January 18, 2017

Interview with Fared Shafinury, Musician

As you know, for the Chai and Conversation podcast, we generally publish Persian lessons, but this time we have a very special treat- a special interview Fared Shafinury, an extraordinary Iranian-American musician. If you’ve been listening to Chai and Conversation, you’ll be very familiar with Fared’s music- he composed our theme music which you hear at the beginning and end of each episode. In addition, I’m very lucky to be able to call Fared a friend- we both attended the University of Texas together here in Austin and have kept in touch throughout the years. He’s become a very well known and successful musician, with several years of composing and performing under his belt.
April 28, 2016

The Astounding Similarities Between Texas and Iran

A few months ago, I was visiting my dear cousins in Toronto, Canada, and we were talking about the many positive traits of the city (they call it Tehran-to due to the enormous Iranian population there by the way). The conversation eventually turned to me, however, and one cousin asked ‘So… do you actually like Texas?” Now, everyone knows that Texans have a inflated egos when it comes to where they live, and most people who don't live in Texas are baffled by this. But, live in Texas for a while (I’ve been here since moving from Tehran when I was 4), and you’re completely swept away by this pride. There’s a saying here ‘I wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could’- and this exactly describes me.
March 13, 2016

A Short and Sweet Guide to Celebrating Chāhār Shanbé Sooree

Chāhār Shanbé Sooree is the celebration that takes place the Tuesday night before Persian New Year (the first day of Spring!). Literally translated, it means either Wednesday Soiree, or Red Wednesday, because the celebrations go on through the night into Wednesday morning! This year (2016), it will take place on Tuesday, March 15th.
June 24, 2015

Persian Numbers 1 through 10

One of the easiest and most useful things to learn in any language is how to count from one to ten. With that in mind, we’d like to challenge you to learn these numbers in Persian by the end of today.
March 27, 2015

Ways to Celebrate this week for Nowruz!

As you know, we are right now in the middle of the 13-day celebration known as nowruz- the celebration began the moment the earth crossed the vernal equinox, and continues through Wednesday April 1st- we’ll bring you more information about the significance of this day early next week, but for now, here are a few things you should be doing this week to celebrate: deed o bāz deed- this literally means ‘to see and see again’. During the 13 days of the beginning of spring, the tradition is to go visit all of your friends and family, and they in turn have to come to your house to see you. Everyone is ready to be a gracious host this week, supplying guests with plenty of sweets to ring in the new year, and also tea and fruit of course (what Iranian household doesn’t have a giant bowl of fruit ready at all times?). It’s customary to visit elders of the family first, and then make your way through the list of all close family, friends, and even acquaintances.  wearing new clothes- generally Iranians will be prepared this week to wear at least one set of new clothing, all the way to the underwear. Because spring is a time for freshness and newness, this is symbolic of letting go of the old and displaying the new.  haft seen- during this week, Iranians have a special table set up in the house called the haft seen table- filled with symbolic items that represent spring, and seven items that begin with the Persian letter ‘seen’. These include items that represent prosperity, freshness, rebirth, love, and life, and that represent the new start provided by the new season. One of the most important elements of the nowruz haft seen table is wheatgrass, which is sprouted from grains a few days before the new year, and is thrown into water on the 13th day of nowruz (more on that next week!). So we hope you have an opportunity this weekend to visit some new friends and make some fresh starts in your life!  
March 20, 2015

Happy Nowruz 1394! Phrases to Use Today with Friends and Family

As you know if you’re around Iranians, today marks the beginning of the Nowruz holiday- the most important holiday in Iranian tradition. The year 1394 begins as soon as the earth passes the vernal equinox (it happens at 5:45 PM for us here in Texas, but check to see what time it happens in your neck of the woods).  Here’s the vocabulary to use with your friends and family to wish them a happy holiday:
February 03, 2015

Mehmoonee- Persian Wedding Receptions

In parts 1 and 2 of our wedding series, we set the stage for Persian weddings, and talked about the aghd, the ceremony portion of the wedding. In this last part of the series, we’ll go over the final part of a Persian wedding- the mehmoonee, or reception.
January 13, 2015

The Persian Wedding Aghd (Ceremony), a Step by Step Journey

In part 1 of our wedding series, we set the stage on which the events of a Persian wedding occur. We also described each of the elements of the sofreyé aghd, the table on which all the symbolic elements of the wedding are placed. In this post, let’s explore what actually takes place during the aghd, or ceremony.
January 05, 2015

Aroosi: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Persian Weddings

Some big news for Chai and Conversation listeners. This upcoming May 2015, I, Leyla Shams, am going to marry my best friend of 12 years in Austin, Texas. That decision was a no-brainer. The wedding itself, however, is a different story.
June 09, 2014

Team Melli 101: Everything You Need to Know about Iran's World Cup Team

You've probably heard the Iranian football team being called Team Melli- so what does it mean? Melli is the Persian word for 'national,' so Team Melli simply means the National Team.