Me and Persian businesses

If you are a psychologist or anthropologist perhaps you can give me your take


Me and Persian businesses
by Katayoon

Persian culture has never ceased to surprise me. Ever since I came to Los Angeles, the number of such cases has increased exponentially!!! And so has been the fun of ever increasing shock!

When I first came to Los Angeles, I learned that Iranians are an integral part of the business in the society. Any normal person would think:” Oh wonderful! I'm sure people of my land are more sympathetic, as we experience the same feelings in exile. “

Alas I was so damned wrong! I don’t want to bore you by going through the details of my unfortunate events with Iranian-based businesses, so I confine myself to the world of beautification. If you are a psychologist or anthropologist or any one with some psycho analysis background, perhaps you can give me your take on as why is this the case with our genes.

Be a female on the surface of the earth and your first and foremost concern is to look reasonably good. And that “reasonable” is so relative that no measure can be defined for it. So, after landing at Los Angeles and more specifically getting setteled at startling downtown Los Angeles near University of Southern California (USC), I realized that my surroundings is a hybrid of Mexican and African Americans which for me would be kind of hard to follow their hair style and tastes. So, my logical next move seemed to get on the bus, take a 2 hour ride thanks to the unbelievable ineffeicient public transportaion and end up in Westwood: The empire of numerous Persian hairdressers.

With a student budget, freshly off the boat, the colorful labrynth of which salon to choose sounded daunting. I decided to shop around, so almost paved the Westwood Persian Quarter with my little steps, asking for prices of their services.

Some were so customer friendly that was simply unbelievable and to my immature heart, it was really heart warming. Almost all wanted to make me blonde. My dark complexion was screaming: "Don’t turn yourself into a puppet doll!" So, to listen to my inner voice, I went with some Hairdresser lady who thougt my being loyal to natural brown color is not that boring. This happened to be same choice as God as I was born with naturally brown hair!

Without going into details, in my third visit I got enough courage to let her touch my eyebrows. I was invited to a relative's house same day in Westwood and it kind of sounded inevitable to look good. The Hairdresseer lady said that she’d dye my eyebrows first and then pluck them. I nodded as to me it sounded like chicken and egg, had no idea which came first. Plus she was a professional so simply I trusted her. Afterall, playing with a tweezer at my leasure was not that much of a rocket science, I just preferred to pay a professional and be safe.

When she was done, I felt that I look wierd and asked her if I look allright. She reassured me that all was fine.

So, happy bird comes out and as I was waiting for my better half to join at the corner of the street, I happened to meet myself in a window shop and guess what? There was a girl with strange stuff around her eyebrows. It was dusk time so was not real sure why is this the case. But I did not have to wonder any more as the look in my hubby’s eyes was more than enough: “What happened? Your eyebrows are all bruised up”.

I returned to her right away just to hear that I am very nazok narenji and it will go away. Again she was the professional and such people you trust, isn’t that true?

Next morning I woke up to see a girl with horrible scars on her eyebrows. Besides looking aweful, it sounded swollen and terribly painful.

My next meaningful move to save my visage was to run screaming to the USC student health center. Doctor told me that she has used too much of some chemicals and it has aggravated the sensitive tissue around my eyes and it is an obvious malpractice if I want to pursue it further!

Talking to my pals and other beauty experts later I learned you never dye and pluck eyebrows rather the vice versa and that it’s a basic role that everyone know! Obviously except me and that hairdresser lady!

I called her to let her know what happened. And my God, the friendly lady now turned into a real monster, denying that she did anything wrong and that all was alright. I wonder how she could judge about my bandaged eyebrows through the phone! Anyhow , I am not into this suing business stuff but that made me say Adios to all lovely Persian hairdressers working hard in Westwood!

This was the initial step in losing my trust in fellow Iranian businesses. But I had not completely given up! Still I was into this notion that the Iranian genes would mean something between us…and of course something good.

It was years later, I was totally away from any sort of Persian stuff business except for some foodstuff that I could hardly find anywhere else and that was fun.

One fine night, after a visit to my lovely, local video store, I rushed to the next shop to buy a shampoo real quick. First time there. As always the multitude of products beat me and made me bring my choices to the gentleman behind the counter. I asked him which he would recommend better for my curly, color treated hair. He opened his mouth and the Persianness poured out. Of course I had no intention of revealing: "Hey, I’m Persian too!" Good thing is I don’t look/sound Persian. People mostly go to South America and Spain when guessing about where I come from.

