Sunday, October 12, 2014

Odd and Even Days

We once contracted someone at my old job to come in and help us with a project. He just happened to be Iranian. When my supervisor asked him for his availability, he responded that he was available only on even days and Fridays because he had another commitment on odd days. My supervisor called me in. "Pontia, do you know what he means by 'odd days and even days'?" I did not. As I walked back to my office, the only logical explanation hit me- days of the week in Persian have numbers. It must be that, but I had never heard of it before. My guess was right. 

You Persian learners are probably familiar with the days of the week:

شنبه / shanbe / Saturday
یک شنبه / yek shanbe / Sunday (literally, one Saturday)
دو شنبه / do shanbe / Monday (lit, two Saturday)
سه شنبه / se shanbe / Tuesday (lit, three Saturday)
چهار شنبه / chār shanbe / Wednesday (lit, four Saturday)
پنج شنبه / panj shanbe / Thursday (lit, five Saturday)
جمعه / jom'eh / Friday

Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday are your even days, or روزهای زوج ruzhāye zowj, and Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday are your odd days, or روزهای فرد ruzhāye fard. Friday is, of course, the weekend, so it doesn't count. In my mind, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are odd days; Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are even days, and Sunday is the "other" day. I suppose that's just my "American" mind though.

As if my days, weeks, and entire concept of time weren't already (and still are, let's be honest) completely messed up in Iran with Friday being the weekend and Saturday being the start of the week, I had to get used to this very prevalent notion of odd and even days, which were also reversed in my mind. When I signed up for a yoga class, they told me it was on ruzhāye zowj. Wait, what days were those again? Any time I filled out a form to give my work availability, there were three options to check: odd days, even days, and Fridays. And once I finally got the days in order, I couldn't get zowj and fard straight. Which was odd, and which was even? #PersianProblems

So here we are, four months later, and not only do I know the difference between zowj and fard, but I also know their corresponding days. "So-and-so can't come this afternoon. It's Saturday, and he has English classes ruzhāye zowj." Bam! Using it like it's been part of my vocabulary all along. It always reminds me of the contractor we hired. Funny how he tried to translate the concept of odd and even days in English. 

Now if only I can get used to this weekday-weekend dilemma...


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