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My #PersianSquare Story

In Davar Ardalan's recent update to The Persian Square, she highlights Iranian Americans and their favorite artifacts that remind them of Iran. Share your artifacts using the #PersianSquare!

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I remember my childhood fondly and that's mostly thanks to my many visits to Iran. I cherish these memories - spending nights in our villa under the pasheh-band (mosquito net), listening to my cousins play the sweet sounds of the tombak and daf, and literally stuffing skewers of kabob into my mouth with absolutely no shame. As a first generation Iranian American, I know my experiences and nostalgia are not unique.

In The Persian Square's most recent digital update, Davar Ardalan, Senior Producer at NPR, featured Iranian American filmmakers, artists, and comedians and their personal memories. Each entry spotlights an artifact the subject submitted that most represents their personal history.

In honor of the update's kindle release, I've shared a few artifacts illustrating my history below. Share your most cherished artifact (it can be a photo, sound, video, etc.) using #PersianSquare.

The Shahnameh - translated into English

Farrah Joon

My grandfather was an art enthusiast. He didn’t just enjoy the Persian culture, he valued it. I spent hours sitting next to him as he recited verses of Hafiz and read to me from the Shahnameh. Every night after dinner, we would curl up with Bizhan o Manizha as he described their love story. Still the most devastating and romantic love story I’ve ever heard (sorry Romeo & Juliet). Before one of my returns to the U.S., he presented me with this book. A translated (into English, accompanied by Farsi) version of the story I had grown so attached to so that I could still read it when I returned home.

Dancing the Night Away

View this video on YouTube

Via Youtube

Growing up, my mother was committed to ensuring that her children weren’t “too Americanized.” My brother and I were enrolled in Farsi classes for most of our lives, we performed dances and poems at every Persian holiday gathering, and when we went to Iran - it was just another teaching opportunity. We were the perfect Iranian children, with manners and language skills to die for. One particular summer, my mom signed me up for dance classes in Iran. Once a week, I put on a swimsuit (in lieu of a leotard) and focused on a specific dance routine that my mom would inevitably force me to perform at every mehmooni/party in the future.

The song I learned the routine to was “Ye Dokhtar Daram” by Hassan Shamaeezadeh (to my father’s amusement)

Fishing for Gifts

Farrah Joon

My astrological sign represents me... even though I don't necessarily believe in astrology. It serves as an explanation for my likes and dislikes and my behavior - at least according to my family in Iran. From receiving gold jewelry in the form of fish to wall plaques and stuffed animals, the fish paraphernalia has a real presence in my house. My fish ancestry was first discovered by my aunt who started the precedent that all gifts must have a fish reference. Not that I’m complaining, it’s a part of me now - permanently on my hip (tattooed for life).

My Sweet Tooth

Farrah Joon

My mother plans every family vacation - whether it’s to Iran or Brazil - around what we are going to eat. From the country’s most popular food items to the most traditional. And when we go to Iran, we are going with THE food expert: my mom. Dizin, chelo kabob, pizza, Shomal-i food, fessenjoon - we eat it all and it’s probably my now ravenous foodie mentality that hinders me from ever going down in my pants size (and I don’t even really care). Pictured here, sohbah with gaz in the middle, a mash-up of two Persian delicacies. So basically, heaven.

Those Eyes Though

Farrah Joon

Superstition is a serious issue in my family - especially on my mom’s side. We go to a party and the first thing my mom does when we get home is burn some herb called esfand to thwart the evil eye. “Those guests are jealous, they are probably jinxing us,” my mother would say.

The cheshm (evil eye) adorned every aspect of our house and it became a regular fixture in my apartment upon moving out. I may not “pinch my butt” because my mom says it will un-jinx me, but I do still knock on my head when I can’t find wood. Thanks Mom.

Don't forget to tweet or facebook us your artifacts using #PersianSquare!

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