Anyhow, the guy vetoed all my choices in 2 seconds. Saying that they are all chemical based and he’d suggest if I can spend money to go with Vegan shampoo which was pretty expensive: a small bottle for $27!

That made me curious and obviously curiosity killed the cat! I asked him specifically if that shampoo would be good for curly hair like mine and he replied: Shampoo has nothing to do with curls and it would be fine. So, I said:" OK, I take it but if I don’t like it or feel that I’m going bold, I’ll bring it back!" We shared a laugh and then he asked where I come from.

Ok, big moment.
Me:I’m Persian, too!
Man: Well, you don’t sound Persian!
Me: Yeap…I bet you don’t see many Persians here.
Man: Some… not many… there is a bunch of them in a building near here.
Me: Omidvaram ke ein shampoo khoob bashe , man az shampoo ye bad aasabam khord mishe chon mooham mishe pashm e gorbeh…
Man: Naa , ein aalie… negah konin hamash tabieee…

He shows me the bottle which says: %100 vegan…

Man: Plus I give you 20% discount as you are Persian!
Me: Sweet! Ein Persian boodan be ye dardi khord… Man ke ziad kehiri azash nadidam az doostan.
Man: Are baba….

So, sharing an almost mutual feeling for our fellow Iranians, I broke my promise of not dealing with Persian businesses in my beautification portion of life and went for it. I paid about 60 bucks for the shampoo and conditioner and got back home hurriedly to try it!

Next day, the result was aweful, My curls had gone flat and I looked like a cat soaked in mud so all hair sticking to my scalp. I gave the shampoo set a second chance and decided that’s it! I’m returning this baby!

So, I go back to shop, see the man in Bermuda pants, leaning against the pillar, smoking at the Sunday afternoon sun.

Me: Salam… Ein shampoo be kale man nasakht…Oomdam passesh bedam…
Man: Chi hastesh?
Me: Purology
Man: Ein ro pas nemigiram..
Me: Chera?
Man: Chon karkhoone pas nemigire..
Me: Vali shoma ein ro be man nagoftin plus ein shampoo curl hai e man ro mikoshe…which is different from what you said.

The man shrugs.

Me: Can I change it at least?
Man: No…
Me: What do you mean? I paid almost 60 bucks for these two…

Man shrugs again.

Me: This is unfair… you gave me wrong info… plus all beauty shops take their stuff back for exchange within two weeks … that’s a general rule

Man is silent.

Me: I should have known not to deal with a Persian
Man: Persians are nothing but a headache…

And I left without a word…To hell with my 60 bucks…The situation is more grave… When, we ourselves go with the notion of being nothing but a headache… what do we expect from the world?


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D.C experience- yet another stick experience

by Rooshan-been (not verified) on

this summer while vacationing in D.C and New york, we like the tea served in a dinner party, as usuall my wife inquired where they got the tea from and the brand?. our host offered to take us to the Mr.S..... grocery store to shop. once we are in shop mr. S.... decides to stick it to us as soon as he finds out we are out of towners, knowing we won't be back to complain. As soon as we mentioned that we liked that paticular brand of tea. He immediately goes to tea section and brings another brand which is a dollar more expensive and claims it is much better tea than the one we liked.
Oh my god when we got back to our home and brewed the tea, it was the worst tasting tea ever, we tried couple more time but it did't get any better. we will stick with our own middle eastern grocer which happen to be Libyan and presents very clean and top of the line products.


So what?!!

by Hamid (not verified) on

I am not really sure what we are going to prove to bring up these common issues in business with persians, etc?
Why don't we think that when we say Persian, Iranian, "what ever"ian, each of us has similar characteristic with a little "just a little" possible difference.
If Persians have these issues, so do all, means you!! Mrs and Mr. writer as well.
So, instead of just saying jerk to Persians and criticizing non-constructively, and putting down others why don't we try to improve ourselves through helping others, and try to do something useful for this poor culture and country? if we care at all.

Kaveh Nouraee

Sad, but very true

by Kaveh Nouraee on

Katayoon's experience and that of 1234553 in DC is typical. I can personally account for the DC experience as I grew up there and know the Iranian in DC mentality all too well.



In matters of business, Iranians will screw their own mothers and kiss everyone else's ass. 2,500 years and this is what we have to show for it. Nice.


