The Astounding Similarities Between Texas and Iran

eenja texas neest, this is not texas

A few months ago, I was visiting my dear cousins in Toronto, Canada, and we were talking about the many positive traits of the city (they call it Tehran-to due to the enormous Iranian population there by the way). The conversation eventually turned to me, however, and one cousin asked ‘So… do you actually like Texas?” Now, everyone knows that Texans have a inflated egos when it comes to where they live, and most people who don't live in Texas are baffled by this. But, live in Texas for a while (I’ve been here since moving from Tehran when I was 4), and you’re completely swept away by this pride. There’s a saying here ‘I wasn’t born in Texas, but got here as fast as I could’- and this exactly describes me.

I explained this to my cousins and they looked at me in disbelief. “Well what about the politics- George W. Bush?” “Sure, I said, “but think about it- you could say the same thing about Iran. I mean- Ahmadinejad? But politics aside, the people are wonderful- just like in Iran.”

"Ok,” they said, “but aren’t the people all cowboys? Shooting guns, and riding on horses?”

“Hang on…” I said, seeing another parallel. “You’re doing it again- people who don’t know say the same thing about Iran- isn’t it a country full of terrorists that ride on camels? We know that’s absurd- it’s the same with Texas.”

And suddenly it began to dawn on me- no matter where in the world you’re from, you’ve heard of both Texas and Iran, and you have a picture of your head of what that place is like. This picture is probably far from the truth. Add that to the messed up politics, prideful people with an extremely inflated sense of self, a deep sense of culture and a storied past- is Texas the Iran of the west and Iran the Texas of the east?

So, without further ado, here are the ways in which Iran and Texas are exactly the same.

1. Cowboys and horses, terrorists and camels

No matter where in the world you’re from, the idea of ‘Texas’ brings up very specific stereotypes in your mind- usually immediate pictures of cowboys, guns and horses. Those of us from Texas know that while there is some of that around, most of Texas isn’t this way. Same with Iran- people have very specific images that come to mind when thinking of Iran. Unfortunately in recent years, a lot of these images have to do with negative propaganda of Iranians being terrorists on camels- while there are some camels in Iran, people who have been there know that this is far from the truth.

2. Prideful people with extremely inflated senses of self

Both Iranians and Texans are extremely prideful people often to the bafflement of people from other places. Iranians love to talk about their thousands of years of history, accomplishments, culture and arts- if you get them started, they love going on and on about the glory of the Persian empire. Same with Texans- such an inflated ego. Again, to people outside of Texas, they seem absolutely delusional- but live here for a while, and you’re swept away by the rebellious legends and tall tales.

3. Crazy politics that have (negative) worldwide impact

These two are cut rom the same cloth. Thankfully we have moved on, but for a long time, these crazy politicians ruled the world and caused a lot of damage. Both Iran and Texas are worldwide players when it comes to politics, and often not in a good way. Iran is a major regional power, and often rules the headlines elsewhere in the world. Similarly, Texas politics has an oversized impact on politics in the United States- and Texas politicians often gain the worldwide stage as well (Lyndon B Johnson was another Texan president).

Just a very few short years ago, when people thought of Bush, they’d immediately think of Texas, just as when people thought of Iran, they’d think of the crazy Ahmadinejad. But the truth is, people in most of Iran did not like Ahmadinejad and were embarrassed to be associated with him, just as many people in Texas didn’t want to be associated with crazy Bush and his policies.

4. Oil

Both Iran and Texas are oil rich- and this plays a large part in the culture of both. With oil comes money, power, and prestige- and all the complications that come with such things. My grandfather worked for sherkaté naft, the national oil company in Iran, and there are so many stories associated with the era he worked there. Similarly, so many people in Texas have ties to the oil industry. While both Iran and Texas have both diversified their economies in the past few decades, it's hard to overestimate how much oil plays a role in both. 

5. Tarof/Southern hospitality

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ve seen our tārof video, and how I sometimes compare it to southern hospitality. We may do it a little differently in Iran (a bit more extreme), but Texans are known for their tārof as well. A lot of people who visit are confused by the fact that everyone smiles at you, nods their head hello, and asks how you’re doing.

6. Land of poets and troubadours

Iran prides itself on some of the most beautiful poetry in history- that of Rumi, Hafez, and Saadi to name a few. Texas also has many poets of his own- Willie Nelson, Townes van Zandt, among other outlaw musicians.

7. Stereotyped as ‘all desert’

8. But with a much more varied landscape

When most people think of Iran or Texas, they immediately think of desert landscapes. But both places are so much more than that- with varied landscapes that change throughout the whole region. Both Iran and Texas go from desert landscapes to snowy northern regions. Due to the size of each, you can find all four climates easily in each. It helps that they are on similar latitudes- in fact, Ahvaz, where my family is from, and Austin, where I currently live, are on the exact same latitude!

9. Distinct map shapes

This might seem like a minor point but not all countries or states have such unique and distinctive shapes. When the borders of Texas were being drawn, it is said that Sam Houston, one of the founders of Texas, placed a great emphasis on it becoming a 'most pleasing shape', and many of the decisions were made accordingly. The shape of Iran has changed over the years after so many conquests and wars, but the resulting map is said to be a shape similar to a cat. It is important to note, however, that while Texans may think ‘Everything is bigger in Texas’, Texas is slightly less than half the size of Iran.

10. Religious zealots vying for political power

Enough said.

