Learning to be IRANIAN


Sharareh Golshani
by Sharareh Golshani

The blog you're about to read is about a one sided conversation I had with a friend of mine, we'll just call it a kind of darde del or dard o del...I say one sided because I talked, she laughed, I talked some more and in anticipation of some advice or a simple "yeah, I understand..." I got "You're sooooo funny"

Funny.  That's what I got.  But HELLO I've been living with me for 32 years now and let me tell you I am not funny.  Really, there's nothing funny about me.  I'm sarcastic, a dry perhaps intellectual at times kind of sarcastic, but not funny.  My mother often says my Father's sarcasm is what drove her to insanity.  She also often tells me "hame chit be babat rafte"  so there.  NOT funny.  

My darde del was about not feeling as Iranian as the others around me.  At least by their definition and standards...when I didn't get the "yeah I understand and you just be yourself" speech from my friend, I decided to make fun of the whole situation...not funny, but fun. So here we go...

Up until a few years ago I considered myself one of the most Iranian girls I knew...but that was then, before I moved to California where apparently all Iranians knew something my parents didn't...here's the explanation:

You see, I grew up in an area where aside from my family and the people who owned the Iranian grocery store 90 miles outside of our town, I didn't know any other Iranians.  My parents, who came to America thinking this was the land where money grows on trees, ended up working multiple shifts and so I technically grew up with my little brother.  Given that, it's safe to say that between 8 hours of American school and a few hours of homework, grilled cheese sandwiches and Nickelodeon, my Farsi only consisted of "Baleh" "Na" and "Chashm"...that is until my Grandmother, Mommy Golshani, joined us in the land where money grows on trees.

With Mommy Golshani always home, we began experiencing things like ash badenjoon, tahchin, and a plethora of old Persian night time stories to include Mollah Nasrodin, Mah Pishooni and Nane Darya.  As I started to get older, I found that the Farsi language was more like music than words to my ears.  I learned that the sound of Ney made my heart skip a beat, that Tar and Setar left me breathless.  I learned the history, I listened to Kaveh Deilamy, I read the news, wrote my name, I danced to Shohre and figured out that   دوازده   is not read   دو  از  ده !   

I started to discover that I'm Iranian and noticing my interest my parents devoted their time to teaching me...I learned khatati, adabiat, santoor, how to make a mean ghorme sabzi and mix my own advieh...I really couldn't have asked for more and am truly grateful, BUT, I learned to be Iranian like my family, and apparently my family is not like most Iranians.  I discovered this when I moved to California and had the following experiences:

-Needed to buy a house, so I decided to work with the Iranian community and hired an Iranian Loan Officer.  During a phone conversation, he said "man ba shoma tamas migiram, khodahafez, ghorbunet".  You are thinking there's nothing wrong with what he said, you're right but when I heard "ghorbunet" something my family never said to me, the only response I could think of, and that is after a good 3 second pause was "merci, doretoon begardam".   There was silence, I sensed it was uncomfortable and we finally hung up.
I called my father immediately:  "Salam babajoon, bebakhshid mozahemetun misham vali ba loan officeram harf mizadam, ghorbunam raft! manam doresh gashtam.  Nemidoonam chera ghorbunam raft, vali fekr konam narahat shod ke man doresh gashtam"  
"Salam dokhtaram, to hich vaght mozahem nisti, hala dobareh tekrar kon manzuret chiye doresh gashti"
"khob ishoon goftan ghorbunet, man ham mikhastam ehterameshuno hefz konam, goftam merci, doretoon begardam"
"hahahahahah aziat mikoni Sheri?"
And it turns out he never wanted to sacrifice himself for me.  It turns out that I can "ghorbune" gharibe beram but I can't "doresh begardam"!!!  

-Shoharjoon's family from Iran started to call us after we were married.  While I speak, read and write Farsi as well as my Father, and while I don't have an ounce of an accent, I always get baffled and tongue tied when I speak to his family.  The worst yet is an aunt that called.  I don't know which one, he has 26 of them.  I should not be expected to know which aunt...but she started and in one breath without letting me say a word said the following:
"Sharareh joon, pir shi, be haghe emam hossein, be haghe zahra, be haghe emam pir shi, elahi ruhesh negahbanet bashe, be haghe emam...etc..."
after several minutes of hearing this woman wishing that I get old in a very religious manner, all I could think to say was "ya allah, allah o akbar" I learned this from the Iranian TV series we watch and it's the only Islamic, emam related thing that came to mind.  She hasn't called since.  

-All my Iranian girlfriends that I've met here say this to me every time I see them:
"Vay Sharareh joon salam, che laghar shodi"
What the hell is that all about? I'm tiny! really there's nothing fat...this can't be their way of telling me to lose weight!  and it's even more confusing cause I started saying it to them and they just smile and say thank you!  apparently the ideal Iranian greeting is "Hello, you've lost weight"

-Also cucumbers are considered fruit you serve at parties.
-Shoharjoon has to do things or else his mother won't make her milk "halalesh".
-A simple genuine hello and goodbye makes one "rude", in order to be considered a half decent human you have to "elahi bemiram" o "ghorbunet beram" o "fadatsham" but not "doret begardam".
-If buying or selling anything, you must create "faghat vase shoma" deals!
-If someone asks about you or your family you have to lie and make up some story that includes a mohandes, a vakil and a doctor.
-If you don't like someone you have to pretend you do or else it's rude.
-Must use black eye liner.
-If you come across a law that's breakable you have to break it.  
-You should never place the grocery cart in the spot marked "carts" it belongs half-way on any nearby curb.

