Smog, traffic, attitude...
Welcome to L.A.
The capital of apportioned opportunities, shattered record deal dreams and home of the notorious 15 minutes of fame.
The center of hipsters, wannabes, cool kids and dropouts.
The city of good-looking waiters, pseudo-celebrities, the overly rich and the excessively poor.
I have been a resident of Los Angeles for the majority of my life. As an Iranian-American, I migrated here at the age of 3 and am currently going on 25 years in this busy, boisterous, and bawdy city.
Often referred to as "Tehrangeles," Los Angeles gets a heavy rap with its weighty population of Iranians...
Iranian-Americans are often referred to as a conceited and snotty bunch, who are so consumed with their alluring lifestyles that they refuse to believe there is a world outside of Beverly Hills. The truth of the matter is, Los Angeles is full of some of the most talented, impressive, and awe-inspiring characters one would ever have the gratification of meeting.
It is the genuine definition of a melting pot of different cultures.
So it comes as no surprise that we are constantly being bombarded by so many "reality" television programs introducing us to the myriad of them; from the likes of MTV broadcasting out of every area of New Jersey (the 'Shore' to the 'Couture'), and just recently being introduced to the Shahs of Sunset by Bravo.
Although a little late in the game, the Shahs of Sunset has managed to make its way to the forefront of these shows, taking into consideration how the large population of Iranian-Americans' stereotypical lifestyle does in fact make for some entertaining television viewing.
And as with any other "reality" broadcast, the infinite opinions the audience has of the Shahs have begun to pour in...
There have already been countless bloggers and writers who have incessantly exhausted the topic of bashing the Shahs of Sunset, but we cannot pretend that some of these typecasts don't actually ring true.
Yes, we are Iranian.
We are derived from a country made of gold and oil, built from oodles of old money and heaps of new money...
We love our culture and we pride ourselves on our customs.
But aside from all of that, what sparked my interest in the show was not correlated with the obvious fact that I am Iranian...
It was a topic that was lightly touched upon in the very first episode between Mike (The Momma's Boy) and GG (The Spoiled Persian Princess), and got more in-depth during the latest episode of the show with Reza (The Gay One).
It is something that has seemingly plagued our race for generations:
When Reza went to visit his "Jewish" family out in Great Neck, N.Y., there was a touching moment between father and son on the balcony of his cousin's home.
Initially watching this scene, one would assume that they would be discussing the "taboo" subject of having a gay son within the Iranian community...
However, the audiences focus is shifted towards the ever constant battle in which religion takes precedence over the sanctity of marriage.
Reza's parents' coupling was considered a controversy at the time, because his father had to convert to Islam in order to be with his mother...
Although that was decades ago, this type of thinking is still evident to this day and has been proven firsthand among some of my friends and family.
I am a product of an interfaith relationship...
My mother is Muslim and my father is Zoroastrian.
But dating outside of my faith has never been deemed an issue for my family...
It is already hard enough to find somebody decent to love and be compatible with, but once religion comes into play, it makes for an even greater challenge.
I am not religious, by choice, and I do not disrespect people who are...
I just do not think that my religion is what defines me.
To be honest, I have trouble understanding someone who does not want to experience a person, or pursue a relationship mainly because they cannot see a future with somebody who does not hold their same belief system.
Unfortunately, I know many people (within my age range), who will not even consider going out with someone because of this very reason.
That sort of thinking is dreadfully archaic and is something that has mostly been embedded within their minds from their parents, who are still grasping ever so tightly to old traditions.
To me, dating and relationships are all about being able to learn; not only from the other person, but also about myself. I want to be able to get to the point where we can join as one, but still maintain our individualism.
The thing is, dating in general is a tough task to accomplish...
With the daily work grind, the responsibilities, and finding a moment to take a power nap, the time left to find a suitor is pretty much obsolete. Add all of that to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, and you are looking at a very high single person ratio.
So with knowing all of this, why is it that we are restricting or limiting ourselves?
I strongly believe that if we were brought here by our parents for the opportunity of living a better life in hopes of obtaining a portion of the "American dream," then it would only make sense that in time, we would undoubtedly intertwine the different customs...
And by doing so, it will allow us to open up to the idea of venturing outside of our comfort zones, without the insane thought that we would be completely diminishing our own culture in the process.