The following list I’ve made is very general and isn’t meant to provoke anyone negatively or hurt anyone by any means. It’s meant to be taken lightly and hopefully, will be a good read. As many of you know or don’t know, I’ve been involved in the Persian community since 1998, and in it, I’ve experienced the best of the best, and the worst of the worst. I learned Farsi, because I wanted to. I wanted to learn so that I could teach my kids one day, say sweet things to my husband of the time, talk with his family and friends, and to be included and involved in what’s going on, being that I married into a Persian family.
I learned Farsi by buying and reading a crazy amount of Persian books, reading the Persian newspaper, listening to Radio Iran, and asking an immense amount of questions to my spouse at the time, his family, and his friends. As well, for all of my annoying and repeatedly asked questions to them, they were loving enough to take the time out to respond, and I thank them for that. I used to go as far as cutting up the vocabulary section at the end of each chapter in a book. I’d cut each section out, laminate it with scotch tape, connecting each section into a seriously long strip, I’d roll it up, and take it with me on road trips. I also took a class for Farsi for reading and writing, and it taught me a little bit of formal Farsi, which I initially went into thinking that it was for colloquial and conversational Persian, but I took the class regardless, and was very glad that I did. I had the best teacher ever, and I even kept her as a friend. I still can’t figure out why she gave me a “B” though. But, perhaps it was because many Persians who were taking the class were trying to get easy “A’s.” Good grief!
I have two amazing children that I adore more than life itself. They’re half Persian, and I love that about them. There’s nothing that I want more for them, than to keep the good parts of their culture a big part of their life. I taught myself how to speak Farsi, and I did so predominantly so that one day, I could speak to my children in their native tongue, if and when I had them. I’ve experienced many good things in the Persian community and have been blessed for getting the chance to learn so much from the Persians that I’ve met. I’ve been lucky enough to have most of the Persians that I’ve known embrace me and my heart for embracing their culture. I appreciate that and by no means, does the love I’ve received go unnoted. I’ve also experienced some of the worst things in my life, that were done to me by many Persians. In other words, I’ve experienced the best of the best by the community and the worst of the worst. Hopefully the Persians who read this will read it with an open heart and not feel anything but joy, and know that there are no hidden jabs at anyone who I know. The things listed here are not all things that I’ve personally experienced, but a combination of some that I’ve experienced and some that others have.
1. The title of this article alone might cause drama, because I didn’t use the word Iranian, and wrote Persian instead. Can we move on… In case Persians don’t know by now, people will call you whatever you want. If you want to be called Persian, fine. If you want to be called Iranian, that’s fine too. But, can you please make up your mind! I understand that the controversy goes way back, but this is 2017, and I think at this point, we can agree to make a decision on what to be called. By the way, there’s no need to say that you’re American first, and then Persian. Everyone knows that, and although you unfortunately had been so prejudiced against at the time of the revolution, and still to this day I understand that many face prejudices, many people are just hating on you for the fact that you’ve come such a long way from 1979 until now. Persians in LA have become so driven and motivated to succeed in business and in life here in America. It’s important to realize that there will always be people that become envious and jealous, the more that you succeed. You are American, and a “good person” won’t look at you as less of an American than the next. As well, for all of those Persians out there who aren’t proud of who they are, and where they come from, that’s ridiculous, and you should be proud of being Persian, because it’s a beautiful culture. Being Persian has some of the most amazing things that go along with it. You should be proud of where you come from. On my wedding day, my grandfather walked up to me on the dance floor and said,”Why didn’t you tell me that he’s Persian?” My immediate reaction was to become a little defensive and I asked him, “Why, does it matter?” He said that he was asking, because my great grandparents were from Iran (on my father’s side). Well, there you have it folks! I naturally went back to my roots without even trying. I’m proud of that and you should all be proud of where you come from as well.
2. If you have kids from a previous marriage, forget about ever being thought of as more than a date. If you’re a single parent dating a Persian, you’ll be considered (if at all) a temporary relationship, and don’t even go there when it comes to meeting his/her family, because that’s never going to happen! Even if it does, you won’t be accepted, at least not without a lot of heartache that could last for years. If a Persian man ever proposes to a single mom and marries her, she will always be shunned and treated as if she’s less than, because she’s brought in kids from a previous marriage, despite her reasons. Of course, this is not always the case, and there are seldom times when Persian parents are more open minded and accepting of a person that their child is dating, if their child is happy.
3. A huge portion of Persians will hide you out, so to speak during early dating, until they’re more sure about going public with you. They’ll go out of their way in taking you to secluded and private places, so that the other Persians that you both might run into won’t “catch you” on a date together. Heavens forbid! I think that this mostly happens until about the age of 40 for men and women.
