One of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture of any country you are visiting is to make friends with locals, attend their gatherings, and hang around or travel with them. In Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, it is not difficult to befriend locals because people in these countries are usually very hospitable and helpful. However, to arrange a meeting up in Farsi and set a date with Persian speakers you need to speak Persian most of the time. As always, we are here to help you with useful phrases and cultural notes. Let’s read some interesting and fruitful facts about meeting up in Iran and then go to the language part.
The very first thing you need to know is that Iranians are not into planning. Most of the people decide to go on a one-week trip a day before they set off. But if you are invited to go somewhere without planning, do not hesitate to join. You may face many challenges in finding a residency and an open restaurant or you may get stuck in rain without being prepared for that. But most of the time, your hosts will find a way to solve these problems and make the trip pleasant for you.
You also need to get familiar with picnicking. For most of the Iranians, this term means going to the closest park, sitting on the grass, and making lots of “jujeh kabâb”, grilled chicken, while smoking hubble-bubble (hookah). In spring and summer, this “nature-friendly activity” may start at 10 p.m. and continue to 2-3 a.m. So, our advice is to check with your host to find out what s/he means by inviting you to a picnic.
I’ll do my Best!
When you invite people to join you for a party or mountain climbing or even a walk by the seaside, they sometimes tell you “sa’y mikonam biyâm” or “behet xabar midam” which mean “I’ll do my best” and “I’ll let you know” respectively. However, you’d better not wait for their call because what we infer, as Iranians, from these phrases is “I am not coming”. But as a non-Iranian, try to be precise and clear because you are not familiar with cultural context and what we call “tâ’rof” or “politeness formulas”. Moreover, Iranians expect you to be more direct because you are not Iranians after all.
If you decide not to go where you are invited, you’d better give a short explanation for your declination such as being busy or planning for something else. But make sure to say “išâlâ daf’e-ye ba’d”, hopefully, next time, to complete your act of politeness.
One of the surprises of meeting-ups in Iran is the last-minute cancelation, or even worse, not showing up. Even for Iranians, it is not considered polite and acceptable but it may happen. It is usually very annoying, but do you know any culture without any weak points? Try to get used to it and enjoy the other bright sides of being in Iran.
If you are invited to join a friend for a party or go to the cinema, etc. but you cannot go, you can always follow up by asking how the party, camping, or the movie was. You may usually hear “jâ-ye šomâ xâli” which will be meaningless if you translate it word by word. It is just another Iranian “tâ’orof” which is somehow an equivalent for “you were missed” or “it was a pity you couldn’t join us”. In response, you can say “dustân be jâ-ye mâ”, which means I am happy that my friends enjoyed the activity.
In case you are interested in learning more about Iranian “tâ’rof” culture, you can go can take a glance at cultural notes.