From the November 8, 1997, talk by Iraj Pezeshkzad (author of the classic "Daee Jaan Napoleon/My Uncle Napoleon") at the University of California, Berkeley, near San Francisco, featured in THE IRANIAN TIMES. These are paraphrases, not exact quotes. Enjoy.
Resisting depression: Persian
Hoveyda's Daee Jaan: Persian -- Enfglish
British conspiracy theories: Persian -- Enfglish
Gol Aqa: Persian -- Enfglish
Rashti/Qazvini jokes: Persian -- English
Sharp tongue: Persian -- English
Shut up, kid: Persian -- English
Mobaarezeh baa maatam (Persian)
tanz enteqaadeest sarpoosheedeh. tanz pooshesh-e shokolaateest rooy-e yek naseehat keh beh taraf bar nakhorad. tanz-e irani baa roohiyeh-ye gham-o-ghosseh-o-maatam mobaarezeh meekonad.
qabl az hamleh-ye Arab, iran mamlekat-e jashn-o soroor bood. dar tool-e saal 25 jashn-e mokhtalef daashteem keh har kodaam panj rooz tool daashteh. amaa een zendegi-ye shaad-o-shangool tabdeel shodeh beh cheezi keh khandeh dar aan mardood shod. dar iran vaqtee dar yek majlesi ziyaad mikhandeedeem meegofteem: "khodaayaa maa raa bebakhsh keh enqadar khandeedeem!"
aakhoond-e har mazhabee baa khandeh-o-shaadi mokhaalef ast. emaam mohammad qazaali dar ketaab "keemeeyaa-ye sa'aadat" meegooyad "del az khandeh beseeyar siyaah shavad." (English text)
Resisting depression (English)
Satire is covert criticism. Satire is a chocolate glaze over a criticism in order not to offend the person you are criticizing. Iranian satire fights against the unhappy and depressing atmosphere [prevailing in society].
Before the Arab invasion of Iran, our country was joyful. We had 25 different festivals and each one of them lasted five days. But this happy lifestyle has changed into one that rejects laughter. In Iran, when we laughed a lot, we used to say: "Please God, forgive us for laughing so much!"
The clergy in every religion are against laughter and joy. [The 11th century Iranian Islamic philosopher] Imam Mohammad Ghazali said in his "Keemeeya-ye Sa'aadat" that "the heart will turn dark with too much laughter." (Persian text)
Hoveyda's Daee Jaan (Persian)
zamaani keh dar vezaarat-e khaarejeh kaar meekardam beh yek shaam deeplomaateek da'vat shodam keh aqaay-e Amir Abbas Hoveyda nokhst vazir-e vaqt ham hozoor daashtand. man daashtam baa safeer-e swiss harf meezadam keh yek da'feh Hoveydaa aamad va goft shaam haazer ast, befarmaaeed.
safeer-e swiss keh baa ketaab-e "Daee Jaan Napoleon" aashenaa bood, be Hoveydaa goft, "Shomaa baa aqaay-e Pezeshkzad, neveesandeh-ye 'Daee Jaan Napoleon' aashenaa hasteed?" Hoveydaa baa ta'job negaahi beh man kard, dast-e mano gerft bord goosheh-ye otaaq va goft: "Shomaa daaee-ye mano az kojaa meeshnaaseed?!"
man har cheh goftam daee shomaa raa nemeeshenaasam, Hoveydaa qabool nemeekard. esraar daasht keh hameh-ye harf-haayee keh dar ketaabam neveshtam eyn-e sohbat-haay-e daee eeshoon boodeh. een neshoon meedeh keh kheyli az maahaa yek "daaee jaan" dar khaanevaadeh daashteh-eem. (English text)
Hoveyda's Daee Jaan (English)
When I worked at the Iranian foreign ministry, one night I was invited to a diplomatic dinner where then Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda was also attending. As I was speaking to the Swiss ambassador, Hoveyda came over and said dinner is being served.
The Swiss ambassador, who was familiar with my book, "My Uncle Napoleon," asked Hoveyda: "Have you met Mr. Pezeshkzad, the author of 'My Uncle Napoleon'?" Hoveyda looked at me with great surprise, took my hand, led me to a corner of the room, and said: "How did you know my uncle?!"
