Unveiling the City of Qom

I was born and raised in the Western world and have fond childhood memories of traveling back to Iran to visit family. Through traveling back and forth, I have been able to see things the way they are, not the way western media portrays them. With roots in both worlds, I’m lucky enough to be able to switch between two perspectives.

Downtown Bazar in Qom

Downtown Bazar in Qom

“Where in Iran do you visit?”

“Qom.”

Cue wide eyes and uncomfortable smiles; perhaps, even a…

“You’re not one of those mullahs, are you?” (it’s happened before).  Some Iranians are desperately trying to demolish the image of akhoonds and black chadors (trans: muslim clerics and black cloak-like veils), and the last thing they want is for an unassuming Iranian-American girl to blab to all of her American friends about one of the holiest cities for Shiite pilgrimage, which has a lot of both.

A store in Qom, with dresses on display and tape on the glass to hide the boobs, haha.

A store in Qom, with dresses on display and tape on the glass to hide the boobs, haha.

I’ve heard numerous times that…

“Qom isn’t even considered to be Iran,”

(due to its conservatism) The cultural gap widens upon entering the most conservative city in Iran. In the universities of Qom, chadors are ejbari (required) upon entrance. All over the internet, articles about the secret lives of Iranians center in on colorful, barely-there hijabs and underground bashes; but the secret life of Qomis’ is kept buried.

True, Qom is not as vibrant or exciting as Tehran or Isfahan, but there is something calming about walking through these proclaimed holy streets as the sun shines brightly during the day, and the lights of restaurants and shops flash alluringly, as the calming sounds of rosaries echo through the night (I, myself, am not even religious).

Arg Restaurant

Arg Restaurant

Though a large percentage are, in fact, wearers of the chador (even in their private lives), for many, it is out of devotion to God, rather than means of a political alliance. But many, including Iranians, don’t fully understand.

People from Qom get discriminated against, a lot.

“At first, the girls [from other cities] in my class at university wouldn’t talk to me,” my cousin, Farzaneh said. “They later said, ‘wow, we didn’t think you’d be that open-minded, being from Qom.'”

Like all other cities in Iran, Qom has something unique to offer to the country’s culture. There’s something oddly precious about akhoonds walking in the streets, old and young, riding motorcycles, pushing their kids in a shopping cart, or talking on the phone (some of them, barely in their twenties, talking on the phone to their brothers about what to tell Mommy joon).

Plenty of tourists visit the holy city every year; mostly Iraqis, Saudi Arabians, Lebanese, and even Chinese. The Haram is dubbed one of the holiest mosques, and it sparkles at night. One can visit plenty of graves of famous figures ranging from politics to royalty, as well as the tomb of Fatemeh Masume. The Arg restaurant and hookah lounge (see photo above) is an outdoor restaurant that is open year-round. With Tahitian-styled tents set up side by side, the restaurant imitates a tropical paradise with waterfalls, a decorated pool, and bridges. Not to mention, awesome food! Jamkaran Monsque: on Tuesday nights, people crowd the beautiful mosque to pray and toss their hand-written letters down the holy well, in hopes of Imam Mahdi hearing their prayers and helping them in a difficult time.

Jamkaran Mosque

Jamkaran Mosque

At the Bazaar (see photo earlier in the post), they’ve got just about everything from boots to Barbies. There’s also an entire building dedicated to jewelry (whatcha know about gold?!).

Over the past few years, the holy city of Qom has become one of the bigger cities, due to the construction of more universities. There has been fashionable progress in recent years; what used to be chaador-only outwear has now transformed into black manteaus, with well-groomed eyebrows and makeup. Males and females struggle to be discrete as they snuggle together in the corner of a dim-lit restaurant, softly reciting poems of Hafiz, as they stare lovingly at each other. Inside the universities, young people flirt between classes.

I had no idea they were posing for me!

I had no idea they were posing for me!

Surviving in a sub-culture of a closed-off society, the youth of Qom struggle not only against the labels given to them by the rest of the world, but across Iran, as well, but

They also have a story to tell.

SEXANDFESSENJOON@GMAIL.COM

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xoxo,

SARAH سارا

To FOB or not to FOB?

Hi Joonies,

Let’s talk about the advantages and disadvantages of dating FOBs.

