Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cultural Exchange

We went to a wedding yesterday and the groom was Iranian. In the ladies room during the reception, several of his relatives were chattering excitedly in Farsi, and the sound of their conversation made me smile. As it turns out, I have a bit of a history with the language of Iran.

A friend of mine was born in Tehran to a Persian dad and an American mom. Her family fled the country when the Shah fell, and then they settled here in the States. At seven, my friend hardly spoke a word of English, in fact the only phrases she knew she had learned from pulling the string on her Chatty Cathy doll: I want a drink of water. I'm not tired. I love you... and so on.

I had the opposite experience. At my Swiss boarding school in the late 70's there was a large group of wealthy Iranian students. Most of their families were also allied with the Shah, but we graduated before the revolution. They were a dynamic presence on campus, to say the least, and so we all learned a little Farsi: Up yours. Screw you. Your mother is... and so on.

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