Welcome. Khooneh-ye khodetooneh.... consider me a good friend -- or a kind aunt if you prefer. Tell me what's on your mind. I'll listen carefully to whatever is bothering you and try to give you some honest advice. Let's have a chat... email me at kkhanom@yahoo.com

This column is updated Monday thru Friday.

* Love struck cousin
* Abandoned father
* Addicted to gambling
* Equality in the bedroom
* Worred about fiancé (2)
* Faale Hafez
* Worred about fiancé
* Shy husband
* Love with a younger man
* She's not a house or a car
* What's been your major?
* Communicating with Iranian girls
* Working without a Green Card
* Marrying a Western woman
* Jealous fiancé
* In love a zillion times
* Can't marry Muslims
* YOUR problem, not his
* Dating African-American
* What is love?
* 25-year-old virgin
* Email girlfriend

Kobra Khanom's interview with Radio Free Euorope (May 26, 2001) >>> LISTEN HERE


* May 2001
* April

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June 29, 2001

* Love struck cousin

Dear Kobra Khanoom,

Baa arzeh salam. First of all let me say that I'm a huge fan of yours and that your advice is always spot on. I hope that you can help me.

I have been living in Euorpe since I was about 10 years of age and finally made it back to Iran last year. It was a great trip and I really had the time of my life, seeing friends and family for the first time in fifteen years.

To cut along story short, I got on really well with all of my cousins, a few of whom are my age. After my trip (7 months later) I got a letter from one of my dokhtar khaalehaa. To be honest it has made me quite uncomfortable. From the jist of it (my sister agrees with me) I think that perhaps she has fallen for me.

Although she does not say it staight out, it is fairly obvious from the content of the letter. She is a lovely girl, but she is my cousin. I see her like a sister. I have not replied to her letter yet (almost 3 months), and feel horrible about it. I'm not versed well enough in Persian to be able to write a letter in which I can let her down gently and yet not expressly say what exactly I'm referring to, if you get my drift.

I don't know what to write. Can you please advise. I could really use your wisdom. I really don't want to hurt this girl.

Thank you in advance,

Pessareh Irooni

Dear Pesare Irooni,

It pleases me to recieve email from home. Emails from home bring with them the memory of the sweet smell of Honey Suckle (peech-e Amindoleh) in the warm summer eves of Tehran.

Your problem too takes me back to the summers of my early teens riding my bike in the alleys of Daroos between Meydan-e Hedayat and Khiaban-e Yakhchal.

First of all you should know that in Iran for first cousins to fall in love and even marriage is not considered incest. This does'nt mean that you are wrong in feeling brotherly feelings for your cousin. But you should not consider her wierd because of her love letter to you.

You should try to answer her immediately. This three month prolongation of your answer has left her in limbo -- half hoping, half fearing what your answer will be. If you cannot write in Farsi well enough to be subtle then call her and ask to see her. Or better yet just take her aside next time you see her and explain to her your feelings. That way she won't have all the time between your call and when you actually see her to dream of a myriad of positive possibilities!

Make sure that you tell her that if she was not close family you would love to date such a great person etc... Even if it is not true, it is a lie meant to ease the pain of truth and therefore morally acceptable (doroogh-e maslehati).

But make sure that you are very clear in spelling out for her that there is absolutely no hope in you feeling any more than brotherly affection towards her. The obligation of the person who is the one not "in love" is to dispel any trace of hope in the one who is. You should be careful that no polite vagueness on your part can be distorted by the girl into some ray of hope of eventually winning you over.

Love does blind and I know many women who latch on to the tiniest shred of kindness, as evidence to stay forever optimistic about their prospects with a man. A man who is usually oblivious to the opptimistic message that he unwittingly conveys. You possess a lot of power vis-a-vis this girl and you should be extra careful not to abuse it by leading her on in any way. So go out of your way to show her that you are absolutely not interested.

Tell her that you will be a cousin and a friend if she needs or wants you to be. Call her to find out how she is doing and be there for her as a friend. If she needs some distance give it to her. But do talk to her like a friend. Talking is sometimes the best way to de-romanticize a relationship or situation. She will get used to seeing you in this light and maybe even eventually open up to you and you will not have lost a cousin but gained a friend.

I wish you the best of luck,

Kobra Khanom

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June 28, 2001

* Abandoned father

Dear Kobra Khanoom,

I am totally in a desperate situation and I need your advise very badly. I got married 5 years ago in Iran. My wife is 11 years younger than me but I believed that we loved each other and began the adventure called marriage. We lived in Turkey for four years and 8 months ago came to US. Actually nothing was the same here and I had to work hard to make a living. My wife is a housewife and I was trying to get her and my 4 year old daughter oriented to the life here.

However things were changing in front of my eyes and I was too blind to notice it. Later I found out that my wife had always been researching how she could get a Green Card, get divorce, and get child custody. They say the father and the husband are the last ones to know. Well I'm a technical person and a company has filed an H1 visa for me and consequently for my family. I can not say that we have had an easy life here but I was doing my best to get some "piece of bread" to get our lives going.

Let me add that I had a good business in Turkey and life was easier and we moved here mostly because of her and her family's pressure. Things were changing very fast and we were frequently having arguments. On June 8th when I came back from work as usual nobody was home. When I entered the house it resembled the scene of a burglary, and soon I had found out that she had packed and gone.

I called her friends that I knew and nobody said they knew where she was. The same morning when I woke up at 7:30 as usual.my daughter was having a fever and she could not sleep well that night. We agreed with my wife to take her to the doctor if she does not feel better and I left to work. At 10:30 I called. After I said hello to may wife she said "what do you want?". I , surprised, replied "Of course to ask how my child is". She said that she was better and agreed to give her light and juicy things to eat that day. She stated that we did not have to take her to the doctor that day.This was our last conversation.

I was sitting and thinking what had happened , and where they might have gone. I was looking for the notebook where I had noted some telephones of her friends and family when I heard a knock on the door. There were two police officers standing in front of my dazzled eyes. They asked me if I knew where my wife was and if we had a fight. I responded "No" and they asked me if they can come in.

In a Persian way I insisted that I'd enter only after them, they smiled. One of the officers started asking me questions and the other one who had a bad attitude looked around the house and came up saying, "Here's the deal .You're going to jail". With my mouth open before I could say anything he added "Your wife says that you have beaten her last night for leaving the window open!!".

As I was coming to myself and saying that it was not true the nice guy asked me for an ID. I gave him my Turkish drivers license and as I was putting my wallet back into my pocket he said something like "Yeah that's the position I like," and put handcuffs on my hands. I do not want to write a drama but in short I was experiencing the worst times of my life then.

Being ashamed, down, deceived, alone, small and all kinds of bad feelings, and all kinds of things that I can not describe. Thanks to God and to my sister-in-law, I was released from the Clark County Detention Center after about 22 hours. I have not seen my family since then. I do not know where they are. The last thing I got was an invoice for my child from a health care center dated June, 14th. Obviously she had taken the child to the doctor after a week. I called them to at least learn how my child was. But they did not tell me anything.

I can not sleep. I hear my child's voice saying "Baba" in my ear all the time. I do not know how many of your readers have experienced such a thing but I honestly feel like "dogs have more rights than fathers in U.S." and I'm not sure how much being Iranian would be a factor. But I'm hopeless and I think I can learn nothing till the court day. I hope my story would be of some value for other idiots like me who still think that a father should only sacrifice himself for his family and always trust his wife!

Best Regards,


Dear Masood,

I am very sorry that you are facing such a problem as the double loss of daughter and wife. Life sometimes tests us in many ways at once. You not only had to adjust to life and the financial burdens of supporting a family in America, but you now have to face the reality of a wife who at best no longer wants you and at worst wants to strip you clean and put you in jail.

All of this could have been a farce instead of a tragedy if a little four year old was not involved. So believe me I feel for you. Wronged husbands are so prevalent that they have become cultural cliches -- you will find self-help groups for abandoned men like yourself in most cities in the U.S.

Being wrongly accused is also a recurring metaphor in the senario of American Tragedy. From the TV series, "The Fugitive" to Tom Wolf's novel, "Bonfire of the Vanities" this theme of justice-gone-wrong seems to be a kind of a counter-dream, a nightmare, an American-dream-gone- wrong. But there are always answers and ways to pick yourself up in this culture famous for its opptimism and for giving people second chances.

So my advice to you is swallow your humiliation, pick yourself up and look for a solution in a Yankee "can do" way. When in Rome do as the Romans do: get a good lawyer. Make a list of what you wish to happen. Start with you getting access to your daughter first. Then coldly, methodically, like your life depended on it, try to achieve them with advice from your lawyer. Make a list of questions to ask the lawyer.