11. Kabobs and barbecue

The national food of Iran is kabob- grilled meat, and the most popular food of Texas is barbecue- smoked meat. Just as Iran has many roadside kabobis (places that sell amazing delicious kabob), Texas has so many roadside barbecue joints. And really, the two are only slighty different. Kabob is grilled over a fire and served with rice and tomatoes, while barbecue is smoked through the night and sold with potatoes and beans. I love both equally.

12. An obsession with tea

Iranians and Texans are both obsessed with sweet tea, but there's one slight difference- in Iran, we like it hot, hot, hot, while in Texas, we like it iced. But in both places, tea is a staple of the culture and enjoyed widely by everyone.

13. Football

They might be slighty different versions of 'football', but Iran and Texas are equally as fanatic about their sports- Friday Night Lights and World Cups, they're all the same.

“eenjā Texas neest”

One of my favorite sayings in the Persian language is ‘eenjā Texas neest’, which basically means ‘This is not Texas.’ Iranians use it when they want to point out that life is not a free for all- that there are rules, regulations and laws. Basically, they’re saying they think Texas is crazy. I didn’t know this was a thing, because Iranians in Texas don’t use this expression- because obviously, this actually IS Texas. Similary, people in Texas think that Iran is an absolutely crazy place. Both face so much unfair stereotyping and prejudice from outside. Those of us who know better, however, know how lucky we are. Growing up in the west, I used to go on and on about what an amazing place Iran was- I still do, much to the annoyance of my friends and my husband. But over the years, my Texas pride has grown as well. I feel like this was all some sort of set up.

But it's all right, I wear both my Iran pride and Texas pride on my sleeve (and quite literally have a Texas necklance and Iran necklace hanging around my neck at all times)- and hope to dispel some of the myths, because I forever love Iran, and for the foreseeable future, indeed 'eenjā Texas hast! (This IS Texas!!)".

Comments

Love this! So funny and seems on point. I'll know more after our visit to Iran in May.

What a great post. My sister shared it with me, because, with Iran as our second country (we lived there when I was a kid and she married a Persian and lived in Tehran until just prior to the Shah's deposition) and my living in Austin now, she knew I'd get a kick out of it. And I did! She said that the saying was very common in Iran, as you say, and it was fun to be reminded of it this way. Thanks!

I love it!! Great work! Me from Texas (country girl) having a husband who grew up in Iran people sometimes wonder how in the world we have sooo much in common and you just encompassed it in a nutshell! There is still many more childhood memories we shared even when we were growing up worlds apart from each other. I can't wait to visit Iran!

Don't forget https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBfAksJktKs Persian country music.

I have been working for a Persian printing company for 8 years. There are so many similarities from our compared childhoods! Grandparents and their sayings, boys mischiefs, schools and much more. Thanks for sharing these things. I'm forwarding it to them. -Farzad (My adopted Persian name)

It's not a pleasant topic, but needs to be said-they both have a lot of executions.

Dear writer,
I understand your need to try connect your Iranian and American identity by finding similarity between your motherland and adopted country.

I am trying to appreciate your sentiment. Yet, I find myself deeply offended as an Iranian American to have my motherland and her people describes as terrorists, by someone who was born there, who claims to understand Iranians, all while, attempting to come across as someone who is trying to build cultural bridge by indicating love and respects her Iranian (and American) countrymen and women. How offensive can one get? How narcissistic and bloated can one's ego get?
I will never understand nor comprehend your decision to use terrorist and camel for Iran just so you can connect it to Cowboys and horses. It is simply irrational as it is also offensive to Cowboys to be compared to terrorists. To make it more insulting you chose it as number 1 on your offensive list.
I can go one by one and poke holes in your piece, as a whole, however, I will stop at number one to suggest us all to get to know our people Iranian and Americans by traveling and reading history (in depth) before relying on the Family Guy (the cartoon) to make cultural comparison or commentaries.
All we need to know about our similarities has been said by the great Persian poet Sa'adi:
"The sons of Adam are limbs of each other,
Having been created of one essence.
When the calamity of time affects one limb
The other limbs cannot remain at rest.
If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others,
You are unworthy to be called by the name of a Human."

"Rhyming translations by M. Aryanpoor:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!"

I wish us all a deeper sense and understanding to coexist, cohabitate, and to love our neighbors.

The author is saying Iran is no more a land of terrorists than Texas is a land of cowboys, though both undoubtedly still exist. The analogy is not designed to be perfect, so get off your high horse, (or camel if you prefer.)

Beautiful country and wonderful people. It is regrettable that you see only a glass as half empty. Joseph :. :-)

I love this post and totally identify with it, since I spent my youth in both Tehran and Texas. Well done and put together, specially No. 10 with "Enough said", right on...

Lived in Tehran in the 1950's and went to the Community School. There is a very large international group of us and we get together every few years at different cities around the world. We are always looking for former CS students and I am willing to act as a conduit for any former students to join our group or possibly find old friends. Joseph :. :-) یوسف با تشکر :. ز شما

I recently came across your website and read some of your posts they were great...but this one I'm afraid is sheer nonsense...
I'm from the US. I read a lot about politics...In number 3 you say that those two presidents have "worldwide impact"; Bush initiated two wars in ME which claimed hundred of thousands of lives... What did Ahmadinejad do that you put "[negative] worldwide impact" next to his name?!
I'm afraid whoever wrote this post knows nothing about politics...!

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