4. There’s a lot of loshon hara (gossiping and talking behind people’s back) going on! People talk behind your back the mere second that you walk out of a room. Sometimes, before you even make it out of the room. It doesn’t matter if you’re invited to their home as guests, they’ll still trash you after you leave, and of course invite you once again. They love to talk about people.
5. Persian woman have a reputation, whether they like it or not, for asking very forward questions early on when dating. They ask everything from a man’s job in fine detail, to his annual income. They’ve been known to even ask what kind of car you drive, if you own your own home, and what area you live in, in order to find out whether or not it’s expensive enough. Not all Persian women are materialistic. This is a general thing that I’ve heard from many men, Persian and others as well.
6. If you don’t like drama in families, you might not want to date a Persian. Of course, everyone has drama sometimes, but the type of drama I’m talking about is intense and passionate, and stays in the family. No one else will know about the drama outside of the family if things go accordingly, but it will exist and each and every one of the family members will know about it.
7. What’s interesting about #6 on the list is that Persian families “pretend” that everything is perfect in their families, and that there are never problems. They like to portray perfection and that they were raised perfectly and live perfect lives. If you share hard times about your own personal life, even if they can relate to it and have had even worse times, you’ll never hear about it, unless you’re in the immediate family. They’ll just listen with a loving heart, try to be understanding, and give you advice.
8. They’re extremely family oriented, which is one of the biggest pluses that I’ve seen to this day. If you ever need a friend or someone to talk to, you’ll have 30 immediate family members to choose from. That’s gotta be nice! They don’t do the typical American thing of wanting their kids out of the house at 18 years old. They don’t mind, and even prefer it when their kids stay close, live at home longer, and did I mention that they prefer that their kids go to college in the same state.
9. If you’re a Persian woman and you go to a function or a party where another Persian woman is wearing the same outfit as you, run for your life! Shit’s gonna go down! Did I mention that the friendship between both girls would probably end there! However, you won’t find out about it until later, and they’ll just give each other a pleasant, Persian semi-smile at that party.
10. If you’re not Persian, don’t expect to be welcomed into the homes of Persians when it involves marrying their child. It doesn’t matter if you are beautiful, speak Farsi, love Persian dancing, are passionate about the culture, love the music, or are even the same religion. Nothing matters when it comes to not being Persian, because you’ll never be included as if you were Persian. Having said this, there are rare cases where you get welcomed right off the bat and truly embraced, as if you were not only Persian, but as if you were an actual blood related family member. But again, this is rare, and it usually doesn’t happen when you’re dating an Iranian person’s child with marital intentions.
11. I’d say the honour and respect that Persians have for their families would be compared to an Italian type of respect that’s portrayed in the Godfather movies. Don’t ever talk bad about a Persian’s family when you’re not in it, because that won’t go over well. They love their families more than anything and despise anyone who talks badly about them.
12. Tarof is one of the most fabulous things that I love and admire about the Persian culture. Tarof is the offering of food, drinks, and much more, when you’re invited into a Persian’s home. When you’re invited to a Persian’s home, they’re extremely welcoming, warm, and they offer you many things the second that you sit down. If anything, even the lowest income of Persian households will have a huge bowl of fresh fruit, Persian cucumbers, nuts, dried fruit, and much more displayed beautifully on the table waiting for you, before you even walk in the door. The second that you sit down, they offer you chai (tea) or anything that they can to please you. There’s a big part of tarof that has to do with letting the other person go before you when walking through a door, etc., and it can last for up to five minutes at times. For all of the people that are waiting behind them to get by, they no longer care about you! Seriously though, it can be quite cute when you’re one of the two people that’s involved in that type of tarof. Don’t get me wrong, when a Persian is driving on the freeway in Los Angeles, all hell will break loose if you even think about cutting in front of them! Tarof is amazing! Non-Persians can learn a lot from tarof! I’ve been told that my family has been known to be the taroffing type, and I take that as a huge compliment, because it’s coming from Persians, of course.
13. When it’s time to say good night at the end of a function or gathering at someone’s house, expect the goodbye to last at the very minimum, a half hour. The goodbye starts on the couch as the guests stand up, then they make their way to the hallway, where they pause and have another discussion, and eventually, they make it to the front door. Once the guests have been walked to the door to say goodbye, there’s still a process before the goodbye actually happens. They stand there kissing both cheeks of the person and talk for another 20 minutes. At that point, when they’re a “very caring” Persian family, they might even literally walk you down the driveway to your car. There’s no way that you can go to a Persian party at someone’s house and not leave feeling loved.