I explained that I did not know his uncle, but Hoveyda insisted that everything said by Uncle Napoleon in the book were the exact same things his uncle used to say. This shows that many of us have had an "Uncle Napoleon" in our families. (Persian text)
British conspiracy theories (Persian)
een keh meegooyand hameh cheez zir-e sar-e engeleesee-haast, khodash kaar-e engeleesee-haast! engeleesee-haa meekhaastand mardom fekr konand keh har ettefaaqi meeoftad beh khaatr-e eqtedaar va nofooz-e anhaast.
ba'd az enqelaab keh az iran beh faraanseh raftam, dar mantaqeh-ee az paarees jaa gereftam keh iraani-haa dar anjaa ziyaad boodand. baa mardom keh salaam-alaik meekardam kheyli ezhaar-e lotf meekardand va az ketaab-e "Daee Jaan Napoleon" ta'reef meekardand.
ba'd az yek modati motevajeh shodam manzoor ba'zee az eenhaa-ee keh az man ta'reef meekardand een bood keh: "Afarin aqaa-ye Pezeshkzad! Shomaa zoodtar az hameh fahmeedeed keh hameh cheez zir-e sar-e engelessee-haast!!"
[dar jalaseh-ye porsesh va paasokh, yeki az hozzaar az aqaa-ye Pezeshkzad soaal kard: "Shomaa tavajoh daashteed keh motarjem-e ketaab shomaa (Dick Davis) khodash engeleeseest?!!] (English text)
British conspiracy theories (English)
The idea that "everything is a British conspiracy" is itself a British conspiracy! The British wanted people to think that whatever happened was the result of their power and influence.
When I went to France after the revolution, I took up residence in a neighborhood of Paris where many Iranians lived. When I met people there, they would say many kind words about my book, "My Uncle Napoleon."
After a while it dawned on me: When some of these people praised my book, what they were really trying to say was, "Bravo Mr. Pezeshkzad! You were the first to understand that everything is a Britrish conspiracy!"
[During the question & answer session, a man from the audience asked, "Were you aware that the translator of your book (Dick Davis) is himseld British?!"] (Persian text)
Gol Aqa (Persian)
man majaleh-ye Gol Aqa ra ziyaad mikhaandam. valee beh nazar man een majaleh mesl-e yek motor qavee meemaanad keh sar-e jaa meecharkhad. Hameh-ye mataaleb-e Gol Aqa dar mored-e geraani yaa cheez-haaee az een qabeel ast va dar mored-e masaa'el asaasi haq nadaarand beneveesand, mesl-e mas'aleh-ye Saidi Seirjani yaa Faraj Sarkouhi.
Man baraay-e aqaay-e Kiumars Saberi (sar dabir-e Gol Aqa) nahaayat-e ehteraam raa daarm keh dar nahaayat-e feshaar daard talaash meekonad. (English text)
Gol Aqa (English)
I used to read Gol Aqa (satirical magazine from Tehran) a lot. But it seems the magazine is like a powerful engine running still.
All the material in Gol Aqa deals with inflation or things of that nature and they are not allowed to mention fundamental issues. For instance, you don't see anything about Saidi Sirjani (dissident writer who died in prison) or Faraj Sarkouhi (imprisoned editor).
I have the utmost respect for Mr. Kiumars Saberi (editor of Gol Aqa) for trying hard under a lot of pressure. (Persian text)
Rashti/Qazvini... jokes (Persian)
jok-haaee keh dar mored-e mardom shahr-haay-e deegar meegooyand heech beh ellat-e khossoomat neest. mardom har shahr hameesheh sar beh sar-e mardom shahr-e deegari meegozaarand. dar hameh jaa-ye donyaa ham hameentor ast.
hattaa jok-haa-ee keh dar mored-e zanaan rashti gofteh shodeh beh een mozoo' bar meegardad keh zanaan geelaki yek qadam jelotar az zanaan deegar boodeh-and. az qadeem vaqtee yek ghareebeh dar-e khaaneh raa meezad, zan-e rashtee meeaamad va javaab meedaad. een kaar raa akhoond-haa bee-essmatee meedaanestand.
yeki meegoft yek mard-e rashtee daasht meeraft khaaneh. beh oo khabar daadand keh zamaanee keh oo naboodeh va zanash tanhaa boodeh, pesar-e hamsaayeh beh khaaneh-ash rafteh. mard-e rashtee javaab daad, "ow! ali-aqaa bozorg shodeh!"
