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Bye bye Berkeley
UCLA should be a blast

May 5, 2003
The Iranian

How do I say khoda hafez to the way the sunlight glitters across the Berkeley Marina, lighting up the pier and creating a warm glow along the water? How do I drive across a freeway that doesn't provide me a view of the Golden Gate? How do I turn my back on the streets of Berkeley? My dad went to Bongo Burger and walked up and down Telegraph Avenue even before I was born, so how do I walk away?

I will miss the man who is the epitome of the First Amendment, selling bumper stickers cursing our President and blaming corporate America. Will the streets still smell like burning incense once I am gone? Who will drive around near the I-House, checking out the fraternity boys?

It won't be me.

The coffee shop in Walnut Creek that has become my second home will serve its gingerbread lattes to someone else. Other girls will have hummus and flatbread at my favorite restaurant on Main Street which smells like the "old country" (whether you are Iranian or not).

My entire life, I thought I was destined for this tiny slice of heaven known as the Bay Area. After all, it is my birthplace. I broke my nose playing tetherball on a playground in Pinole. I won the county spelling bee in Richmond. I went to Farsi classes in Albany, karate in El Cerrito... And to end my list, I was rejected by Berkeley.

I was born there, and life as I know it, will end there.

You don't know what it's like to get the small envelope. I was three out of four, accepted to three of the top four UCs, but almighty Berkeley chose to look me over and say no. I guess my grades were too borderline, or maybe they have finally had it with political Middle Eastern girls. They want to de-Muslimize Berkeley, white-wash it back to normalcy.

I hope I remain "normal" after this ordeal. To me, normal means no highlighted hair. Normal means not showing your belly button and not drinking or smoking. Normal means reading Michael Parenti and drinking chaee at Cafe Strada while a stranger's dog licks your feet and another stranger shares your newspaper, while you're reading it.

UCLA should be a blast.

I know a lot of Iranians down South and whenever we visit them, I thank God I wasn't raised there. If I had been, I wouldn't know what "Spare the Air Day" or "Critical Mass" meant. I wouldn't know what it's like to stroll down University Avenue and see people who damn give a damn about what everyone else thinks.

In LA, everyone is so into everyone else's business that they forget their own. I feel scared because I think I have the potential of going insane in such a superficial, nosy world...

I don't even know what I am writing about. I feel like I am already gone. I have already left my heart in San Francisco. It happened the moment they told me "No, but thanks."
Does anybody have any "nasihat"?

I am sure you do.... and for the first time in a long time, I think I am ready to hear them...

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By Assal Badrkhani





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