they like this?", I asked, worried to sound critical when really I am fascinated by what it might imply and how this might be. I thought about it, considered my current living situation and saw a link, I have regressed – returned to my early teens.

On a nightly bases I am subjugated to relentless interrogation by my family, all manner of personal questions arrive resulting in unwanted advice or criticism. I've been here before – "it's how they show their love". But my loaded stories of how I've lived alone or with friends, cooked for myself and others, cleaned up after myself, paid bills etc. are met with a curious silence, one of disbelief. From my friends, it's the same, walking anywhere near an oven is met with applause.

"No, when we go to university we leave home, I mean, we want to"

"No, I went to a university about 5-hours away from my hometown", I explained to a friend as I slipped into another comparison of then and here, "you travelled 10-hours a day for university!?", came a subsequent gasp. It was a serious response to a serious response but I laughed upon realising what brought it about. "No, when we go to university we leave home, I mean, we want to". We thought about it, drew silent comparisons and then retreated in the comfort of our familiar ways. Why would I choose to leave my family they must have thought? Naturally I thought much the opposite.

There is no gap, no discovery, no room for mistakes. The people of Iran have a seamless transition from one home to another, from their family to their new family. One is mothered, then a motherer - being mothered till a worrying age or mothering at a worrying age. But there is no means for something in-between, a lesser quality apartment, more time on chores, a greater expense. Women cannot so easily live alone or in groups, nor can they live with any one outside of the family. But then why would they? I mean, what would bring them to think about it?

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The Iranian extras, dressed so as to take no risks.

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"It seems strange that the images we must produce show a very different reality", delicately stated the regional Sony manager as I enquired as to how the preempting of Iran's supreme PR machine felt. I guess that like me he'd also noticed the volume of cracks appearing around Tehran's more well-to-do areas. Yet amusingly, on location in our mock well-to-do street we'd gotten our equations a little wrong, in our efforts to hide these certain cracks we'd failed to present enough of another type of crack to compete with reality that is Iran's street maintenance – or lack of.

England had wrapped it in too much PVC, strapped it down and curled a post-postmodern pattern over it

I tried to not to think of cracks as the time came for me to join my colleagues in conceiving a further advert. Each second of my silence represented an innuendo and each scratch of the head revealed an incomprehensible reference. I thought a lot, then I thought some more, nothing could escape the polluted right-side of my head, England had wrapped it in too much PVC, strapped it down and curled a post-postmodern pattern over it.

Our research had shown that 18-30s folk from Mashad responded to 'family-family', 'kids' and 'cute' – the PVC tightened around my head in disbelief. I reassured myself, disputing the methods of data collection and campaigned against the series of safe, flippant and tenuous suggestions put forward by my colleagues. They repeatedly reminded me of our limitations yet I couldn't help but be frustrated by theirs.

Then I did 'cute', redemption was in sight. "It's cute, write it down", our client responded and I did, in great detail. It was my compromise, one for the ailing Mashad youth with enough depth that I might mention I am associated to it. Momentarily pleased I ventured on but seemed to have left my colleagues somewhere in Mashad teaching young boys poor one-liners.

Amazingly another one slipped through the PVC, and thus far has evaded the reluctant henchmen of the supreme PR machine. Should this one be born my hope is that the only cracks appearing will be ones in limitations of both my colleagues and our audience, Mashad or beyond.

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Equipment for grips on the Sony Bravia Iran TVC shoot.

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"Shall we go for another plate and try one of the duck spring-rolls or save ourselves for the deserts?", we toiled while sat in one of the finer skyscrapers on Dubai's Shayk Zayad Road. The international all-one-can-eat buffet was proving to be one of the Middle East's many trouble spots – yet things got worse, having just left enough room for desert it took me a few attempts figure out how to get the best results from the chocolate water fountain and strawberries.

"Daveed, can you go to Dubai the day after tomorrow?", enquired my manager with an unusual caution... I flinched, considered the necessary national documents now available to me and held back a smile, "let me check my diary", I acted out. 'Dinner with uncle' and 'Go to Karaj' – "Yes, it should be ok", I conclude with as serious a face as I could hold. I was chuffed, and for many reasons – being two weeks into this new job and being asked to represent the company abroad was one of the smaller ones.

My agenda was set, quickly scribbled out as the working week ceased. A golden ticket slid across the director's table confirming my virgin voyage with Emirates following by two silver-tinted notes. I counted the zeros unaware of the exchange rate yet aware that zeros are worth more in other countries.

Laptops were set up and cigarettes lit in preparation for a fast paced preproduction meeting between multiple nationalities from multiple companies. 'Creative Director', stood the words beside my name on the first page of the preproduction booklet handed to each of the 15-attendees. Our trio represented the Iranian side of things, mostly drafted in to test credibility and to enlighten others of what little is permitted in our style of republic. Intricacies were presented, debated, altered and possibly embraced. Each frame and square millimeter of it negotiated – add a car – don't, get me a water canal – don't, focus on this – don't, wear a striped t-shirt – don't – "It might be seen as an American flag" we warned.

