Travelling in Iran

the good old d days in Iran

the good old  days in Iran

My wife and I travelled from Tehran to Shiraz in 1968. We Flew from Beirut to Tehran, got a vehicle from the Embassy and set out on our adventure. Most of our pics have been lost in the dozens of moves we have made since then but I found a few I had made into 35 mm slides.

It was unbearably hot and on the route we followed there was no shade anywhere. We drove from Tehran to Esfahan from there to Shiraz. We were much impressed with the City of Shiraz. very  beautiful. Flowers and many beautiful homes. The Iranians we met were very refined people, not overly friendly, but hospitable. We wanted to go on to Bandar Abbas but were cautioned that the roads were terrible, precarious, and there were bandits about. So we reluctantly returned to Tehran.

I do remember one instance of note.  When we were near  Esfahan in the middle of nowhere, we came upon a young Iranian  fellow lying near the road. He had run off the road on his scooter and was lying unconscious. There was a blanket in the vehicle and we  wrapped him up because he seemed very cold.  At that point another vehicle with Iranians arrived and picked him up. When we returned to Tehran, the military attache told us an Iranian had appeared at the Embassy and returned the blanket, dry cleaned!

Iranians are very different from Arabs. Their language is indo-European, and many have Caucasian or Asiatic features. One of the striking things about Iran is that almost 50% of the people are not Persian, They are Azeris, Lurs, Turkoman, Arabs, Kurds, plus many other smaller sects. When we were in the south of Iran near the Gulf, many people spoke Arabic, but they were Shi’a Arabs. Under the Brits the region was called Arabistan.

One of the things I remember was as we travelled down the hyway and came to villages we would suddenly come upon huge carpets stretched across the road. At first we went off the shoulder of the road to avoid running over them. But we learned soon afterward this is the way village peasants from remote Iranian villages make fools out of Yankees who pay huge sums for “old” Persian rugs. Running over them gave  that  old appearance. Reminded me of the Tunisian kids  I met who have goats swallow manufactured  ” Roman coins” to give them the proper feel and appearance.

I do remember the Arabs of Khuzistan, as the Iranians call it, being afraid to speak Arabic  but once they knew  was not a SAVAK they opened up. Unfortunately it was only a two-week trip and I really don’t remember much else. Tehran was polluted even then and had horrible slums.  Tehran was not impressive.The division between rich and poor was very wide and the rich Iranians are ( were) very ostentatious people. From what I  hear and read they still are…just  a mostly new set of rich. Instead of drinking outdoors, they do it inside. The old set of rich live in LA now.

Some pics we took. The first  was taken near Ahwaz. the second is a Lur woman and child ( I think), the third is of Arab girls in Khuzistan, the next two are of the Zagros mountains, and the last is a Shiraz merchant ( I think..I never captioned pics in those days). Anyway even if it was 45 years ago, and only two weeks, I am one of the few people who write about Iran who was actually there!


About Tex

Retired artillery colonel, many years in a number of positions in the Arab world. Graduate of the US Military Academy and the American University of Beirut. MA in Arab studies from the American University in Beirut along with 18 years as Middle East Seminar Director at the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, Served in Vietnam with 1st Inf Division, Assignments in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, plus service with Trucial Oman Scouts in the Persian Gulf. Traveled to every Arab country on the map including Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
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2 Responses to Travelling in Iran

  1. “Under the Brits the region was called Arabistan”
    Arabistan is a Persian term made of two sub-part(Arab+Istan) which means the “Arabs land” In . and it was given to this land by Persians them selves, In Safavid era about 500 yrs ago Safavid called this land Arabistan since they couldn’t gain control over it and it was ruled independntly by arab moshahsaeit tribes, this term was used in all official Persian gov until 1936 when Reza shah of Persia Invade Arabistan killed Its king and changed its name to khuzistan after 500 yrs.
    Not even that all arabic cities and villages and rivers in arabistan had the same fate.

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