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.
May 20, 2014

11 Persian Sayings That Make No Sense in English, part TWO

Dear friends and lovers of the Persian language,
April 15, 2014

13 Passing References to Persians That You Would Only Notice If You're Persian

The movie Clueless was released in 1995, and in it was the first positive ‘passing reference’ to Iranians I noticed in a major Hollywood picture. I was 10 years old when I saw this movie, and I still remember watching the scene where Cher, the glamorous popular high school girl, points to a group of cool-looking teenagers and says, 'That's the Persian Mafia- you can't hang out with them unless you own a BMW.' There wasn't a large Persian population in the town I was living in Texas, so just imagining these too-cool-for-school "Persians" being noticed and commented on by the most popular girl in school was astounding to me.
March 20, 2014

7 Things You Need to Do For Persian New Year (Nowruz!)

To all our Iranian peeps, as well as the Kurds, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Ismailis, Alevis, Alawites, Babis, Bahá'ís, and many of the brave folks in Crimea and elsewhere throughout the world, NOWRUZ PIROUZ! To everyone else, 12:57pm EST marks the vernal equinox, the first day of spring, and the new year ("Now-ruz" = "New day"). If you slacked off for 2014 or Chinese New Year, here's your chance to start anew, along with the earth and the moon and the stars. This is a secular holiday and should be honored and celebrated by everyone who lives on earth. Everyone gets the same amount of sun today. The theme is action, vitality, courage. Fertility, creativity, hope. Clean your house, clean your head, take a deep breath, and be good to yourself and others, near and far, in 1393. Move in motion with the universe, and your heart and home will be in balance and harmony.
February 12, 2014

12 Things to Call Your Persian Lover

Valentine's Day is fast approaching, so we thought there's no better time to compile a list of unique Persian terms of endearment for you to shower your sweet love with. Many of these terms are similar to those found in the English language, while some are quite different, and would almost be insults (or nonsensical) in English.
February 05, 2014

The Surprising Poetry of Persian Colors

The Persian language is an inherently poetic one- rather than being direct and functional (like English, for example), it is infused with metaphor, allegory, and song. This bleeds into the culture and rituals of Iranians (again, think of the tradition of Tarof), but is subtly present in everyday simple speech as well. A great example of this is in the naming of the colors. Rather than associate words purely with the corresponding color, the Persian words associate many of them with a greater concept related to that color, therefore immediately evoking a metaphor with each word. Again, these may be words you've used over and over again without ever thinking of them literally.
January 21, 2014

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.
January 14, 2014

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. Again, many thanks for giving me a chance to talk about the project I love so much!