Author Archives: Arooshi Barua


Informant Description/ Context of performance: I asked my friend if she had any traditions or superstitions, and she told me about one her dance teacher had passed down to her.

Original Script:

Interviewee: So this is kind of a mix between a saying and just like… something you’re supposed to do. My dance teacher told me that if you have a lot of good luck, you don’t want to jinx it with the evil eye, “Nazar,” so to remove the evil eye, you should take salt and throw it over your shoulder and then walk in the opposite direction. You CANNOT look back otherwise that’s bad luck.

Me: So when did she tell you? And have you ever actually done that?

Interviewee: Oh yeah, she’s superstitious. We’d do it before all our dance performances just to cast away any like, negative energy.

Me: Have you ever done it in any other context like before a test or something?

Interviewee: Umm… I think I’ve done it a couple times before like college decisions came out and at like weddings or graduations.

Me: Oh is that like customary within your culture or just something you do that you got from your dance teacher?

Interviewee: I mean I know it’s in our culture to put a little black spot at the top of your cheek to cast away Nazar, but I pretty much got the salt thing from my dance teacher. I’m sure other people do it though, because like where did she get it from? Like I’ve seen her kids do it too, and all my friends who danced with me did it too.

Conclusion: Being from the same culture, I have heard of “Nazar” before. I have never heard of this custom before, but I had learned about the evil eye many times before. I find it interesting that each culture develops its own way to cast away the evil eye, and each subcategory within a culture has its own unique method.

Yiddish Phrase

Informant Description/ Context of performance: My friend’s grandma always used to tell her this proverb while growing up.


Mit eyn tokhes ken nit tantsn af tsvey khasenes.

Translation: You can’t dance at two weddings with one behind.

Meaning: You can’t do everything at once.

Conclusion: It is rather a simple and direct saying. This Yiddish proverb is seen throughout various cultures. For example, my grandpa used to always say “one thing done well is a very good thing, as anyone can tell.” It encompasses the same idea of taking on the appropriate workload and doing it to the best of one’s ability.

Persian Lullaby

Informant Description/ Context of performance: This is a lullaby that was sung to my friend every night when she was a child. Her mom and dad sang it to her and her little sister; her grandma sang it to her mother.



Gonjeeshkakeh ashi mashee

Labebooyeh mah nashee

Baroon meyad tam meeshee

Barf meeyad gooleh meeshee

Meeyoftee too hoseh nagashee


Daret meeyareh

Havash bashee

Booset mekoneh va looset meekoneh, va paret meedeh ashi mashee



Little sparrow, little sparrow

Don’t land on my rooftop edge

It’s going to rain and you’ll get wet

It’s going to snow and you’ll turn into a snow ball

And you’ll slip into the painted piscine


The groundskeeper will pull you out

The doctor will cuddle you

The mediator will kiss you and spoil you and let you FLY!


Conclusion (written by Interviewer):

I found this lullaby very interesting and different from most other lullabies. For example, most well-known lullabies like “Go to Sleep Little Baby” have lyrics about going to sleep or falling asleep. This lullaby is very soothing and light in its tone and performance; however, its literal translation has nothing to do with falling asleep. The song is about comforting the listener, which begs the question – did it actually originate with the intention of being a lullaby? It seems like it could be a child’s song, not necessarily a lullaby.


Informant Description/ Context of performance: My friend grew up in Tanzania. This was a proverb that was very common from her mom’s village/ tribe. Her mom’s tribe is called Shagha, and her family dialect is Kimachame, which is a clan language. This joke has been told for several generations.

Original Script: Mkulima

Translation: You’re a farmer.


Conclusion (written by Interviewer): If a friend or neighbor comes to your house, as soon as you’re done cooking a meal, you call them a farmer because they come to reap your harvest. It suggests that they came just in the knick of time to get food. It is meant to be playful and mocking, sarcastic if anything. My friend says her mom would always say it, and then insist on her guest eating the food. Now, my friend always calls me farmer when I happen to walk into the apartment as she finishes making food. It is a running joke between us as well.


The Laughing Game

Informant Description: This is a game my friend made up with her little brother to keep themselves entertained.

Interviewee: The game is just like make each other laugh. We take turns though, so like I’ll have to try my best to keep a straight face and he’ll try to make me laugh. If he makes me laugh, then it’s my turn to try to make him laugh.

Me: How did you guys come up with this game?

Interviewee: Honestly it was on one of our insanely fucking long road trips that got so boring. We didn’t even have like an iPod or TV in the car then, so we just had each other. It was the worst.

Me: Have you played this game with other people?

Interviewee: Yeah all the time, it’s hilarious.

Conclusion: I’ve actually since played this game with her and can in fact confirm it is hilarious. I have taught it to other people too, especially when we’re really bored and I’m tired of seeing everyone on their phone.