Do not get angry or show passion -- leave that to talking to friends and family. Or, if you have no one to "vent to", write to me. But do not act irrationally in front of any law inforcement, legal or professional people -- that will jeopardize your case immediately. Do not feel sorry for yourself and try not to act proud either. Go with what might seem like a slow legal process that the lawyer advises you to follow.

Remember if you want to be able to see your daughter you should keep your head together. So when you hear her voice again tonight do not fight it, instead, tell her how you miss her and how you will try your best to see her soon. You may want to seek counseling or find one of those group therapies if the pain is too heavy. You need to be healthy in mind and body if you want to get through this. But do make sure to get yourself a good lawyer.

Wishing the best outcome for you and your family,

Kobra Khanom

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June 27, 2001

* Addicted to gambling

Salam Kobra Khanum!

man javuuni hastam 22 sale vali kheli donyaa dide va garmi va sardi cheshide.bekhaatere shoghle pedaram taa be haal tu 5 keshvare mokhtalef zendegi kardam va zindegiye movaffagi daashtam. man dar haale haazer dar taa-atre shahremun mashgul be kaar hastam be onvaan honarpishe va injaa dar Finland mano kheli khub mishnaasand va behem kheli ehteraam mizaarand. vali hichki az moshkele man khabar nadaare.

man moteassefaane ghomaar baazi mikonam va har vaght ke baazi mikonam bad juri baazi mikonam. tuye 3 saal hodude 120.000 mark tuye rulet baakhtam. midunam ke khodam eshtebaah hast va bi faayede vali man motaade un shodam va hattaa mishe baazi vaghthaa 3-4 maah aslan baazi nemikonam vali vaghti asabi misham yaa tu khune moshkeli pish miaad yejuri be unjaa keshide misham va baazi mikonam. in ghomaar daare zendegiye mane javunro siyaah mikone. be shomaa eltemaas mikonam agar komaki az dastetun bar miaad mano raahnamaayi konid.


Jenab-e Ghomarbaz,

Man az yek nafar keh ham heroini bood va ham ghomaarbaaz shenidam keh ghomaar az heroin etiaad-e badtari ast! (Gambling is a worse addiction than Heroin!) Shomaa baayad mesl yek mareez be khodetaan benegarid. Mohemtarin ghadam in bood keh shomaa naameh neveshteed va in etiaad ro bayaan kardeen. Shomaa baa in kaar neshoon daadeheed keh ghabool daareed keh motaad hasteed. Va in khodash baaes-e omidvaari ast chon avalin ghadam tark-e har etiaad ghabool kardan-e khod-e shakhs motaad ast keh vaagha'an motaad ast. (The first step towards recovery from any addiction is to admit that you are indeed addicted.)

Pass banaabarin shomaa avalin ghadam ra var daashteheed. Va haalaa baayad in raah-e roo be behboodi raa tey konid.(You have taken the first step towards recovery by admitting that you are an addict, you now have to continue on the path to complete recovery.) Vali shomaa baayad komak-e bishtari ham begeereed. (But you need to get outside professional help as well. Addictions are not to be treated lightly and they take a lot of help to cure.)

Hatman dar Finland jale'eseh haayee baraaye tark-e ghomaar vojood daarad. Shomaa fora'an esm nevisi konid chon baa sherkat dar in jale'eseh haa meefahmid keh tanhaa neesteed va meebeenid keh digraani badtare az shomaa tavaanestan tark konand.

Dar America meetinghaa-ye "Gamblers Anonymous" vojood daareh baraaye tarke etiaad ghomaar. Hatman dar Finland ham vojood daarad yek hamchin groohaayee. (Try to join a 'gamblers anonymous' group right away because in group therapy you will find others like you or worse than you who have quit and you can be inspired by them.)

Man nemeedoonam cheraa inghadr iraani haa be ghomaar alaagheh daarand. Vali shomaa tanhaa neesteed. khaili haa servathaaye ziaadi raa dar ghorbat sar in kaar az dast daadehand. Shomaa khaili javaan hasteed. Va meetavaanid tasmim begeereed keh aayandehtaan raa kharaab nakonid. Az emrooz digar be ghomaar khaaneh naravid. Har vaght keh vas-vaseh shodid be man email bezanid. Sa'y konid keh yek sargamiye digari peydaa konid. Be theraapist moraaje'eh konid. Az doostaan va faamil komak bekhaahid.

Tasavor konid keh be yek maraz mobtalaa'eed va taa anjaa keh meetavaanid komak begeereed. Tark-e etiaad bedoone komak az digaraan khaili moshkel ast. Vali as emrooz jeloye aayeneh beistid va tekraar konid,"man ghomaar baaz hastam vali digar ghomaar nemeekonam, man javaani por omid hastam keh meetavaanam tasmim begeeram va tark aadat konam."

Vali movaazeb baashid keh bad az chand rooz fekr nakonid keh tamaam shodeh va massaleh-yee digar neest. In raa bedaanid keh shomaa baayad hamisheh az in etiaad betarsid taa betavaanid baraaye modat-e toolaani baa aan mobaarezeh konid. Doshman raa dast-e kam nageereed vali az mobaarezeh ham natarseed!

Man motma'en hastam keh shomaa movafagh khaahid bood. Kaari neest keh shodani nabaashad. Barikalaa keh in ghadame aval raa vardaashteed -- haalaa komak ham begeereed. (Good for you for taking the first step by admitting your addiction-now get help) Behar haal cheh movafagh boodeed cheh na baa man tamaas begeereed. Agar deeshab taa haala baaz ham ghomaar kardeed ma'yoos nashavid dobaareh tasmim begeereed. Naaomid nashavid.

javaab-e in naameh raa be man bedahid. Man khaili delam meekhaad keh be shomaa har komaki keh meetavaanam bekonam. Therapy raa faraamoosh nakonid.

Be omid movafahgiat-e shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 26, 2001

* Equality in the bedroom

Before anything I have to tell you that we all truly love you. You are absolutely the greatest, the wisest and the best. Sometimes your advice bring tears to my eyes because they are indeed so realistic and sincere.

I am a 30-year-old woman and I sort of have an embarrassing question!! Fortunately, the beauty of the internet is the fact that even the shyest person in the world can still voice her opinion.

Well.... I wanted to ask you if by any chance you would know how a woman can reach an orgasm during the intercourse? I have no problems reaching it by oral sex (and of course by masturbation). And don't get me wrong, I indeed enjoy sex tremendously. But I was just curious how that could be possible during regular intercourse.

I have a lot of girlfriends who claim that they have no problem with that. But sometimes I wonder wether it's just me or perhaps some of them are not telling the truth. I would truly appreciate it if you can kindly offer me your thoughts on this.



Dear B,

You are not alone. Most women I know and have talked to since receiving your letter tell me that they can not achieve orgasm through penetrative sex alone. Many claimed that vaginal orgasms are a myth perpetrated by women who have faked it for so long they have come to believe in it themselves!

So your should know that your "problem" is perfectly normal and a sad fact of female anatomy. From my research, the women who achieve vaginal orgasm through penetrative sex are very rare.

The only way to approach this problem is by learning to communicate your wishes to your partner. Do not be afraid or ashamed to convey your wishes when having sex. You will see that your partner will be more than happy to oblige. If he doesn't, then he is not in love with you or he is too hung-up on his macho sense of self and you should deny him pleasure as well.

Equality starts in the bedroom. An orgasm for an orgasm!

In hopes of your success,

Kobra Khanom

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June 25, 2001

* Worried about fiancé (2)

Salam Kobra khanoom,

man naameyi vaasatoon neveshtam, dar morede doostpesaram keh khosham nemiyaad biroon bereh. beh harfe shomaa goosh daadam va emshab baa dokhtar khaalam raftam biroon vali hich komaki nakard.

nemidoonid in shahre maa kheili koochike va aslan hich kaari nist vaase javoonaa. hame chiz tekraariye. man nemiram biron chon keh har vaght miram, disappointed misham. kholaase merci vaase vakhtetoon.


Eshghi khanom aziz,

Baa yek beeroon raftan kaar shomaa dorost nemeesheh. Man ham dar shahr-e koochaki zendegi meekonam va baa inkeh az shomaa khaili senam beeshtar ast khaili vaght-haa delam meekhaast keh dar shahr bozorgtari boodam taa beeshtar meeshod beeroon beravam.

