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Today's quote:

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Friends in High Places


It was early 1976. A few months earlier I had resigned from my post as Chief Accountant in Rangoon with the French oil company TOTAL - Compagnie Française des Pétroles. Twelve months behind the "Teak Curtain" and under the dictatorship of U Ne Win had seemed long enough, and so I took up a posting in Tehran under the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran.

'Out of the frying pan and into the fire' is the best way to describe this particularly ill-fated move and I left Tehran again soon afterwards, but not before I met up again with René Pain-Savanier who, as TOTAL's 'chef du service du Contrôle à la Direction Financière' in Tehran, had been highly complimentary of my work during his visits to Rangoon and also in references written some years later.

M. Pain-Savanier's home in Tehran was pure Parisian elegance and chic and, on the two or three occasions when he and his charming wife Odette entertained me there, he never failed to express his regrets over my decision to leave TOTAL.

As it turned out, the Shah was forced into exile in Egypt in January 1979. Soon thereafter, the Iranian monarchy was formally abolished, and Iran was declared an Islamic republic led by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Westerners were forced to leave, and René returned to France from where he once again sent me a flattering reference together with an invitation to visit him in his new home in the south of France.

I reflected on all this when I found a notice of his funeral on the internet. 'Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur' no less, the highest French order! It's good to have had friends in high places, and he's in an even higher place now.

Rest in peace, René! My life has been richer for having known you.

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