14. Everything is very elaborate, from the food, to the parties and events, to the clothing that they wear, to the homes and cars that they buy. I’m not going to lie to you when I say that I’m not a big fan of the huge columns that they’re adding all over the place in Beverly Hills now. Having said that, some Persians seriously know how to remodel their homes with immaculate taste. Many Persians have divine and elegant taste from what I’ve seen. However, some Persians can go overboard with doing too much, and it can make things appear to be very gaudy.
15. Expect to hear a lot of jokes that when translated, end up having no meaning whatsoever. Once a person has translated a joke to English for someone, they suddenly get a look on their face where their eyes light up, as if they just realized that the joke truly has no meaning when translated, and isn’t funny. Sometimes, there’s simply no translation. This is just a heads up not to ask for jokes to be translated. It isn’t worth it, trust me!
16. As good as being family oriented is, some people are too family oriented, especially some of the Persian men. This brings me to a huge issue in many people’s dating lives, which is the Persian man’s relationship with his mother. The relationship between a Persian man and his mom can be so close that he never wants to upset her in any possible way. Being that he’s so close with his mother, if she doesn’t approve of the woman he’s dating, his and her life will be an incredibly miserable experience.
17. Persians are some of the most passionate people that I’ve ever met. They’re passionate about things that they love and things that they don’t. When they love you, they really love you and will do anything for you, and when they hate you, they really hate you and I’ll leave it at that. Stating the obvious, but don’t get on their bad side.
18. Persians want to get the best employees to work for them. Having said that, if you don’t have a written agreement with them, you shouldn’t expect to get paid what you both agreed upon. I’ve personally experienced this multiple times at many different jobs working with Persians, so I have no problem debating the subject. If Persians can pay you less then what you might actually deserve, they’ll do so. I’ve heard from many, including Persians, that doing business with Persians can bring a lot of headache at times. It’s possible that they feel this way, because they don’t want to hassle with all off the chune (see #22).
19. Persians don’t smile at you, unless they know you. I’ve had the same experience with Israelis. When you don’t know a Persian and you pass them on the street, it doesn’t matter how big you smile in their direction, they won’t smile back unless they know you. Once they know you, they will either love you or hate you. There usually isn’t an in-between as far as loving someone goes. They’re way too passionate to like someone in any type of mediocre way.
20. When a Persian has a bad temper, which I hope no one ever has to experience, it can be one of the worst experiences of your life. The memories of a Persian with a bad temper can be so intense, that I’m not sure fire could even burn as much. When you see signs of a Persian with a bad temper, run! Hide! But seriously though, don’t date them if you see they don’t have enough self control to control their emotions. A bad temper in any culture, race, religion, or PERSON, is a bad thing, and should be controlled.
21. When a Persian man loves a woman, he’ll do anything for her. He’ll spoil her rotten and give her anything and everything that she wants (within reason of course). If he loves and adores her, he’ll be extremely generous to her and try to do anything that he can to please her. He’ll treat her like a Persian Queen. And when a Persian woman loves a man, she will nurture him, cook for him, take care of him, and adore the ground he walks on.
22. In case you haven’t heard, Persians take the cake when it comes to getting the best price on things. There’s even a term for it which is called, “chune,” which means bargaining. Persians will spend hours upon hours bargaining over the smallest or the biggest things. Persians have bargaining down to a science. They’ll literally walk out of a store or a car dealership when they’re dealing with another Persian, trying to scare them, by manipulating them into thinking that they’re not interested in buying the item, just to get them to come down on the price. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a Persian in action when it comes to chune. I’ve thought a lot about chune, and since day one that I learned about it, I’ve appreciated the fact that there’s good and bad in it. When Persians get carried away with chune, it can last for hours and be totally draining to whoever’s involved in it or waiting for the person that’s doing the chune. Actually, the person that’s doing the chune is so on fire and passionately into getting what they want, that they don’t even care if other people are waiting for them while they’re in their bargaining mode. The good thing about chune is that when someone’s good at it, you’ll end up saving an immense amount of money at times. Think about it, why pay more money than you have to. Many people in America don’t even realize that they could be paying much less for certain things than they are. Their motto is “just because a price tag says a certain price, doesn’t mean that you can’t try to bring that price down.”
