Photo by J. Javid
A few weeks ago I stopped at a local chello kababi late at night and placed an order to go.
The fortysomething Iranian owner recognized my face and greeted me warmly. While we had never exchanged more than a few niceties, this time, while waiting for my food to arrive, I decided to strike up conversation. Being in Washington DC, surely he had an opinion of Reza Pahlavi's recent speech at the National Press Club.
“Did you see the Shah's son speaking at the Press Club a few days ago?” I asked casually, making sure to use an impartial tone.
He raised his eyebrows and his jaw slowly dropped. His incredulity gave me the impression that this was much bigger news than I initially thought.
“Ehhhh?” he replied, still awestruck. “You saw Shah Hassan at de Price Club?”
I nodded in agreement. That's right I thought, I saw Shah Hassan at… Wait. What? I had to think for a few seconds to make sense of his words. Who's Shah Hassan? At Price Club? An image of a bearded Qajar buying industrial-size toilet paper came to mind.
“Nah, bebakhsheed,” I said, using a bit of Farsi to avoid further confusion. “Pesar-e Shah. He spoke at the Press Club. Seh rooz peesh.” His face lit up again.
“Ehh! Reza Pahlavi?” I nodded, happy to have made him happy.
“Tuyeh Price Club deedeesh?!” I couldn't tell which was the driving force behind his excitement: The Shah's son, Shah Hassan, or Price Club.
“Nah,” I explained with a smile. “Harf zad, pesar-e Shah… dar National Press Club. Rajeb-e Iran.”
“Ahaaaa,” he replied, underwhelmed.
He turned his attention away to take the order of two newly-arrived customers. “Enrique, von es-pecial, and von num-bear tree.” Out of politeness he turned his attention back to me. “Khob… chee goft?”
An inability, or perhaps reluctance, to summarize Reza Pahlavi's speech in my unpolished Farsi made me err on the side of brevity.
“Heechi. Goft Inshallah Iran baytar misheh… yeh roozi.”
I'd like to say his face looked hopeful.
“Inshallah,” he replied, as his thoughts turned back to the world of kabab and he handed me my order. “Merci,” I said. “Meebeenamet.”
“Ghorban et,” he said. “Khodahafez.”