Maman jan

Here’s to many more years of love and laughter


Maman jan
by Siamack

My mum has come to visit from the UK.

[Brief description of my mum: a feisty lady whose age is a state secret - the very mention of it (or her height) will see her expression change to one of contempt. So nobody who knows her will ever go there. Except that is, my sister. My sister, Soheila, is fast turning into my mum. They share so many traits and similarities that they have been mistaken for sisters. Which has left my mum feeling elated and my sister staring daggers at the person who made the observation.] [PHOTOS]

The boys and I went to collect my mum from Brussels airport. Within 15 minutes of landing she was out (when she walks fast her diminutive height makes her wiggle or ‘gher’) and Siavash and Kourosh had the longest hugs and kisses with their ‘maman jaan’ I have ever seen. She hadn’t seen them in 3 months.

At home V had prepared some Iranian tea and we sat outside to enjoy the warm weather. When V went inside to change one of the boys (soaked with a water gun) my mum spoke in Farsi.

Mum: Cheghadar khaahar-e-to jendast.
Me, raised eyebrow: Chera?
Mum: Baa ham rafteem maghaazeh. Wrinkle cream mekhaastam bekharam.

Cut to chase: it transpired that my sister had selected an anti-aging cream for our mum which said, ‘for very mature skin’. When my mum had suggested that her skin was not yet that mature and perhaps there was a cream for average age skin my sister had observed that if her skin was any more mature she would be dead.

Mum: Cheghadar khare een khaaharet.

This reminded me of another time many years ago when Soheila had spoken her mind to my mum. In the days when she and her husband still had their dog, Sam, they hosted a party for mainly Iranian friends. Sam, who was very old, had been going around the house, among the guests, farting the most vile, tripe fermented, farts. So my mum had gently mentioned this issue to Soheila.

Mum: nana bezaaresh too yek othagh-e digeh taa mehmoona beran...
Soheila: Shomam ke peer beshin be gooz-gooz meeyoftin... Khoobeh yeki shomar-o bezaare to yek otaagh-e digeh?

Mum to me the next day: Cheghadar khaaharet khare...

One of the nicest things about my mum coming over is the way she plays with boys. She will give them her complete, undivided attention. Even sleeping with them in their room (she has her own room too) so she can grab them all for herself before they get to our bed. It’s true when they say that grandparents love their children but are in love with their grand children. I remember even after (this happened when they were two) the twins pushed shut the under-stair cupboard door with my mum inside, in the dark and unable to be heard or rescued for 10 minutes. She still laughed about it. Now imagine her reaction if I had pushed her inside. See what I mean?

The boys are equally as affectionate towards her. On the way home from the airport they insisted she sit in the back with them, squeezed between their child seats. And all the way home she fed their favourite ‘Piggy Sweets’ specially bought in the UK and unavailable in Belgium.

Fast forward to dinner time when V had made them their favourite, from scratch, ham & cheese pizza.

Varinder: Why aren’t they eating?

Mum and I gave each other nervous glances knowing how strict V is with sweets before dinner.

Mum was also very pleasantly surprised at how much weight I had lost. She hadn’t seen me in 3 months.

Mum: Nana esfand daree? Zood bia dood konim.
Me: Nadaram maman jan...
Mum: Cheshmet nazanan nana.
Me: Ki cheshmam bezaneh?
Mum: Haminaa roo internet ke aks-e-to neshoon midi
Me: Fekr nakonam.

And, mum, every 10 minutes: Cheghadar khodeto khoob kardi maadar, Aafarin.

And on it goes.

A recent ‘Maman jaan story’ came from her wonderful partner, Roger (my dad died in 1990 when my mum was relatively young). Roger is a councillor - leader of the local council in Bolton. And a Liberal Democrat to those who are curious. So he receives many calls every day from members of the public and other local government people. One particular call had irritated my mum who still feels a primeval jealousy towards other women who need to communicate with poor Roger for any reason at all.

Roger telling me what mum told him when he returned home: Dis estupid woman has left a message and she can’t even espeak English. I don’t underestand any-ting she says!

She had played the message to herself many times to try to understand what was being said.

Roger listened to the message carefully. It ended. He slowly turned around to my mum.

Roger: It’s you, Jaleh! This is your voice!

Mum: Eh!

And behold, it was my mum. She hadn’t recognized her own voice.

It reminded me of those experiments where they show a cockerel a mirror and it eventually attacks its own reflection...

Soheila, my sister, loves sharing any stories in which mum gets cnfused. There is never a better time for such happenings to unfold as when they go shopping together. I believe this (final) event took place in Leeds, where Soheila lives. The setting was a communal changing room in a department store.

Soheila said mum had walked in with around 12 tops to try and she tried on each and every one of them murmering things like: too tight; colour doesn’t go; don’t like the buttons; sleeves to long; cheap material, etc. etc.. And just as Soheila was about to lose the will to live, mum shouted, this is it! It looks great, fits beautifully, love the colour. Quick, Soheila, check the collar for a price label...

Soheila, calm and sympathetic: Maman jan...
Mum: Begoo nana...
Soheila: That’s your own top. You came in with it.

Here’s to many more years of love and laughter, maman jaan. [PHOTOS]


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by B-Naam on

Siamack jaan,

Once again, you managed to crack me up.  Thank you for the explanation.




by siamack salari (not verified) on

Jendeh (in our family at any rate) is not hugely offensive and can be said tongue in cheek. To be honest, as a family we swear in Farsi profusely. Even my innocent little boys mispronounced their Ninja Turtle dols by calling them Jendeh Turtles...


Good story

by Anonymouse on

I wonder if your mother and sister reads this, if they do, it'll be harder to write another good story about them.  A challenge but I'm sure you can do it.


So cute!

by Monda on

I laughed hard reading these stories of your Maman Jaan! Yes sense of humor does have a genetic component, it's not only nurture.



by B-Naam on


I always enjoy your pieces.  Same goes with this one, but I'd have to say I object to the use of the word "jendeh" especially by a woman, even if it's in the spirit of humor.  Did she really say that? 


too funny!

by IRANdokht on

I like your mom and your sister both! this great sense of humor runs in your family. I loved the phone message story the best LOL

Thanks for the chuckle (I needed it today)


Nazy Kaviani

Family Resemblance

by Nazy Kaviani on

Salam Siamack:

Thanks so much for the gift of humor and love you so obviously feel for your family. Your mother sounds like quite a character and your sister sounds like she has a great sense of humor. Now I know it runs in your family! Your mom appears ageless and beautiful and you really should be so proud of her for the energy she seems to have for your rambunctious twins! This was great, thank you!


Thank you

by Feshangi on

I enjoyed reading your article. Very funny indeed. You have a very special mother.