I emphatically second this.
Like you, I was heavily involved in embedded systems design (back in the 80s) where assembly and C ruled the world. Eventually, I became more involved with system administration on Unix and then bash, sed and awk took over. It was in the mid-90s, when Perl had matured into something that resembles what we have today, that I fully embraced it not only for simple scripts and reports, but full-blown applications such as billing systems for an ISP.
I think it is the common heritage that Perl shares with C, the Unix culture and attitudes, that has made it my favorite language by far. For me, it was a natural extension of C. Perl strongly resembles what many would call C pseudo code, especially when it comes to text processing. The two languages have a similar syntax and structure in mind, and there is a cheat-sheet that lists Perl gotchas that C programmers are prone to being caught by because the languages are so similar.
I can not speak with regard to Python as I have never had reason to learn it, Perl has done everything I have ever asked of it from simple one-off scripts to major systems including the implementation of am ISP, web hosting, and a credit card issuing/processing company.
On time, cheap, compliant with final specs. Pick two.
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