All in the Family


All in the Family
by Faramarz

Recently, I had a few days off and decided to pay a visit to my uncle and aunt down south and spend some quality time with them. I love them both dearly. They remind me of Archie Bunker and his wife Edith. They used to live down the street from us back in Tehran and I always rode my bike to their home to see and play with my cousins.

After they settled in the US, they regularly drove up to our area to see their kids but they no longer do that. Here is the reason.

My aunt wants my uncle to make a few stops along the way so that they can stretch, buy something from the fruit stands or just go to the restroom. But as far as my uncle is concerned, that is a complete waste of time. And more importantly, all those cars and trucks that he had passed on the highway will get ahead of him and he has to pass them again. That seems very inefficient and redundant to him! After all, they have already been defeated. Why give them a re-match! And flying is completely out of the question. Don’t get me wrong. He is not afraid of flying. It is just that he is not comfortable sitting still in the back of the plane. He wants to be near the pilot and see what he is doing! The same is true when he takes a cab. He sits in the front seat with the driver and tells him where to go, which drives the cabbie crazy!

They are both very health conscience and read up on all the latest medical news and theories. Last time I visited them, my uncle had just discovered that dried chickpeas (Nokhodchi) may lower your cholesterol. So he rushed to the Persian store and bought all the chickpeas that he could find! The poor owner asked him quietly if my uncle had some inside information about an upcoming Nokhodchi shortage! Then there was the time that I told him about the benefits of turmeric. He bought a bunch of empty tiny capsules (I didn’t know that you could actually buy those things) and tried to squeeze a spoon full of turmeric into them. It was like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube! My aunt was not amused by him wasting her turmeric.

On the second day of my recent visit, my aunt gave us a shopping list of things that she wanted from the Persian store. You see, my aunt is in complete control of the kitchen, the frig and the fruit and vegetables in the yard. She would immediately know if something is missing or somebody has picked a fruit pre-maturely! And there will be trouble! So in the shopping lists that she gives to my uncle, not only she states what to buy and where to buy it from, but also at what price. If you ever wonder who looks at those newspaper coupons that the mailman puts in your mailbox, she is the one.

The list included corns, Afghani melon, Persian cucumbers, nectarines and yellow onions (for cooking), but no purple onions. She has recently developed a dislike for raw purple onions which my uncle adores.  

لیست خرید از عطاری

پیازمتوسط ۶ عدد

شلیل پوندی ۷۹ سنت ۸ عدد سفت نباشه

خربزه افغانی یکدونه خوبش از مکزیکیه بپرس

خيار ِمهمانى يك مقدارى

بلال ۶ تا یک دلار ۱۰ عدد

We got into the store and my uncle pushed the cart towards the melons. They were in a half-full large cardboard box about 4’ high. He looked at the melons with the keen eye of a diamond buyer! He looked them over carefully and started tapping them. I asked him how he knew which ones to pick.

“You tap on them and listen for a hollow sound. Also, look for the yellowish stripes.”

He wasn’t happy with the ones that were within his reach so he went deeper and deeper into the box. I have always wondered why the best melons end up in the bottom of the pile! Or is it just the curious nature of us Iranians that tells us to keep looking for something better. As I was carefully choosing Persian cucumbers per my aunt’s instructions, I noticed that I could no longer see my uncle’s upper body! He had taken a deep dive into the big box of melons. But thank god, his toes were still on the ground. I quickly rushed over and got there just in time to grab his belt from behind as he was falling into the big cardboard box! Can you imagine the headlines in the local newspapers the next day, “Iranian Elderly Man Injured while Picking Afghani Melons!”

He pointed to the prized melon and asked me to grab it for him.

Next came the onions. He picked the 6 medium yellow onions per instruction but was completely focused on the purple ones. He looked sadly at them and said, “See how beautiful they look! And only 89 cents per lb.” I tried to figure out a way to resolve the purple onion issue.

“If we grill the onions in the backyard, I am sure that the smell won't come inside the house. Also, the grilled onions become sweet and I am sure that she will like them too. Why don’t we buy some and I can hide them in my suitcase in the guest room. Then I’ll grill them and see what she says. You can always blame me, you know.”

My uncle thought long and hard. He looked like a kid who was deciding if he should take a cookie out of the jar without asking for permission!” He finally gave in.

The plan worked but I don’t think that it is a long term solution.

Ever since I have been back from my short visit to my aunt and uncle’s house, I look at fruits and vegetables differently.

و اینهم برنامه آینده ما ها


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Unfortunately the melon box position has various issues!

by Anonymouse on

I too from time to time have deep-dive melon box issues although no complete overboard yet!  My issues are usually getting dizzy while reaching far or eyes getting red and watery from blood rushing down my head! Sometimes sinus issues too from attempting the same awkward position! 

