Underneath a Mullah’s beard, you’ll find a label,
“Made in England.”
— Persian saying
I paid little further attention to Iran until World War II ended and I went up to Cambridge University where scores of Iranian students were attending the medical school and the economics and geology departments. In my college was a former British army engineer who had worked on Iran’s roads and seaports and an older man named Percy (whose last name I have forgotten) much of whose life had been spent in the Khuzestan desert with the Anglo Iranian oil company. Percy’s only son had died at childbirth in the searing heat of the Persian Gulf, when he and his young wife lived in a tent during the early stages of construction of the world’s largest refinery at Abadan on the Shatt al Arab waterway.
At Cambridge I learned a lot about the Brits involvement in Iran. About the adventurers and explorers who had penetrated its trackless deserts and reopened trade routes that had not been used for a thousand years; about the East India Company’s dispatching troops and warships in 1802 to prevent the French under Napoleon moving into
British empire troops built roads over which they marched across Iran, from the Persian Gulf
to Teheran to the Caspian.