Persian culture has never ceased to surprise me. Ever since I came to Los Angeles, the number of such cases has increased exponentially!!! And so has been the fun of ever increasing shock!
When I first came to Los Angeles, I learned that Iranians are an integral part of the business in the society. Any normal person would think:” Oh wonderful! I’m sure people of my land are more sympathetic, as we experience the same feelings in exile. “
Alas I was so damned wrong! I don’t want to bore you by going through the details of my unfortunate events with Iranian-based businesses, so I confine myself to the world of beautification. If you are a psychologist or anthropologist or any one with some psycho analysis background, perhaps you can give me your take on as why is this the case with our genes.
Be a female on the surface of the earth and your first and foremost concern is to look reasonably good. And that “reasonable” is so relative that no measure can be defined for it. So, after landing at Los Angeles and more specifically getting setteled at startling downtown Los Angeles near University of Southern California (USC), I realized that my surroundings is a hybrid of Mexican and African Americans which for me would be kind of hard to follow their hair style and tastes. So, my logical next move seemed to get on the bus, take a 2 hour ride thanks to the unbelievable ineffeicient public transportaion and end up in Westwood: The empire of numerous Persian hairdressers.
With a student budget, freshly off the boat, the colorful labrynth of which salon to choose sounded daunting. I decided to shop around, so almost paved the Westwood Persian Quarter with my little steps, asking for prices of their services.
Some were so customer friendly that was simply unbelievable and to my immature heart, it was really heart warming. Almost all wanted to make me blonde. My dark complexion was screaming: “Don’t turn yourself into a puppet doll!” So, to listen to my inner voice, I went with some Hairdresser lady who thougt my being loyal to natural brown color is not that boring. This happened to be same choice as God as I was born with naturally brown hair!
Without going into details, in my third visit I got enough courage to let her touch my eyebrows. I was invited to a relative’s house same day in Westwood and it kind of sounded inevitable to look good. The Hairdresseer lady said that she’d dye my eyebrows first and then pluck them. I nodded as to me it sounded like chicken and egg, had no idea which came first. Plus she was a professional so simply I trusted her. Afterall, playing with a tweezer at my leasure was not that much of a rocket science, I just preferred to pay a professional and be safe.
When she was done, I felt that I look wierd and asked her if I look allright. She reassured me that all was fine.
So, happy bird comes out and as I was waiting for my better half to join at the corner of the street, I happened to meet myself in a window shop and guess what? There was a girl with strange stuff around her eyebrows. It was dusk time so was not real sure why is this the case. But I did not have to wonder any more as the look in my hubby’s eyes was more than enough: “What happened? Your eyebrows are all bruised up”.
I returned to her right away just to hear that I am very nazok narenji and it will go away. Again she was the professional and such people you trust, isn’t that true?
Next morning I woke up to see a girl with horrible scars on her eyebrows. Besides looking aweful, it sounded swollen and terribly painful.
My next meaningful move to save my visage was to run screaming to the USC student health center. Doctor told me that she has used too much of some chemicals and it has aggravated the sensitive tissue around my eyes and it is an obvious malpractice if I want to pursue it further!
Talking to my pals and other beauty experts later I learned you never dye and pluck eyebrows rather the vice versa and that it’s a basic role that everyone know! Obviously except me and that hairdresser lady!
I called her to let her know what happened. And my God, the friendly lady now turned into a real monster, denying that she did anything wrong and that all was alright. I wonder how she could judge about my bandaged eyebrows through the phone! Anyhow , I am not into this suing business stuff but that made me say Adios to all lovely Persian hairdressers working hard in Westwood!
This was the initial step in losing my trust in fellow Iranian businesses. But I had not completely given up! Still I was into this notion that the Iranian genes would mean something between us…and of course something good.
It was years later, I was totally away from any sort of Persian stuff business except for some foodstuff that I could hardly find anywhere else and that was fun.
One fine night, after a visit to my lovely, local video store, I rushed to the next shop to buy a shampoo real quick. First time there. As always the multitude of products beat me and made me bring my choices to the gentleman behind the counter. I asked him which he would recommend better for my curly, color treated hair. He opened his mouth and the Persianness poured out. Of course I had no intention of revealing: “Hey, I’m Persian too!” Good thing is I don’t look/sound Persian. People mostly go to South America and Spain when guessing about where I come from.
Anyhow, the guy vetoed all my choices in 2 seconds. Saying that they are all chemical based and he’d suggest if I can spend money to go with Vegan shampoo which was pretty expensive: a small bottle for $27!
That made me curious and obviously curiosity killed the cat! I asked him specifically if that shampoo would be good for curly hair like mine and he replied: Shampoo has nothing to do with curls and it would be fine. So, I said:” OK, I take it but if I don’t like it or feel that I’m going bold, I’ll bring it back!” We shared a laugh and then he asked where I come from.
Ok, big moment.
Me:I’m Persian, too!
Man: Well, you don’t sound Persian!
Me: Yeap…I bet you don’t see many Persians here.
Man: Some… not many… there is a bunch of them in a building near here.
Me: Omidvaram ke ein shampoo khoob bashe , man az shampoo ye bad aasabam khord mishe chon mooham mishe pashm e gorbeh…
Man: Naa , ein aalie… negah konin hamash tabieee…
He shows me the bottle which says: %100 vegan…
Man: Plus I give you 20% discount as you are Persian!
Me: Sweet! Ein Persian boodan be ye dardi khord… Man ke ziad kehiri azash nadidam az doostan.
Man: Are baba….
So, sharing an almost mutual feeling for our fellow Iranians, I broke my promise of not dealing with Persian businesses in my beautification portion of life and went for it. I paid about 60 bucks for the shampoo and conditioner and got back home hurriedly to try it!
Next day, the result was aweful, My curls had gone flat and I looked like a cat soaked in mud so all hair sticking to my scalp. I gave the shampoo set a second chance and decided that’s it! I’m returning this baby!
So, I go back to shop, see the man in Bermuda pants, leaning against the pillar, smoking at the Sunday afternoon sun.
Me: Salam… Ein shampoo be kale man nasakht…Oomdam passesh bedam…
Man: Chi hastesh?
Man: Ein ro pas nemigiram..
Man: Chon karkhoone pas nemigire..
Me: Vali shoma ein ro be man nagoftin plus ein shampoo curl hai e man ro mikoshe…which is different from what you said.
The man shrugs.
Me: Can I change it at least?
Me: What do you mean? I paid almost 60 bucks for these two…
Man shrugs again.
Me: This is unfair… you gave me wrong info… plus all beauty shops take their stuff back for exchange within two weeks … that’s a general rule
Man is silent.
Me: I should have known not to deal with a Persian
Man: Persians are nothing but a headache…
And I left without a word…To hell with my 60 bucks…The situation is more grave… When, we ourselves go with the notion of being nothing but a headache… what do we expect from the world?