23. I can honestly tell you that I never knew a language could have so many passionate expressions and ways to say how you feel about someone, until I learned Farsi. The expressions that they use to tell someone that they love them are so amazing and passionate that by merely translating them, you won’t get the same amount of passion, as if you actually heard them said. When people say certain passionate phrases in Farsi, they say them with all of their “joon” or soul. As good and amazing as the good expressions are in Farsi, the bad expressions in Farsi are worse than anything you’ve ever heard in your life. In previous articles, I’ve talked about how a person should tell someone how they feel, but how their tone makes all of the difference in the way that a person responds. Having said that, when a Persian starts getting passionate in a good way or a bad way, it can be truly intense. When they get passionate in a good way, it can be so unbelievably amazing, and the things that they say can be so powerful and expressive. But, the bad things that they say when they get upset or angry, can be so dreadful that you might feel that it’s better to be silent and not say anything, rather than to provoke such anger again in your entire life.
24. No matter what the politics are between America and Iran, Persians want you to travel to Iran. They won’t let the subject end, until they feel that they’ve somewhat convinced you that going to Iran will be an amazing experience. If Persians see that you’re passionate about their culture in regards to all of the beautiful things, they will insist that you travel there. The more that you give them reasons why you don’t intend on traveling there, the more that they feel inclined to try to convince you.
25. I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of dishonesty from the Persian community. It’s unfortunate that this has been my personal experience. I still go into every situation with an open heart and mind though, despite having experienced such. I’ve been screwed over left and right by many Persians when it comes to business, etc. As far as this being my personal experience, without saying any names of course, I can tell you that I’ve heard a numerous amount of people tell me from their own personal experience, how they don’t even like doing business with Persians. Perhaps all of the chune gets overwhelming, or perhaps it’s something that’s still beyond my understanding. For whatever the reasons are (maybe similar to my own personal reasons), many times Persians prefer not to do business with other Persians. I think a reason might be, because Persians can be so friendly or close with other Persians, and owners end up doing work or favours for free. In the process, they’re not getting paid, which can’t possibly be good for business when it happens on a regular basis. However, when Persians work with other Persian family members, it can be an amazing thing, because we already know how family oriented they are. Something that I’ve learned over the years is that no one will love your business as much as you (the owner) will, and when you bring family members in to work with you, they will be the second best people that you could possibly hire, because anyone other than family won’t show your business the same type of love and care.
26. Making Persian friends in LA has been harder for me than anything. I think it must be a combination from LA already being a hard place to make good quality friends when you haven’t lived here your whole life. But, when you get a divorce, many times you have to start over, and you literally end up alone, and without one remaining friend. I suppose that’s what I experienced after my divorce, being that I married so young, moving here from Chicago, and having embraced all of his friends as my own. I’m okay with all of that now, and I’ve made new friends. The problem with making new “Persian friends” has been that they disappear for no reason. I still haven’t understood why, and I try not to take it personally. I’ve learned to love myself enough that I don’t want wishy-washy friends that leave you, when life gets rough. I ‘ve learned that it takes time to develop good friendships and that once you’ve found a “true friend,” it can last a lifetime. Besides, I love myself enough that I don’t want to be friends with people that don’t appreciate me and want me as their friend. I want to be around people that love me, and not temporarily love me. Persians tend to click with their friends and they’re usually friends with other Persians. Having said that, some Persians go out of their way not to befriend other Persians for whatever reason. But, usually the only way that Persians are close friends with other people from a different culture is because they’ve known them a really long time or been brought up with them since childhood.
27. When Americans or anyone embraces the Persian culture, Persians not only love it, but they love them for embracing it! When people get invited to Persian households for functions, they leave their home feeling like they just left Iran. There are many things that I mean by that, starting with the fact that Persians don’t stop speaking Farsi, just because there’s someone in the room who doesn’t speak it. That’s not necessarily a good thing! In American culture, it’s known as being very impolite when people speak another language in front of guests that don’t understand the language that you’re speaking. Another thing that non-Persians leaving a Persian’s household will feel is like they just left an amusement park. They feel that way, because there’s just so much going on when you go to a Persian’s home. Going to a Persian’s home involves possible drop bys by many of the dozens of family members that they have, an extremely elaborate production of food, multiple glasses of chai, and did I mention how thrilled Americans get when they learn what ghand (hard sugar cubes that don’t easily break) is!
28. Last but not least, the food is amazing! Persians have the best dishes from their rice dishes, to their kabobs, to their Persian stews. They go out all out when it comes to cooking and entertaining for guests. When you go to someone’s home to eat, you can expect to have at least four entirely different meals prepared, with much to choose from. You’ll never leave a Persian’s home hungry. If you’ve never tried tadik (the crispy rice from the bottom of the pot), you don’t know what you’re missing!