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First, a basic definition to start off with so we’re all clear as to who this concerns:

F.O.B – (n) an acronym for “Fresh Off the Boat”, and refers to new immigrants to a country (mostly Western). Now commonly used to describe any person new to a country, who is not well versed with its language or culture (mainly Western). Can be taken as an insult, or a term of endearment (eg; pride of culture).”

PRO: They speak the mother tongue so well, and it gets you kind of hot when you guys are alone. And you know that amazing ‘Farsi/Persian‘ skills means a slam dunk with the parents.

CON: But then you realize that they have a Persian accent when they speak English, and that just makes you feel all self-conscious when you bring him around your friends. (and let’s be honest, you can never convince yourself that the accent is sexy.)

PRO: They seem to still have some old school culture and chivalry, and that makes you feel warm and lady-like– I mean, a man with manners who picks up the tab is always sexy.

CON: But some of that chivalry just turns out to be chauvinism and ….

PRO: In their lives, FOB guys have had it pretty rough and left everything they’ve known to come to a new country with a new culture. They’ve proved they can stand on their own two feet.– DAMN. #Respect

CON: BUT, they may be on the prowl for a woman just so she can replace his mom. He could be missing the warm meals and clean laundry. (watch out!)

PRO: Finally, there’s so much they can teach you about a part of your culture that you never got to experience because you’ve never spent more than a vacation’s time in Iran.

That, arguably, could be priceless.

CON: Or it could be exhausting because you’d have so much to catch them up on.

Hello, Pop Culture waits for no one!

So I guess the jury is out. With a FOB, you gain some -you lose some. It all comes down to a matter of personal taste (and patience), right?

thoughts on our new look? sexandfessenjoon@gmail.com

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FOB/noFOB,

SAAGHI ساقی

Is Tarof True?

“Tarof” can really suck. So many of our parent’s interactions have double meanings and hidden truths – sometimes I just tune out because I don’t know if they really do want their friends to come over or because they’re just living up to a certain standard.

For those of you who don’t know:

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.

judge

A lot of times, tarof is a gateway to making you do something that you don’t really want — and the consequences don’t even feel good momentarily.

I grew up watching my mom tarof excessively around friends and family. Now she says, “I alvays do too much for people” but she still doesn’t stop tarof’ing – whether its staying home all day to bake a cake for someone’s mehmooni that night or letting an overstayed guest remain in her home for weeks.

It really didn’t take long for me to realize how much my mom’s tarof problems have had an impact on me.

At least when you’re tarofing with Iranians, they tarof back. When you tarof with white people, you end up giving away your entire burrito because someone wanted a bite. [Read more…]

Something I Never Want to be a Part Of

Joons,

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a guest post and we all know you get a little tired of us from time to time– plus, there’s only so much sex we can have… at once… (joke).  Please meet Holly Dagres- Iranian American- Aslan Media Columnist- Researcher for Cairo Review- World Traveler- Bad Ass of All Things Middle East – this list could really go on for an entire post so check out her website (click here).  

Joonies, I like to pride myself on being an Iranian-American with having the unique opportunity to grow up in Iran during my teenage years. It’s definitely given me a nuanced perspective of things people don’t often look profoundly into. Coming from divorced parents, the idea of marriage has always been approached with caution. It’s no wonder that when the topic of “khastegaris” (marriage proposals) comes up, I tend to cringe at how simple people choose their significant others.

Ever since I could remember, I’ve had mothers running up to me on street corners, asking if I had not wed yet. This is just based off of my not so Iranian features, which consists of fair skin (you’ll learn why that’s important in a moment).

Then there was the one neighbor who offered my mother a ‘business deal’– my hand in marriage for her son.

[Read more…]

My Virginity is Not A Challenge.

Happy MONDAY Joonies, I keep it #FRESH as Hell, thanks to DIPLO:

Ironically, I’m extremely uncomfortable getting detailed/personal– but its not fair that Farrah spills all the personal shit, and Saaghi gets away with sarcasm & embarassing stories.

I don’t know how many of you reading are virgins, half-virgins, or far from it. But in both the Persian & American culture, its kind of a big deal where you stand in regards to the BIG V.

As girls, we don’t know what to do with it–lose it? Keep it? Save it? Share it?

As guys, they just want to get it over with, and never look back. The longer a guy is a virgin, the more of a repressed creep he becomes.

[Read more…]

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