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Here I go again
It's my name. It's me. I have to be free, to travel

June 21, 2001
The Iranian

I guess it all started when I was born.

I was named Banafsheh for the first three weeks of this precious life. Then my father decided that it did not suite me whatsoever. Banafsheh was a flower and all flowers wilt at some stage and that's not what he wanted me to be associated with. A wilting flower I was not to be.

After discussions with my mother, it was obvious to both that I was to have a name change. Mina? Nina? Sadaf? Shabnam? No no no. Azadeh! Yes indeed. It was unanimous. It was the best name they could have chosen for me given the uncertainties in Iran. And as years went by it became obvious to them that it fit my personality too. I love my freedom and I enjoy it best when I travel for business or pleasure.

My first trip was leaving Iran at age six. I'm sure a lot of readers understand what it was like to literally escape Iran. We arrived in Pakistan with two suitcases and very little money. We left behind everything. The houses. The family. Friends. Grandma's backyard. Dad's car. And my "doosteh-pesar" downstairs.

Of course at the time I had no idea what was going on. As far as I knew I was going to visit my grandmother in Mashhad. But in fact we ended up in a tiny little room on a dirty street in Pakistan. It was to be our home for eight months as we waited for our refugee status.

Finally both Canada and Australia came through with an invitation for our family. Since we had no relatives outside of Iran, it did not seem important where we went. So I guess a toss of a coin was the only way to decide. Within a few days we were on a plane to Adelaide, Australia. Freedom at last.

I was 15 when I went on my first cross country trip with a group of friends. MY GOD! An Iranian girl. Traveling by herself. What were her parents thinking? I remember asking my parents if I could go. Their answer was an immediate NO! I cried. I winged. I stopped talking to everyone. But my parents were still not shifting.

So I had to think and think quick. What could I say or do to make them say yes? Ahha!

Me -- "Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan why can't I go?"

Mum -- "Because I said so."

Me -- "That's not a reason."

Mum -- "Yes it is."

Me -- "Babaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... daddy joonam, why can't I go?"

Dad -- "Baba joon, behet goftam.. you're too young."

Me -- "Young? YOUNG? Define young?"

*Dad rolled his eyes*

Mum -- "Azadeh... basskon!"

Me -- "I can't believe this! You're hypocrites!"

Mum -- "Fosh nadeh."

Me -- "It's not a fosh! Your liars!"

Mum -- "Bebin toro khodaa.... Haalaa dooroogh goo ham shodim."

Dad -- "Azadeh joon... you're not going!"

Me -- "Then why the hell did you name me Azadeh if I have no freedom?"


I saw my father's eyes swelling with tears. No one said anything. I stormed off, being the typical teenager. But I felt so guilty when I slammed the door to my bedroom. That night at dinner, they finally gave in. I got the approval from both parents to go on the trip I so longed. With worried faces and constant prayers for my safety, they let me go.

I don't think I felt anything but excitement. I didn't miss anyone while I was away. Although it was only for a week, it felt like a year. It was great. This was my first step towards independence, and into the world. And I never turned back.

For the next six years I traveled to a different destination in Australia every six months. I saved my money and went to see this great land of ours. Each time learning more, seeing more and meeting more people. Amidst the fun and adventure, there was also pain. The people I met, I got attached to. It became hard leaving the places I visited.

At 21, I accepted a job in the U.S. I knew I was going to be back in a year, two years maximum. But I was anxious. I had never left my family for that long before. I had to be on my own. I was freaking out. I cried many nights, missing my parents and brother. But my greatest adventures were just around the corner.

I began to travel the world. No longer was I confined to Australia or America. I had the world at my feet, and I walked all over it. Paris was nothing spectacular but I loved this one cafe there and thought I could stay there for years. But I moved on. New York was always alive; something happening there all the time. But I left. Milan was fabulous for shopping but I wasn't there long enough to want to stay. So I left.

Prague..... oh Prague, the city of true romance. I sat on my balcony of my hotel room and just watched that beautiful fairy tale of a city. I knew I wanted to be go back there one day. Then on to Amsterdam. Who wouldn't love that city? I learned so much there and there was so much more to be learned. But I left for London, which I HATED... and gladly left.

I fell in love in Canada. He was everything I wanted, or so I thought. But I left. Tel Aviv I loved. Really really loved. I thought to myself, "Yup, I could live here". I left. Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Athens, all have a common story. After a while, I had had enough! I would miss my family, quit my job and move back home to Adelaide.

Yes. Me thinks I'm a very lucky 24-year-old Iranian-born woman. I have been living in lovely Sydney for the past six months. I've fallen in love again and finally settled down to a life in my favorite country in the world. As happy as Larry.

I called my father a few nights ago and told him about a job offer I had gotten. I asked what I should do. Everything that was going through my head. The ups and downs of accepting the job. I was truly confused. I had had so many broken hearts over the years, broken many too, and I didn't think I could take it again.

"Baba joon, boro! Maa esmeto beedaleel Azadeh nazaashteem," (we didn't name you Azadeh for no reason) my father said.

So here I go again. Before writing this article, I finished my resignation letter to my boss. I accepted a job in Israel. One more week and I'm away! Am I blessed? I think so... through all this I wouldn't change a thing.

Be careful what you name your children. It may affect them in more ways than one.

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