Funny in Farsi

Describe two details about Iran that Americans were mistaken about, according to the author.


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My family and I wondered why Americans had such a mistaken image of Iran. We were offered a clue one day by a neighbor, who told us that he knew about Iran because he had seen Lawrence of Arabia. Whoever Lawrence was, we had never heard of him, we said. My father then explained that Iranians are an Indo-European people; we are not Arabs. We do, however, have two things in common with Saudi Arabia, he continued: “Islam and petroleum.” “Now, I won’t bore you with religion,” he said, “but let me tell you about the petroleum industry.”

Another neighbor, a kindly old lady who taught me how to take care of indoor plants, asked whether we had many cats back home. My father, with his uncanny ability to forge friendships, said, “We don’t keep pets in our homes. They are dirty.” “But your cats are so beautiful!” our neighbor said. We had no idea what she was talking about. Seeing our puzzled expressions, she showed us a picture of a beautiful, longhaired cat. “It’s a Persian cat,” she said. That was news to us; the only cats we had ever seen back home were the mangy strays that ate scraps behind people’s houses. From that day, when I told people I was from Iran, I added “where Persian cats come from.” That impressed them.


Funny in Farsi