High Speed pt.1 / Paris – Tunis

You will not be able to stay home, brother
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and drop out
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
Skip out for beer during commercials
Because the revolution will not be televised
Gil Scott-Heron, 1970

“Please wait, a technical support agent will answer your query… In order to optimize the quality of our services, this call is likely to be recorded” (soul-funk music in the background)

– Bouygues Télécom customer service, hello, how may I help you?

– Hello, I’m calling because the Wi-Fi at my house keeps cutting out. I hardly get more than a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes using the net before it cuts out again. I have to keep reconnecting all the time. (Just at that moment a programme comes up on the television with the title ‘Man did not actually walk on the Moon’, the main evidence to support the argument being that, in the famous televised images of the event, the only stars to be seen were not in the sky but on the flag of the United States).

– I understand the problem, Mr. Montazami. We’re going to do a few checks.

Tunis ; Montazami ; stars ; telecom ; rocket ; Apollo ; revolution ; planet
– How do you know my name? I haven’t given you my customer number yet.

– Your name is automatically displayed.

– I see. Do you think it’s because I don’t have fibre optic? I ought to get fibre optic. I haven’t fixed an appointment to get set up with it yet.

– Hold on a moment, Mr Montazami. I’ll just check. No, I’m afraid your area doesn’t have the cables in place yet, at least not your area of the Paris suburbs. They’re due to be laid in 2018. We’ll be letting you know. But for now, let’s reconfigure your box so we can be sure that you’re getting the fastest possible speed.

– Thanks.

– It won’t take long. I’ll talk you through what you have to do. First of all, go to your settings and deselect your user code, so that we can check together if the four LEDs on your box light up properly one after the other. Then we will restart your computer. And, while we’re about it, perhaps we could simplify your password, which is a very long one.

– Yes, that’s true. Can you read it?

Tunis ; Montazami ; stars ; telecom ; rocket ; Apollo ; revolution ; planet
– A-P-O-L-L-L-O-1-1-M-O-O-N-1-9-9-9.
What shall we put in its place?

– T-E-H-E-R-A-N-1-9-7-8

– OK, fine. Now, look at your box. Can you see the light with the planet, the one with the flower, the one with the star and the one with the rocket?

– Yes… A rocket, did you say? It looks more like some kind of a missile to me?

– No, it’s a rocket Mr. Montazami.

– The planet has lit up. But not the rocket.

– That’s because you can’t access more than 16 megabytes for the moment. You’ll be getting that in 2018. For now, let me just make sure your connection won’t keep cutting out all the time.

– Yes, please do. Where are you, actually?

– I beg your pardon? Where am I?

– You must be somewhere on the earth. Which country are you in?

– Tunisia.

– Were you involved in the revolution?

Montazami ; Tunis ; stars ; telecom ; rocket ; Apollo ; revolution ; planet
– Yes, I was a student.

– We Iranians made a mess of our revolution forty years ago.

– The 1979 Revolution?

– In fact it started at the end of 1978 and it took a lot longer than a day.

– It was against the Shah, who had lost the confidence of the people and was persecuting his opponents. You did the right thing. Even if nothing is perfect.

– Maybe so, but no one can say in the end if that Revolution went as it should have, or even if it is actually over, even today. That’s why I admire you for making a success of yours. It was a success, wasn’t it?

– Yes, we had a revolution and it was a success. But I couldn’t tell you for sure if it’s finished either. In any case, we marched in Sidi Bouzid… day and night.

– The star has lit up.

Montazami ; Tunis ; stars ; telecom ; rocket ; Apollo ; revolution ; planet

(to be continued…)

Translated from French by Jeremy Harrison


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