Vali manzoor man in bood keh shomaa baraay-e khodetaan sargarmihaayee peydaa konid keh afkaaretaan be taraf andishehaaye bad dar baareye naamzadetaan naravad. Agar beeroon nemeekhaahid beravid dar khaaneh sar khod raa baa motaalee yaa kaarhaa-ye honari garm konid.

Dar kelaassy keh mored alaagheh-ye shomaast sabt naam konid yaa be kaar-haaye khairiyeh mashghool shavid. Vali agar saretaan raa garm nakonid naaraazy khaahid maand va naamzadetaan raa ham az khod khaahid raand.

Omidvaaram movafagh baashid.

Kobra Khanom

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June 22, 2001

* Faale Hafez

I read your column religiously. It's fun to listen into what amounts to private gossip. But it's your wise and comforting words that elevates it to real lessons in life. I've been in the U.S. almost 32 years now. I came here to go to college and eventually made America my home. I have few regrets. But I do miss a lot of things about our culture.

One thing I really miss is picking up a Divane Hafez and doing a faal. When I came to this country I didn't expect to be here for the rest of my life and therefore I didn't bring a Divane Hafez with me from Iran. Friends and family ask me what I want from Iran and I always forget to ask for it.

Do you have Divane Hafez? Can I ask for a faal and your interpretation of the verses? I will make a wish. Keep up the excellent work.

Yours truly,


Dear Vahid,

I hear you about not packing for a life time! But fortunately there are Iranian bookshops online and in many cities. You will find a link to one such bookshop on this site.

I do have a Divan-e Hafez edited by Mohammad Ghazvini and Dr. Ghassem Ghani which is to my knowledge the best Farsi edition of Hafez. I have just opened it in your name. I will give you the first two verses, then the shahed or witness verse, and finally my interpretation of the faal:

maa bedin dar na pay-e heshmat-o jaah aamadehim
az bad-e hadesseh injaa be panaah aamadehim
rah roye manzel-e eshghim-o ze sar had-e adam
taa be eghleem-e vojood inhameh raah aamadehim

(We have come to this gate not seeking wealth or fame
we have come here seeking refuge from the misfortune of events
we are the seekers of the house of love and we have come far
from the boarders of nothingness till we reach the land of being)

The shahed or witness verse is:

fatvaa-ye pir moghan daaram-o gholeest ghadeem
keh haraam ast mey aanjaa keh na yaar ast nadeem

I know by authority of wise old man of Moghan and from old sayings
that it is forbidden to drink your wine where there is no friend or beloved

This is an amazing faal coming for someone who has lived so long away from home! You should find the poem and read it in its entirety. Here is how I interpret it. It is a positive one. It suggests that you have come from nothingness of pre-existence to the plenitude of your life now.

But it also stresses that you are a seeker of truth and the immaterial. Khaje Hafez Shirazi seems to be telling you that you should share your cup of wine. So the plenitude that you have reached will be complete once it is shared.

be omid-e movafagheeyat-e shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 21, 2001

* Worried about fiancé

Salam Kobra Khanoom,

haale shomaa chetoreh? khaste nabaashin. Man alaan yek saale keh baa doostpesaram hastam, va be zoodi mikhaayim naamzad beshim. amaa oon too yek shahre digas. too in yek saal ziyaad ham digaro nadidim, vali mikhaayim vaghti ke naamzad beshim yek saal naamzad bemoonim va pishe ham baashim keh 'face-to-face' ham digaro beshnaasim.

asle matlab in hast keh man dokhtari hastam keh doost daaram too khoone baasham, yani az biroon raftano, too jamiyate bozorg khosham nemiyaad. az bachegi doost daashtam jaaye saaket baasham. amaa doostpesaram, kheili biroon mire, baa doostaash va faamilasah, va man khosham nemiyaad. Kheili moghe haa ham mire too baar, va man az in kaaresh kheili badam miyaad va chand dafe behesh goftam , montehaa bishtar be dalile in ke mashroob nakhore, keh khodesh mige nemikhore.

taazegiyaa ham kheili vas vaasi shodam nesbat be kaaraayi ke mikone, nemidoonam engaar vaghti behem mige daare baa doostesh, yaa pesar daaeeish yaa hataa khaaaharesh mire biroon, ye joori hasoodim mishe, va ba'zi moghe haa az dastesh asabaani misham va oon nemidoone cheraa, va manam nemidoonam che joori behesh begam. ya'ni khodam ham nemidoonam.

Maa har shab sohbat mikonim, va oon agar yek shab be man zang nazane man kheili be del migiram, engaar mitarasam keh agar baahaash yek shab harf nazanam, az dast daadamesh. nemidoonam chejoori baraatoon begam. lotfan komakam konid.


Khanom Eshghi aziz,

Maoloom ast keh shomaa hessaabi aashegh hasteed. Vali agar bekhaahid injoori peesh beravid ham khodetaan azyat khaaheed shod ham doost pesarataan faraar khahaad kard! Yek aashegh nabaayad betaresseh. Bad tareen cheez baraaye eshgh tars ast.

Shomaa az inkeh oo shomaa raa vel koneh cheraa meetarseed? Agar oo laayegh shomaa baashad shomaa raa tark nakhaahad kard va agar ham tarketaan bokoneh hamaan behtare keh shomaa az haalaa befahmid -- nah ba'd az ezdevaaj. Eshgh baa maalekeeyat joor dar nemeeyaad. Shomaa oo raa azaad begozaareed. Agar na oo az shomaa faraari khaahad bood.

Oo baayad baa meyl khodash be shomaa telephon konad na az tars-e-shomaa! Shomaa harchi beeroon raftan raa baraaye oo man' konid oo bishtar alaagheh be beroon raftan peydaa meekoneh. In tabiat-e ensaan ast. Bacheh haft saaleh man ham har kaari raa begam behesh nakon meekhahaad badtar bekonad.

Shomaa bejaaye inkeh az door negaraan oo baashid sa'y konid be fekr kaamel tar kardan khod baashid. Shomaa ham beeroon beravid, moaasherat konid va sar khodetaan raa garm konid keh inghadr be fekr eeshoon nabaashid. Momken ast keh shomaa mashroob o bar o jame' bozorg doost nadaashteh baashid vali mashgholiyat haaiee baayad baraaye khod joor konind.

Agar oo zendehgieh khodash raa daarad shomaa ham baayad zendehgieh khodataan raa daashteh baashid. Shomaa baraaye hamin ast keh beh oo assabaani meeshavid. Chon meedoonid keh oo ghair az shomaa sargarmeehaai-e digar daarad va shomaa nadaareed. In joori hess meekonid keh sar shomaa kolaah rafteh. Vali agar shomaa ham sargarmeieh digari ham daasthteh baashid digar jaayee baraaye assabaaniyat na khaahad bood.

Az emshab sa'y konind aan saati keh oo zang gharaar ast bezanad khaaneh nabaashid, massalan be cinemaa yaa khaanehye faamil yaa doost beravid. Aanvaght man ghol meedaham keh ham oo ghadr shomaa raa beeshtar khaahad daanest ham shomaa assabaaniyatetaan kam khaahad shod.

Dar khaaneh neshestan va negaraane karhaai kessy keh dar yek shahr digar ast boodan khaili zajr aavar ast. Haalaa bar farz oo baa yek zane digar ham shabi beravad -- keh chi? Agar shomaa raa doost daashteh baashad aan zan oo raa be fekr shomaa khaahad andaakht! Agar ham na, behtar keh alaan befahmid.

Be khodetaan etemaad-e daashteh baashid. Khodetaan raa doost daashteh baashid taa oo ham shomaa raa doost daashteh baashad. Soaal-peechash nakonid, oo raa aazaad begozaarid taa ehssaas khafehgi nakonad. Dar zemn sa'y konid keh khodetana sargarmihaai digehie peydaa konid. Eshgh va assbaaniat be ham nemeeaayand. Khoshbeen baashid va as javaanitaan lezat bebareed!

Be omid khoshbakhti-e-shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 20, 2001

* Shy husband

Dear Kobra Khanoom salam,

I am one of your huge fans and love to read your column. I am a 28-year-old married woman with a small dilemma and I seek your advice . I'll make my question brief and short.

My husband is a 32-years old with a Ph.D degree. He is the nicest man that I ever know; intelligent, smart, good looking and loyal. And he has the kindest heart ever. But the problem is that he is a shy and an introvert and has difficulties communicating with people and getting involved in society.

He has few good friends but not many. During childhood he had a little stammer problem that has gone since his adolescence. Unlike him, I always have been a very social person and I love to have relationships with friends and family and I attend social activates. But this character of his has made me less involved with people and sometimes I really suffer and miss my old busy and vibrant life.