A Stern Warning to "Gar" o "Garrabi"

by Abol Danesh, the Director (not verified) on

Stay "Sheek!"
A country
That appearing poor & ragged in public
While hording money
In the "Pasto"
Has become a fashionable culture
A smart guy
By spending a little bit of money
On his clothing
To come out sharp and "Sheek"
Can easily expose all the horders
To the world
As easy as
One, two, three...
In order to win imporving
The public image of his country
By storm...

Abol Danesh
December 2007


RE: William Mac

by Daryush on

Some people think that the world
revolves around them. So she had an experience and she claims to write a piece
about "Me and Persian businesses"!!!! Persian Businesses???  Does she mean Iranian businesses, or as you
would say “eyeranian” businesses?
You may call her intelligent, your
choice of words not mine. This is a stupid piece, period; and she sounds like a
bitch and you like an ass.
This is stupid, racist, arrogant and ignorant. Not because of her experience,
but her chosen title and the tone of the article. She sounds like you. Read
this over and over and enjoy the beautifully written article. So what? Her points
in life and literature or even daily encounters are totally irrelevant.


Fuck off...yeah

by William Mac (not verified) on


I find it incredibly curious as to how someone such as yourself can take the time to comment upon the lifelessness of one individual whilst simultaneously polluting the proverbial airwaves.

So, you read an entire narrative article about one woman's observation in regards to her culture's business practices. Then, you literally took the time out of your own busy, event-filled life to issue an utterly uneducated response that -- ironically -- encourages this woman to get a life.

What eludes me even further is that you remark that this intelligent woman is a "bitch" and that she must think nothing is ever her fault. Try as I may to understand your ape-like level of reasoning, I can't quite figure out how "fault" even enters into this particular situation.

So, let me tell you something, pal. Fuck you, fuck off, and get the fuck out. You mean to hop on here like you have a life? You ain't got shit.

As a professional writer, I will tell you right now that this woman's style is consistent with the bulk of mainstream magazine writing.

Don't get up on your high-horse and tell someone they need to get a life, when all you can do is trot in a circle. You might as well be calling someone "dumb" and spelling it wrong.

YOU get a life, I can guarantee that you don't have one.



Grow up - And stop washing your dirty laundry in the public

by Anas (not verified) on

Once they were somebody ...
Now, American Dream has turned them into "Bacha Bagal"!
The adjustment is hard ...
many of them are your parents age ...

I feel sorry for them ... be nice



by zensufi on

Whoa... what is with all this generalizing?  Me no like labels and compartmentalizing.  However, I have had my share of ups and downs with Iranian business people.




Nice anecdote. The first

by Unregistered Anonymous (not verified) on

Nice anecdote. The first thing I noticed was that both your experiences were based on beauty products/services. I'm a guy, so when I go and buy a shampoo, I just look at the bottle and the price. Worst thing that can happen is that all of my hair falls out (which is not that bad, I could then also use it for my back). *this off course was a joke*

I don't think that any normal cosmetics store would take back your product after you have opened it. The only thing you can do is call the factory customer service and complain. Usually they take those complains rather seriously. The lesson you have learned here is that you should never ask a straight guy (Iranian or not) which shampoo is best for you hair. Always ask a gay guy or a girl! I don't ask straight guys whether my new jeans look good or not...

Concerning the eyebrows issue. That really sounds like a person who doesn't know their job. The trouble with this is that most people don't like others to complain about something they consider themselves good at. So complaining there just doesn't work. It won't work for American beauty parlors either.

I have the feeling that both your experiences didn't really have any correlation with the fact that the owners were of Iranian descent. You just had bad luck. Good luck next time and I bet your eyebrows are looking good right now, don't they? :)


Simple! Iranians are Pure Market driven

by bahmani on

The best way to understand Iranian business dealings, is to understand the PURE MARKET. The best way I can describe that concept is to remind you of the saying "Consumer Beware". Now add to that the motivation of encouraging and rewarding selfishness, and you are beginning to see the true character of the pure Iranian businessman (or worse, the wannabe). Ethics? Moral code? That is for pussies! If you expect a handout, you are only asking to be taken advantage of. Think of it as a 2500 year perfected stew; a dash of survival of the fittest mixed with a heaping handful of incompetence and good amount of insincere customer service. Mmmm! Mmmm! Mmmm! Bah! Bah! Ajab Kababi!


Not Unique to Iranians

by Vahraz Yazdanmehr (not verified) on

I think that William Mac has it right. The problem is not unique to the Iranian community. I have many professional friends here in the U.S. who are from other countries who rather not have clients or customers who are from the same nationality. They think that their expectations are too high. Conversely, I have dealt with customers who do not want to do business from business owners of the same nationality because they don't trust them. It's a very peculiar phenomenon.


