Fel Fel and Namack (Pepper and Salt)

Som Khan
Originally uploaded by piroozkalayeh.
A nice day for tennis again. My dad and I ripped our usual shouts as the day progressed. "Perestroika!" "Glasnost!" You know the dilly.

It wasn't until I pulled out Yach Chal! that my dad lost it.

"That means refrigerator!" he shouts.

"Yeah, I know," I say.

We hit a few more balls. Then he approaches the net and says, "Som Khan."

"What does that mean?"

"It mean, there is a guy who makes house. He says, "Som Khan, when he is done making the house."

"Hmmm," I say. "Okay."

I rip a one-handed-backhand, "Som Khan!"

My dad giggles. I don't really get it. Of course, it isn't until we start throwing Persian spices around, that things really get cooking.

"Fel Fel!" he shouts.

"Namack!" I shout back.

There is nothing like screaming salt in Persian, while playing tennis. It really gives you an edge. Forget the whole controversy with Maria Sharapova high-decibel-grunt. Try throwing some Fel Fel at your opponent.

"That means pepper," my dad says.

"Yeah, I know."

It's funny. My dad has 3 sons, who speak varying degrees of Farsi. Each time I say something it comes as a slight suprise. Then he has to explain what it means in case I don't know.

I don't mind though. It's good to get the commentary. It's like a separate match in and of itself.

"Freedom," comes to mind. I don't know the word in Farsi though.

"You know," my dad says, "this is even better to say."


"Zar chub-eh!"

"What does that mean?"

"You know the spice mom puts on the rice. The spice that make it yellow-"




"Is turmeric"

"Yeah," I agree. "That's a good one."

"Pirooz, you say this to any persian person, they laugh so much."

"Zar chubeh"

"Zar-chu-beh," he enunciates.

"Zar chu-beh," I practice aloud. "I got it."

My dad laughs, "That IS a good one."

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