I deeply love my husband and believe that everybody can change and improve to be a better person. I would like to help him. But I do not know how can I help him to gain his confidence -- of course without hurting his feelings and ego.

ghablan az mohabatetoon kheyli mamnoonam,


Dear Arezoo,

It is a breath of fresh air to get a letter from someone who is actually happily married! I am happy that you have such a nice husband.

Your problem is understandable. It is hard to be an extrovert living with an introvert. But I think you can change the situation at least a little. This is what I would do. Start by seeing more of the friends he is comfortable with. Invite them to your home or arrange outings together. Then slowly try to expand your circle of friends.

If he is very resistant just talk to him. Tell him that you need to be more socially active and that he should give it a try for your sake. Do not do this until he has shown resistance to the initial gatherings with close friends. Start with small gatherings and outings.

Usually men let their wives arrange the socializing. He may go along with it. If not, then a nice talk about your needs will not damage his ego. Tell him it's something that you need rather than something he lacks. He will be less defensive that way. If all this fails then go out without him.

I had a friend whose husband hated going out but he let her do it and they got along fine. If real trust is there, this should not be a problem. But I think your husband can be saved yet! Start with seeing more of the people he likes and take it from there.

Plan a little get together now. Do not make it a big deal. Pretend like he does not have this problem and see how far you get. At some point he may resist. Tthen have a little open chat about your needs/my needs.

You will be surprised how people react if you give them the benefit of the doutbt.

be omid movafaghiyate shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 19, 2001

* Love with a younger man

Khobra khanoom,

baa salam va tashakoraate ziyaad baraaye raahnamaayeehaatoon va dideh jadid be masaaele zendegy.

man ham taazegy yek mashgolyate fekeri greftam va motmaen nistam chi kaar bekonam va shaayad shomaa betavaaneed raahnamaaee bekonid. avalan ke man hodoode 18 saal hast ke dar aamrica zendegy mikonam, 30 saalam hast va yek zendegy khobi ro baraaye khodam saaktam ke shaamele shogle movafag, dostaane khob, tafreehaat, va khaanevaade migozarad. Meetonam begam ke khodam ro kheyli khoshaal va movafagh hesaab mikonam.

Do hafte peesh be iraan raftam va baa yeki az dostaani ke dar internet aashnaa shode boodam molaaghat kardam. Maa dar internet sohbathaaee raajebe manaviyat baa ham karde boodim va be nazar miomad ke sohbathaamoon baraaye har do del neshin bood. be in dalil tasmim grefteem dar iraan hamdigar ro bebinim va bishtar raajebe in mozooaat sohbat bekonim.

in didaar aval be didaarhaaye har shab edaame peydaa kard va kkeyli zood be in aagaah shodeem ke aasegh ham shodeem -- na be khaatere ghiyaafeye ham balke be khaatere "soul" zybaayi ke darooneh ham digar mideedeem. baraaye har doye maa in raabete kheyly tak va del neshin hast.

Oon yek pesare 24 saale hast ke daarad lisaansesho dar yek saale aayande migirad. Kheyli pesare baa masooliyat va baa enzebaaty hast. Tafaavote seneemoon baraaye hich kodoomemoon moshkeli nist. oon kheyli mikhaast ke man bemoonam iran va maa baa ham baasheem. man khaanevaadash ro ham molaaghat kardam va kheyli khoob peesh raft.

mosalaman be khaater kaar man baayad bar migashtam va haalaa nemidonam chi kaar bekonam. yek raah in hast ke beram iraan ke hamdigar raa bishtar bebeenim va baa akhlaagh ham aashnaa beshim.

Man mitonam az nazare kaari moghiyate khoobi ro dar iraan baraaye khodam eejaad konam. khaanevaadam ham oonjaa yek khoone daaran. dar zemen man be khaatere tajrobyaate kaareem va aashnaahaayam dar aamricaa midoonam ke agar bekhaam bar gardam raahat kaar peydaa khaaham kard.

dovom in ke baa telephon va email baa ham bishtar aashnaa beshim va shaayad man sa'y konam tamaame tatilaatam raa be iraan beram, taa bebeenim chi mishe.

sevom in ke oon darsesh ro tamom bekone va az yek tarighi be aamricaa biyaad. khodam avalin ro tarjeeh midam vali khob nemidoonam, shomaa nazaretoon chiye. az ghabel be khaatere vaghtetoon tashakor mikonam.

yek aashegh dar ghorbat

Khanom Ashegh dar Ghorbat,

Man agar jaaye shomaa boodam aval chand baar beeshtar ta'teelat raa dar Iran baa taraf marbooteh meegozaraandam taa bebeenam cheh meesheh. Shomaa baayad aval az eshgh khod va az eshgh oo motmaen beshavid. Chon shomaa injaa kaar va zendegi daareed va hameh nazm zendegitaan raa baraaye kassi keh be har haal faghat dar yek safar beh Iran deedehieed beham nazanid.

Aashenaayee jadeed baa in aaghaa keh faghat 24 saalash ast va hanooz darsash ham tamaam nakardeh eshkaali nadarad. Vali zendegitaan raa baraaye kessi keh hanooz khodash dar zendegi jaa nayoftaadeh avaz nakonid. Shomaa chon bozorgtar az oo hasteed baayad movaazeb har dotaan baashid. Az oo tavaghoe tasmim dorost gereftan nadaashteh baashid. Shomaa az oo mostagheltar ham hasteed, chon dar khaarej mogheem boodeed va kaar meekonid. Movaazeb baashid "baby sitter" kassy nashavid!

Dooste shomaa ham baraayash behtar ast keh aval rooye paaye khodash be'eestad va bad baa shomaa vasslat konad. Vali in dalil nemishavad keh shomaa az mossaahebat va eshghi keh beham daareed lezat nabareed. Faghat dar ezdevaaj va zendegi avaz kardan ajaleh nadaashteh baashid. Hamdigar raa dar tateelaat bebeeneen taa inkeh oo vazash dar zendegi kami maaloomtar beshavad.

Dar zemn baa cheshm o goosh baaz be massaleh negaah konid. Yeki az mohassenaate boodan baa mardi keh az shomaa javaantar ast baayad in baashad keh shomaa control bishtari daashteh baashid. Ba'zi as khaanomhaa hamisheh hataa dar senhaaye baalaa mesl man khodeshaan raa be dokhtare-khejaalati-boodan meezanand va in baaees meeshavad keh aanhaa mesl aaghaayoon bar zendegi tasalot nadaashteh baashand. Shomaa in eshtebaah raa nakonid.

Az tajrobeh va esteghlaale bishtar khod bahrebardaari konid va nagozaarid daastaane in eshgh-o-aashghi be zarar shomaa tamaam besheh. Agar aan pesar shomaa raa vaaghe'an doost daashteh baashad sabr khaahad kard va beh deedaarhaaye movaghate shomaa raazi khaahad bood taa vaghti keh darsash tamaam shavad. Ba'd az tamaam shodan daaneshgaah agar hanooz aashegh ham boodeed, sa'y konid keh oo raa be aamricaa biyaavarid. Vali taa vaz kaarash dar injaa yaa dar Iran maaloom nashodeh ezdevaaj nakonid.

Shomaa harcheh movafagh va pooldaar ham baashid baaz ham oo ehtiaaj daard ta'me esteghlaal raa becheshad va baayad be oo vaght va ejaazeh in raa bedaheed keh mard behsavad. Baa sabr va metaanat baa in massaleh roo-be-roo shavid. Agar eshgh shomaa do taa vaa'ghehi ast, davaam khaahad aavard. Vali taa aan moghe' az in raabetehye zibaa lezat bebareed. Beyn injaa va Iran zendegi kardan ham bad neest.

Be omid khoshbkhtiye shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 18, 2001

* She is not a house or car

Hi Kobra Jan,

Your answers to people seems wise! I am a 29 year-old boy in Tehran. I had a very interesting experience in love nearly five years ago. I had a girlfriend for six months. She was number one in my heart. We didn't have any sexual relation and I am sure we really loved each other. Her family went to Canada and she had to go with them.

I was a university student and after it I had to do my military service so I didn't have a passport and I couldn't follow her. I thought I would forget her and perhaps she thought so too. But I never forgot her! After three years she made a phone call to me because she thought she had seen me on TV between Tehran university students and she had gotten worried about me. But I had not been there.