Music was presented, "too Arabic", the cast was presented, "too poor looking", wardrobe was presented, "too revealing"

The Sony manager – our client – doodled, adding little to the theatre of conceptual contortion as we tore to pieces the delicacies presented by the director. Considering I'd not slept the previous night I was alert and attentive, enjoying the 4-hour episode, thriving from the energy put into getting a workable result. Music was presented, "too Arabic", the cast was presented, "too poor looking", wardrobe was presented, "too revealing".

"We don't have drains like that in Iran", I regretfully informed the Italian director while he was aiming up his shot. I tried explaining the simplicity of Tehran's drainage system, intrigued as to quite what solution the production team would provide in our Dubai location. The director had previously bragged that he'd made Cuba look like London and as we huddled around the monitor we fell for his lie.

I stood back as he raced through the shoot with grips struggling to attend to his demands while those whose work fell between were getting familiar with one another. Iranian extras sat gossiping, cars sat revving and the client sat smoking. For all the "Action! Action! Action!", a few seconds were born, now we sit and wait to see what gets religiously cut.

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Parsian Mall, Karaj. Looking out through an empty shop window.

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"Can you design me a reception table?", inquired a former director. "Certainly!", I happily responded, "tell me more about what you're after?". His face shined over like a stale wax-work and our eyes remained connected while I admired his amazing life-like appearance. Such pauses normally conclude with me clicking for the Task Manager but on this occasion it wasn't necessary, "Make a table!", eventually came the response. On this occasion it was my turn to lock-up in confusion.

I might say that I'm a very unsuccessful interior designer, bloated rumours exist about my ability but in nearly a year's worth of attempts I've yet to have anything realised. These rumours led my colleagues to believe that I have a supernatural ability to foresee all the variables without consultation. "Just come up with some ideas!", they gasp, somewhat pestered by my queries. I've meditated much over these ideas, trying to presuppose every function but little enlightenment has ever arrived.

"What are you doing, no!", lambasted the director, "we are going to block that doorway!". Of course they were! Fundamental changes were needed for that fifth draft – a wall needed to be incorporated to the table design.

I also hadn't foreseen the previous job's arbitrary alterations, where I'd arrived to confirm the final measurements for a shop fitting. "Who told you to build a window here?", I harshly asked the labourer who was adding his final touches to a window that sat where my shelves were going. "Your father", the labourer meekly responded. I chose to let my father learn that I was no longer doing this job the same way he'd let me know about the window.

"he designed all of his family's buildings", my friend pitched – maybe he thought I did

The rumours have leaked further, I've reluctantly excepted an interior design project for shopping mall development – "he designed all of his family's buildings", my friend pitched – maybe he thought I did. My friend insisted on joining me for the introductory meeting, oddly leaving me with less than 5-minutes from a 3-hours episode to quiz the client. During this time he'd managed to scare the client into desiring an excessive security system of his making while repeatedly referring to me as his employee. "I want cash up-front boss", I joked following the meeting, "Don't worry about these details, just come up with some ideas – get them from the internet of something", he hushed.

Without lifting a finger I may soon become a design legend, but I feel my finger will sooner be clicking for the Task Manager. 'The program, "Iranian People" is not responding, do you want to end this task?'.

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The view from my new office window.

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"Maybe it's because of my two Russian girlfriends", answers the company director in response to my poor flattery regarding his more European accent. "Yes, that might be it", I hastily added. It was only after his self-congratulating chuckle that he paused for a while before connecting eyes – "I was joking, I don't have two Russian girlfriends".

And so, I got the job – I now, unquestionably, suck corporate [religiously cut]

This wasn't one of the highlights of my tenuous 3rd interview with one of Iran's larger advertising agencies. Nevertheless my equally as startled responses to their business practice seemed to have made up for any ground lost in flattery. And so, I got the job – I now, unquestionably, suck corporate [religiously cut].

"Where are their offices?", interrupted my father while discussing the result on the phone. "Where are the offices again?", I asked my friend – forgetting the name. I was reminded of the district, "...it's very close your father's place" they added. "It's in this district", I inform my father, "that's very close to my place", he hastily responds.

Somewhere between this revelation and the end of my call my father managed to confirm his unconditional love for me. "So you can stay at your grandmother's while in Tehran, you'll be cooked for washed after, yes, I think that's a good idea!". I thought it was a good sale's pitch. His sincerity was met with such poetry, for, not only has he recently taken over my place (in the neighbouring city he works) but he'd preempted the possibility of returning my hospitality.

"Eat this", she demands, "Don't eat that". "Wear this", she instructs, "Don't wear that". "See these people", she begs, "Don't see those". Unfortunately the extra distance between my grandmother's house and my newly found work seems to be proportional to the distance in her judgment. My father informs me that this is my grandmother's way of showing love and with each word I write it is showering upon me.

It seems it won't only be at work that I'll be sucking it in.

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