Boasting: What does it Mean?


by msabaye

Some years ago, a relative of mine settled in a small north European country. She constantly complained about being lonely all the time, not having anyone to make friends or socialize with. When I asked her how that was possible considering the large number of Iranians who lived there, she said: well, all these Iranians have [supposedly] been  either army generals (sartip) or millionaires (millions meant something at that time) or sons and daughters of most important, distinguished people. I am an ordinary person, she said, the only one, it seems, that worked in an office in Iran.

We attended a ceremony last month. We were introduced to someone named x, who immediately asked, are you familiar with the name, x?
No, we said.

You are not? How come? Mr. x was the first person to come to the US and import ... and such and such factory was his and ...

Mr. x was her husband, and she felt she had to line up all his accomplishments/valuables for two perfect strangers. Then came the next question, are you familiar with y?

No, we said.

Oh, y was the greatest family in Gilan, and they did this and ... Mr. Y was my father and ...

Another line up of names and mention of wealth and ...

What is it with us? Is it a side effect of dislocation/relocation and losing one's place or assumed rightful place in society/community that makes us to go to such lengths to establish our place or rather feel some sense of superiority over others? Why are we clinging to these names and degrees and former social positions?

I studied and worked in academia where I was constantly surrounded by highly educated people for a long time. But nowhere have I heard so many repetitions and uses of the title, Dr., followed by a list of accomplishments than in parties/weddings/funerals in Iranian community.  

Being in academic environment, I know about degrees, positions, etc. It is rather sad when sometimes people try to make a point of telling me their sons/daughters/nephews are professors (ustad) at some university when I know as a graduate student in science, they are most likely TAs which is different from being a professor or an instructor. It could just be the lack of familiarity with the educational system, but constantly showering others with their relatives' titles and degrees has to be rooted somewhere else. But where? 

Is it the changing social system that has left some out thus feeling the need to establish a position for themselves? Is the sudden loss of wealth/status behind the urge to draw attention to what/who one once was? Or is it the jump in social status through education/new wealth that makes some people wanting to share the news? Perhaps all of these. Why can we not communicate as people trying to find common points of interest? Why can we not come forward with what we know/read/enjoy/watch to share with others rather than with titles and degrees that will, for the most part, make no difference in the relationship?


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by yolanda on

Sometimes people feel insecure without bragging or they just need extra attention....



by benross on

This is arbaab-o-ra'iyati culture living without its social structure. Stagnating, and like anything stagnant, it smells bad. It was once attempted to be broken by my generation and another time, now, by the new generation... hopefully for good.


Hope you'll write more about our social ills

by comrade on

You are such a lady, who don't want to spell it out. Let me do it for you:

It's called OGHDÉ.

And it has nothing to do with being out of country, or the change in social system. The same behavior can be seen back home too.

I never ever call someone by his/her academic degree, like doctor, or engineer. And everybody knows I have no time for personal life stories with a dollar sign attached to it. I really prefer to die lonely rather in the company of the kinds whom you described.

We still laugh about what the immigration officer in charge of our file said 25 years ago: "You are the first Iranian couple who don't claim to be the Shah's cousins".

Thanks for the beautiful, long overdue blog.

Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.