Anyway I got crazy about her again and I decided to emigrate to Canada! Now I am a software developer and I am going to gain my visa in these days. It seems she again loves me. I know she has had boyfriends during these five years and this is not bad as I have had a lot of beautiful girlfriends. I have had girlfriends without falling in love but she says that she had fallen in love with another Iranian boy once.

I do not want to pay attention to this matter but it hurts me. I do not like to ask any questions about her past. I am worried if she has had sexual relations it would really hurt me. I do not like to pay attention to these and I know that everyone has the right to choose his/her relations and friends as I have the right to accept her or not.

But I feel that I really love her and this hurts me that she had fallen in love with another and if she has had sexual relations I will really get mad. I know I am not right. How can I solve this problem. How can I be relaxed and take it easy forever? How can I not ask about her past relationships? Can you help me?

Thank you in advance.



Dear M,

I am very happy that you are going to re-unite with the girl you love. I am also happy and proud that an Iranian like you, has become a software expert and has a bright future ahead of him in Canada. I hope your visa comes through without a glitch. Ggod knows the world needs bright computer experts like you.

It is funny how many letters I get from Iranian men regarding their women's past. It seems to be especially hard for Iranian men to reconcile their modern view of women to their old ideals of marrying a virgin! My advice to you is work on forgetting about it. It is a hang-up an "oghdeh" based on an archaic (maale ahd boogh) notion of ownership of women.

It used to be in tribal societies that because men could not be sure of who they had fathered, they had to assure themselves of exclusive fornication rights with their women. But now with DNA tests readily available, there is no risk of not knowing who you have fathered and so this kind of thinking has lost its very reason for being.

You seem to be a reasonable young man who is egalitarian, so please shed this last vestige of patriachical thinking (afkaare mard saalaari) and stop worrying about what she did before. I know that cultural hang-ups are difficult to overcome but if you admit that you are wrong then you can start working on changing this attitude towards women.

She is not a house or car which you do not want to buy if it is used. She is a human being who grows with experience. If she was with another man and has come back to you this shows that she loves you even more than if she had had no other experience or choice. Even if she did have sexual relations with this person, so what? She is not a piece of equipment that is going to not work as well once it has been used!

She, like you, has probably learned form her experiences in these five years and has come to the same conclusion as you -- that you are the one for her. I would be prouder of having someone who has tasted life fall in love with me, than someone who has not had a chance to try anyone else. Recognize that this preoccupation with wether or not you are her first sexual partner is archaic and chauvenistic and then work on overcoming it.

Women are not mountain peaks that you have to climb and lay claim to with a flag. They are living, breathing, experiencing human beings that grow and change. Suffocate them with the sense of ownership and you will push them away. Accept them as equals and you will watch them blossom.

So my advice to you is not to ever ask her any more questions about her past. Take her for who she is today and concentrate on the real reason you love her -- her soul. If that soul is good, if it is what you want, then consider yourself lucky and hold on to her with all your might. Do not feel any less of a man because she has been in love before. Real men can love and admire experienced women! Only those men who are not sure of themselves are afraid of comparisons!

Be omid-e-khoshbakhti-e shoma,

Kobra Khanom

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June 18, 2001

* What's been your major?


A friend of mine told me about Iranian.com. I checked and found it interesting (specially your column). Though I don't agree with your views and beliefs completely (I'm sorta religious), I find them interesting and cool. Be Farsi begam: rahnemud haaye shoma kheili "pokhte" hast. And I enjoy reading through.

Over the years, I've acquired the ability to enjoy anything professional (albeit I don't agree with it in principle). And I always find your counsels as such. I've been a counselor for many friends when it comes to romantic/emotional matters and though I've never fallen in love (to date!), I know well about their poor morale and how desperate they might feel sometimes. Reading your counsels is inspiring and makes me do the future counselling better and more effectively :-)

As a sociology minor, I'm interested to know about social-cultural problems concerning Iranians abroad. And in most cases, I find your counsels (though you might disagree with the person seeking advice) soothing and leading. There's no surprise, because the experience of a lifetime stands behind it. May I ask what's been your major at university?

Baraaye shomaa aarezuye movaffaghiyat mikonam.


Dear Mehrad,

Thank you for your words of encouragment. I am currently working on my PhD in European History. A far subject from the work of Kobra Khanom. But as you said, I do feel like I have a life time of experience as an exile and a woman and a mother who has tried to make sense of both cultures.

As a undergraduate I majored in philiosophy and had a great interest in ethics. But what guides me most in trying to answer people's questions is a father and mother who were both very good at giving advice! My father was the peer of the family and helped many and my mom is one of those rare women to whom everyone feels comfortable talking. I am also sure that I may have inherited some "baalaa mambari" instincts from my ancestor (I am a seyyedeh) who were moslty mollas!

So, although not "religious", I do have a preaching vein in my background! If you listen to my radio interview link in the column you will find an explanation regarding the name for the column. Maybe having a mishmash of backgrounds has helped me empathize better with more people. It is a short time that I am doing this and am therefore, very grateful of any words of encouragement from my readers. Thank you for brightening this sunday up for me. I am off now to my son's soccer match!

Please spread the word around about the column. If you ever should need help advising one of your friends, or if you should ever need advise yourself I am at your service.

dar ekhtiaare shomaa, baa sepaasgozari-ye faraavaan,

Kobra Khanom

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June 15, 2001

* Communicating with Iranian girls

I am a university student in Toronto. I live by myself and find it very difficult to get into the Iranian community here. I have a problem communicating with Iranian girls in particular.

I really want to hang out with more Iranians. It seems that I am missing something. How can I improve my communication skills with Iranians?

Most girls I have met here are crazy about Whites and anything but Iranian. It reminds me of the same attitude from oriental girls towards us. Any advice would be highly appreciated.


Dear Communicator,

It is not easy being a newcomer anywhere. Sometimes Iranian girls avoid Iranian guys due to their fear for marring their reputations. I remember when I was young, there was an understanding amongst Iranian youth who came abroad to study that it was wiser to do the messing around with forgieners and engage in the serious-leading-to-marriage socializing with compatriots.

I would hope that kind of backward thinking has changed by now, but then again maybe it hasn't. Even in this culture there is a saying ,"Do not [defecate] in your own back yard." So do not take the shunning of the Iranian girls too seriously. Believe me, when you finish your university and get a good job, you won't get enough of them!

Now, there are people, Iranians included, who are cliquey and tend to form packs or clubs which define themselves by who they are not. I would avoid all these kinds of people instead of trying to get "in" such groups. A university is a large place full of interesting people. The last thing you want to do is to narrow your possibilities by belonging to this or that sub-group.

Ignore those who shun you. Follow, instead, those who can teach you something. Concentrate in studying and cultivating professors' friendships. I have learned more from academics than anyone in my twenty years in America. The best of them are open-minded, kind and generous with their knowledge. They are also quite accessible in the American and Canadian University systems.

Also, do not waste your time chasing girls who do not want you. There are plenty of girls of a myriad of backgrounds. Use your university years as an opportunity to expand your horizons. Go after experiencing the unknown rather than the comfort of the familiar. There will be plenty of time for nest- building later.

Even though you may be homesick and in dire need of a hamvatan (compatriot) to keep you company, you should not make it a major concern. Go and eat some chelo kabab whenever you get homesick. Concentrate on your studies and on making yourself a better and more interesting human being. Believe me the Iranian girls will come to you by the tens if you achieve this.

People have a tendency to smell your neediness, and fly away. The less you need them the more they flock to you! Work on making yourself complete and the rest will follow. Nothing attracts people more than true confidence. Nothing gives more confidence than success.

So I will repeat (at the risk of sounding too much like a mom): Succeed in your studies and in building your sense of self and the girls and the friends, Iranian and other, will come to you. If it does not happen, then write to me again and I will find a girl for you!

Wishing your success and happiness,

Kobra Khanom

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June 14, 2001

* Working without a Green Card

Baa salaam va ahvaalporsi, man kamtar az yek saal ast be aamrikaa aamadam. green card va ejaazeh kaar nadaaram, be elate niyaaze maali be donbaale kaar hastam. aayaa raahi hast ke betavaanam kaar paidaa konam? lotfhan be man raahnamaaee befarmaaeid.


Hamvatan-e-kar joo

Shomaa tanhaa neestid. Khaili az kessaani keh beh aamrikaa meeaayand bedoone ejaazeh kaar meekonand. Dar beeshtare shahrhaaye bozorg aamrikaa meeshevad dar maghaazeh yaa restaurant yaa kaarhaaye saakhtemani kaar gereft.