Everything is sacred


I Believe You Anonymouse!

by Faramarz on

How about his deep-dive technique? Any ideas for a safe approach to the bottom of the box?

Also, he still hasn't figured out an efficient way of putting the turmeric into the tiny capsules! 


Your uncle's melon test is accurate. Seriously!

by Anonymouse on

Everything is sacred


Thanks for reading my stuff!

by Faramarz on

Midwesty Jaan, thank you for your kind words!

Bajenagh Jaan, I am glad that I put a smile on your face and a little tear in your eyes. As you well know, life is about the little things.

You are a cousin too, like it or not!

Thanks for reading my stuff!

bajenaghe naghi

Faramarz Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

I thoroughly and tearfully (from laughing) enjoyed your story. Thank you.


Very interesting Faramarz

by Midwesty on

Loved your pace of writing and your careful observation. Thank you!


definitely cultural, cousins & I agree

by Monda on

and as TB eloquently wrote, "Endearing" is the feel of it, in small doses. As far as I know, Greeks and Italians (in some regions) share these traits with us.

We may behave like control-freaks to an innocent bystander (not our guests), but all we try to do is to suffocate with love (baa mohabbat khafeh mikonim). Or in a different version of the same Endearing quality, we are very ghareeb-navaaz.

I can't get over your list Faramarz either... especially some guest-quality cucumbers :o)  


Hamsade Jaan

by Faramarz on

You are among the smartest guys on this site, and there are some very smart cookies here. But I don’t see this as an economics, supply/demand, trickle down issue.

This is all cultural cousin!

hamsade ghadimi


by hamsade ghadimi on

the phenomenon you described is well known and is practiced more by people from the "old countries."  in economics, they have rather a cute word for it: excessive choosing.  excessive choosing is a costly action for the seller; hence, benross's experience in iran where the seller doesn't allow it.  it seems that your aunt has been a lifetime excessive chooser and she even chose the right man to stick with her all these years. :)


Cousin Mehrdad

by Faramarz on

Please don't take the tangerines off the tree before they are ready!

And the Zoolbia Baamieh are for the guests, tomorrow!


Faramarz jan,

by Bavafa on

I am sorry to missed you while you were visiting my parents.  What did they cook you?

Dad has been raving about those onions you barbecued for him

See you next time



Family Secrets

by Faramarz on


Cousin Divaneh,

Now everybody knows why you drive like that on highway 5!


Thank you T-Bride

by Faramarz on


And I hereby pronounce you an honorary Iranian and for that you are entitled to lots of turmeric, dried chickpeas (Nokhodchi) and guest cucumbers!

Kiss all your future health issues goodbye!

I can see that Professor Haji Ali Baba has taught you well! But I think that the main reason you are so fluent in Farsi is that the people with Croatian blood have actually migrated from Iran! It is all in the genes! Seriously, check it out! We Iranians, claim credit for all kinds of things! Spend a few days with my uncle and aunt and you will see it for yourself!



Hello cousin

by divaneh on

Thanks for your your light hearted blog Faramarz jaan. I think we are relatives.

Temporary Bride

Would I get a 'guest cucumber'?

by Temporary Bride on

I really enjoyed reading this Faramarz!  

Having quirky and difficult to please relatives from the 'old country' myself (not Iran in my case), there is a lot of humour and pleasure to be found in being around people like this - all the detail and pickiness is so endearing, even if it can be frustrating in larger doses.

You made a great partner in crime for your uncle!



ریشه عمیق هندونه و طالبی در فرهنگ ما


Thank you Monda.

They are a very cute couple alright!


Match made in heaven :o))

by Monda on

Great share. Your aunt and uncle sound very cute! Your descriptions explain so much about couple's dynamics in our culture. 


گل ناره هندونه


Thank you Red Wine Jaan! You are an inspiration to me and many people on this site.

How do you choose your melons?

Thanks for your insight Benross. We should deal with modernity slowly and from the edge, as you said. Deep dives will always get you injured unless there is someone there, who cares for you, and is ready to jump in and rescue you!


از دم وردار


The street corner mobile fruit sellers, Zaalzaalak sellers (Crataegus hawthorn) cherries sellers and so on, were always asking their customer to load their bag from the edge, no selection. Or they had a different -much higher- price for selective buy.

We should have bought our 'modernity' from the edge as well. This could spare us a lot of misery.

Nice blog Faramarz. 

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

فَرامرز جان،بَسی‌ لذّت بردیم از مطلبی که نِگاشتیدْ،هر بار که دل نوشته‌های شما را میخوانیم،سخت از خوشیْ.. دل گُشا شده و به سلامتی شما جرعه یی شَراب مینوشیم.

خدا شما را برای ما و عزیزانتان حفظ کند که أنت أفضل مِن أفضل.

پایَنده باشید.