I can't tArof at all. Not that I don't want to. I just don't find the right words. If I want something, I ask for it, and if I don't want something I make myself clear. Plus, living all these years in England and now Switzerland, I have an extremly small vocabulary as far as cAkeram, nokaram go.
Once an Iranian friend was taking me to see his friend, Manouchehr, who was an Iranian too. It was supposed to be a sarzadeh visit to his house. I was very hungry, so I said let's have dinner before we go there. He said his friend would cook something for us.
But I didn't want to eat hamburger or fish fingers. And besides, I didn't want to bother his friend because I knew what would happen. If you know someone well, you can offer him anything. But if you don't know the person, you start a great big mehmun navAzi and tadArokAt.
So I insisted on eating outside. But my friend just didn't give in. He didn't even want to make a call and say we were coming.
When we arrived at Manouchehr's place, me, not knowing how to tArof, just walked in and as I was shaking his hands, I said: “man goSnameh.” He got in a sort of panic and said, “be ruye ceSm, befarmAyin tu” and ran into the kitchen.
He had another guest too, so the three of us stayed in the living room and Manouchehr went to the kitchen to make some food. I shouted: “Manouchehr, ye dotA toxmemorq nimru kon, basseh.”
I heard pans and dishes banging and clanking. It sounded as if he was going to cook something elaborate — and take forever. So, I thought I should at least make some tArof.
I shouted: “bAbA, Manouchehr! BiyA beSin, ageh mA mixAstim qazAye dorost hesAbi boxorim keh piSe to nemiyumadim.”
The other two just exploded in a nasty laugh — deleSuno gereftan qel xordan zamin. And I was trying to figure out what I had said wrong. I don't know whether Manouchehr caught my gAf or just “be ruye xodeS nayAvord,” but it taught me not to try to tArof anymore.
* THE IRANIAN Satire Section