Shoma begooid man montazer ejaazeh hastam vali hanooz javaab nadaaram, keh khaili ham doroogh neest. Kaafeeye keh shomaa porsesh konid. Natarsid, vali aval beporsid keh aanhaa ehtiaaj be kaargar daarand? bad, agar goftan baleh, va porsidand ejaazeh akar daareed, begooid hanooz nadaaram-- agar shomaa raa khaastand khod aanhaa be shomaa meegoyand chekaar konid; agar na, shomaa esraar nakonid. Belakhareh businessi peydaa meesheh keh bekhaad kamtar pool bedeh va yek bedoone javaaz raa estekhdaam koneh.

Roozi dar hoddoodeh 2000 mexici betore ghair ghaanooni vaared aamerikaa meeshavand. Va beeshtare aanhaa kaar peydaa meekonand. dolat nemeetavaand jelo geeri konad. Vali shomaa baayad dar fekr green card ham baashid. chon kaare khoob va 'career' bedoone ejaazeh kaar injaa nemeesheh daasht. Agar diplome hasteed va takhasosi daareed momken ast az an raah beshavad.

Behtar ast keh shomaa baa vakili darbaareh in mored tamaas begeereed. Hameh meedaanand keh saree tarin raah green card gereftan ezdevaaj ast! Agar honooz ezdevaaj nakerdeen inshaallaa baa yek farde daaraaye green card yaa passport aamrikaaii aashenaa shavid, aashegh shavid, va vasslat konin!

In raa bedaanid keh baa kaar injaa be hameh cheez meeshavad reseed. Naaomid nashavid, movafagh khaaheed shod. Yek cheez dar in mamlekat be shomaa komak khaahad kard aan ham por-rooist. Kam-roohaa injaa aghab meemaanand. Pass khejaalat raa kenaar bogozaareed va mesl rostam be meydaan kaar beravid. Agar massalehi peeshaamad dobaareh baa man tamaas begeereed.

In raa bedaneed keh naseehat-haai man dar in mored kaamelan ghair ghaanoonist va bedoone risk yaa khatar neest. In nasaayeh az tajrobeh 20 saal zendegi dar in diyaar sar cheshmeh meegeerad.

be omide movafaghiyat-e shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 13, 2001

* Marrying a Western woman

Dear Kobra,

Actually I am not "desperate" about what I am gonna ask you but it is always better to hear the ideas of nice and kind people like you regarding important issues.

It is about BAHSE SHIRINE EZDEVAAJ but from a different aspect of what I think you are more familiar with (Love Story). I am planning to go for a steady relationship which hopefully will end up in marriage. I'd like to know, considering cultural differences, to what extent do you think marriage with an European girl (British) would be good idea?

What are the negative and positive points of multicultural marriages? Could you give a rough failure rate? How faithful should I expect a possible case to be and after how long after marriage should I expect to see my future wife with a Barman or ......! (Although it is not too far from reality, but I agree it was a bit pessimistic!)

Thanks for your reply in advance and take care.



Dear Aghabozorg,

I can not give you statistics. I was never very good with numbers and I do not know of any studies on the matter of Iranians marrying Westerners. But let me tell you what bothers me about your question and then try to answer it for you.

You seem to insinuate that a "European woman" is more likely to be promiscuous and unfaithful. I guess that is what is really meant by, "how long before she goes with a Barman or ...." You therefore seem to be asking if I believe an Iranian man can live with a Western woman and trust her not to screw around? Am I correct?

Here is what I think. Iranian women can be as unfaithful as women of any nationality, given the opportunity, and if you fail to please them. So instead of asking whether or not a woman is able to be faithful and loyal to you, you should ask yourself whether or not you can satisfy her?

If you think you can satisfy the woman in question then you are a confident enough man to marry any woman you fancy, regardless of background or nationality. If the answer is no, then you should refrain from marrying ANY woman especially a poor compatriot. Ask not whether or not a woman will betray you but whether you can fulfill her!

It is a very bad idea to start any notion of marriage with a negative question,"Will she betray me?" Ask instead,"Will I make her happy and will she reciprocate?" You will see that this will give you a happier perspective about the notion of marriage which, after all, should be blessing!

Kobra Khanom

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June 12, 2001

* Jealous fiancé

Salam Kobra Khanoom. Khaste nabashin khanoom, mesle inke kheili saretoon shoolooghe. man chand vaght pish yek email vaasatoon zadam, vali hanoz javaabesh ro nadidam, haala eshkaali nadaare, baaz baraatoon migam, ke inshaallaa omidvaaram shomaa betoonid be man komak konid.

Man 19 saalame, va dar khaarej zendegi mikonam. az bachegi injaa boodam, hoodoode yek saal pish man baa ye pesar dar internet aashnaa shodam, va oon ham dar hameen keshvar bood. ammaa ye shahre dige. maa 4 maah telephoni baa ham harf zadim, va didim ke be ham kheili alaaghe daarim, v hamchenin ke be ghole khaarejiyaa "we had a lot in common" hataa chandtaa az doostaaye faamilemoon ro mishnaakht, va maa ham chandtaa az doostaaye oon haaro mishnaakhtim.

Man ghabl az in ham yek relationship daashtam baa ye pesare dige too hamoon shahr, vali beyne maa dotaa "work out" nakard. kholaase bad az 4 maah harf zadan, in pesare, keh 24 saalesh hast, goftesh man mikhaam biyaam toro bebinam. manam goftam biyaa. maamaan baabaam ham midoonestan. man hich vaght hich chizio az maamaan baabaam ghaayem nemikonam.

Kholaase in oomado, kheili khoob bood, yani hich eshkaali nadaasht. oomad maamaan baabaam ham did, oonaa ham azash khosheshoon oomad. Vaghti barghasht shahre khodeshoon, shoroo kard az man soaal kardan az gozashtam, chandtaa doost pesar daashti, dige chi kaar kardi bahaashoon, az in harfaa. manam roko raast behesh goftam, khodesham dige hichi nagoft. dobaare chand hafte badesh shoroo kard, keh to cheraa doost pesar dashti az in harfaa, manam behesh goftam keh baabaa oon harfe gozashtas, inaa, bad goftesh khob baashe dige harfesho nemizanam.

vali nemidoonan jen mire too badanesh hey harfo ex mano mizane! Taaze inshaalaa aakhare emsaal gharaare naamzad beshim, vali hanooz nemidoonam cheghard be in mozoo ex man, gir daade. Nemidoonam bazi az doostaam fekr mikonan keh in shaayad insecure baashe, vali man nemidoonam, kholaase midoonam keh zendegiye khoobi baa ham khaaheem daasht, vali az in harfaaye gozashtash khaste shodam.

nazare shomaa chi hast? kheili khoshaal misham keh bedoonam..



Khaanom Ashegh,

Man naameye digari as shomaa nadeedam vali khoshhaalam keh dobaareh neveshteen.

Dar inkeh naamzade shomaa 'insecure' ast va etmaad-e- be nafs nadaarad heech shaki neest. Man agar jaay-e-shoma boodam dar haal haazer az ezdevaaj dast bar meedaashtam. Chon osoolan bad az ezdevaaj, in nowe hessaadat haa badtar meeshavad, chon ehssaas malekeeyat bishtar meeshavad.

Shomaa ham faghat 19 saale hasteed. ajalehtaan cheeyeh? Shomaa agar dokhtare man boodeed megoftam keh 19 khaili zood ast. Shomaa hanooz khod raa unjoor keh baayad nemee shenaaseed va baraaye zendegi-ye moshtarak aval az har cheez baayad khod raa shenakht ('know' yourself before you commit to 'knowing' another!)

Agar khaili ou raa doost daareed va mekhaaheen hatman ezdevaaj konid be naamzad khod begooeed keh in problem yaa massaleh ou koochak nist va taa neshaan nadeh keh avaz shodeh shomaa nemetvaaneed baa oo vaared zendeegye toolaani va moshtarak beshavid (shohare yeki az doostaanam injoori bood vali bad az meghdaari ziyaad 'therapy' va ravaanshenaas raftan alhamdollaa bad az dah saal khoob shod.)

Man motmaen hastam keh oo az inkeh shomaa baa mard-e digari koocheektareen raabetehiee daashteh baashid naaraahat khaahad shod. Shomaa baayad arzesh-haaye ma'naveetaan (moral values) yeki baashad. In avaleen sharte yek ezdevaaj khoob ast. Shomaa kaare dorosti kardeed keh be ou hameh chiz raa goofteed. Vali aksol amal ou neshaan meedeh keh ou baa shomaa dar in mored ham-aghideh neest. Behtar ast keh in massaleh hatman ghabl as ezdevaaj hal besheh. Agar ham nashod behtar ast keh shomaa baa hamcheen mard-e hassodi ezdevaaj nakonid.