Here we go again ...

by irooni sounding american (not verified) on

another irooni (often female) pleased to be mistaken for a non-iranian (in this case she has settled on being mistaken for Hispanics). listen katayoon, if any pychological take is to be derived from your piece it is this: your mentality is irooni through and through. so please don't waste your money on shampoos to straighten your fizz; it ain't workin... LoL


Moral education is the answer

by Tahirih (not verified) on

Iranians have been deprived of true moral education in the last 100 years or so.Our society have had no training in human virtues.There has been an overwelming lack of spiritual education.By spiritual education I am not implying learning to read Quran,or how to do a certain cleaning of body parts.
" man is a mine rich in gemes of inestimable value.Education can ,alone cause it to reveal its treasures,and enable mankind to benefit therefrom".
So there is hope for us ,and there is nothing inherently wrong with Iranians when it comes to bussiness,it is only lack of spiritual training in human virtues like Trutfulness or Trustworthiness.
For the readers if you want your children to have a better moral education in human virtues go and find out about Linda Kavenlin popov's virtues project.


It's not just Iranians or

by Nemo (not verified) on

It's not just Iranians or immigrants. -I recently got bamboozled out of $2000 for what turned out to be a $400 problem with my car by White Anglo mechanics.


Ben you too

by Daryush on

Ben you love to take any chance to bash Iran don't you? Wish
you were as actively critical of Bush and American (unless you live in Israel)
regime. Go worry about where you live rather than talking about a country that
you have abandoned long ago...

Ben Madadi

Iranian bazaar!

by Ben Madadi on

Do you remember Iranian bazaar? Iranian style of selling or offering service is one-time-screw! Of course we shall not generalise, but most Iranian businesses, of course we can refer to small ones, like the ones in bazaars or beauty salons, have the mentality to take as much as they can once-off because they do not believe that the customer may, or will, come back again. There is simply no trust. But there are exceptions. Businesses that grow large usually respect customers and Iranians have such businesses too, inside Iran and also outside, but they are few.


What a waste of topic and time

by Daryush on

Lady go get a life. What are you doing coming here wasting the page space and bandwidth to talk about your petty problem. I feel sorry for your husband, what a bitch you are. And by the way, you must also think that nothing is ever your fault right? Go get a life...


All I know is that once I

by Anonymous1234553211 (not verified) on

All I know is that once I negotiated on a leather jacket and the Iranian merchant attempted to switch the jacket in the bag (providing me with a cheaper one that looked similar). This occurred at a store on M Street in Georgetown, Washington, DC, some Italian name that I can't recall. Fortunately, I caught it before it was too later. Another time, I went to a Kebab restaurant and the menu said add a salad for $1. So I asked about this $1 salad and ordered it. To my surprise it was bigger than described by the waiter. My guest also ordered one because it looked like a great deal for $1. The bill added about $8 for these two salads. I explained to them that I had inquired and ordered a $1 salad. They rudely told me that you understand the difference now right and this won't be your excuse next time. So I said no, I don't understand. I ordered a $1 salad. So he said that the $1 salad is half salad/half rice. This is fine, but then I inquired as to why he is being so cheap with rice. After all, rice is pretty cheap. His response was that I have to factor in his labor for cooking the rice. Not to be rude, I naturally responded that is fine IF the rice is fresh, but this rice was clearly sitting around for a while. So the guy told me to never come back. This was Amoo's Kebab in McLean, Virginia. I have been preparing my own Kebab's ever since, and I suggest every Iranian make their own Kebab's (so tender and tasty). Go out for Thai or something you cannot easily make at home. My Dad told me long ago never to buy a used car from an Iranian, I will tell my son never to buy ANYTHING from an Iranian.


I think Iranian women are picky....

by oberser (not verified) on

I knew a nurse at Cook County hospital who was proud that she had used and saved the box from a hair dryer for several years, but was able to return it for full value at a Chicago Dept. store.

I went to a mall in Chicago with one of my husband's cousin and we had to look for nylons from France because American nylons weren't good enough. She bought here underwear in Paris too. They make better underware....

I'm sure the Persian shopkeepers know that Iranian women will threaten lawsuits and demand that half used bottles of shampoo be returned for full value.
They are used to dealing with them.

Curious Joe

Entezaaraat-e Bozorg

by Curious Joe on

If you really want a sound-byte psychological/anthropological explanation of Iranian culture, it boils down to one word -- and that is: Entezaaraat-e Bozorg (Super Great Expectations).

