Chai and Conversation Blog

11 Persian Sayings That Make No Sense in English

Translating idioms and sayings into other languages is always an exercise in humor- often, you've repeated them so many times without thinking about what is literally being said. We decided to make a list of the 11 funniest Persian sayings and translate them literally into English, along with a photo accompaniment of their literal meanings. Try to take a guess at what they actually mean before reading the explanations below.

Video: Ahjeel Interview with Leyla Shams

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of being interviewed by Amin Etemad of Ahjeel (right after he interviewed Maz Jobrani! I wish I'd practiced a few more jokes). Ahjeel is an online network that publishes different interviews with leaders in the Iranian American community. Amin asked me many thought provoking questions about Chai and Conversation, leading me through a journey of how it started to how we got to where we are now.

Video: The First Four Persian Words You Need to Know

In this video, we introduce Graham, a new listener to the Chai and Conversation podcast. Graham wants to learn Persian for an upcoming trip to California, so we teach him four introductory words he needs to know in order to have an entire conversation in the Persian language.

Shazdeh Koochooloo, Iran’s Little Prince

Although The Little Prince (translated as shāzdé koochooloo) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is not a distinctly Persian novel, it has a very important place in the heart of Iranians. If you’re not familiar with the story (where have you been?!) The Little Prince is a beautiful story about a pilot who meets a little boy in the desert, and through a series of conversations, delves into the depths of the topics of life, love, death and everything in between.

Presenting our video about 'Tarof'!

This is a short video describing the concept of Tarof, the Persian form of etiquette, to people who may not be familiar with it.

Presenting our first video for Nowruz 1391!

It’s almost time for Norooz, the most important holiday in the Iranian culture. This holiday marks the beginning of the Persian calendar and occurs every year at the exact moment that spring starts. This video goes through some of the vocabulary associated with the Persian New Year, called Nowruz. Also, for the first time, see Matt and Leyla in action! As always, PLEASE ENJOY.

R.I.P. Legendary Designer Bijan

The legendary Beverly Hills designer known simply as Bijan died today at the age of 67. He owned what was known as 'the most expensive store in the world' on Beverly Hills drive, a store open by appointment only. In his many years as a fashion designer in the United States, designed clothes for some of the most powerful men in the world (including Barack Obama and several other sitting presidents).

Kayhan Kalhor and His Beautiful Compositions

If you listened to lesson six, you heard our exercise of counting from one through ten set to some beautiful rhythmic background music. The background music was composed by none other than Kayhan Kalhor, a world renowned Persian classical musician, specializing in the Persian instrument, kamanche.

Elizabeth Taylor in Iran

Elizabeth Taylor was as much an iconic figure in Iran as she was everywhere else in the world. During the Shah's time especially, she was revered as the prime example of beauty and elegance. She was also a bold figure unafraid of pushing boundaries and breaking stereotypes. To this end, she went on a spontaneous journey to Iran with a young photographer named Firooz Zahedi in 1976. Having recently graduated with a degree in art, Zahedi accompanied Taylor through several cities in Iran, including Persepolis, Shiraz, and Esfahan, photographing their adventure along the way.

'Tarof' on This American Life

One of the most important traditions in Iranian culture is the tradition of ‘Tarof.’ Tarof can be described as a specific form of Iranian etiquette or politeness, and comes with a very specific set of rules of how to interact with other people. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating and seem disingenuous, but at other times, it provides a nice framework of how to interact with other people in an extremely polite and respectful way. A good example of tarof is that when you visit someone’s house, they must offer you something to eat or drink.

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