However, no matter how much I tried to express my regret using the famous Tarof--Persian pleasantries-- such as “May I die, I’m so embarrassed” or "I can't look you in the eyes anymore," seemed to convince him and he began to complain and compare.
“Is this the America I had to wait for?” he would say shaking his head in disbelief and add “In Iran, the longest power would go out is half a day!” After the second day of power outage when the deafening sound of generators in the neighborhood would keep him awake at night, he compared by saying "in Iran, a man could never rest knowing his neighbor is sitting in the heat with no AC". Finally, when it took six days and two different trucks, one police car and two fire trucks to come examine a fallen tree and eventually removing it, he said “If we were in Iran, people would come together to remove the tree and open the blocked road within half an hour.”
Fortunately (or ironically,) I had planned to write about how Iranians constantly compare themselves to others, vice versa and how always long for what they don’t have. (Once I talked about the nostalgia for life before 1979 revolution among Iranian psyche here at I Heart Iran.)
Here is what I had gathered form different Farsi blogs and Facebook public pages before the power outage to show you how Iranians see themselves against kharejiha--foreigners:
While the picture bellow shows an Iranian woman who is pouring water over a little's girl's head under her Hijab, the text reads Their Summer!!!!!! Our Summer :-(
A humorous picture compares Iranian women comandos with their "foreign" version.
and their police vs. ours...
This picture compares the Iranian weather woman with her "foreigner" counterpart.
An image of an ordinary young Iranian woman is compare to actress Angelina Jolie. The caption reads "you be the judge, is our Angelina prettier or theirs?"
I also came across numerous blogs where Iranians compare individual incidents and products such as jails and soaps with their non-Iranian version. I even found endless jokes about how one could tell whether s/he is in Iran or in kharej--outside of Iran.
Here is what I learned from watching my Iranian relative going though his first American power outage and rant about it and from putting this piece together: Why on earth, we think we are different from one another? Why do we think "they" are better or worse than "us?" Isn’t the sky blue, everywhere? Iran might not have sexy policewomen but in times of crisis people come together (so are most Americans of course.) An American woman might take her child to a water park in a hot summer while wearing a sleeveless top, but even in Iran, a mother uses the same water to cool her daughter that is covered in Hijab. Am I wrong? Why do we compare when we have much more than we think in common.By Parisa Saranj, Aslan Media Columnist