Thursday 18 January 2018

The flying pizza

This story was originally published on in 2010.

Khalid's dreams ran wild, and in times as grim as ours, he felt he could not afford to lose them – he had no choice but to chase his dreams. That is why Khalid al-Jawahir, who appeared to be an ordinary carpet weaver, married the prettiest girl of Tehran, gave her five sons and then decided to give up his steady income and follow his dream to open the first Domino's Pizza in Iran.
The night Khalid told his wife Yasmin about his decision, she made sure he didn't see her cry her eyes out. She wanted to support her husband, but secretly, she wondered why Khalid didn't feel as strongly about supporting his family. How would she be able to feed their sons if this whole thing failed?
Khalid's father was the first to oppose him. Not because he was worried about his son's financial position but because he didn't want his son to abandon the family tradition: creating magic carpets.
"But father," Khalid said, "don't you realize that nobody wants magic carpets any more? I haven't used our magic since you introduced me to the craft. I've spent all my days, weeks, years weaving ordinary carpets, without a single flying thread to them. I think our market is satisfied."
It was true, their clientèle was a very select group of people, and all who knew about the family's speciality already owned a beautifully crafted al-Jawahir carpet.
That's why Khalid travelled to England to take part in the Domino's Franchise Development Programme. Because the smallest muscles in his fingers had been exercised by years of weaving intricate patterns, he turned out to be marvellous at kneading, rolling and spinning the dough and chopping up toppings. His trainer was impressed with his entrepreneurial skills as well. Everyone was convinced Khalid was the right person to bring the first Domino's to Iran.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Leader disagreed. He decided Tehran had no need for an American fast food joint. Disappointed and embarrassed, Khalid had to return to the carpet weaving workshop. But he couldn't let go of his dream, and every night when he got home from work, he joined Yasmin in the kitchen to exercise his pizza making skills.
Two weeks after he had forbidden Khalid to open a Domino's franchise in Tehran, the Supreme Leader of Iran was in a meeting with the Council of Guardians. The twelve jurists were going on and on about matters that were of incredible importance, but something kept distracting the Supreme Leader: a gnawing feeling in his stomach. He kept shifting in his chair and staring at the setting sun, until one of the Guardians asked him directly what was on his mind.
"If you must know..." His agitated voice frightened all who were present. "I'm hungry."

At that exact moment, Khalid was rolling out a very thin pizza base. He felt an exhilarating breeze brush over his hands. He had only felt something similar once before: when his father showed him how to weave a carpet in order to make it fly. With the greatest care, he spread liquid cheese, mozzarella, tomato sauce, fresh tomato, green pepper, mushrooms, onion and sweetcorn over the pizza base and popped it in the oven. He couldn't shake the tingling feeling and kept watching the oven door as if it were a television, until the pizza was done. The moment he opened the oven, Yasmin entered the kitchen and she witnessed the miracle. The Double Decadence Vegetarian Supreme was floating in the middle of the oven, it's base baked to crusty perfection. It tilted a little bit, as if to nod or show its best side to its maker, and then raced out of the window to deliver itself the hungry Supreme Leader.
The next day, Khalid received a message from the Supreme Leader, thanking him for the delicious meal. The note said: "though I am still opposed against opening American fast food joints in our capital city, I have changed my mind about Domino's Pizza. After yesterday's outstanding performance, I have realised that Domino's is not a fast food joint. You managed to deliver good, freshly prepared food fast. There's a difference."
To the Supreme Leader's delight, Khalid recruited Yasmin, his father and his oldest sons and launched the first Domino's Pizza in Tehran that same month. And whenever the Supreme Leader spoke the magical words I'm hungry, an enchanting breeze would brush over Khalid's fingers. 


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