These are just a few things I've learned about being Iranian in California.  

So now, I wear my evening gown, put on my black eyeliner, get in my car and go to the grocery store, where I see Maryam whom I don't really get along with and who's wearing a cast on her arm.

Me:  "Salam Maryam joon, khoda margam bede, elahi bemiram chi shode? vali laghar shodi"
Maryam:  "Fadat besham, oftadam dastam shekast, mersi azizam andam moheme dige...khob khanevadeh chetoran?"
Me thinking on my feet:  "Ghorbune nafaset, dadasham dare vakil mishe, shoharam ke ba karaye mohandesi saresh sholughe, yekimunam rafte doctor, mamanam ham gofte age  vase mehmoonimun khiar nagiram shiresho halalam nemikone...."
then I smile big and pretend to listen as she repeats a similar story...we say goodbye for about 3 minutes after which I grab a cart and make my way to a beautiful christmas display that reads "please do not touch"  I touch the little figurines and go to the khiar section.  Not finding the price tag, I spot the nearest employee and
Me:   "Salam bebakhshin mishe begin gheimate khiar chande?"  
Him:   "Bah bah salam khanoom, ghadametun ru cheshmam, chashm alan baratun migam...khob khanevade khuban?"  
Me: "Salam, mamnoonam, shoma bozorgin, lotf mikonin, dadasham dare vakil mishe, shoharam ke ba karaye mohandesi saresh sholughe, yekimunam rafte doctor, mamanam ham gofte age vase mehmoonimun khiar nagiram shiresho halalam nemikone, cheghadr ham laghar shodin..."
Him:  "Bozorgi az khodetune, pesaram doctore, khiar ham kiluyi $2 Dollare vali vase shoma mizanam $1.89 Dollar."  
Me:  "Merci dastetun dard nakone, elahi pesaretun pir beshe be haghe hameye emamha"  

I take my khiar, pick up a few other things, pay, thank God for the cashier being of hispanic decent and me not having to repeat my story, put the bags in my car, struggle to lift half of my cart and put in on the curb and smile.... "who's Iranian now?"


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by Sharareh Golshani on

Stupid auto signature LOL go figure right?...think it's fixed now :)


Esfand Aashena

Sharareh jaan your name in Farsi made your comment left sided!

by Esfand Aashena on

You picked the wrong time to type your only word in Farsi!  Had you stayed with "Sharareh" we could've used that recipe for ash bademnjan! 

Everything is sacred

Sharareh Golshani

Thank you...

by Sharareh Golshani on

I can't thank you all enough for the comments, they mean the world :)


- Mr Mohammad Ala Jaan, I don't really know what happened in 2011.  I wrote a lot in my head, it just never made it to the screen LOL   I LOVE the song it's hillarious :)  

-Dear Jeesh Daram, I just love your name, you're too cool 

-Pars4ever Joon, I'm so glad you see the humor in these...and man don't even get me started :)  I love us Iranians with our weird little ways LOL

-Esfand Aashena jaan,  believe it or not, I'm actually a half decent Farsi typist, you see my parents weren't rich so I had to make it through school with every side job possible :) but I guess Finglish sometimes makes me feel real, if you know what I mean...but I hear you, my family hates it when I write Finglish.  Oh and when it comes to the Parsi, Farsi, Persian, Iranian thing, I've decided I'm not going to place much emphasis on it, I know where the country is and have a decent idea of it's culture and history...so to please all, I use the terms equally LOLOLOL (please be laughing...)



I believe it's originated in Najaf Abad, Esfehan.  At least that's where my Grandmother grew up.  She call the meal,  "Man Daravordi"

4 medium sized eggplants cut into 1" cubes



1 table spoons lentils


*Cook lentils in a separate dish untill they feel soft but not mushy.

*Sear the eggplants with a table spoon of oil then add enough water to the pot to cover the eggplants, set heat on medium and let the eggplants cook.

*Once the eggplants have absorbed most of the water and  are cooked, add the pre-cooked lentils to the pot and set on low.  Add salt and pepper to taste and begin stirring to somewhat puree the eggplants and lentils together.

*In a separate pan, fry the mint with oil.

*Add the fried mint to the pot of eggplants and a pinch of tumeric to add color and stir.

*At this point just add kash to taste and stir :)  

Eat Ash Bajenjoon with bread and YUMMMMMY








Esfand Aashena

Hahaha! Very nice!

by Esfand Aashena on

Very nice story, like your other stories, except I'm not too much into reading finglish anymore now that we have Behnevis or Google transliterator for that matter.

2 of 10 was a nice touch!

Basically there is a world of difference between how we speak and act Iranian here and actual Iranians who are born, live and die in Iran.  Sometimes when some of us talk to each other, it's like we playing practical jokes on them (un-intentionally) and they not getting it! 

I have the same question as Mr. Ala, what is Ash Badenjoon?  Do you have a recipe?

Now I don't want to call Mr. Ala a Persian-ollahi!  But I call our language in English, Farsi!   

Everything is sacred


awesome sense of humour......

by Pars4ever on

.......i'm still laughing!.........more of these Calif observations please,...nothing as bad as this for us Persians in the UK (i hope!).

Jeesh Daram


Jeesh Daram

بسیار عالی نوشتید و با طنز خوب.  لطفا ادامه دهید

Mohammad Ala

Khosh a-made

by Mohammad Ala on

Why nothing in 2011?  I like to try ash badenjoon (From which part of Iran?)

Our language in English is called Persian.

This is for you.