beeshtar-e jok-haa raa ham mardom hamaan shahr-haa meesaazand. masalan Obeyd-e Zakaani beeshtar-e latifeh-haayash dar mored-e qazveenee-haast, baa eenkeh khodash qazveenee boodeh.
man khodam jok ziyaad nemeedaanam. valee een jok raa yeki az doostaanam goft keh khodash ham qazveeneest: meegooyand vaqtee vaared-e shahr qazveen meeshavee, kenaar jaadeh yek taablo zadeh-and keh "beh shahr-e maa khosh aamadeed." ba'd keh az shahr khaarej meeshaveed rooy-e taablo neveshteh: "khosh-taan aamad?!" (English text)
Rashti/Qazvini... jokes (English)
The jokes made about people from various cities are not meant as an insult. The people of every city make fun of people in other cities. It's the same all over the world.
In fact , the reason they have made jokes about Rashti women is that they have always been one step ahead of other women. Even back in the old days, when a strange man knocked on the door of someone's house, the Rashti women responded. Clerics considered this immoral [and thus Rashti women were seen as permiscuous.]
Someone said this joke that a Rashti man was stopped on his way home. He was told that the neighbor's boy was at his house when he was away -- while his wife was alone. The Rashti man replied, "Wow! Little Ali has become a grown man!"
Most of the time people make jokes about their own city. Obeyd-e Zakani, for instance, made fun of Qavinis, more often than any other, even though he himself was Qazvini.
I don't know a lot of jokes, but this one is from a friend of mine who himself is Qazvini: As you enter Qazvin, there is a sign on the side of the road that says, "Welcome to Qazvin." As you leave the city, the sign says: "Did you enjoy it?!" (Persian text)
Sharp tongue (Persian)
een qodrat-e laayazaal mardom-e iraan ast keh baa eenkeh jeloy-e neveshtaneshaan raa meegeerand, jeloy-e zabaaneshaan raa nemeetavaanand begeerand. mobaarezaat mardom maa dar tool-e taareekh dahan beh dahan boodeh.
va meezaan etelaa'aat mardom az ozaa'e siyaasi va jahaani kheyli baalaast. man beh khaater daaram keh dar jang jahaani dovom bacheh-haay tooy koocheh een she'r raa meekhaad:
to baayad beree beh Berlin
az bass keh fess fess kardee
Varsho ro to mess kardee
Sharp tongue (English)
The people of Iran have an indomitable and powerful weapon and that is their tongue: They can stop them from writing but they can't stop their tongue. Throughout history, our political struggles have been through word of mouth.
And our people's level of information about political and world affairs is very high. I remember kids in the street singing this song during World War II:
You must go to Berlin
You turned Warsaw into mush
Because you procrastinated so much
Shut up, kid (Persian)
eeraanihaa balad neestand harf bezanand. Az shaah gerefteh taa gedaa, hameh een moshkel raa daarand. een moshkel dar tool-e taareekh vojood daashteh.
dar zamaan-e maa, bacheh haq-e harf zadan nadaasht. Agar konjkaav meeshodee va az bozorgtar-haa meeporseedee "een cheeyeh?" hameesheh meegoftand "heechee!". Yaa vaqti maadar va pedar bachashoon-o beh yeh mehmooni mibordan baaz haq-e harf zadan nadaashtan. Ageh yeh bozorgtari az bacheh miporseed, "bacheh esmet cheeyeh?" maadaresh javaab meedaad, "esmesh Parviz-eh!"
too-ye madreseh ham keh moa'lem daa'em meegeh, "bacheh khafeh sho!"
dar natijeh bandeh ham balad neestam sokhanraani konam. (English text)
Shut up, kid (English)
Iranians are incapable of talking properly. Everyone from the shah to the gedaa (beggar) has this problem. It's a problem rooted in our history.
When I was growing up, kids were never allowed to talk. If they were curious about something and asked an older person, "What's this?" the reply was always "Nothing!"
And when parents took their kids along to a party, the no-talking rule again applied. If a guest asked a kid, "What's your name?" the kid's mother would reply, "His name is Parviz!"
And of course in school, teachers constantly told students, "Shut up, kid!"
Therefore, I'm not a good speaker. (Persian text)
of a classic -- Talking to Iraj Pezeshkzad about "My Uncle
Napoleon". By Tara Taqizadeh
* Assemoon rissmoon (Persian)-- A couple of Iraj Pezeshkzad's earliest writings
* My Uncle Napoleon -- Mage Publishers
* THE IRANIAN Satire Section