In raa bedaaneed keh osoolan hameye khosoosiyat haaye bad, ba'd az ezdevaaj badtar meeshavand. Shomaa hanooz javaan hasteed va ehtiaaji be vasalt baa kessi keh azash motma'en neesteed nadaareed. Ajaleh nakonid. Agar avaz shod fabahaa, agar na az in vaslat dast negah daareed.

Khosham meeyaad keh baa pedar maadaretaan mashverat meekonid vali in raa bedaaneed keh in hessaadat badtar khaahad shod.

Be omid movafaghiat-e shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 11, 2001

* In love a zillion times

Kobra Khanoom,

I feel like an idiot writing you, but I don't have anyone else to talk to... and I need to talk to someone so bad... Kobra Khanoom, I'm a lesbian. I had a very hard time dealing with my homosexuality as I was growing up in my Iranian family! I spent a great deal of my adolescence and youth hating myself, thinking I'm just a sick pervert for having these feelings. I dealt with severe depression and even attempted suicide. I came to terms with my homosexuality when I was during college.

I'm leaving out a lot of things as I don't want to take too much of your time. I'm very sensitive, and become attached to people very easily. I can not help it. I have fallen in love a zillion times, and believe me, all of them have been VERY painful for me, because it was never reciprocal and I have been terribly hurt. I know it's mostly my fault. Although I have come to terms with my feelings now, it's still not easy for me to act up on them, at least not spontaneously.

I have serious problems expressing myself and showing my feelings, as I have been suppressing them almost all my life. when I'm in the presence of someone I like, I can't even speak... I can't help it. So now, I'm just out of another unsuccessful, very short-term relationship, with an American woman. She was all I had ever dreamed of, and I just screwed up everything with my immature behavior.

I know I will never ever meet anyone like her. She was perfect in every sense of the word, and she liked me at the beginning, but now she doesn't even want to to hear from me anymore. I'm terribly depressed. I can't even hold back my tears. Even when I'm at work, I have to go to the restroom, or outside, just to cry, I can't concentrate on anything. I just don't know what to do...

Kobra Khanoom please help me.


Dear Sappho,

First of all relax take a deep breath and tell yourself three times, "donyaa do rouzeh." I hear your pain. You have just been dumped by a person you thought was the "love of your life". You should feel suicidal. But you should know that with time, just like you survived the others, you will survive this too.

Find strength in your resilience. If you were "too sensitive" you would have killed yourself the first time around! The fact that you wrote means you want to put a stop to what has become a cycle of you acting needy and your partners abandoning you. Am I correct? \

Your homosexuality or the difficulty you had coming to terms with it is irrelevent here. What is at issue is that you expose yourself to hurt by abandoning your sense of self when you fall in love. If you where in a heterosexual relationship, I assure you the same pattern would emerge. You have, it seems, come to terms with your sexuality.

What you need to do is to work on your self-esteem. It is one thing to come to terms with your lesbianisy, and another to actually like yourself as a lesbian. So try to love yourself as the bright Iranian that you are -- an Iranian who happens to be a lesbian -- before you expect som one else to do it.

Refrain from starting another relationship or having any sexual relations until you learn to love yourself. Look in the mirror and say, "man yek mohandes baahoosh-e Iraani hastam keh lesbian ast." Then say it again in English. Repeat it like a mantra starting from now. When you learn to love this simple utterence of fact in your mother tongue and your adopted one, you will come to peace with its reality.

A word of advice on same-sex relationships: Just because the object of your affection is another woman it does not mean that you have to stop playing by the rules of the game of courtship. Hold back, do not reveal your feelings too quickly, but do not be afraid of having fun either. Remember to approach your problems with a sense of humor and remember that if you do not love who you are, no one will.

Kobra Khanom

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June 8, 2001

* Can't marry Muslims

Dear Kobra Khanom,

First I would like to thank you for a very interesting site in iranian.com. My problem is not really a big problem. I am an Iranian. I came to Canada about 12 years ago and have lived a very challenging life. Now the problem is in my religion. We can not marry Muslims. I think this is very stupid, and I believe every one is human, Muslim or Christian, it doesn't matter.

Being here in Canada for 12 years, my family still holds very straight regarding this matter, and I have received offers from Muslim guys whom I myself find very interesting to get into relationships with . But knowing that my family would not agree, I have always tried to avoid their offer. So I don't really know what to do. I hope that somebody can put an end to this Muslim and Christianity thing.

Thank you very much for listening and may God Bless you.


Dear Compatriot,

Your parents, like most, are conservative. You should know that what they impose on you is based on their experiences with the ways of the world. They believe that you would be happier with somebody who shared a similar background and upbringing. Their intentions are pure and triggered by the love they have for you.

They are non-the-less WRONG.

The values they hold belong to a different time and place. To limit your love life, or any other aspect of your life, to associating with people of your religious confession alone is not only morally wrong but stupid as well. It is very limiting to say the least. Your life would be much richer if you exposed yourself to other cultures and religions.

We as emigrants and exiles should be especially aware of the benefits of cultural diversity. Canada, your host country is a great example of the benefits of a society open to all. So begin with yourself and end, at least in your mind and life, what you called "this Christian-Muslim thing."

If you do not believe in your parents stance and you follow what they say, you will end up resenting them and their religion. The world would be a stagnant place if the young do not stand up to their elders.

So acknowledge that what your parents say is well-intended and out of love -- but stand up for what you think is right. If you believe, like I firmly do, that to limit your marital prospects to people of your own confession is narrow minded, then fight for it.

A word of advice on standing up for your beliefs: It is an extremely lonely endeavor. Because the day may come that the Muslim guy you abandoned your family for ends up disappointing you. Then where will you be? If you think that you can stomach this worse-case scenario and still feel good about your decision, then the world needs more people like you.

It is the privilege and duty of youth to rebel. Go for it!

Kobra Khanom

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June 7, 2001

* YOUR problem, not his

Dear Kobra Khanom,

Thank you for your advice column. I've become an avid fan! How do you do it? Your answers are always spot on!

Now it's my turn to ask a question. I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice. My brother's a real ladies' man. We share an apartment in Austin, Texas, where we go to college, and every weekend he brings over a different girl.

I'm not jealous or anything but it's just hard remembering these girls' names, you know what I mean?

I have a steady girlfriend (four months) and I just think it's unhealthy, emotionally and physically to be so sexually active with so many partners. Could you put some sense into his head please?

Thanks Kobra Khanom!



Dear Khashayar,

Thank you for your encouraging remarks.

The answer to your question is that I can not admonish or chastise your brother, even if I wanted to, since he is not the one who approached me with the problem. But I can advise YOU, since your brother's promiscuity seems to have become YOUR problem.

First of all stop "bitching" to him about it. He already knows the arguments against what he does and probably his compulsion is too strong and has got the better of him. So you will either sound like an old mother or a jealous brother if you don't stop pestering him about it.

What you could do is tell him that he needs to repect your space and your girlfriend's feelings. Also show him that you do not judge him but that his behavior is not "admirable" either. Act bored with his behavior rather than outraged. Tell him that this kind of playboyism is outdated, passe, uncool.

Cool men these days are not afraid to show their feelings. No one will think he is a "girl" if he falls in love. But stop there and do not give him too much attention. This way at least you won't be validating his need for an audiance and a "record keeper". He will find that the quantity of conquests loses its value when there is no one to keep or validate records.

Maybe, inshallah, he will come to his senses -- but until then you do not want to make matters worse by giving him the attention he so obviously craves. Tell him to write to me when he falls in love with someone worse than himself. Sometimes that is the best cure!

Good luck and Hello to all the hamvatan students in Austin.

Kobra Khanom

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June 6, 2001

* Dating African-American

Thank you for making yourself available. I am overwhelmed with a few serious issues right now. There are a lot of things that I need advice about, but I won't burden you with all of them.

Firstly, let me tell you a little about myself. I am 23 and I came to the United States in '79. Although my parents are familiar with the American way of life, they still have the traditional Persian values, many of which I hold on to as well.

However, I have fallen in love with someone I know my parents would strongly disapprove of. He's older (35-years old) and African-American. I work with him and he's currently unavailable. I know, the situation doesn't sound so good. There are many things I'm leaving out, simply because it will make it sound worse.

I guess I need advice about how to approach my relationship with him, and if ever we were to be together... how would I tell my family?