If you have followed Haji Agha's cartoons, you must have realized that this "expecting machine" listened to a bunch of his so-called "friends" and left Iran for Canada -- thinking that there was going to be a red carpet treatment waiting for him and his "art" in the west.  Well, surprise, surprise.  Disappointed, he now curses the entire country of Canada.  He accuses all Canadians to be a bunch of bastards, homosexuals and drug addicts, and all their women a bunch of whores and lesbians – especially the Persian women in Canada who apparently get the wizzies when they come across a psychopathic sex pervert like Haji Agha and his mentality as depicted in his cartoons.

As for your experience with your eyebrow (zir-abroo) and your $60 shampoo purchase, what do you "expect” to get when you wonder around the streets of LA looking for cheap advice from any retailer – Iranian or otherwise.  Why do you think they have done you wrong?  As far as I can see, they did the best they could within their capability to make a buck, and you got what you asked for.  Are you telling us that you “blindly” put your faith/trust in the hand of some hairdresser or a shopkeeper, just because they were Iranians?  If so, I’d say the problem is yours and your “Great Expectations”.

No wonder 60 million Iranians in Iran listen and obey a bunch of Mullahs.  They “expect” to become Shahid and get 70 virgins in heaven !!  Did you psychologically and anthropologically analyze yourself to understand why you needed a zir-abroo at the first place?  And even if you convinced yourself that you needed one, did you do a full study of the best way to get it?

A problem I have often encountered with newly-arrived Persians from Iran is that they really think they are something special -- especially the women.  Most of them think that they are a gift to humanity (as koon-e fil oftaadeh), and that everybody owes them something.  Well, dear Virginia, it is time for a wake-up call.  You are not a gift to the planet earth (as Haji Agha’s work is of no contribution to the Cartoonist world), and you'd better learn -- and learn fast -- that your upbringing with all those "Expectations" was probably a rotten/non-realistic one from the psychological/anthropological point of view.

I challenge anyone who can prove that an Iranian hairdresser or a Shampoo retailer is psychologically or anthropologically any different from a non-Iranian one.



totally agree

by A.A (not verified) on

I know how you feel catay,nothing is more dissapointing to get scamed by your own , specially that we are small miniority and we should treat each other way better.


Not Just Persians

by William Mac (not verified) on

I'm an American living in Atlanta, Georgia. This kind of problem seems to manifest itself through almost all immigrant business owners I've ever dealt with.

I don't understand it. Oriental, Indian, Middle Eastern, Russian... etc -- I am consistently annoyed by these business owners, I am treated rudely and usually screwed over.

Now, I'm a nice guy and I'm sure as hell not uncultured so I assure you it's not my countenance that would provoke any kind of rude treatment from my foreign friends. I guess I've come to the realization that... it's just that way.

My mother owned a laundromat here for about 4 years. We did well. The clientell was primarily hispanic and I got along with them great. I played with the kids, met the Latinos on the language level as best I could with my broken Spanish and usually had a great experience.

Over here in the southeast, the Latins that came in always eyed me suspiciously from the start, as if I was going to start attacking them from the start. When a machine would malfunction then they would come screaming at me as if I was going to fight them over it. Instead, I would remain calm, help them out, get them going again and would forever win their appreciation.

When my mother decided to sell the store (I couldn't help her out anymore) I found myself hoping that Koreans wouldn't take it over. I thought that they would be too stiff, mean and hard to deal with. I was hoping someone who genuinely wanted to help the customers would come in.

So... basically there is just so much strange feelings that go around when involving culture. You, as a Persian, dislike the way Persian businesses deal. I, as an American, dislike the way many American businesses deal with foreign clients, even to the point of making fun of them in front of their face. Yet, even I would dislike Koreans taking over a business that I participated in.

Hell, I figure that you're either a sincere person who loves the customers, or you're not. There just happens to be, in any region in the United States, a certain ethnicity or two that may carry a common trend.



Customer service, Iranian style!

by persian_westender (not verified) on

Dear Katayoon,

It is beyond psychology or antrhoplogy! It reminds me a quote from a friend that "In west there is something called customer service, In Iran customer, service misheh"!
I think mentality of iranian bussiness in which there is no much competition for attracting customers
still is prevalent. Also there might be a mentality of " Baad az foroush pas gerefteh nemishavad". However, I recommend you don't generalize and do not give up. your not going to give up chelow kabab, do you?! :)