Saturday, November 16, 2013


There is a interesting bit on This American Life about Tarof in Iran... the art of "offering what you may not want to give, and refusing what you may really want".

I'm not sure exactly how to put a link here - I found it on the website with Farsi lessons called Chai and Conversation found at Scroll down to Lesson 6. If you look on podcasts, then look for: This American Life #428 Oh, You Shouldn't Have, and the Tarof part is found at 34.30 minutes into the program. :)

They describe Tarof thusly:

"One of the most important traditions in Iranian culture is the tradition of ‘Tarof.’ Tarof can be described as a specific form of Iranian etiquette or politeness, and comes with a very specific set of rules of how to interact with other people. Sometimes it can be extremely frustrating and seem disingenuous, but at other times, it provides a nice framework of how to interact with other people in an extremely polite and respectful way. A good example of tarof is that when you visit someone’s house, they must offer you something to eat or drink. Even if you are extremely thirsty or hungry, you must refuse the offer. They in turn must keep reinstating the offer, and indeed bring you food and drink, even if they are not prepared to give it to you."
Tarof occurs everywhere..even cab drivers will try to make you not pay...they want you to pay, but they tell you that you mustn't goes back and forth to the point that you may end up paying more whenl you finally do pay.. this is replayed over and over throughout the day at the store, when visitors come, on the street....etc. It's really something to experience. Here in Canada/America, we are faaaar more to the point for sure..Tarof is very time consuming!