I told this man in a letter that I am willing to wait for him. And I am. The thought of "waiting" is absurd to anyone I tell, but it is how I feel. I'm not crazy, am I? What should I do? How do I learn to be more patient and understanding?

Kobra Khanom, please help me. I know this sounds silly and childish, but I've started very late at this "relationship" thing. I've always been very shy and never had a lot of friends. Therefore, I'm behind on the knowledge gained through natural experience. Does that make any sense?

Thank you,

Persian Princess

Dear Persian Princess,

First of all let me tell you that to be unexperienced at 23 is not so bad -- unless you live by TV standards of reality. So whatever your many "problems" may be, inexperience should not be one of them. Feeling bad about "starting late" is the problem. Be proud of your innocence -- some people still find it appealing in a twentysomething young woman.

As for how to tell your parents about the African-American older guy you are in love with, I think you should not be worried before anything has happened. If the guy is "unavailable" as you say, then no need to worry about it yet. Even if you date him, at tweny-three, you really need not tell your parents until things get serious.

So do not make a problem out of something that is not yet an issue. Instead ask yourself why is it that you are attracted to this "unavailable" man? Is it because you really like his character and personality or is it that you like him because he is unavailable? If he is not seriously involved with anyone then it seems that by writing the letter to him you have done enough and you can do nothing but wait and see.

But remember not to confuse infatuation with love. In my opinion you need to know someone well before you know if it is "love". So keep a clear head, do not feel bad about expressing yourself in a letter, just make sure you do not suffocate the guy with any more attention. Men hate that! Act cool and aloof, because you have no other choice, unless you want to be preceived as needy. By writting the letter you have left it in his hands to respond. So now it would be too persistent to even flirt too obviously. So just be calm and see what happens.

A word of advice on "waiting" for people -- DON'T! The best way to "wait" for someone is to busy yourself with thoughts, or preferably company, of another. You have to keep your options open and not let this crush make you miss out on the possibilities of the world. So do not stay home and day dream about a guy who is with another woman -- go out and try to forget him by having fun or doing something worthwhile.

Remember keep a prespective on things. It is spring and there are many reasons why you may be having these strong feelings for your colleague. Do not assume that it is love with a capital L. Enjoy your youth and keep a sense of humor and openness about things. The best rewards in the matters of the heart come when you do not try too hard for them.

It is one of the ironies of love that it is best when it is effortless and almost by surprise. If anything should come of your interest in the man, then write to me again about how to deal with your parents.

Best wishes,

Kobra Khanom

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June 5, 2001

* What is love?

salAm Kobra khAnom,

What is your idea about Eshgh, Khoshbakhti and EzdevAj? Please tell me something so I can carry with me forever. You are the best.


Sar Gashteh

Dear Sar Gashteh (wandering soul),

Eshq (Love) has been the subject of much philosophical contemplation since ancient times. Socrates in Plato's "Symposium", which is devoted to the subject of love claims that we begin our life's journey by loving what is beautiful in people and continue to grow into loving not the beauty that we see but inner, hidden beauty, or beauty of the soul.

This love of the beautiful soul then leads us to love beautiful ideas and thoughts. The love for beautiful ideas then leads us to the idea of beauty itself. In our climbing towards the realm of abstract ideas, or ideals, we arrive at that the love of the beauty which is complete and absolute or divine beauty. In this way love that starts in the carnal if propelled by "true love" arrives at divine love.

I believe in the more Iranian Sufi version of that love as losing yourself in the "other". Whatever its prerequisite, love is abandonment of the self. Or the losing of oneself in the "other." Only my "other" is not lofty ideas or God really, but my children. As a woman who is a mother, I know that this complete loss of self in another is entirely possible with one's children. The only reason we hold back and try not to let the children know how selflessly we love them is that we do not want to spoil them. I do however believe that Socartes was correct in showing that love opens us to seeing some trace of universal beauty or what is universally good.

As for khoshbakhti, or Happiness, and ezdevaaj (marriage), I believe it goes without saying that in order for the former to bring about the latter, or in order for marriage to bring about happiness it has to take place between two individuals who find each other's souls beautiful. May you find that soul.

Be omide khoshbakhtiye shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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June 4, 2001

* 25-year-old virgin

Hi Kobra Khanom,

Thank you for your interesting section in Iranian.com.

I'm a 25-year-old Iranian girl born and grown up in Tehran. I came to America two years ago to continue my masters and PhD program. I'm here in Arizona and haven't made any close friendS yet. This is destroying me.

I was a kind of person used to being out with my friends and boyfriend all weekends and still very serious in my career (when I was in Tehran). But here I feel so lonely and I know this is going to affect my mental health. That was all introductions.

Now the story: I have met an American guy at school and I think we both like each other. I like to start a relationship with him, but I know there are many things involved with dating America guys. First problem, they want sex. There is something stupid in my mind about virginity (I swear this is stupid).

I want to be virgin and give my body to someone whom I am sure I would love him forever. But this is not going to work here at all. On the other hand, I think I like that guy and I really want to start a relationship with him and rescue myself from being alone.

Please advise me. What should I do?



Dear Tehrani,

I completely understand your sense of lonliness in this vast and in some ways "unfriendly" country. I love America. But I think that this lonliness, the one you and I feel here, is its biggest draw back -- its tragic flaw. If you accept this as a fact of life here, you will be able better to cope with your situation.

I look at this vast lonliness of America as the price we have to pay for freedom. One benefit of being lonely is that no one judges you, which can be a relief when coming from our kinds of very close knit societies. So get used to it and do not try to compare it to Iran. But also remember that it has its benefits. Here people value what you do more than who you are. That is why it is probably the best place to do a Ph.D. You are what you produce here.

This ethos lends itself well to a certain fairness which is unique to this society -- it is truly the closest thing I have seen to a meritocrasy. It is like a breath of fresh air coming from a country where "connections" are everything.

So the way I look at it is that in order to have the opportunities that a relativley free meritocratic society has to offer I have to give up my very Iranian need for being constantly around a lot of people. It takes time and effort to get used to this lonliness that is America. But knowing that it is a characteristic of time and place, will help you feel less responsible for your lack of friends. You will in time feel less lonely and meet more people. But compared to back home you will always feel lonely. So do not compare. Just take this place for what is good about it and try to get the most out of it. You are very lucky to have to opportunity to continue you studies here.

Now, as far as the boyfriend is concerned, I would advise you to not push yourself into something that you are not comfortable with. It is perfectly acceptable that a young lady should wish to stay a virgin. Stick to your pride and stand by what you think is right. If he pushes you, explain to him, just like you did to me, how you feel about it and why. If the guy does not understand, then it is better not to get mixed up with him anyway. If he is intelligent and kind and worthy of you, he will understand and respect that you value your virginity.

What is at stake here is not "virginity" or sex, but respect -- the respect that you have a right to expect from anyone who wants to engage in any relationship with you. So do not feel bad about your convictions and demand respect from your friends. That is what the freedom I talked about in the earlier paragaraph, should provide. The freedom to be yourself is very sacred here and any American should understand and respect it. So stick to your beliefs and if this guy does not value them, then you will soon find someone that will.

And consider your lonliness as a gift from the heavens to study more!

Warmest regards,

Kobra Khanom

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June 1, 2001

* Email girlfriend

Dear Kobra,

How are U? I hope everything is good. I am a student and I want to send emails to a girl out of Iran! I want her as a friend and I want to understand her and the country where she lives. Can you help me?

Yours sincerely,

Student in Iran

Dear Student,

I think it is a good idea for you to communicate via email with a "friend" who lives outside of Iran. This way you can learn about another person and their culture through this medium -- from a very, shall we say, "safe" distance.

I think you can try the Daryaa kenaar chat room or the Iranian Personals both of which you can find through links on this site there are also non-Iranian sites which you can find by surfing the net.

But one word of advice. The internet is a medium that can lend itself to obsessive/compulsive behavior -- you can find yourself always checking mail and glued to the computer all the time. So whether you find your online girlfriend or just an email pal, you should make sure that it does not take time away from your studies!

Also approach the matter with a sense of humor. I don't want you finding out that the eighteen-year-old blond you were corresponding with was really a sixty-year-old brunette! The thing about this medium is you never really know who is on the other side of the "send" click.

So use the internet to chat and meet people, correspond with them but NEVER take it too seriously -- look at it all as harmless fun. But please do not spend too much of your precious student time on the internet!

Please write again if you have any problems with your "email" or "real" life.

be omide movafaghiyat shomaa,

Kobra Khanom

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* May 2001
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