It caught me totally by surprise. Here we were newly arrived in Qom, and we had to visit a local shop. I asked the owner if he had a certain item (can’t recall now what it was). He didn’t have it, but instead of saying “no,” he just raised his eyebrows.
So I started looking for the item in another direction.
“Na, na daram.”
My husband (who knew a little Farsi before we moved to Qom) says to me,”He doesn’t have it.”
Sometimes if you’re lucky, the raised eyebrows are accompanied by a little click from the mouth, and moving the face in upwards.
My younger daughter has, of course, learned just the eyebrows.
“Marium, did you put away your toys?”
All I get are raised eyebrows.
One day, after Fatima Zahra had started school in Qom, she came home and responded to one of my questions with the click and eyebrows. Uh no, not in this house.
I calmly told her that in our house when you need to say no, you will say no.
Suffice it to say, I have never had to remind my kids again.
It definitely takes many people off guard, especially those with no prior experience with any Iranians.
While I first found it quite rude, especially when my daughter responded to me in that manner, since almost everyone does it, you pretty much get used to it.