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A persian word for a custom that is ONLY applied in the Iranian culture.

It is a way of denying your will to please your counterpart, however the will is only denied because of the custom and not to please the counterpart. But there are situations where tarof persist upon a request to make the counterpart genuinely satisfied.
Tarof often causes misunderstandings between both parties and is a source for awkward situations in a social setting.

The closest one can come to tarof in the western culture is the question about who´s paying the restaurant bill? This is an awkward situation where everybody in the company is reaching for their wallets and it´s usually resolved by social status, the one with the highest income, biggest reason or most power pays. But, still everyone insists on paying.

Common words used in tarof:
- Ghabeli nadare = It´s not a big deal
- Ghadamet ro cheshm (you can walk on my eyes) = I am small in your presence.
- Ghorbanet beram (I will sacrify myself for you) = Thank you very much
- Cheshmet roshan (light in your eyes) = You´re worth it
- Khaesh mikonam (I do kindness) = You are humbling me
Fake tarof: A costumer comes to the cashier to pay for groceries. The cashier says “ it´s okay, you honor me with your presence” When the costumer insists on paying, the charade of tarof continues with a customary word exchange which is culturally learned from a young age. The discussion concludes with a minor argument and the cashier is finally paid the full amount of the groceries and the costumer leaves.

Footnote: the cashier wants the cash and the costumer just wants to pay but this is a cultural and social game.

Genuine tarof: A person will offer guests every comfort available by discomforting him/herself. Sometimes this leads to offering things above ones means. As an example the host will use the last founds to buy groceries to make an overly pleasant stay for the guest. This may have dire consequences for the host, but this is the generous side of tarof and its only purpose is to satisfy the guest.

Footnote: the host is satisfying the guests and feeling good about being a generous and humble person, independent of its consequences.

Awkward tarof: A host insists upon a request for the guest to sleep on the main bed while the host him/herself sleeps on the floor. Or a host piling food on a guest’s plate since the host is believing that the guest is tarofing, but the guest is actually full and satisfied.

Footnote: the guest feels awkward by putting the host in an uncomfortable situation. The guest might finish all the food to show respect to the host.
by Mor din June 19, 2009
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Tarof is the act of offering something in a manner sufficient to demonstrate sincerity, but is simply a facade to appear more genuine than one actually is. It can be shown by conduct, an offer, or by any means in which there appears to be an intent to tender to another. One could think of a tarof as an undisclosed, one-sided, unilateral contract where the offeror is obligated to pay in exchange for the act or abstention from acting. In a case where tarof is present or occurring, the accepting party must first decline the offer or restrain oneself from quickly agreeing to take (abstention from acting). The problems that arise from accepting an offer in a hastily manner are internal and only detrimentally harm the offeror. If a tarof is accepted too quickly, without hesitation, delay or indecisiveness on the part of the party accepting, the "tarof-er" is quick to become offended (meanwhile secretly shocked) and leaves with underlying resentment and bitterness in which they never bring to the surface or openly recognize. However, the "tarof-er" may privately complain to his/her close companion(s) regarding the surprising encounter in order to vent and release their frustration over the other person's inability to first reject or turn down their offer prior to accepting it.

Take-away: It is only custom that you first refuse the "good" or "act" of the "tarof-er" prior to taking/accepting it in order to avoid bitter feelings and to ultimately leave the situation winning.
"Please do not tarof with me regarding the last two khormas in the fridge-- just take them Marziyeh!"

"I have asked you many times Shahrzad not to tarof those custard-filled pirashki's to me if you really want to eat them all yourself..."

"Maman, how many times are you going to tarof that albaloo polo to me?! I am allergic to albaloo's!"

Situation where tarof is involved:

Khashayar: "Please Jamshid, let me take care of the bill" (secretly, Khashayar does not want to pay a penny)

Jamshid: "Azizam, no. It is with love and only proper if I pay" (meanwhile, Jamshid is putting up a front too)

Khashayar: "No, no, no"... (looks at waiter & waves arm implying her to come closer)... "take my card and don't allow this man (pointing at Jamshid) to pay!"

Jamshid (talking only to the waiter but eyeing Khashayar with one eye): "No, no, please! I beg you! Do not listen to him! He does not know what he is saying!" (the waiter stares in utter confusion and uncertainty, and is simply startled by the whole interaction. Unsure as to what to do, she stares at what seems to be an altercation feeling uncomfortable and puzzled. She's not sure how or why things escalated so quickly. Eventually, she takes the card from the more "angrier" man, Jamshid, & quickly rushes to the nearest cash register.)
by KimberlyDee October 31, 2018
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